Morning Yoga Routine 2

 Good Morning!  Below is a new morning routine for those that have been practicing with Morning Routine 1 for awhile.  Just a reminder that the poses and information are a general guideline.  If you have specific health issues, it is better to check with your doctor.  If you still want to do Morning Routine 1, it is found in the November 2010 blogs.

Begin seated in Virasana, as pictured below.  To come into Virasana, bring the knees as close together as you can and the feet to the outside of the hips.  Place the thumbs or fingers behind the knee and draw the flesh of the muscle back to create more space behind the knee.  Sit on enough height that the knees do not have any pain and the spine is long.  The full pose is sitting on the floor between the feet.  Do this version only if there is no knee pain and/or no rounding to the lower back.

Sit in Virasana for 3-5 minutes.  The toes should all face back...they should not round in.  Press into the shins.  Allow the skin of the thighs to release towards the knees.  Although the back should be slightly concave, draw the tailbone under slightly to lengthen the lower back and at the same time lengthen the spine up to the crown of the head.  Release the shoulders back and down away from the ears.  Lower tips of the shoulder blades draw in and down and the kidneys move in and up.  The neck lengthens softly, eyes closed.  Focus on smooth, even breaths.

Dandasana - Staff Pose
Seated on enough height that the legs can be straight and the back straight and perpendicular to the floor.  Lengthen through the back of the legs and press out through the heels and toe mounds.  Outer thighs roll in so kneecaps face the ceiling.  Engage the quadricep muscles and press the thighbones towards the floor.  If you are up on quite a bit of height..a bolster or a few block, place a rolled blanket under the back of the knees to press into.  Roll shoulders back and down, lift spine.  Broaden the collarbones out towards the shoulders.  Maintain for 3-5 breaths.

Inhale, then on exhalation draw right knee towards the chest keeping spine long, even weight on both sit bones, shoulders releasing down the back and the left leg straight and engaged.  The abdomen and hip crease need to remain soft and relaxed.  Stay for a few breaths.

Then come into Sukasana (easy pose), crossing right ankle over left and begin to twist to the right.

Baddha Konasana - Bound angle Pose
Sitting on a folded blanket, block or bolster bring soles of feet together and press firmly.  If can interlace the fingers around the toes, if not place a strap around the outer edge of the feet, cross the straps and wrap around hands.  This acts as an extension to the arms.  Rolling the shoulders back and down continue to press the feet.  Release the inner groins and slowly move knees towards the floor.  Stay for 3-5 breaths.

Repeat last four poses, substituting the left leg.

The next four poses are linked together.  Begin on your back with right ankle crossed over left.  Hold toes with thumbs, pointer and index fingers.  Tuck head in a bit and roll on the spine a few times.  This massages the back and spine.

Come up to balance on the sit bones.

Modified boat pose.  Balancing on sit bones, uncross ankles and keep shins parallel to the floor.  Spine is long and shoulder blades move down and into the back.  Lift the sternum bone up.  Arms extend towards feet parallel to the floor.  Stay for a few breaths.

Paripuna Navasana - If can maintain balance and not round back straighten legs and hold for 3-5 breaths.

Repeat poses from rolling on the spine.  This time cross the left ankle over the right.

Come onto hands and knees for Cat/Cow.  Bring your hands under your shoulders, spreading your fingers to distribute the weight.  Keep your knees under your hips with your shins hip width apart and parallel.  Press firmly into the floor with your hands and shins, lengthen your spine and inhale arch your abdomen towards the floor, tailbone up towards the ceiling, chest open and looking up.  If you have lower back issues keep your back flat.

Exhale, tucking your tailbone under and your chin to your chest.  Draw the abdomen up towards the spine.  Release the head between the shoulders and keep pressing the shins and hands into the floor.

Repeat Cat/Cow a few times.

Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward facing dog pose
Tuck toes under and pressing into hands and toes lift the tailbone up towards the ceiling.  Stay on the toes until get length to the upper body. Press evenly into hands and feet/toes.  Lengthen the side body and draw the shoulder blades into the back and down.  Keep moving the shoulders away from the ears.
Only proceed to straighten legs and press heels towards the floor if can maintain a concave back.  If back begins to hunch or round come back to bending knees.  Stay for 5-6 breaths.
For more instruction on Downward Dog pose see March 2011 Pose of the Month.

