1. Upward-Facing Dog: All Levels
Starting on your belly, place your palms beneath your shoulders and begin to lift your chest toward the sky while pressing firmly into the tops of your feet. Lifting your knees and thighs, engage your core and lengthen your spine as you arch your upper back into a strong yet gentle backbend. Hold for a few breaths and slowly lower. Repeat 3 times to build strength and flexibility.
2. Bow Pose: All Levels
Lying on your belly, bend your knees and reach back with both hands toward each ankle. With your shoulders internally rotating so your thumbs are pointing down, reach back and grasp each ankle and start to lift your toes toward the sky. As your toes reach toward the sky, use your arm and back strength to lift your shoulders up and back, coming into a nice backbend. Turn your gaze up toward the sky as you root down through your belly and pelvic area. Hold for 5 breaths, release, and repeat 3 times. After your final bow pose in the sequence, go into child’s pose to counterbalance your spine.
3. Crow: Level 2
This core-strengthening arm balance pose is the foundation for most other arm balances. To begin, place your palms shoulder distance apart on the earth, spread your fingers, and grip the earth slightly to create a strong foundation. Engage your core and bandhas (yogic energy locks) to draw the energy in and up (imagine a magnet is pulling you toward the sky from your upper back as you root down through your palms). Place your knees on your upper triceps, one at a time, then lift your feet up and point your toes back. Look forward and shift some weight forward to create equilibrium.
4. Goddess: All Levels
Start with your legs wider than hip distance apart, feet turned out to the sides, knees above your ankles, legs spread as wide as they can go. Sink your hips as low as you can, engaging your glutes and thighs while maintaining a firm foundation with proper form. Lengthen your spine from the lower back by tucking the tailbone under a bit and lifting your heart and the crown of your head toward the sky. Hold for 5–10 breaths and then straighten your legs. Repeat 3 times.
5. Goddess Toe Balance: Level 2
Start the same way as described for goddess, but lift the heels as high as you can to balance on your toes. This requires more stability, so engage your core and bandhas, lengthen your spine, sink your hips down, and spread your knees. Place your palms in a prayer position above your head to raise the energy upward. Focus should be across from you, on something that is not moving. Hold for 3–5 breaths and repeat 3 times. As you gain strength and balance over time, try to hold longer to continue to improve.
6. Tree with Hawaiian Prayer Mudra: All Levels
Shift your weight to your right foot, spread your toes, lift your arches, and engage the right leg as you lift your left foot to place the sole of the foot on the ankle, inner calf, or thigh of the standing/ base leg. Lift the kneecap of the base leg to engage the quadriceps, engage your core, lengthen your spine, and reach your arms out and up with your palms facing the sky. Feel the flow of prana/energy rise from the earth toward the sky and then ground down from the sky to the earth. Keep your focus on something that is steady and not moving. Hold for a few breaths, then switch legs and repeat on the other side.