- Stretch tall, squeezing the quads and gluteus slightly, pulling in the abs, stretching through the arm pits, elbows behind the ears, fingers reaching up. Elongate the body as much as possible. -Bending at the hip joint (not the waist), reaching out, ideally placing the palms on the floor. Modify into 1 st option by placing the hands on the quads above the knees, 2 nd option by placing the hands below the knees on the top of the shins, 3 rd option, by the ankles and gradually work your way down to the floor and hold -From the last position, lift the head up to elongate the spine, then relax the head down, eyes looking at the knees -Place the palms on the ground (knees might need to bend), either step or jump back into plank position (push-up) -Lower the body evenly to the ground -place the hands under the shoulders, relax the shoulder away from the ears and push up keeping your hip pointers in contact with the ground (for some the elbows will be straight, for others they will be bent) -Push back into downward dog, evenly placing weight on the palms and feet. -Think of a Sun Salutation A as a modified Burpie
Major Muscle and Flexibility Areas: Hamstrings, Gluteus, Gracilis, Gastrocnemius, Soleus, Lumbosacral Fascia, Erector Spinae, Latisimus Dorsi Cueing: Exhale into this position Squeeze gluts and quads Pull belly button into the spinal cord Ground feet into floor, Bend at the hips, not in the lower back, the goal is to keep the back flat (swan dive) If the spine begins to curve, place hands on the shins (use block if available), if more flexible place hands to ankles, then palms to the floor Last position is to wrap the forearms around the legs and pull the chest into the thighs. How to come out: regardless of position, lift chin and pull with the hamstrings NOT the lower back. I find an easy cue to help people understand the movement is to: Isometrically push the heels into the floor and turn into each other. They will NOT physically move but will help rotate the femur and allow the hamstrings to do the lifting verses the back extensors. Benefits: Creates space between the vertebrae, benefits the nerves, improving circulation around the spine, positive impact on every bodily function Forward Bend
PLANK Muscle & Flexibility Areas: Deltoids, rectus abdominals, gluteus, gastrocnemius, pectoralis major, soleus, trapezius, rhomboids, back extensors, posterior deltoid, serratus anterior Cueing: Hands are shoulder width apart with the wrists directly under the shoulders Feet are hips width apart Push thorough the shoulders to prevent sinking in the joint Pull the abs into the spinal cord to stabilize the abs. If a curve appears in the lower back lift the hips to form a modified triangle. Eventually strength and stabilization will develop to allow full extension Benefits: Strength building in the upper body and core muscles Great for developing the muscles for the flex arm hang!!
COBRA Muscle & Flexibility Areas: Triceps, deltoids, pectoral, abdominals, gluts, gastrocnemius, soleus, trapezius, Rhomboids, back extensors Cueing: From plank position Pull the elbows into the sides of the body, lowering the body to the floor Try to touch the whole body to the floor at the same time Keeping the elbows into the sides Place the hands under the shoulders Squeeze the gluts (this protects the lower back) Push-up through the hands inhaling, through the shoulders (no sagging in the shoulder) Again keep the elbows into the sides You should be able to hold the position for 30-60 seconds Benefits: If Cobra is difficult, place the forearms on the ground with the elbows directly under the shoulder Palms flat on the ground with finger tips spread Push the palms in the ground while pulling the sternum forward
DOWNWARD FACING DOG Muscle & Flexibility Areas: Gasteronemious, soleus, hamstrings, gluts, back extensors, rhomboids, deltoids, flexors and extensors of the wrist, quadireceps, abdominals, pectorial major Cueing: Starting on all fours with the wrists directly under the shoulders and the knees directly under the hips Drop the gluts to the heels (child’s pose) straighten the arms at the armpits Lift the knees forming a triangle with your body and the floor Hands shoulder width apart and feet hips width apart Spread the fingers wide and press weight into the index finger and thumb Turn the “eyes “ of the elbows to face each other, thus, turning the upper arms (“eyes” is where the elbow folds) Pull the belly button to the spinal cord Ideally, the heels should be on the ground, if you can’t get the heels to the ground, lift the heels and bend the knees slightly Extend through the shoulders, moving the ears away from the shoulders Once in position, roll the hips up and squeeze the gluts, alternate lifting the heels for an add calf stretch Hold for 30-60 seconds Benefits: There are many variations to do in downward dog Great ab workouts by lifting the legs and bring the knee to the shoulder or crossing to opposite shoulder
GIVING POWER TO SUN SALUTATION A Plank Variations: Holding Plank for time: from 10 to 60 seconds Practice lowering the body in a slow motion with elbows into the body. Goal is to have the whole body touch as the same time Plank Abs: Lifting the right leg, bending the right knee into the right shoulder, hold for 3-5 seconds, extend back (hold for a moment) set down (repeat on other side) Same set as above: now cross the right knee over to the left arm pit, hold for 3-5 seconds, extend back (hold for a moment) set down Once strength had developed: Adding on to the above exercise: once the leg had been extended back, do a 3-5 leg lifts, circles, side lift, etc. etc. Side Plank: hold for time 10-60 seconds --stack the feet --sole of top foot balances on inner thigh of bottom leg --index and middle finger wrap around big toe of top foot, extending up --top arm twists under the body and up to beginning position Push up variations
Cobra: Exhale as the head turns looking over the left shoulder toward the left heel; Inhale to center. Repeat on other side Move the sides of the feet together; activating the inner thighs Place the forehead on the ground; hands down by the hips Without using the hands, lift the chest off the ground; pulling the sternum through Variation: interlace the hands behind the gluts; lift the chest and arms; extending the arms towards the feet This is a warm up for bow and wheel (back bend) pose
Down Dog Variations: There are an endless amount of variations from Downward Dog. It is a core pose to any yoga practice and is often used for transitions, making it an excellent pose to add variations. Once in down dog: Lift one leg for leg lifts, small circles, big circles, side lifts, etc. etc. Keep the integrity of the upper body (most want to collapse in the shoulders) Transition from downdog to plank and back. The hands and feet should not move, this lets the yogi know their hands and feet are the right distance apart for their body Swing one leg forward for lunges, power lunges, switch lunges, etc., etc. In place inchworms: walk the feet to the hands, then the feet back to downdog, then walk the hands to the feet. Donkey kicks: (prep for handstands) lift the heels, bend the knees and with both feet push off the ground attempting to bring the knees into the chest first.