Many of us do yoga to work on our strength and flexibility. We may have tight muscles that make poses feel more restricted. The most important aspect of yoga is to listen to our bodies and work with – not against – any areas of tension.
Here are our tips for getting the most out of your flow.
Upward Facing Dog
This deep backbend isn’t a pose to jump right into. You’ll need to warm up your back and get it ready to bend, and a great place to start is with Low Cobra pose.
To do Low Cobra, lay on your stomach on the floor, then raise yourself up onto your elbows. Your shoulders should line right over your elbows. Push back into a gentle arch. When you feel warm enough, take it slow as you transition into Upward Facing Dog. From plank position, your feet should be hip-width apart and arms should be shoulder-width apart. Lower down to Chaturanga, then tilt your body forward using your toes. Flip your feet, press into your palms and straighten your elbows and lift your torso, knees, and thighs so they are not touching the ground. Be gentle with your back, and if you need to take pressure off your back, lower your knees.
Not only is this pose grounding and strengthening, it also opens the chest and hips. During Warrior 2 pose, make sure to be in alignment.
Line up the heel of your front foot with the arch of your back foot, and make sure that your front knee aligns over your front ankle. Tuck the belly and bottom in – neither one should be sticking out. Pull your shoulders up and back so that you don’t hunch forward, and engage both of your legs – you should be pressing down equally with both feet.
Keep your knee stacked over your ankle during any lunge, including Crescent and Runner’s Lunge. During Low Lunge, make sure your back leg is pressing down just as much as your front leg, and keep it straight for stability. Square your hips as you hold the pose.
During your Vinyasas, you’ll be doing a lot of Halfway Lifts. Try not to round the back, and bend the knees so you can keep your back straight. Your spine should be nice and long when you lift up and then fold back down. Don’t crane your neck to look up – keep it in alignment with the rest of your spine.
Remember, you can always adjust as needed or use props to support yourself. But most of all, be sure to be gentle with yourself, your joints, and your muscles as you flow. Namaste.