So a lot is going on this month! With the room at the Reach being refurbished and my climbing trips to Kalymnos and Fontainebleau I am afraid I had to cancel some classes this October (please see “Classes” page for details).
As requested by some of my students I have put together a short but effective sequence especially designed for climbers for your home practice whilst I am away. There is a bit of everything in it, from shoulders, legs and core strength to balance and stretching. Finishing off with relaxation.
This is quite a simple sequence and it is accessible for most people. But as I always say in class, please be mindful of your own body. Be aware of your own limitations and don’t over do it. You can challenge yourself with mindfulness and patience and if anything feels wrong/painful, simply stop!
I hope you enjoy it! Please, do get in touch if you have any questions.
Balasana – Child’s Pose
On your knees, big toes touching, sit on your heels and move your knees apart (if you can’t sit on your heels you can always use a folded blanket or a soft cushion under your buttocks).
Inhale, lift your arms up and as you exhale, fold forwards, bringing your arms down to the mat in front of you and walking your hands away as you rest your torso and head down (again, if your head doesn’t reach the floor it is useful, and more comfortable, to use a cushion or folded blanket to rest your forehead on).
Whilst in the pose, use your hands to help you to lower your hips further down by gently pushing them against the mat, giving your lower back and the sides of your body a nice stretch.
Here you will start to observe your breath and slowly work towards making your inhalations and exhalations deeper and slower. This will help you to calm your body and mind, deepening your awareness into the practice.
Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog
From Child’s pose spread your fingers on the mat, having your wrist joints parallel to the front edge of your mat and push up with your hands as you exhale, lift your hips up and turn your toes under into Downward Facing Dog.
Keeping your knees bent to start with, extend your spine by lifting your hips further up, pressing your hands on the mat, like you are pushing it away from you. Keep your arms straight and shoulders away from the ears. Broaden your shoulder blades behind your back and make sure there is no tension on the neck. Now start to bring your heels towards the floor engaging your quads, preserving the height of your hips.
From Downward Facing Dog, lift your right leg up, keeping it straight and flexing the foot, into Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (Don’t lift your leg too high! Remember to keep the rest of your body in Adho Mukha Svanasana. Keep your hips leveled).
From this position start to move your body forwards into plank as you bend your right leg and bring your right knee to meet your left elbow. Go back to Downward Facing Dog and do the other side.
Repeat 2/3 times and finish in Adho Mukha Svanasana.
From Downward Facing Dog, inhale and move your body forwards until your shoulders are directly above your wrists. Broaden your shoulder blades and collarbone. Keep your neck long and aligned with the rest of your spine. Lengthen your tailbone towards your heels and engage your legs (thighs pressing up). Engage your core. Hold for a few breaths (as long as you feel comfortable really!)
From Plank shift your body slightly forwards and bend your arms 90° keeping your elbows tucked in to the sides of your body. Make sure your body is in a straight line and your neck is not dropping by keeping your gaze slightly in front. Keep your shoulder blades and collarbones broadened.
To come out, lift back on to plank then go to Adho Mukha Svanasana. Repeat this sequence about 2/3 times: Adho Mukha Svanasana, Plank and Chaturanga.
Low Lunge/High Lunge
From Downward Facing Dog, inhale and bring your right foot forwards in between your hands. Place your left knee down on the mat. Check the alignment of your right knee and have it directly above your right heel.
Cup your fingers on the mat pushing your chest forwards and up. Shoulders are drawing back and away from the ears. Tailbone is moving down towards the floor and the pubis up towards the navel. Inhale as you lift your arms up and gaze towards your hands.
Now look forward and with an inhalation, engage your legs and lift your left knee off the floor. Look back up and keep your torso upright and be careful not to over arch the lower back. Hold for a few breaths and come out by lowering your hands to the floor then bringing your right leg back into Downwards Facing Dog. Repeat on the other side.
From Adho Mukha Svanasana, walk or jump your feet in between your hands.
Keeping your legs together, bend your knees, inhale and lift the torso up in Chair pose (Utkatasana). Hands on your hips. Transfer your weight on to the right foot as you lift your left leg and place your left thigh over your right. Hook (if you can) your left foot behind your right calf.
Stretch your arms in front of you then bend your elbows and interlace your forearms by placing your right elbow above your left. Palms of the hands pressing together.
Press your thighs together and lift your elbows up shoulder high. Come out by going in to Tadasana (Mountain pose) and do the other side by bending your knees into Utkatasana and placing the right leg over the left and left arm over the right.
Sit on the floor with your legs together extended forwards. Point your toes up and move your heels away from your buttocks. Pressing the knees down and rolling the thighs in, keep your torso upright (if your lower back sags down here, you may find it helpful sitting on a folded blanket or on a yoga block). You are in Dandasana.
Keeping the left leg as it is, bend your right knee placing the sole of the right foot on the left inner thigh (you can rest your knee on a blanket if it lifts too much).
Turn the torso towards the left leg. Inhale, lift your arms up and as your exhale bring your hands down to your shin and extend your body forwards and down towards your leg. Leading with your chest and working with the breath, walk your hands further forward towards your foot and your torso further down towards your leg as you exhale.
Keep your shoulders away from your ears by bending your elbows outwards. If catching the foot is not happening for you, just use a belt to reach it.
With the breath, you can gently work on going deeper into the pose. Looking ahead, lengthen your torso forward as you inhale and release it further down as you exhale lowering the head. But please, don’t force it! Be mindful! These are small movements. 😉
Seated in Dandasana. Inhale, lift your arms up and as your exhale bring your hands down to your shin bones and extend your body forwards and down towards your legs. Leading with your chest and working with the breath, walk your hands further forward towards your feet and your torso further down towards your legs as you exhale. Keep shoulders away from the ears. Rest your head down.
Here you can start working on deepening the pose just as in Janu Sirsasana above.
Setu Bhanda Sarvangasana
Lying on your back, bend your knees and bring your heels as close to your buttocks as possible.
Pressing your feet and arms to the floor, lift your hips up. Interlace your fingers behind you and straighten your arms away towards your feet. Tuck in your shoulders underneath you. Keep your feet and thighs parallel and lift both the upper and lower back moving your sternum towards your chin. Engage your thighs and buttock muscles.
Sit in Dandasana and then bend your knees in front of you. Bring your right knee under your left leg and place your right heel by your left hip. Place your left foot by your right thigh and bring your left leg close to your torso. Give your left leg a hug! This will help to adjust the torso, keeping it upright. Have both your sitting bones on the mat. Turn your whole torso to your left. Keep holding your left leg with your right hand or place your right elbow against the outside of your left knee as you place your left hand on the floor behind you by your sacrum.
Keep your right forearm and fingers perpendicular to the floor. Torso is nice and tall. Push with your left arm to help you lift your spine and use your right arm to bring your right shoulder forwards as you move your left shoulder back. Look towards your left shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
Lie on your back. Lift your hips up for a moment and gently extend your tailbone towards the heels. But don’t flatten the lower back. Roll your thighs and feet out. Roll your shoulders away from the ears and down on the mat. Roll your arms out to the side. Palms facing up. Fingers naturally curling. Tuck in your chin slightly, gently elongating the back of your neck.
Close your eyes and allow the body to sink into the mat.
Relax your whole body and keep your mind with it. Don’t let it wonder into external thoughts!
Stay for around 5 to 10 minutes, then gently roll to the right, open your eyes and come to a seated position.
* Also, check out my Facebook post on upper body stretches
** Thanks to Chris Hill and to Silvia Pederzani for helping me out with the photos! xx