Boost Lymphatic Flow

≤45 min. Yoga practice incorporates movement to increase lymphatic flow. Areas focused are the inner groin and upper arm and armpit area. Explore and discover some variations to lunges, twists, side stretches, as well as poses that you do every practice such as adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog), uttitha trikonasana (triangle), uttanasana (standing forward bend) seated poses, inversions, and backbends to support circulation. Lymphatic system flow occurs in part by muscular contraction and expansion in the practice. The sequence promotes lymphatic drainage and may be beneficial in decreasing inflammation and increasing immunity. Much of the practice is restorative to benefit inguinal (inner groin) area as well as the armpit area; another area of concentration is the neck and abdomen, which is not the focus of this practice. Because lymph flows toward the heart, the theme of the practice is to maintain the brightness of the inner flame of the heart. Have 2 blocks and a blanket to assist in alignment while drawing you deeper into the poses.

Maintain or Repeatedly Create?

≤30 min. Do you come to the mat as a sort of self-imposed maintenance requirement? That’s how yoga practice and classes originally felt, but as I learned more of yoga philosophy it became clear that coming from a place of creating something new provided much more inspiration and enthusiasm. Explore in this practice a feeling of creating from the place of stability. Thanks to enthusiastic yoga students in Chicago and St. Petersburg, a wonderful variety of body types and ages express the poses in this sequence. A strap may be useful for some of the shoulder opening asana. This short 20 minute sequence includes variety and accessibility to the yoga poses. Poses include Utkatasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Uttitha Trikonasana, Prasarita Padottanasana, Gomukasana, Baddha Konasana, and Supta Padangusthasana.

Make the Connection: Strengthened Back Body = Elongated Front Body

≤30 min. Quadriceps feel tight? Perhaps too much time on the bike? Posterior muscles feeling like they could be stronger? Here are some yoga poses that will address both the anterior and posterior muscle chains. When we learn to make the connection we feel more power and that gives us a sense of freedom. Lunges, Eka Pada Bhekasana, Salabhasana, and Natarajasana are the focus of this practice. Use of the wall allows for a thigh stretch, and longer hold which makes Natarajasana so much more accessible -- try it out! Variations in your arm and head positions enable greater strength in the superior trapezius and latissimus dorsi in Salabhasana. If Eka Pada Bhekasana has been on your list of “least favorite yoga poses” don’t fret – we don’t hold it for long. This 20 minute sequence was part of a longer Zoom class which included sun salutations and lunge variations at the beginning of the sequence, and Viparita Karani and supported shoulder stand after the backbends mentioned above. Thanks to Blandine Calais-Germain and Ray Long for your patience and perseverance in teaching anatomy – you are an inspiration!

Boost Lymphatic Flow

≤45 min. Yoga practice incorporates movement to increase lymphatic flow. Areas focused are the inner groin and upper arm and armpit area. Explore and discover some variations to lunges, twists, side stretches, as well as poses that you do every practice such as adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog), uttitha trikonasana (triangle), uttanasana (standing forward bend) seated poses, inversions, and backbends to support circulation. Lymphatic system flow occurs in part by muscular contraction and expansion in the practice. The sequence promotes lymphatic drainage and may be beneficial in decreasing inflammation and increasing immunity. Much of the practice is restorative to benefit inguinal (inner groin) area as well as the armpit area; another area of concentration is the neck and abdomen, which is not the focus of this practice. Because lymph flows toward the heart, the theme of the practice is to maintain the brightness of the inner flame of the heart. Have 2 blocks and a blanket to assist in alignment while drawing you deeper into the poses.

Accessible Core Strength

≤15 min. Core strength is often misunderstood as tough workouts for “6 pack abs”. Yoga teaches us that core strength is not only the front body muscles such as the abdominals, but also side and back muscles that all support the mid-thoracic spine. This short, accessible practice brings your awareness to the full cast of supporting muscles in a supine and kneeling practice. Start by lying down with the knees bent to find what your “neutral” spine is. Strengthen the natural curve of the lumbar spine through leg actions. Continue in the practice with a neutral spine and without straining the back or creating tension in your neck. Maintain stability in the hips. These variations will serve to strengthen abdominal, side and back core muscles and serve as preparatory postures to complement muscular action for supta padangustasana and ustrasana. Thanks to Michael King for the inspiration.

