Yoga means union. Returning to wholeness, therefore, is the essential meaning of Yoga. We welcome you to try out the different poses below, all of which are designed to center you and boost your energy before students arrive, after lunch, or at the end of a busy day. Before you begin each pose, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Let your stomach expand as you inhale, and relax as you exhale.
Important: To reduce risk of injury, never force or strain. Consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program.
Standing Leg Stretch
Stretches thighs; expands chest; develops concentration.
Stand next to chair and hold back hand. Inhale, pressing through crown of head, becoming tall. Keeping knees together, bend right knee and clasp ankle. Roll both shoulders back and down, feeling chest expand. Breathe evenly and draw right heel toward hamstring. If needed, loop a strap around ankle to assist stretch. Repeat stretch with left leg.
Standing Back Arch
Aligns spine; tones abdomen; expands chest; corrects posture.
Place feet hip-width apart. Press down evenly through soles of feet. Lift kneecaps, draw tailbone down and engage abdominal muscles.Roll shoulders back and down, gently squeezing them toward each other. Place hands on either side of sacrum. Move pelvis forward, gaze up, and inhale. Take 2–3 breaths. If neck feels strained, tuck chin to chest.
Stretches arms, legs, back, abdomen; increases circulation.
Place feet 3´ apart and parallel to each other. Direct tailbone downward and engage abdominal muscles. Roll shoulders back and down. Interlace hands behind back (or hold a strap between your hands), straighten arms, inhale, and feel shoulder blades moving toward each other. Exhale, bend from pelvis, press through crown of head, and lengthen through torso. Stretch crown of head and tailbone in opposite directions. Align hips sockets over ankles. Allow arms to move down toward head. Take 3–5 breaths. To release, unclasp hands, place on thighs, bend knees slightly, and hinge up at pelvis, standing tall.
Tones/stretches arms; opens rib cage.
Sit on edge of chair with feet placed hip width apart. Put left hand on chair and relax shoulder. Inhale, raising right arm overhead. Exhale, reaching to your left. Keep pelvis firm on chair while pressing through crown of head. Keep both sides of pelvis firmly planted on chair as ribs spread open on right side. Turn head to gaze past underarm. Take 2–3 breaths. Repeat stretch on left side of body, then alternate stretch from side to side two or three times each.
Aligns spine; maintains spine suppleness; removes stiffness in neck, shoulders; stimulates digestion.
Place buttocks on left side of chair. Place feet hip width apart. Draw tailbone down and engage abdomenal muscles. Breath slowly and fully and grow tall with next inhalation, while pressing through crown of head. Guide ears back so that they are aligned over shoulder sockets, while pressing through crown of head. Keeping body facing forward, exhale and twist to left, beginning at base of spine. Keep pelvis firmly parallel to the edge of the chair. Take 2–5 breaths. Alternate side to side twice.
Tones arms, shoulders, back, abdominals, legs; expands chest; aligns spinal column; increases circulation.
Place chair against wall with hands shoulder-width apart. Bend from pelvis. Extend through straight arms, walk feet back, and inhale. Exhale, straighten legs, creating a straight line from wrists through elbows, shoulders and hip joints. Lengthen spine fully, pressing tailbone and crown of head in opposite directions. Relax in the stretch and take 5 deep breaths.
Tones wrists, arms, shoulders, upper back, abdominals, buttocks, legs; expands chest.
From Downward-Facing Dog, take hips forward pressing into hands. Roll over toes and inhale. Exhale, roll shoulders back and down, pressing heart forward. Fully extend through body from the tips of toes to crown of head, creating an arch. Take 2–3 breaths. For an invigorating full body stretch, move from downward-facing dog to upward-facing dog several times, enjoying several breaths in each pose.
Seated Torso Stretch
Lengthens torso; tones abdominals; energizes shoulders, arms.
Sit on edge of chair. Lift sternum gently while relaxing shoulders back and down. Direct ears back to align over shoulder joints.Press through crown of head. Interlace hands. Inhale deeply and lengthen arms overhead, straightening them while pressing palms up. Relax shoulders. Take 2–3 breaths. Exhale, separate hands, extend through shoulders, elbows, wrists, and finger joints while slowly lowering arms. If elbows bend, hold a strap. Repeat.
Counteracts rounding of the shoulders.
Sit toward edge of chair with feet placed hip width apart. Lengthen tailbone down. Inhale, then tilt tailbone up, beginning at the base of spine. Relax hands on legs with fingers draped over knee caps. Arch back and roll shoulders back and down, articulating each vertebra separately. Finally, lift chin slightly.
Releases tension in the lower back.
Exhale, then tilt tailbone under, beginning at the base of spine. Round lower back, then upper back. Finally, lower chin toward chest.
Cat-Dog Stretch Combination
Creates suppleness in the spine.
Do the seated dog/cat combination slowly 4–6 times.
For more in-depth breathing and strengthening techniques, see Centering, Breath Work, and Core Stabilization.