The extended puppy pose, or Uttana
Shishosana, is technically considered an inversion pose. It’s kind of what you’d think would be a combination between downward dog and childs pose, and does amazing things to stretching out that spine and back.
To start, find your way to your mat – on your knees and hands. As you stack your hips and shoulders above your knees and wrists, feel free to start ever so lightly adjusting your wrists slowly forward. It is also ok to curl your toes so they are also resting on the floor.
Once you’re comfortable, slowly begin to bring your bum towards your heels, and allow your head to slowly drop towards the floor, allowing your neck to relax. You will find your hands slowly extending outwards from you. Try to avoid letting your elbows touch the ground!
It feels really nice to have your back slightly arched here. To feel extra stretch, push through your hands to the floor and slowly extend your hips backwards.
To finish, allow your hips to come to the ground and bring your hands back towards your shoulder.
Photo by the wonderful @bobbicarpinostudio
Utthita Hasta Padangustasana is simply known as the extended-hand-to-big-toe pose. It maybe sounds simple in English, but the balance it requires!
Start in tadasana – the pose that has you standing with your feet slightly apart, shoulders feeling tall and proud, and hands slightly opened towards the world.
From here, slowly bring your knee up towards your chest and grab onto your big toe with the same side arm. You will find it easier to have your elbow on the inside of your leg. By flexing your quad muscle you will naturally extend your hamstring and your leg will find its way straight.
Remember to push the ball of your foot on the ground through the floor for a sturdy balance.
If it feels natural, extend your leg towards the side and push your heel towards the sky!
To exit the pose, slowly bend your knee and bring it back to center, releasing your grip on your big toe!
Savasana is considered by many to be the most complicated pose to do, yet also the most important pose to do. Rest, take rest. It requires a complete practice and leaves you into a deep meditative state. It is usually open to interpretation, but savasana can also be the pose you hold for the longest time.
Savasana. The final pose.
When in savasana, it is important to remember to bring yourself back to your breath again. When you find yourself getting anxious to get up and get on with the day, when you find yourself looking to curl up into a ball, when you hear little noises starting to echo through your brain – find your breath, inhale into your belly, exhale with your fire breath, and enjoy savasana.
It might be a smart option to bring a blanket to wrap yourself in before you let your body cool down here.
If you are leading a class, perhaps you can go around and lightly lift some student’s feet by the heels into the air to give them a few moments of extended inversion, but remember that if you grip too tightly to the back of their heels or pull on that sensitive area there just below the ankle bones, it can cause a pinching and pain to the student.
Utkatasana – or chair pose – is possibly one of the most overlooked pose out there. It feels a little funny, but does it ever work that whole core area from your knees to your shoulders.
Start Utkatasana in Tadasana, standing tall with legs naturally separated and arms at your hips. On an inhale, slowly raise your arms parallel to the ground and bend your knees as if you’re about to sit gingerly into a chair.
Keep mindful about the bottoms of your feet pushing into the ground.
Shift your body as you feel into this pose to bring your upper thighs as close to parallel with the floor as you can, making about a 90 degree between your lower and upper legs. You’ll notice your upper torso wants to lean forward slightly, which is ok, and your knees will be stacked over your toes.
When you find your comfort with your legs, bring your arms up towards the sky for an adjustment. Avoid bringing them too high that your shoulders touch your ears. This is avoided by strengthening your shoulders and shoulder blades towards your spine.
This is a strengthening pose, so hold it for as long as possible. I find I like to push myself further by slightly pumping my upper body up and down to circulate some blood through the legs.
Feel free to have a coffee and read the paper while you’re seated. 🙂
This supine spinal twist – or Supta Matsyendrasana – sometimes almost feels too good; with arms spread and spine in a supported twist it’s nearly a relaxed ecstasy.
Begin by lying in the supine position, that is, on your back.
On your next inhale, slowly raise both of your knees until the palms of your feet are lying flat on the ground. On your exhale, prepare for your twist left by shifting your hips slightly to the right, pushing through your feet to raise your hips here.
On your next inhale, draw your right knee closer to your chest while letting your left leg slip back to the ground fully extended.
With your next exhale, slowly let your right knee roll over to your left side. You will notice your hips begin to stack themselves. At this point, if you feel your hips are too extended, feel free to use a prop to support your bent knee like you see me doing in this photograph.
Imagining a straight line that runs just under your chin, extend both of your arms straight outwards. They should be close to parallel with your bent thigh.
If you’re feeling like a little more twist, feel free to turn your head now away from your bent knee on an exhale.
I always like to lay in this position for as long as my breath will keep me there.
To exit this pose, on your exhale, roll from your hips and your leg will follow naturally. Bring both your knees up slightly, resting your feet flat on the ground, shifting your hips slightly to the left to prepare to stack them, and rolling now to your right with a bent left leg.
Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana is a modified Head on Knee pose (just Janu (knee) Sirsasana (head)), being Revolved Head on Knee pose, so feel comfortable setting yourself into that pose, too.
To start this pose be seated with your legs straight out. With an inhale, bring your right knee upwards and tuck your foot in close to your left thigh as you draw your right heel towards your root chakra.
With an exhale, shift your torso so your bellybutton is facing straight out, parallel to the floor and your right thigh. Hold this for an inhale.
With your next exhale, slowly bring your left hand down towards your left ankle and your right hand towards the sky. With your inhale, focus on straightening your spine by keeping the bend at the hip.