Cat Pose, Mountain Pose, the "ten core poses" (Standing Forward Fold, Standing Side Stretch, Dog Pose, Spread Leg Forward Fold, Bridge Pose, Reclining Leg Stretch, Locust Pose, Sage Twist, Hero Pose, Shoulder Stretches) and the Lotus are presented here. The other thirty-two poses I recommend can be found in my book.
Bridge Pose With ARMS OVERHEAD
2 Gradually take your pelvis higher, breath by breath. Lead with your tailbone as you very slowly lift your hips away from the floor. Let it feel as though an invisible hand were lifting you from underneath. Feel how your spine begins to arch and how the spine goes deeper into your back as the apex of the curve flows up your back. See how high you can get the curve. Keep your chin tucked down, your shoulders firmly grounded, and endeavor to bring the apex of the curve into your upper back, behind your heart, so that your pelvis moves upward toward the ceiling and your chest expands forward toward your face.
3 Reaffirm the alignment of your center by pulling the abdominal muscles downward toward the spine and stretching the coccyx toward the knees. Open the frontal thighs and groins toward the ceiling and become increasingly grounded through your feet. Be solid, not stiff. Snuggle your feet into the floor. Because your feet are hip-width apart, your thighs will be parallel with one another. If your thighs splay out, however, you will compress the lumbar spine and experience more weight on the outer edges of each foot. If this happens, bring your knees toward one another without moving your feet until your thighs are again parallel, and press downward into the inner edge of each foot.
4 When you cannot expand your chest or raise your pelvis any higher, stay where you are and hold this maximum position as effortlessly as possible. Try to release every hint of strain without losing the action of the pose. Be strain-free, yet strong. Be still, convinced. Breathe smoothly, expanding into the pose from the inside out. Keep the back of your neck elongating toward the skull. Be here one minute.
5 Uncurl slowly. This is an important movement. Pull the abdominals down, stretch the coccyx toward the knees in cat tilt, and slowly uncurl your spine to the floor. Keep the tailbone up as far as possible for as long as possible as your spine slowly makes sequential new contact with the floor until finally your sacrum touches, rests, and relaxes into the floor. Be fluid, smooth, not in a rush. When your sacrum is flat, relax. Breathe smoothly. Enjoy how you feel.
See Yoga: Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness, (page 270) for the Bridge Pose with hand clasped under hips. The Bridge Poses and Side to Side Knees Tip are precursor poses for the Shoulderstand and Plow Poses.
Cat Pose, Mountain Pose, Standing Forward Fold, Standing Side Stretch, Dog Pose, Spread Leg Forward Fold, Bridge Pose, Reclining Leg Stretch, Locust Pose, Sage Twist, Hero Pose, Shoulder Stretches, Lotus