Slowly Flowing Asana – the water element

≤45 min. This practice includes poses to open the upper thoracic area to make room for more fullness in your breath. With the upper back open and greater side body length you will experience more fullness in twisting. Lunges, speed skater stretches, prasarita padottanasana, uttitha trikonasana, anjaneyasana, parsvottanasana and triag mukhaikapada paschimottanasana lead you to greater flexibility. Just like the element water moves so freely, this practice freely follows your own breath. As you know, water can be really forceful with a power so great that it can break through earthen dams but this practice is directed to the gentle and more tranquil flow that attunes to an inner liquidity; you're in touch with ease while transitioning from one pose to another. Please come to all fours position on your mat to start the practice. You will be using blocks and a blanket and strap; gather them together so they are close at hand.

Hip Attitude

≤45 min. Honestly this isn’t about being a hip yogi or a how-to video on developing a hipster attitude. What you will do is progress through poses that open your hips while you express the practice with an attitude of gratitude. We start with gentle hip openers on all fours before moving into variations of parighasana, then move on to work the back side of the leg: hamstrings, calf muscles, and ankle through downward dog variations and with toes on a rolled blanket. Have a tightly rolled blanket, two blocks and a strap to enhance your virabhadrasana 1, parsvottanasana, and uttanasana, and seated poses. To balance the practice with lengthening the front body you will be practicing some actions to open the upper back. How do to find the inspiration and freshness to practice this and other sequences? Like so many others, I’ve been inspired by Viktor Frankl in his writing about how to “choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance” (from his book Man’s Search for Meaning). Anusara Yoga ® recognizes the importance of attitude through the “3 A’s” of the practice; first and most importantly, is attitude. Although the alignment and physical actions often absorb us in the asana sequence, coming to the mat with an attitude of gratitude for all the teachings enables greater flow, ease and enjoyment. Teachings of Desiree Rumbaugh, Doug Keller, and Louise Hay inspired me so for this practice and sequence enabling a sense of freedom through open hips.

Pelvic Stability/Shoulder Flexibility

≤45 min. Pelvic stability and shoulder flexibility begin in this sequence with establishing a foundation in sukhasana while incorporating a few shoulder warmups and accessible twists. This gentle yoga practice follows seated shoulder warmups with standing positions to both engage the legs for pelvic openness while continuing the upper body focus on shoulder flexibility. An easy standing balance pose explores foot and ankle stability. There are tips and work-arounds for those of us who experience knee pain and cranky ankles in seated poses. You’ll also explore a breath practice wherein extended in-breath leads to a pause before the out-breath and after the exhale breath once again, a focus on the pause before inhalation. Your legs will engage fully in order to open the hips in standing, seated and supine poses. Poses that will enable you to go deeper in stretches of your hamstrings, calf and achilles are sequenced in a way as to flow easefully. It seems like all of us love to avoid some yoga poses, and for those of you (like me) that find gomukhasana at the top of that list, consider 2 tips to enable you to deepen into that pose – here is the spoiler: take the humerus of the lifted arm back with the opposite hand and secondly squeeze and let go with the hand of the lifted arm. Check it out – worked for me!

Practice for Vagal Tone

≤30 min. Yoga practice enable us to feel calm, and the vagus nerve is a big to trigger a relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system. Once activated, the practitioner often enjoys noticeable differences in anxiety, stress, and inflammation. This practice sequence includes lunges, twists, a Virabhadrasana 1 variation wherein we focus on the trapezius, setubhanda sarvangasana, hip and shoulder openers, and seated twists such as Marichyasana wherein use of the eye gaze is used to enable deeper cervical twists. Teachings from Deepak Chopra, Desirée Rumbaugh, Doug Keller, and Beth Spindler have drawn me to a deep interest in the vagus nerve and how we as yoga practitioners can incorporate asana to assist this cranial nerve in relaying important messages from and to the brain and respiratory, digestive, and nervous systems.

Potpourri of yoga poses for shoulders and hips

≤45 min. Gain strength in your foundation and open your shoulders and heart through this hybrid practice with plenty of variety that incorporates warmup poses including standing crescent, cat cow pelvic tilts, cat variations (bird dog pose), utkatasana, salambhasana with variations, bhujangasana, and supported virabhadrasana III. Standing poses include virabhadrasana II, utthitha parsvakonasana variation, and prasarita padottanasana with fingers interlaced. Warmup and standing poses will prepare you for deeper seated and supine poses including a marichyasana III preparatory pose, stage 1 of paschimottanasana, supta padottanasana, jathara parivartanasana, setubhanda sarvangasana, and of course savasana to assimilate and rest in the actions of the practice.

Hamstrings tight? Take your legs up the wall

≤45 min. Viparita Karani or legs up the wall pose is an accessible restorative yoga asana. This practice starts with this calming pose and proceeds with approachable poses that allow for an all levels practice to build flexibility and strength. Customize the pose for you – move away from the wall and bend your knees if you are stiff, have low back concerns, tight hamstrings, etc. If you have more flexibility, have that back of the thighs closer to the wall. Sometimes you may experience tingling in the feet, if so bend your knees to bring your feet closer to your pelvis. Benefits of a regular practice of viparita karani are said to affect anxiety, headache, high and low blood pressure, insomnia, varicose veins, and menstrual cramps.

