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.
Locust Pose (Shalabhasana)
The Locust Pose is an excellent back strengthener. It is especially recommended before doing poses that require extreme flexibility simply because it builds the strength needed to support the flexibility that will accrue over time.
1 Lie facedown on the floor with your arms alongside your body, palms and forehead down.
2 Align your center by pulling the abdominal muscles inward, contracting the buttocks, and pressing your hips and pubis firmly into the floor. This will lengthen your lower back and establish your hips in cat tilt.
3 Create a line of energy through the legs. Do this by pressing the top of your feet into the floor, tightening the thighs so your knees leave the floor, and stretching outward through the legs in the direction they are pointing.
4 Roll the shoulders up, away from the floor.
5 Establish a smooth flowing breath and wait for the inner cue to begin.
1 As you inhale, lift your upper body away from the floor. As you exhale, lower your upper body to the floor. Do this slowly, five or ten times. Do not be mechanical and do not be in a rush. Be smooth. Synchronize the movement with the breath, making the breath long so the movement is slow. Keep your hands and feet on the floor.
2 As you do the repetitions, do not retract your head backward into the neck by looking forward. Tuck the chin, gaze downward, and elongate and lift upward with the back of your neck. Do not create tension in your throat as you do this or draw your chin in excessively - but establish maximum length on both the front and back sides of your neck. Direct the stretch forward and outward through the crown of your head. Keep the shoulders rolled up and back.
1 Inhale and lift your upper body away from the floor (photo 2). Stay here a comfortable length of time, approximately fifteen seconds. Be motionless and breathe smoothly.
2 Raise your legs. Elongate them in the direction they are pointing and follow the line of energy outward and up. Your legs do not have to be together, but press them straight. Tighten the knees, spread your toes, and press the feet away from you. Stay here another fifteen seconds. Be relaxed without losing the action of the pose.
3 Lower your forehead and upper body to the floor. Keep your legs elevated. Continue breathing smoothly. Stay here another fifteen seconds.
4 Lower your legs. Turn your head to the left and relax. Repeat several times, turning your head in the opposite direction when resting between repetitions.
Benefits: Locust Pose or Shalabhasana
Tremendous back, buttock, and leg strengthener. Improves digestion, elimination.
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