One of the first lessons I learned in my 200-hour yoga teaching training was the importance of warming up the spine.
While many yoga poses may look acrobatic in nature, nothing beats going back to the basics and keeping things simple to maximize reward and minimize risk of injury. 1. Seated spinal twists
Begin with your legs crossed in lotus position. Engage the core and push your shoulders back so you are seated in an upright position.
When you are ready, gently turn placing your left hand on your right knee. Press the fingertips of your right hand into the floor. Slowly walk your fingers out farther behind your back as you stabilize.
Keep your chin up and gaze over your shoulder. Remember, you don’t have to push here. Only twist as far as feels comfortable for you
Take five deep belly breaths and then slowly complete the twist on the other side.2. Cat cow
Make your way on to all fours, into tabletop position. Engage your core and stack your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
Slowly arch your back bringing your head back and your hips to the ceiling for cow pose.
Spread your fingers and press them into your mat.
Methodically shrug your shoulders forward and create space between your abdomen and your mat, hallowing out your upper body for cat pose.
Release from cat pose and transition back into cow pose while breathing deeply. 3. Forward fold
Press your heels back from tabletop and reach your arms overhead for downward facing dog.
Slowly walk your feet up to the top of your mat, keeping your knees bent and allow your upper body to hang over your legs.
Breathe deeply and slowly into your chest while in forward fold.
You can let your arms dangle and fingers brush against the mat or hug your elbows while swaying softly from side to side in rag doll.
Hang out in rag doll for 5 more breath cycles.4. Mountain pose
Slowly lift yourself from rag doll, one vertebra at a time, keeping your chin tucked to protect your spine. Come into a standing position. Root your feet firmly into the ground.
Let your shoulder blades slide down your back.
Bring your big toes together and let your arms hang down at your sides. Turn your palms to face forward.
Breathe deeply as you lift through the crown of your head and keep your shoulders retracted. 5. Tree pose
Point your toes forward, roll out your ankles, and shake out your arms.
When you’re ready, bring your right foot to the inner edge of your calf or inside of your thigh.
Be careful not to rest your foot on the inner knee.
Once you’ve stabilized your foot in a comfortable position, lift your arms out up over your head.
Spread your fingers and keep your arms wider than shoulder width. Gaze at a spot in front of you on the floor so you can maintain your balance.
After breathing deeply for 5 breath cycles, complete tree pose with your other leg.
Incorporating yoga into your daily routine can help with muscle stiffness and improve posture.
Yoga is not about being flexible, it’s about oxygenating the body and calming the mind.
Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford native, NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkr is- https://dearfitkris.com/