Knees don’t like pigeon pose?

≤30 min. Try these pigeon alternatives (aka eka pada raja kapotasana) variations. Tight hips require lots of "hip openers", and this is a favorite pose to lengthen the hip flexors. If you have unhappy knees in pigeon here are some standing, balancing, seated and supine poses that will give you greater freedom. A standing variation starts in chair pose to cross one ankle over the opposing knee. In seated pose you can get double the action by crossing the other leg over. This pose is known as also known as agnistambhasana or fire log pose. Lie on your back and simulate the hip opening by crossing one ankle of the knee and bring the knee toward the chest. This posture is also called thread the needle. Benefits include stretches to the gluteals and piriformis muscles, as well as extension of the psoas. Pigeon practice has shown to help urinary disorders, reduce or in some alleviate sciatic pain along with diminished lower back pain and stiffness.

Strong Neck & Shoulders

Strong Neck and Shoulders

≤15 min. As our online time increases our necks get tighter. These strengthening actions of the upper arms, shoulders and neck muscles are especially good to open the chest for a short afternoon yoga break. Through standing and supine poses as well as a twist you will be able to refresh and rejuvenate while gaining strength in areas of the upper body that we often overlook in daily yoga practice.

Open shoulders and discover truth – Satya

≤30 min. Yoga teaches us to be truthful to others -- and ourselves. As we practice observing specific physical actions in each asana, our enhanced understanding of the truth of our physical alignment and strength enables us to refine a truth that directs us on our spiritual path.

Contentment – Forward Bends

60 min. Explore standing and sitting forward bends in this practice of santosha or contentment. We twist, and work on challenging standing and seated poses to lengthen hamstrings and refine a lovely seated forward bend, upavista konasana.

Inner Cleansing – Saucha

45 min. Niyamas present a constant reminder to improve -- in the asana practice, but more importantly, off the mat. Enjoy this backbend practice where we work on drawing the heads of the arms back to open the area of the heart for a lovely bow, or dhanurasana.

Hybrid Practice

30 min. This potpourri of what I'd call my "must do every day" poses is called hybrid because in a short practice you can attend to lots of areas - hamstrings, lengthening the spine through twists and side stretches, and strength through standing poses.

Parsvakonasana

30 min. Who doesn't include this pose as part of their regular sequence? It is an all-time favorite standing pose amongst yogis because of all the hip opening benefits, shoulder work, and fabulous elongation of the side ribs.

Gomukasana

This short practice combines shoulder and hip opening standing poses as well as seated poses. Gomukasana is one of those poses that all of us like to avoid, but in this short practice, you will not be discouraged!

Vasisthasana

60 min. Strength and stability are called for when we practice side plank. Enjoy a playful and fun time on your mat as you build arm strength and explore a pose that requires us to open the hips, have steadiness in our balance, and expansion of our hamstrings.

Astavakrasana

45 min. This practice explores a fabulous arm balance that requires strength, spinal flexibility, and of course open hips, which we have been working on in several practices so far. Enjoy this practice where you take yourself to perhaps a new pose or at least a different way of doing the pose, and create your own asana eye candy!

Parvrtta Trikonasana

30 min. Twisted Triangle is one pose we often love to avoid because it requires so many actions to prepare for it-- hamstrings, shoulders, balance, and twisting. This short sequence enables us to each of these actions to get to a deeper expression of the pose.

Ardha Chandrasana

30 min. A quick and energizing practice of standing poses to build strength. Enjoy this balance pose with stability and ease.

Triang mukhaikapada paschimottanasana

45 min. Lengthen hamstrings and quads in standing poses where we are drawing to the midline to open the hips for this seated forward bend.

Paschimottanasana

Paschimottanasana

30 min. Poses that lengthen the hamstrings and challenge us to go deeper into paschimottanasana take time. To get to the fullness of this seated forward bend, enjoy several standing poses to warm up and protect the spine while softening and turning inward.

Urdhva Dhanurasana

30 min. This quick sequence of backbends leading to urdhva dhanurasana enable a nice quad stretch through lunges, twists to lengthen the side body, and several poses to open your shoulders and create more flexibility in the upper thoracic spine.

Mermaid

45 Mermaid

45 min. Express your full heart in this steady and challenging sequence to work on the fullness of mermaid pose. Accessible and restorative backbends and hip openers lead the way to a pose of grace and stability.