Dancing Sun - Overview
Beginner: This sequence will build confidence and improve flexibility in the tight muscles of the back, hamstrings and calves. Make sure your bent knees never over reach your ankle in any of the positions and really stretch your arms and lengthening your upper body in each pose. The heart opening breath body link will help develop strength in muscles we do not typically use. Be sure to keep your feet parallel to one another. On the inhale focus on the expansion in the chest. On the exhale focus on the contraction, your chin tucked in slightly to elongate your spine.
Advanced: This is an inspiring practice that restores balance and energy to the body. Focus on lengthening all points of the body, like the rays of the sun stretching endlessly into space. Keep your chest open and spine aligned as you move through the poses. The breath body link is called heart opening link. Once you are comfortable opening and closing your arms with breath, begin to focus on your energy. When you inhale extend energy out from your core, releasing tension. When you exhale return your hands to heart's center with fresh energy. Feel revitalized and ready to begin the sequence.
Beginner: A wonderfully confident pose for a beginner, Warrior II strengthens legs and ankles. The pose also helps open the hips, chest and shoulders. Are your arms perfectly straight and parallel to the earth? Watch your knee placement, it should not extend beyond your ankle.
Advanced: Advanced yogis love Warrior II for the confident strength it awakens in the body and mind. Make sure to keep your hips and legs working in opposition: back hip opening to the back, front hip pushing forward. Are your shoulders dropped? Chin slightly tucked in?
Beginner: Lateral Angle is a great posture for developing strength in your ankles and leg muscles. If it is difficult to bring your hand all the way to the floor, keep your elbow resting on the thigh - but try not to lean to heavily on the thigh; instead, keep lifting from your core by squeezing your abdominal muscles. Once you feel comfortable here, try it with your hand on the floor or on a block for support. Remember to keep your knee directly above your ankle to avoid pressure on this delicate joint.
Advanced: Now that your hand is planted firmly on the ground, focus on shifting the weight to be evenly spead between your hand and your two feet. Can you push out from each section of your back foot while you push down into your front foot and hand? Squeeze your legs towards one another to relieve pressure from the ankle joints. Reach with your top arm, chin tucked into armpit, gaze lifted. Feel one smooth line of energy from the tips of your top fingers all the way down to the edge of your back foot.
Beginner: Triangle will help you build strength in your legs and ankles while improving your balance and concentration. If straightening your front leg creates an uncomfortable stretch in your hamstring, keep that knee bent while you press through your back leg, super straight. We deepen in triangle by shifting our focus from the earth to our top hand. Careful! It is easy to lose balance here.
Advanced: To deepen your expression of triangle, focus on bringing your chest parallel to the floor as you reach out from center. Squeeze your leg muscles to pull energy through the legs into center. Concentrate on extending the spine parallel to the floor and keeping your shoulders away from your ears. Your fingers are glued together and your chest, open.
Beginner: Head-to-knee will stretch all of the muscles of the backs of the legs in a beginner. Be very careful not to stretch too far in the pose. If you are at all uncomfortable, walk the back leg in a little so you can straighten the front leg. Keep your chin tucked in and your back lengthened.
Advanced: To deepen in head-to-knee pose, advanced practitioners can focus on really laying their chest on the thigh of the forward leg. Are your hips square? Keep your chin tucked in and lengthen from the base of the spine all the way through the top of the head. Is your weight distributed across the whole surface of your foot?
Beginner: Begin with an awareness of your alignment. Your front knee should bend to be in line with your foot and go no further. This protects the knee from injury. Keep your hips and shoulders even. Is your back leg completely straight? Is your weight evenly distributed across both legs? You should feel all points of your foot pressing into the ground.
Advanced: As an advanced practitioner, Warrior I is a strong and confident pose for you. Bring your focus to your tail bone, dropping it down and tucking it under as you lift your chest and shoulders up and back. Feel the energy from your core extend through the sides of your waist and straight up through your arms to your fingertips. Take your gaze up to the fingers, feeling the power of your focus.