This easy, floor-based yoga sequence will gently open the body and calm your mind. Stay in each pose for about 5 to 10 slow, steady breaths and remember to practise the asymmetrical postures on the other side, resting in neutral in between sides.
1. Easy pose / Sukhasana
Sit on the floor and bring one heel towards your groin and the other heel directly in front of it. Ground your sitting bones into the floor and create length in the spine while observing its natural arches. Soften your shoulders down and rest your hands on your knees.
2. Bound-angle pose / Butterfly
Place the soles of the feet together, as close to the groin as you can (below left), or if this is uncomfortable, move your heels a little away from you and come into Butterfly pose (below right). Clasp your big toes with the first two fingers and your thumb, or hold the outsides of your feet and let your knees relax down. Root the sitting bones into the floor and hinge forward from the hips, keeping length in the spine.
Tip: If you find you're tipping backwards in pose 1 and 2, sit on a couple of firm blankets. If your knees come much higher than your hips, support them with blocks or cushions.
3. Wide-angle seated forward bend / Upavishta Konasana variation
Stretch your legs out to about ninety degrees (or wider), up to a point where you feel a comfortable stretch, but can still hold the pose with a straight spine. Turn your torso toward your right leg and place your hands on the floor on either side of the thigh, calf or ankle. Begin to fold forward over the right thigh, maintaining length in the spine. Think about lengthening forward rather than moving down.
Tip: To create more stability, draw the thigh bones into the hip sockets. If the opposite sit bone (to the direction you are facing) comes off the floor a little, no problem!
4. Half Lord of the Fishes /Ardha Matsyendrasana
Stretch your legs straight out in front of you (Dandasana). Bend your right knee and place the sole of the right foot to the outside of the left knee or thigh. If it's comfortable for you to do so, bend the left knee and bring the left heel to the outside of the right buttock. (If not, keep the left leg outstretched). Stretch the left hand upwards and rotate the torso towards the right, wrapping your left arm around the right knee. Place the fingertips of the right hand behind you for support.
Tip: Try to ensure the twist comes from your spine, rather than just rotating your neck. If one buttock 'floats' off the floor, sit on a block or cushion so you're able to root your sit bones down.
5. Reverse tabletop pose
From Dandasana, bend your knees, keeping the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Take your hands behind you, shoulder-width, about 15 cms away from your hips. Press into the palms of your hands and lift the hips, so that your torso comes roughly in line with the tops of your thighs. Make sure your wrists are underneath your shoulders and knees above the ankles. Keep the neck neutral rather than letting the head drop back.
Tip: Fingertips can turn in or out, depending on what's comfortable for your shoulders - experiment with different positioning.
6. Bridge pose / Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Lie on your back with your arms next to the body, palms down. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, heels close to the buttocks, hip-width apart. Press the upper arms into the floor, firm your feet into the floor (inside and outside equally) and begin to lift the hips up to the ceiling, moving your breastbone to the chin. Lift your chin slightly to keep space under the back of the neck and lengthen your tailbone towards the backs of your knees. Begin to snuggle your shoulder blades together and if comfortable, clasp your hands.
Tip: Try not to pull the shoulders away from the ears too much; instead think about lengthening the sides of the waist.
7. Supine twist
Lie on your back and bend both knees, placing your feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips a little a shift them a little to the right. Keep your right knee bent and extend your left leg out along the floor. Slowly begin to bring the right knee across the body, turning onto the left hip. Extend your right arm in line with the shoulder and try to keep your right shoulder on the floor so that you feel a nice stretch in the upper and mid back. If you like, you could turn your gaze to the right. Bring your right leg back in line with the left, staying for a few moments before repeating on the other side.
Tip: Don't force the bent knee onto the floor; if it's hovering, support it with a block or cushion.
8. Half wind relieving pose / Ardha Pavanmuktasana
From lying flat on your back, bring the right knee into your chest, clasping the fingers a little below the kneecap. Gently pull the knee into the chest and extend the heel of the right foot forward in the opposite direction. If you feel any pinching in the hip area, you might need to move the knee more towards the right-hand side of your ribs.
Tip: If the back of the head lifts off the floor, or your head tilts backwards, rest it on a block.
9. Corpse pose / Savasana
Lie on the floor with your arms a short distance from the sides of your body and your legs outstretched. Relax your feet and rotate the upper arms so that your palms face upwards. This will give more space to your chest area to allow the breath to move freely. Consciously allow the weight of your body to be carried by the Earth and time for the effects of the poses be deeply absorbed.
Tip: Let silence be your medicine.
Practise in class with Esther Ekhart