Charlotte Douglas shows you five different poses so you can pick the right one for you!
PART 1: DOWNWARD FACING DOG
Starting in Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svana), shift weight forward so shoulders are over your hands. Keep arms straight, fingers spread wide and middle fingers pointing forward. Distribute weight evenly across hands.
With legs straight, toes tucked under and facing forward push back through the heels, as if you are trying to touch the wall behind you. Your body should be in one straight line with the abdomen, legs and bottom engaged. Refrain from sagging or arching. Keep the core engaged and keep the belly button lifting towards the spine. Firm and broaden through the shoulder blades.
PART 2: PLANK
Plank (Charturanga Dandasana) begins by hugging everything into the midline of the body. Roll forward on your toes. Keep gaze forward. Begin to lower down until arms form a 90o angle and stop. Shoulders should not drop lower than the height of your elbows. Keep your core engaged – abdominals and ribs really pulled in. Hug elbows into the sides of your body. Keep tops of shoulders pulled back away from ears and pointing straight forward. Broaden through the chest and expand through the collarbones.
If your back is inclined to sag towards the mat, bring the knees to the floor and work from there slowly building up strength in the shoulders and arms.
Stand in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Shift weight slightly onto the left foot, keeping the inner foot firm to the floor and bend your right knee. Reach down with your right hand and clasp your right ankle. Use a wall for extra balance and support.
Draw your right foot up and place the sole against the inner left thigh. If possible, press the right heel into the inner left groin, toes pointing toward the floor. Your pelvis should be directly over the left foot. Adjust pelvis to be in a neutral position.
Lengthen the tailbone toward the floor and lift up through the spine. Firmly press the right sole of the foot against the inner thigh and resist with the outer left leg. Press palms together. Allow gaze to rest on a fixed point in front of you or on the floor. If your balance will allow extend arms up above your head and bring your gaze to the ceiling.
SIDE ANGLE BEND
PART 1: WARRIOR II
Start on the mat in a starfish pose with legs wide and feet parallel. Extend arms out, palms facing down. Reach through into the fingers but try to soften the shoulders. Feet should be somewhere halfway between your elbow and wrists.
Turn the right leg and foot outward 90o so your toes point to the top of your mat. Bend your right knee until your right thigh is parallel to the floor, knee over the ankle (adjust stance if needed). Turn in left toes slightly, about 45o. Align the heel of your right foot with the heel of your left foot. Keep your back leg straight. Keep your torso open to the left; do not turn your body in the direction of your right leg. Gaze out across the top of your right middle finger.
PART 2: SIDE ANGLE BEND
Exhaling, lower your right arm until fingers come to the mat or block, just inside your foot. Hug the arm into the leg. Reach your left arm up towards the ceiling, and then extend your arm over the top of your head. Keep your chest, hips, and legs in one straight line, extended over your front leg. Turn your head to look up at the ceiling. Keep your front knee aligned in the direction of your foot.
SEATED FORWARD BEND
Sit on the mat with legs extended in front of you (Dandasana). Reach actively through your heels, as if pushing the feet into a wall. Beginners should bend their knees throughout the pose, eventually straightening the legs as flexibility increases. Another option is to place a block under the knees to soften the hamstring stretch.
Inhale as you reach your arms upwards, elongating your spine. Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints. Try not to bend at the waist rounding the spine. Lengthen the front of your torso.
Hold onto your shins, ankles, or feet — wherever your flexibility allows. Let your belly touch the legs first, and then your chest. Your head and nose should touch your legs last. With each inhalation, lengthen the front torso. With each exhalation, fold down towards your legs a bit deeper.
If you have very tight hamstrings, place a block under the knees to provide relief. You can also use a yoga strap as an extension of the arms, by hooking the strap around the feet.
BRIDGE POSE TO WHEEL
PART 1: BRIDGE
Begin on your back with your legs bent at the knee, feet flat on the floor. Heels should be as close to your bum as possible. Exhale, press your feet into the ground. Use your thigh muscles as support as you lift your pelvis to the ceiling. Pay careful attention to your legs keeping them parallel. A block between the thighs can help activate the inner thigh muscles. Interlace your fingers with arms stretched out (below your pelvis). This helps you stay on the tops of your shoulders.
When finished, gently lower your spine toward the floor touching one vertebrae at a time.
PART 2: WHEEL WITH BLOCKS
Start with the beginning of bridge pose. Bend your elbows and start by placing your hands onto blocks placed onto the wall at a slight angle. Make sure the blocks are in contact with the wall and mat to avoid slipping. Press your feet into the floor as you exhale. Lift the hips as in bridge pose, using the strength of your arms to lift up bringing the crown of the head onto the mat. Exhale and push through the hands. Lift the hips further, extending the arms and lengthening through the body. Keep knees bent and thighs parallel. Continue breathing comfortably. Carefully and slowly lower yourself from the position.
PART 3: FULL WHEEL
Once you are comfortable with coming up into the wheel with blocks, remove the blocks and bring the palms of the hands onto the floor, by your ears, and lift up from there.