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.
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Uttanasana has two lines of energy radiating outward from your center. Your hips will be in dog tilt, and the spinal column will be your primary line of energy. The idea is to elongate the spine outward through the crown of your head as you fold into the pose. This is the basic forward fold. Everything you learn here will be applicable to all forward folds. There are several excellent ways of practicing Uttanasana. The basic pose is shown here and two variations may be found in my book.
1 Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with your feet hip-width apart. Look down at your feet and check that they are parallel with one another, that the inner edge of each foot is pointing straight ahead, and that your toes are spread. Snuggle your feet into the floor. Wait until you are ready, then breathe in deeply.
As you exhale, slide your hands down your legs and fold forward from your
3 Relax. Do nothing Simply become thoroughly limp. Let go inside and surrender to the pose.
4 The idea here is to let go of all effort, all resistance to being in the pose, and simply to be thoroughly relaxed. Scan your body at a leisurely pace and mentally encourage your cells, nerves, muscles, and skin, everything, to relax and soften. Release every sense of holding on. Relax your belly, buttocks, back, shoulders, face. Allow your neck to soften, your head to dangle, and your arms to be limp. Especially elongate your core. Hang from your hips. Dangle. Let go, fall. Let go everywhere. Practice letting go. The more you let go and release tension, the better you'll get at it. Relax in this bent-over position. Consciously, deliberately surrender.
5 Especially feel where your spine is, your core, from coccyx to fontanel, and allow the spaces between vertebrae to expand. You'll feel your spine elongate as your core clarifies. Do this by letting go, releasing. You're letting go of tension, contracted energy, pain.
6 Orchestrate softness with a soft breath. Breathe smoothly in a relaxed strain-free manner.
7 If dangling from your hips is too intense, then either bend your knees or place your hands on your shins and brace yourself further up. Bending your legs will reduce strain considerably, and bracing yourself with your arms will prevent you from folding too far. Stay within your comfort zone. Find a place in which you can relax. Be farther up if necessary.
8 Continue letting go, over and over. Letting go is not something you do just once. As you relax inside and release every sense of tension, your muscles will become less hard, less contracted. Gradually they will soften, lengthen, and you'll find yourself folding deeper into the pose, effortlessly. From there, let go more. Continue letting go, and see what happens. Wherever the stretch is, be there mentally. Soothe any part of your body that is resisting the stretch, holding on due to fear, or unnecessarily tense and clenched. Coax all of yourself to soften and relax. You'll find yourself going deeper when your body is ready for a deeper stretch, not before. You have no say in the matter. This is what makes this technique so safe.
9 The only "control" is to stay in the pose long enough for a change to occur. Everything else is a let-go and surrender. Stay here as long as five minutes, but do not force yourself to stay longer than feels right. Come out of the pose when you have had enough. Later, it may feel appropriate to challenge your endurance edge by willingly staying in the pose even if you are experiencing some degree of discomfort This will be voluntary, however, and it will not feel as though you are attacking yourself. It will be attractive and pleasurable.
10 Occasionally, vary the distance between your feet. It is often easier to relax when your feet are farther apart.
11 To come out of the pose, bend your knees and slowly come down into a squatting position. Be here several breaths, then stand erect in Tadasana, Mountain Pose.
12 Close your eyes and practice standing perfectly still. Do not move a muscle. Don't even think. But don't hold yourself still, either. Relax yourself still. Be as relaxed as you can possibly be, and simply be aware of how you feel. Immerse your awareness in the natural rhythm of your breathing and experience your own unique feeling-tone. Enjoy this part.
Benefits: Standing Forward Fold or Uttanasana
Stretches entire backside of body, especially legs and lower back. Elongates spine. Increases flexibility. Massages internal organs, tones liver, spleen, kidneys. Increases blood circulation to legs, torso, and brain. Good pose to rest in after strenuous 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