1. Easy Pose
As the name would imply, this is an easy pose to start your yoga routine out with. Also known as Sukhasana, you can do this pose almost anywhere and anytime to quiet your mind and realign your spine.
- Sit on your mat cross-legged, palms comfortably in your lap.
- Sit up completely straight, extending your spine as much as possible.
- Take 12 deep breaths. On each inhale, breathe through your chest and diaphragm. With each exhale, try to draw your bellybutton towards your spine as you breathe out completely.
2. Thunderbolt Pose
Make sure you have a yoga mat or good padding beneath your knees before starting thethunderbolt pose, a.k.a. Vajrasana:
- Stand up straight on your knees. Move your left arm straight up and overhead, and your right arm comfortably behind your back so that the back of your hand is resting on your sacrum.
- Take a deep breath. As you exhale, bend forward and move your left arm behind your back. As you reach the mat, turn your head to the right and rest the left side of your head on the mat. Remember to keep most of your body weight on your knees and not your head.
- As you inhale, sweep your right arm out and up as you raise your body back to the starting position. You head should be facing forward by the time you are upright, with the back of your left hand on your sacrum.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Complete 4 rounds of this exercise, alternating arms and head movement each time.
3. Thread the Needle
This is a wonderful warm-up pose that can be done before yoga (or any exercise) to loosen up the cervical spine (neck).
- Begin in a tabletop position (on all fours) with your head and neck in a neutral position.
- Inhale as you extend your right arm upwards. On the exhale, bring your right arm down and through the space between your left arm and left knee, palm facing up.
- As you move down, turn your head to the left and rest your right ear on the mat.
- Hold this position for one minute, then repeat on your other side. Breathe deeply and keep your head and neck relaxed.
4. Melting Heart Posture
Threading the needle is a natural precursor movement for the Melting Heart pose. Also known as Anahatasana or half dog pose, this pose will help relieve tension in your neck through a controlled middle and lower backbend.
- Starting again at the tabletop pose, move your upper body down onto the mat while keeping your hips directly above your knees.
- Stretch your arms out in front of you as you move your chest onto the mat (imaging your heart melting into the floor). Keep your arms shoulder-width apart. If you’d like, you can bend your arms at the elbow and clasp them behind your neck.
- Hold this pose for 3-5 minutes. Be conscious of any tingling sensation in your arms or hands – this is a sign that you may be pinching a nerve. Make adjustments to the position of your arms as necessary.