Yoga is for everybody and every body. You don’t have to be flexible, strong, young or beautiful to practice yoga. Yoga is ultimately about learning how to connect to the moment rather than run from it. If you can breathe, then you can do yoga!
Relax your shoulders and face. Seal the lips but loosen the jaw so you aren’t grinding your teeth. Breathe in and out of your nose if possible, as the body makes a gas called Nitric Oxide (NO) in the back of the nostrils. NO dilates the blood vessels and helps engage the relaxation response to lower stress levels. Never force the breath. If you feel light-headed or nauseous, let the breathe move into a rhythm of its own choosing. The inhale will expand the belly like a balloon, while the exhale will draw the navel back toward the spine.
1) Parsva Tadasana (Side Mountain Pose)
Stand with good posture, as if there is a string pulling the crown of your head to the sky. Place the right hand on your hip and extend the left arm by the ear. Lean to the right side to stretch the left side of the body. Hold for 5 deep breaths and then switch sides.
2) Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
Return to standing. Shift the weight into your right foot and slide the left foot to rest on the inside of your right leg, either above or below the knee. Rest your left hand on your left thigh. Your ight hand can rest at the heart or on a wall if you need more stability. Keeping your gaze relaxed and steady will help you maintain your balance. Hold for 5 deep breaths and then switch sides.
3) Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)
From standing, fold the spine over the legs. The feet are parallel to each other and the knees are slightly bent. Let the spine and head just hang here and enjoy the stretch in the back of the body. Hold for 5 deep breaths.
4 and 5) Bitilasana (Cow Pose) and Marjaryasana (Cat Pose)
These two poses work as a team. From uttanasana, step the knees back and down into a tabletop. Stack your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. As you inhale, drop the belly toward the floor as the tail and the head both lift, moving into a backbend (cow pose). Exhale and tuck the chin and tail as the spine rounds toward the ceiling (cat pose). Do this 5-15 times, imagining each round loosening the muscles on either side of your spine.
6) Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
From tabletop, walk the hands one hand length forward, so they are slightly in front of your shoulders. Curl your toes under and lift your hips to the sky to form an upside down “V” as you move into down dog.
Hold for 5 deep breaths.
7) Phalakasana (Plank Pose)
From downward dog, rock your shoulders out over your hands into plank pose. The shoulders are stacked over the hands and the legs are straight. Never lock your elbows. To engage the core, lift the spine away from the floor, so the upper back is flat or slightly rounded. Hold here for 10 strong breaths or as long as you can.
8) Sukhasana (Easy Seat Pose)
From plank pose, drop the knees into tabletop, and then swing the legs around to come onto your booty. Sit cross-legged, flexing the feet to protect your knees. Fold forward and linger here in this awesome hip stretch. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths, then switch sides and repeat on the other side.
9) Parvritta Sukhasana (Easy Seated Twist)
Sit tall in Easy Seat Pose. Place the left hand on your right knee. Place the right hand on the floor behind you. Breathing in, sit up even taller. Breathe out and twist your heart towards the right, looking over your right shoulder into seated twist. Hold 5 breaths and then repeat on the other side.
10) Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall)
Sit by a wall with your hips as close to the wall as possible. Spin the torso out into the middle of the room as you stretch your legs up the wall. Place a blanket or block under your head if you want. Rest the arms comfortably out to the sides. Breathe deeply here for 5-30 minutes. This pose improves the circulation of blood and lymph. It calms the mind and lowers the blood pressure.