Root down through the feet and lift the toes. Spread the toes nice and wide, and then place them lightly back down. Notice the four corners of the feet, and press down in order to create a strong connection to the ground. Firm up through the thighs and lengthen the tailbone toward the heels. Draw the shoulder blades firm to the back and expand through the chest. Reach the crown of the head up to the ceiling. Stay here and breathe, 3-5 rounds of breath. Create long and smooth inhales and exhales.
On an inhale breath, lift the arms up over the head and lift the right knee. Come to a one-legged Mountain Pose. Spin the pinkies inward and level off in the area of the hips and the shoulders. Option to stay here and breathe, focus on the breath. Create a drishti gaze in order to maintain focus and concentration.
This pose takes strength, concentration, and perseverance. If you fall out of the pose, move right back into the pose or work on the floor variation, Upavishta Parivrtta Hasta Padangusthasana, Seated Revolved Hand to Big Toe Pose, as a means to take the balance out of the pose while receiving much of the same benefits.
If you want to move on, on an exhale breath, twist the torso to the right. Bring the left palm to the outside of the right knee and open the right arm like a wing. Allow the gaze to follow towards the side-wall. Allow the chest to twist and open towards the right. Notice if the spine begins to round, lengthen through the crown of the head and lift the chest towards the ceiling as if there was a string being lifted up from the area of the sternum. Draw the shoulder blades down the back and lengthen the tailbone towards the heel of the standing leg. Keep the standing leg firm and press the left thigh bone back. Option to stay here and breathe for 3-5 rounds of breath, creating smooth and even breaths.
If you want to move further. Begin to straighten the right leg and grab onto the knife edge of the right foot. Option to use a strap for support or press the right foot into the wall for stability. Move slowly and with intention. If you move too fast or lose your breath, you may lose balance. Press energy through the right heel. Create expansion in the chest and draw the shoulder blades flush to the back. Maintain a tall spine. Lengthen the crown of the head towards the ceiling and keep the standing leg strong and straight. Allow the gaze to move towards the side wall or even towards the right thumb if you want to further challenge your balance.
To come out of the pose: Move slowly and with intention. Begin to bend the right knee and slowly come back to center. Bring the right foot down to the floor and bring the palms back down to your sides. Stay here and breathe. Allow the breath to come back to natural. Repeat the instructions on the opposite side.
The “magic” and balance of the pose starts in the foundation of the pose, the feet. Root down into the four corners of the feet, located in the ball mound and heels. Firm the thigh of the standing leg and the core. Focus on the breath and the drishti gaze, a laser-beam focus on a non-moving object, in order to find balance.
The physical benefits include strengthening and lengthening in the legs, creating opening in the area of the shoulders, as well as stretching and releasing tension in the hips and glute muscles. You also receive the benefits of a twist. Create vitality and good posture to the spine.
To move into Upavishta Parivrtta Hasta Padangusthasana, Seated Revolved Hand to Big Toe Pose as a variation: Come into Dandasana, Staff Pose. Come to a seat with the legs extended to hip-width distance apart. Remove the extra flesh from the sitting bones in order to find neutrality in the pelvis and in order to root down through the foundation of the pose. Place the palms down on both sides of the hips, under the shoulders with the fingertips facing forwards.
Flex the toes towards the face. Lift the crown of the head towards the ceiling and draw the shoulder blades flush to the back. Create expansion in the area of the collarbones. Draw the low-belly in towards the spine. This is an active posture despite its’ appearance. The body is active and the breath remains soft.
On an inhale breath, reach the arms up over the head and bend the right knee, bringing the sole of the foot towards the ground. Spin the pinkies inward and draw the shoulder blades down the back. On an exhale breath, twist to the right. Open the arms like wings towards the side wall. Allow the gaze to follow. Option to stay here. Sit tall and breath. Create smooth and even inhales and exhales.
Option to go further. Begin to straighten the right knee and grab the outside edge of the foot with the left palm. Use a strap wrapped around the sole of the foot as a variation. Root down through the sitting bones and lift the sternum up towards the ceiling. Extend energy out the right heel. Find expansion of the chest. Use the breath in order to slowly twist deeper. On an inhale breath, lengthen through the crown of the head. On an exhale breath, allow the breath to pull you deeper into the pose, rather than “muscling” your way deeper. Allow the gaze to stay neutral, looking at the side wall or work the gaze towards the back thumb if it feels okay on the neck.
Stay here and breathe, for 3-5 full rounds of breath. Create long and smooth inhales and exhales.
To slowly come out: begin to bend the right knee and bring the sole of the foot back to the ground. Bring the arms back to center. Allow the palms to come back to the sides of the body. Repeat the same instructions on the opposite side.
Notice how you feel. Allow the breath to come back to natural. Move into your day with a clear mind and loving intentions.
Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga and breathing techniques. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.
Christi Iacono, owner of In Rhythms Yoga
Christi Iacono is a certified yoga teacher, at the 500 hour level. She is the owner of In Rhythms Yoga, in Clairemont. IRY is a small neighborhood studio in Clairemont, S.D., located in the Mount Streets. Christi has experienced many positive physical and mental transformations from her regular yoga practice. She enjoys sharing her experience, passion, and dedication with her students. She believes that yoga is accessible to all. Rather than forcing someone’s body into a pose, Christi carefully works with each individual to find the variation that will best serve their body.
IRY offers regularly scheduled vinyasa-based classes on, Sat., Sun. (Yin-Yoga) and Wed. mornings as well as a Tues. evening class.
*Yin Yoga and Trunk Show on Sun., Dec. 21st. Yin yoga is from 10-11:15 a.m. and Tae Clothing Trunk Show begins at 11:30 a.m. RSVP to Christi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go to www.inrhythmsyoga.com to see the full schedule, instructors and for private lessons.