Please consult with your doctor if you have any questions about whether or not you should be doing Yoga, Pilates or any Mindful Movement pose.  The poses below are intended for those who practice yoga regularly and are not intended for beginners. 

At Home Practice.

  I am often told that individuals would like to begin an at home practice, but question what Asanas (poses) they should do.  I have listed below poses that we often incorporate into the practices at the studio.  Please read through the description first, and know your limits within each pose.  Yoga, Pilates, and Mindful Movement practices are based on being steady and light in the body.  You should never experience harshness or any joint pain in any Asana (pose).   Enjoy, and let me know if you have any questions.  Namaste' Malissa

Padmasana


Lotus Pose: Padmasana
A strong hip opener that requires a lot of ankle, knee and hip flexibility.  Practice with caution.
I would not recommend doing this pose without warming up the body properly.  Warm ups should include salutations, and hip openers such as pigeon.

1.  Sit with your legs in a cross legged position, with your right leg in front.  Take a moment to place the hands next to either side of you hips, and press them deeply into the earth.  Feel you spine elongate and grow tall.  Allow as much tension as you can to leave the shoulders and face.  You may need to sit on a blanket or pillow to line up the hips properly.
2.  Grab the right leg and cradle the leg gently back and forth a few times.  This action should be a gentle unfolding of the resistance within the hip, ankle and knee.  Never force this movement. 
3.  If it is within your practice,  begin to draw the left leg closer to the body.  Gently place the right foot toward your left hip crease.  Release the right  knee down toward the earth.  If it does not lower due to resistance, go no further. 
4.  If the right knee releases and touches the floor, gently cradle the left leg.  If it is within your practice, gently place the left ankle toward the right hip crease.  Be kind as you release the left knee toward the earth. 
5.  If you are able to release the hands from the earth, place them on the knees, or at your hearts center.   Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.  Draw your awareness to the area in the body that you feel this the most intensely. Allow your breath to travel to this area.  It should be calm and smooth. 
6.  Slowly release the legs and change sides. 

Be kind, and do not judge.  Your body will unfold when it is ready.  Force will do nothing more than slow the process.  Mindful Movement is enjoying the journey!!

Uttanasana


Uttanasana-
Standing Forward fold.

1.  Stand in Mountain pose (standing position with feet together, arms by your sides).
2.  Raise your arms over your head,  and bring the hands together in prayer. 
3.  Hinging from your hips, slowly fold forward as you sweep arms out to the side walls.
4.  When you feel your back begin to round (or come out of a neutral position), lower your hands to your legs, a block, or the floor for support.
5.  Come half way out of the pose by pressing into the hands and leading with your heart.  This will help to elongate the spine and increase the awarness in the back of your legs.
6.  Surrender once again over the legs, and stay here for 5 to 10 breaths.  
7.  With a neutral spine and your hands sweeping to the side walls, hinge from the hips and float back up into Mountain pose.  Take time to enjoy the beautiful awareness in the spine, and the backs of the legs.

Malasana


Malasana:  Garland Pose/Yoga Squat
A beautiful pose to open the knees, ankles and hips.

1.  Stand in Tadasana or Mountain Pose.  Feet are about hip width apart, arms by your side.  Stand tall, with a neutral spine (there is a natural, gentle S curve when in this position). 
2.  Bend your knees and take a squat position.  Go as deeply as you can without feeling any pinching or stabbing sensations in this pose, keeping the heels on the floor if possible.  If you are unable to keep the heels on the floor, place a rolled towel, or mat underneath your heals.  If needed, place your hands on the floor for support. 
3. If it is within your practice, place the hands in Anjali Mudra (prayer position) at your heart's center. 
4.  Knees open gently to the sides, eventually allowing the chest to lean slightly forward. 
5.  Keep the pelvic floor lifted, engaging the Mula Banda. 
6. Hold for 10, 30 or 60 seconds.  Gaze steady, mind clear.  Feel your breath fill, and empty the body. 
7.  Place the hands on the floor and straighten the legs (Uttinasana).  Lift half way up, and melt once again in Uttinasana or forward fold.  Hold for 5 to 10 breaths. 

Bakasana


Bakasana-Crane Pose
(bahk-AHS-anna)
baka = crane


1.  Squat down from Mountain pose with your feet about hip width apart. If it notice your heels cannot remain on the floor, support them on a thickly folded blanket. From this Yoga squat, lean the torso forward between the inner thighs. Extend your arms between the legs and bend your elbows. Place your hands on the floor, creating a strong platform for the pose.  Place your shins on the ledge created by the upper arms.

2.  Make sure that your inner thighs are held close to the body.  Engage your pelvic floor, and draw the belly in.  Lift up onto the balls of your feet and lean forward even more, taking the weight of your torso onto the backs of the upper arms.  Keep the head in a neutral position, or lift it slightly without compressing the neck.  This will help distribute the weight of the body more evenly.

