One very important aspect to yoga is the teacher. I’m very particular with who I go to for yoga class. It’s an important job! I look for someone who knows anatomy well, gives clear instruction with injury prevention strategies and especially when we’re in a pose gives modifications and advancements. This is important because everyone in the class is not at the same level. Some will need an easier version, yet some will be ready to try the more challenging version. I love an instructor that explains both options!
For yoga for the whole body, we often start seated working on breath work with arm and trunk stretches, then we move to all fours. Our breath is coordinated with flexing and extending the spine in cat – cow. Then we’ll often do spinal balance where the right hand and left leg are extended, then left hand and right leg are extended. Our instructor always poses 3 times, so you can warm up, breath and perfect the pose. A good example of my instructors cuing here is to raise a single arm or leg, if you can’t do both together. To take the pose up a notch, take your hand back and grab the ankle while you bend the knee and point the toes up. A great stretch for the shoulder and hip flexors! Or you just stay in a steady spinal balance.
From all 4’s we often go into downward facing dog. The arms in position first, we gradually straighten our legs working the core. In down dog we get added core work by raising our leg up straight then flexing it forward to bring the knee toward the nose, then extending the leg back into the air. Do several times, switch the leg and repeat.
Next comes plank. Move forward from down dog, until your back is flat and shoulders, elbows and wrists are lined up. Just stay in plank, breathe and get stronger! For a modification you can go down on your knees or your elbows. To take it up a notch, you can raise one leg, hold then switch to the other leg.
For all 4’s, plank and downward dog there’s a lot of pressure on the hands. WAGs are a great wedged wrist support to ease the pressure and make it more comfortable in your wrists and hands. If you don’t have WAGs you should definitely try a pair. In the mean time the studio might have foam wedges you could use to help your wrists.
In another post we’ll cover standing sequences and postures for whole body yoga. Just remember to always go into your yoga practice with acceptance and gratitude. Accepting where you and your body are at the time, paying close attention to what you feel and honoring it.