Compress to Open
Core, Hamstrings, Strength, Flexibility
This core yoga sequence is focused on finding core compression and using that strength to deepen folds and twists.
Yogic Squat (Malasana)
Begin with the feet hip width apart. Sink the hips downwards until they hover off the floor while remaining flat and grounded in both of the feet. Shine the chest forward and work to take any curve out of the upper back. Hands can come to prayer (Anjali Mudra) in front of the chest so that the elbows gently push the knees apart, if desired. While adjustments can be made for each individual, assure that the knees are pointing in the same direction as the feet.
Prone Crow (Bakasana Variation)
Reach the hands forward between the legs while still in Yogic Squat (Malasana). Engage the core by pulling the navel in towards the spine and lower the hips all the way down to the ground as slowly as possible. From here, continue the controlled motion backwards until you are lying on your back with your knees in to the chest and the hands still reaching between the legs. This is the same position as balancing in crow pose, however on the back. Actively pull the knees in towards the midline and engage the arms as they press against them.
From here, reach the arms inside the knees and grab on to the outside of the feet. Press the feet into the hands to find Happy Baby pose. The shins should be more or less perpendicular to the floor. Work to keep the sacrum pressed down into the ground instead of rolling onto the mid-back. Pull the shoulder blades down the back and lengthen the spine to deepen the stretch.
Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
One Legged Happy Baby (Ardha Ananada Balasana)
From Happy Baby (Ananda Balansana) release the left foot and bring the left leg down to the ground. Wrap both hands around the right foot and use the added leverage to pull the right knee closer into the armpit. Simultaneously, reach actively through the grounded left leg.
Reclined Hand to Big Toe (Supta Padangusthasana)
Next, reach the index and middle fingers around the big toe of the right foot and begin to straighten the right leg. Feel free to grab a strap or other prop to add length to the arm. Ground the shoulder blades down to the ground as you lengthen the spine and pull the leg downwards towards the face.
Marichyasana I Prep
From Reclined Hand to Big Toe (Supta Padangusthasana), bend the right knee in towards the chest, then rock on the back until you are sitting upright with the bottom of the right foot grounded and the left leg extended. There should be about a 1-fist distance between the left leg and right foot. From here, find length in the spine, pull the navel inward to create space in the abdomen, and fold forward over the left leg. Actively reach the hands towards the foot as you lower with a flat back.
Next, begin to reach the right arm forward. Internally rotate the right arm so that the thumb faces downwards as the right knee snuggles into the armpit. On an exhalation, reach the right hand around the right knee so that the back of the hand rests on the thigh or buttock. Reach the left arm around the back to grab the right wrist. Exhale and extend the torso forward.
Release the bind of the arms and sit upright. Reach the left arm towards the ceiling creating length in the spine, then twist through the torso and bring the back of the left arm to the outside of the bent right leg. On each inhale, create length through the spine and on each exhale, twist deeper.
Yogic Squat (Malasana)
Untwist the body, and begin to roll back and forth on the spine with the knees in to the chest. Eventually, roll all the way up into Yogic Squat (Malasana). The goal here is to return to the squat (without using the hands) using only core compression strength and hip flexibility.
Straighten the legs to return to standing at the top of your mat. Root down firmly through the balls of the feet and heels. Stack the knees over the ankles and the hips over the knees. Shine the chest forward and let the shoulder blades fall down the back. Allow the hands to come to prayer position (Anjali Mudra) for one deep breath before switching to the other side.