3.  With an exhalation, lean forward even more onto the backs of your upper arms, possibly lifting off one foot and then the next.  If you need to keep both feet on the floor at first, know that this is a beautiful modification, especially for beginners.  In the full pose, both feet will leave the floor.  Be patient it will happen when it is time.  To engage the pose even further, begin to straighten the elbows. 

4.  Stay in the pose anywhere from 20 seconds to 1 minute. To release, exhale and slowly lower your feet to the floor, back into a Yoga squat.  Take Child's pose for 5 to 10 breaths being aware of how you feel.  Revel in all that you have stirred in the body both physically and mentally.


Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

                      
                
                              Upward Facing Dog Pose
                           (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Demonstrated as transitioning into Downward Facing Dog (on toes rather than the tops of the feet).

This is a beautiful pose to elongate the front of the body, develop strength in your arms and shoulders, and an amazing heart opener.

1.  Lie on your belly.  Stretch your legs back, with the tops of your feet on the floor. Bend your elbows and spread your palms onto the earth beside your waist so that your forearms are relatively perpendicular to the floor.
2.  Inhale and press your the palms of your hands firmly into the floor and slightly back, as if you were trying to push yourself forward along the floor. On the same inhale, straighten your arms and simultaneously lift your torso up and your legs a few inches off the floor on an inhalation. Keep the thighs firm and slightly turned inward, the arms strong and turned out so the elbows face forward, without hyper-extending the elbows.
3.  Press the tailbone downward toward the feet, and lift the pubis toward the navel. Allow the glutes to grow strong, but not overly firm.
4.  Stabilize the shoulder blades against the back and pull the side ribs slightly forward. Lift through the top of the sternum trying to stay long through the low back. Look straight ahead or tip the head back slightly, but take care not to compress the back of the neck.  You should be able to breathe freely and talk easily.
5.  Upward facing dog is one of the positions in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. You can practice this pose by itself, holding it anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds. To counter-pose take Downward Facing Dog.

Garudansana

                 
                                                            Eagle
                                  Garudasana-(gah-rue-DAHS-anna)
 A beautiful pose for stretching the shoulders and hips, as well working on focus and your core stabilizers. 

1.  Start in Tadasana (standing tall with your arms by your side, big toes together, heels slightly separated). 
2.  Take a dristi (focal point) about eye level, and clear your mind of all chaos and clutter.  Listen to the tidal wave of your breath. 
3.  Sit back into Utkatasana (Chair Pose) by bending the knees, keeping the spine tall, and reach your  arms overhead.  Make sure that the knees do not go past the toes, weight is back in the heels while still remaining grounded throughout the feet. 
4.  Once your gaze is steady,  begin to take the right arm underneath the left arm (Eagle Arms).  If you can cross at the elbows, begin to bend the arms, eventually wrapping them around one another until they bind (if you cannot get this at first, do not force the movement, you will evolve over time).
5.  Take a breath or two here to gently open the ligaments, joints and rotators within the arms and shoulders.
6.  When you are ready, begin to wrap the right leg over the left, crossing at the knees (make sure the knees remain bent).  The right foot may be placed beside the left foot, touch the outside of the left leg, or it will eventually bind behind the calf.  Keep your gaze steady, squaring the shoulders and hips to the wall you are facing.  Settle into the pose.  Allow your mind to empty, and follow your breath as it reaches through the body.  Mind, body and breath become one.  Feel the deep roots within the standing leg to grow withing the earth below you.  Fill out, rather than fight the pose. 
7.  Remain for 5 to 10 breaths. 
8.  Gently unfold the arms and then the legs, rising back into Tadasana.  With a flat back, hinge from the hips, floating your arms out like wings as you come into a standing forward fold (Uttanasana).  Try to straighten the legs as much as you can without forcing the knees open.  Let this fold come from the hips, rather than the middle of your back.  Release tension from the low back, and allow that release to draw all the way down to the face.  Relax your jaw and the space in between the eyes.  Your arms and shoulders melt to the earth, with no tension in the neck.  Remain in this pose until the shoulders decompress, the spine elongates, and the backs of the legs lengthen (5-10 breaths).  When you are ready, complete the sequence again on the other side.  The second time you come into Uttanasana (standing forward fold) if it is within your practice, take your hands behind you and grab a strap or interlace the fingers (this will counter-pose Eagle Arms).  Only take this modification if you are ready (you are ready when you can breathe fully in the pose, and there is a strong awareness in that area of the body - but no pinching, or harsh pain). 
9.  When the sequence is complete, remain in Tadasana with the hands to your heart center.  Take a moment to take in the beautiful presence of your hips and shoulders.