Last summer, I started practicing yoga on a daily basis. The more I practice, the more I’m able to fluidly transition to more difficult poses. My strength, balance, flexibility—and patience with self—have come a long way. The following sequence is something I’ve gradually learned to do. One morning, while in the single-leg bow pose (Figure 12), I thought: why not try to stand? When I did, it was amazing. In dancer’s pose (Figure 14), I feel my standing leg rooting down and the upper half of my body growing taller as if I am a tree. This pose fuels my inner-strength and inspiration.
This sequence will hopefully challenge your balance and flexibility. Most importantly, do only what feels comfortable, safe, and right for the body you’re in today.
To warm up your spine, begin in cat/cow. While your hands and knees, inhale and arch your spine (cow); on the exhale, tighten your core, push the air from your belly, and round your back (cat). Repeat for a few rounds.
From cow pose, using the energy in your core, exhale and transition to downward facing dog. Feel the energy moving up your arms and down your legs. Keep your core lifted and push your heels towards the ground. Imagine your body in an upside down V.
From here, inhale and lift your right leg, keeping your hips square and your foot flexed.
As you inhale, use your core to draw your right knee through your arms and plant your foot between your hands. Turn your left foot out, so your feet are perpendicular to one another. Raise up into warrior one, lifting your hands above your head and easing into a slight backbend.
Keep your legs steady as you exhale and turn your torso sideways for warrior two.
Inhale and slide your left arm down your left leg as you lift your right arm over your head for reverse warrior.
Exhale and rest your right forearm on your right knee. Reach your left arm over head (Figure 8).
Straighten your right leg, and move in it about one foot. Place your right hand on your shin, ankle, a block, or the floor. Inhale and twist your torso as your lift your left arm for triangle pose.
From here, slowly shift your weight entirely to your right leg as you lift your left leg, keeping your hips square, for half-moon pose.
Bend both knees and clasp your left leg with your left hand. Take few breaths here to steady yourself and stretch your quad.
Inhale, and straighten your standing leg. Breathe into your right quad as you pull your right leg into a single-leg standing bow. Take a few breaths here.
Slowly come to stand on your right leg alone. Rest your right arm on a wall for a modified dancer’s pose or reach towards the sky and balance.
From here, gently release your left foot and hug your leg into your chest. You may end here or continue with the sequence by opening your hip with you leg bent and then straightened as shown in Figures 16-17.
Repeat everything on the other side.
Close your balance and flexibility sequence with child’s pose and quiet sitting meditation.
Also see: Yoga for Awakening Your Sense of Joy
Photos: Mary Hood