Here is a well rounded 30 minute core-strengthening practice to keep the flow of health and joy going.
You can hold each position for 5 breaths unless it is specified otherwise. If you have more/less than 30 minutes you can hold for shorter/longer. Throughout the sequence, please be aware of your breath and body sensations. Try not to let your mind wander, but if it does, simply bring it back to the breath. Remember if we practice in this way, the asana practice has the great potential to bring the body and mind into harmony and balance.
We will start sitting in order to get some connection to Mother Earth. Beginning with a breathing exercise helps to start establishing our mindfulness for the practice, allowing ourselves to simply feel before we have to feel alongside the movements.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
This is a powerful way of balancing the energy to bring some focus into the body and mind.
To open the third eye, we start by blocking the right nostril with the right thumb, the index and middle finger resting on the third eye, and we take an inhalation from the left nostril. After the inhalation, use the ring finger to block the left nostril, release the thumb from the right nostril and exhale through the right nostril. Then inhale through the right nostril, use the thumb to block the right nostril, remove the ring finger from the left nostril and exhale.
Essentially, exhale, inhale, then switch nostrils. Repeat this for at least 7 rounds.
With exhalation you will enter cat pose, bringing your ribs up towards the ceiling. Take your shoulder blades away from each other and look towards the naval. Straighten your arms and spread your fingers.
In the cow position we arch the back, allowing our ribs to sink towards the ground and tilt the pelvic area forward. Take the shoulder blades towards each other, away from the ears. Look upwards without straining your neck. Straighten your arms and spread your fingers. All of this should be done with inhalation.
Please focus on this as a breathing exercise. We are working on creating more or less space in the lungs and therefore the movement is only supporting the breathing. Make inhales and exhales as long as possible. Do not force, just allow to the breath to happen as you move the body.
Sun Salutations A
If you have time, you can incorporate sun salutations A into this sequence for additional work. Anywhere from 6-18 repetitions. A simpler way to continue to warm up is to hold downward dog position for a minute.
To get some strength in your legs, bring the feet together, or you can separate them hip distance if together is too difficult. Bring knees in line with toes, tuck your tailbone in and reach up with the hands.
You can arrive in high lunge either from downward dog or through a vinyasa.
In high lunge, take your heels back. You want to have a strong foundation in standing poses, so you must give emphasis to our feet. Press the outer part of right heel to ground, bend knee to 90 degrees, left heel reaching back, left thigh reaching up. Like in chair position, reach the arms high to create length in your side body.
Repeat with both legs, either completing a vinyasa in between or switching through downward dog.
Then go to downward dog and come to stand, where you take five deep breaths.
Take your feet four feet apart or under your outstretched hands to do triangle pose.
For this position, consider part of your core area to be in your inner thighs. Bring intensity to your heels by pushing into the ground as if we’re stretching mat with feet, taking the inner thighs away from each other. Bring your torso towards your front leg, then we twist the abdomen and reach with the upper hand up to the ceiling.
Note that it’s important to breathe in the position. Like any other posture, take note of the interesting situation of the lungs. Be always receptive to the breathing and relaxed with your face.
Rise up from trikonasana and come into Warrior II. Try to relax the shoulders as much as possible but bring energy to the fingertips.
Move from here to downward dog, then come to standing again by walking your hands to your feet.
From standing, enter this balance pose. Start standing on your left leg, bringing the right leg over the left thigh and left foot behind right calf, if possible. Bring your right arm forward and left arm above, then wrap them so your elbows and hands are together facing each other.
You can modify the pose by unhooking your foot from the calf or split it into two poses, one with the legs variation and one with the hands variation.
If you want a challenge, keep arms as they are in eagle pose and go directly into warrior III. Move slowly and mindfully. Don’t forget the work of the feet in the standing position, even when the left foot is up. The left inner thigh is still working to come up towards the ceiling.
Now come to the last downward dog, or you can do a vinyasa now if you still have it in you. Or if you wish you can go straight to take a rest by lying down on your abdomen. Take a few deep breaths in your abdomen, feeling its push against mother earth and vice versa.
Come to your forearms for sphinx position. For an extra challenge, take the cobra position. You can repeat three times, holding each time for five breaths. From there, slowly find your way to sitting.
Our intention now is to cool down and relax. We want to create more space in the spine with a spinal twist. Even in the relaxation pose now, work to keep your focus with your breath; lengthen your spine with inhalation, sink deeper with exhalation.
This is a good opening for the hamstrings. If you have lower back issues and find it painful, you can do it with a completely upright back without bending your back forward.
Alternatively, you can take your legs up against the wall for a restorative position, buttocks touching wall as well, for relaxation. You want this to be comfortable. Or put cushion under buttocks, use a strap to hold your legs up. You can bend knees to ease the stress of this modification.
Lastly we have savasana, our resting, restorative corpse pose to close out the sequence.