Have you been caught up in the wheel of saying you can’t do yoga? Whether it’s because you can’t touch your toes, or because you see all these advanced pretzeled yogis on your social media feed and think you need to be able to do that from Day 1. I’m here to tell you that neither of these are requirements to “do yoga.”
We are often stronger than we think we are, these poses will help you to tap into that. Guided by guest teacher Meghan Johnston this class explores some gentle movement on your mat.
If you want more Gentle Yoga, find the full 7 class bundle for beginners in the Yoga with Kassandra app now.
1. Tune In – Lay down on your back, bending the knees and bring the feet a bit wider than hip width. Drop the knees towards each other. Rest your arms down at the sides, and let your body settle in to the mat. Tune in, taking a moment to notice how your body feels. Bring your focus to the breath, noticing its movement within the body. Bring your hands to the ribs. Focus on breathing side to side, noticing how the ribs and lungs expand to make room for the breath. Then focus on breathing front to back. Next, notice your breath moving up and down. Finally, bring them all together. Tuning in to the breath makes it easier to channel your strength.
2. Reclined Leg Stretch – Draw your knees in towards the belly. Rock gently side to side, or front to back, to massage the back. Bring the feet back to the ground. Hug your right knee in. Either keep the left leg bent, or extend it out. Take a few full deep breaths here. Then bring the hands to the back of your leg, extending it up towards the sky. Flex your lifted foot, curling the toes back. Add pressure, pushing hands in to the leg, and leg back in to the hands. Then let your leg completely relax, bending the knee and dropping the foot, followed by re-extending. Do this a few times through. Getting in to the dichotomy of full engagement and full relaxation. Repeat on the other leg.
3. Cat/Cow – Come to table top, padding the knees as needed with blankets or doubling the mat in. Set the hands under the shoulders, and knees under the hips. Spread the fingers wide. Inhale, dropping the belly, lifting the heart. Exhale, rounding the spine, pushing in to the hands, and looking towards the belly. Move for several rounds with your breath. Return to neutral table top. Firm up the core, and start to isolate the upper part of the spine. Drop your heart towards the ground, keeping the arms straight, and lifting shoulders up towards the ceiling. As you exhale, press the palms away and puff up the area between the shoulders, spreading them apart. This action helps to strengthen the stabilizing muscles. Repeat a few times through.
4. Bird/Dog – Find a firm foundation in table top. Extend your right leg out behind you, keeping the ball of the foot on the ground. Engage the core, square the hips and press hands in to the mat. Maybe start to lift your right toes up a couple of inches from the ground. If you want to take the pose further, you may also try to extend the left arm forward. To engage the left leg, think about pushing the inside of the thigh against a hand. Release to table top for a few breaths, then switch sides.
5. Warrior – Come to standing at the front of your mat. Take a big step back with your left foot, bringing it parallel to the short edge of your mat. Bend deeply in to the right knee. If the knee goes over the ankle, take your stance longer. Float your arms up. Press down in to both the inside and outside edges of the feet. Sink the hips and pelvis lower. Flip your palms up, take a bicep curl to engage the arms. Keep this engagement as you re-extend the arms out. Relax your shoulders. Reverse your Warrior, by bringing the left hand to the hip, flipping right palm up, and reaching it up to the sky. Focus on keeping the bottom rib in. Take the gaze up to the raised hand or look down, whichever is better for your neck. Repeat on other side.
6. Tree – Standing at the front of your mat, find a strong stance in Mountain. Rooting down through your feet. Shift the weight to the right foot. Bring the left foot to the inside of your ankle, or lift it up to the shin/calf. Focus on the standing leg, drawing in to the midline. Hands can rest on the hips, or maybe together at the heart. Take tree on the other leg.
7. Bridge – Lower down to the ground, reclining on the mat. Have a block or thick book/cushion handy, placing it between the knees. Bring feet to hip width, and walk them in towards the seat. Bring arms down at the sides, pressing the palms in to the mat. Press in to your feet to lift the spine up. Lift and lower a few times. Find strength as you lift, and relax as you lower. Remove the prop from between the knees, and slide it under the sacrum on lowest or middle setting. Draw the left knee in towards the belly, and straighten your right leg out. This is a bit of an inversion, since the legs are higher than the heart (straight line from shoulder to ankle). Lift and lower your right foot an inch or two, engaging and working the core. This action also strengthens and lengthen the Psoas muscles. Repeat on the other side.
If you would prefer to have Meghan’s gentle voice guiding you through these movements, practice the full 30 minute class below.
Yoga with Kassandra – Disclaimer
Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. By participating in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge Yoga with Kassandra from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of Yoga with Kassandra’s negligence.