(Pose of the Month)
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
This strong and empowering pose requires stability and strength in both upper and lower body, commanding full and undivided attention to the physical practice of the pose. Follow these instructions to get into Warrior II:
Setting up a strong base is essential to Warrior II. From standing (Tadasana) with hands at the hips, gently bend into the right knee while stepping the left foot back about 3 feet.
Next, pivoting the left heel about 45 degrees rest the heel down on the mat.
Bending deeper into the right knee so that it is directly over the right ankle, begin to align right heel with the arch of the left foot.
Once the lower body feels sturdy in this set up, check in with the upper body to ensure that shoulders are stacked over hips and spread arms wide with fingers parallel to the floor.
Create space between the shoulder blades by stretching the fingertips in opposite directions with palms down. Complete the pose by rotating the gaze to see the right palm.
Repeat on the opposite side.
Standing Figure Four
This standing one legged balancing pose can be practiced after warming up your body with lunging postures, sun salutations, and forward folds. As always, keep your breath steady and your core active to help with balance and stabilization.
Begin standing evenly in Tadasana with two feet grounded, hands folded at heart or placed on hips, gaze forward.
Shift your weight into one foot, crossing the other ankle over your standing thigh just above your kneecap. Flex your lifted ankle to stabilize that knee.
Activate your hips by pressing your lifted ankle into your standing leg. Modify for days of questionable balance by crossing your ankle much lower on your leg, even placing your toes on the ground, but still pressing the ankle into the standing leg.
Bend your standing knee and sit though your hips just like in chair pose, keep your torso upright at first, gaze still forward, sinking low enough to bring plenty of sensation to the hip of the lifted leg.
Hinging at your hips will lower your torso closer towards your lifted shin, dropping your gaze to the floor in front of you. Hands can stay where they were, or you could reach hands down to blocks, fingertips, floor or standing shin.
Final steps would be to send the gaze back behind you, dropping your head and releasing your neck while broadening upper shoulders and back.
Back out of the pose the same way you came into it, coming back to an even standing posture.
Parsva Bakasana (side crow pose)
There’s two ways you can approach this pose. Our “training wheel” version will involve having both elbows on the body, the full expression will only have only one.
In the beginner version:
Start in a knees together squat. If your body allows you to be on the balls of the feet with heels high to give you more lift, go for it.
Bring your palms together and twist your torso to the right wall, hook your left outer arm above the elbow to your right outer thigh above the knee.
Let the palm and fingertips face the right wall, and do the same with the left hand, only the left elbow will be right in front of your right hip.
Use your feet to lift your hips and fully connect left elbow to right upper knee and right elbow to right hip and gaze forward (so important always!).
Start by teasing the idea of leaning forward and bringing all of your weight into your hands. You might explore bringing both feet off the ground into the arm balance. To support yourself from dropping the the floor, think energy up and forward.
Gaze forward and keep shifting forward, but to get energy to go up, as you press your hands down, hug your forearms towards one another and press the back of your heart up, creating and action that spreads your back shoulder blades away from one another (protraction).
The second version:
Start in the same position of a low squat.
With hands together you will again hook your left elbow on the outer right thigh, just above the knee.
Instead of twisting the torso and direction of the hand to the right, keep both the chest and hand facing forward with the knees.
Bring the left hand down to the ground, and then bring your right hand down facing forward as well and a shoulders distance away to the right.
This arm will connect to nothing so really remind yourself to press away with that arm!
Lift the hips and bring the weight of your legs onto the left arm.
Again we gaze forward and shift forward. Pick those toes up and protract those shoulders!
Parivrtta Parsvokonasana (revolved side angle pose)
Set up for crescent lunge with right foot forward and the front knee at a right angle. Keep the front thigh parallel to the floor and the knee directly over the ankle and in line with the second toe.
With an inhale emphasize the length of the torso, energetically reaching the hands to the ceiling.
With an exhale draw the palms together in Anjali Mudra (prayer hands) at the center of the sternum and begin to tilt the torso forward maintaining length.
Press the back leg straight and re-lengthen from the back heal to the crown of the head. Twisting bring the bottom arm outside of the front knee.
As soon as the arm is hooked, recommit to lengthening the torso.
Use inhales to lengthen and exhales to twist; spinning the bottom ribs forward and top ribs up. The sternum extends forward as the back heel presses back. The front hip pins back and into the midline as the back femur presses to the ceiling.
Hands can stay in Anjali Mudra at the center of the sternum or the arms can open out; top arm reaching to the ceiling and bottom hand coming towards the floor.
Hold for 5-8 breaths, release to Adho Mukha Svanasan (down dog) and repeat on the other side.
Bound boat pose
This is a wonderful starter boat pose, wonderful for a beginner or for someone who is rebuilding their core strength or beginning to work on strengthening of the mid and lower back.
Grab your elbows underneath the knees and shift the weight into your sits.
Distributing the weight evenly come up to boat pose and hang out.