Inhale, look up and step right foot forward.  If need come down onto back knee and use hand to move front foot forward so that ankle is directly under knee.  Press into back toes and press heel back, lifting thigh up.  Press into front foot and soften front hip crease so can release into a deeper lunge.  Keep back straight and shoulders rolling down the back.

Place hands on blocks if find back is rounding when trying to bring hands to the floor or if you have knee issues come up a bit.

Ukatasana - Chair/Powerful Pose
Step back foot up to front foot. Press into feet, draw tailbone towards floor and come up to Ukatasana.  Hook tailbone under slightly and lengthen up spine.  Shoulders release back and down.  Arms extend out parallel to the floor or up by ears.  Keep pressing evenly into feet, stay for 3-5 breaths and then inhale and come up to Tadasana (Mountain Pose).
Tadasana - Mountain Pose

Come back to hands and knees - and repeat poses from Downward Dog, Lunge with left foot forward and Ukatasana, Tadasana
In Tadasana, interlace fingers and press palms out while keeping shoulders moving back and down.
Inhale and raise arms up. Maintain action in legs as lengthen arms up.
As press feet into floor, keep lengthen side body and release over to a right side bend.  Inhale to come back up.  Lower arms back down and change interlace of fingers repeating on other side.

If you have limited time you can stop here and go to last pose - Savasana.
If you have a bit longer continue with following poses or alternate the above sequence with the following sequence.
From Tadasana - Mountain Pose
Inhale and raise arms up over head.
Exhale and bending forward at the hip crease come into Ardha Uttanasana - Half Forward Bend.
If hands do not reach floor or if back is not concave place on blocks.  If have lower back issues or if find bending from waist and not hip crease then bend knees slightly.  Press firmly into feet, lift kneecaps up towards hips to keep thigh muscles engaged.  Press thigh bones back and keep chest open, sternum lifting up, shoulder moving down the back.
Exhale and come into forward bend, Uttanasana.  Again, keep hands on blocks if they don't easily come to floor.  Head and neck should be relaxed.
Inhale, come back to half forward bend, then step feet back into plank pose (above).
Body should be in a straight line.  Buttocks should not be higher or lower then rest of body.  If need bring knees to the floor but maintain a long spine with shoulder releasing down the back.
If legs straight keep the thighbones lifting up and press out heels.
8-point Chaturanga
Drop knees to floor, then chest and chin keeping tailbone lifting up and shoulders moving down the back. Hold for a few breaths.  The 8-points are the 2 feet, 2 knees, 2 hands, chest and chin.
Lengthen out to come up to Bhujangasana - Cobra Pose
Outer thighs roll in, legs are firm and tailbone draws down towards the floor.  Coil spine up from here.  Hands are near side ribs and elbows stay close to the body, shoulders move back and down away from the ears.  Look either forward or up towards the ceiling.
If can press directly up to Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog Pose or if have back issue or feel not quite strong enough yet come back to Child's Pose first - knees bent, buttocks moves towards heels and then press up into Down Dog.
You can alternate pressing heels to floor to stretch back of legs and then come to full pose.
Inhale, look up from Down Dog and step right foot forward to lunge, back foot now at an angle and inhale press up to Virabhadrasana II.  Front knee bends to 90 degrees and angles out towards pinkie side toe.  Back leg is straight and back thigh bone presses back.  Press evenly between the two feet.  Torso remains perpendicular to the floor, spine long and arms extend out parallel to the floor.  Turn head to look over front fingers.
Inhale straightening front leg, turn toes so feet parallel to each other and step or jump back to Tadasana.
Repeat above sequence doing Virabhadrasana II on other side.

Stay in Tadasana for a few breaths.  Notice the sensations in the body.

Savasana - Relaxation
Come down to floor, recline back and first hug knees to chest.  Can rock side to side.
Then adjust body so it is in a straight line keeping legs together at first.  Then let legs fall out to the sides.  If you have low back pain place a bolster under the back of the thighs and release legs.  Roll shoulders under slightly and rest arms out to the sides with palms facing up.  Move inner arm out slightly to move outer tip of shoulders closer to floor.  Keep the chest open, yet relaxed.  Keep side of neck relaxed and allow the flesh of the forehead to move towards the bridge of the nose.  Draw the sense organs inwards as focus on breath.  Stay 5 minutes.

Pamela Nelson