Hips, Shoulders, Balance, Hamstrings
This playful balance and shoulder-focused yoga sequence explores binding while moving through standing postures.
From standing, bring the big toes together with the heels slightly apart. Sink the hips back towards the ground while leaning the weight into the heels. Actively engage both legs. Once you’ve reached a lowered position, slightly tuck the tailbone under to reduce the arc in the lumbar spine (lower back). Then, shine the chest forward was you reach up with the arms and lift the upper body.
High Crescent Lunge
From Chair (Utkatasana), begin to lean your weight into the left foot until the right foot can hover slightly off the mat. Shift the upper body forward as the lifted foot reaches to the back of the mat. Ground down through the ball of the back foot, then engage into the back thigh to straighten the leg. Remain solidly rooted through the front leg with the knee bent at 90-degrees. With this solid base, lift the chest upright and reach upwards with the arms externally rotated (palms facing the back of the mat).
From your Crescent Lunge, reach the left hand down towards the ground then around the back, so that that palm is facing the back of the mat. Simultaneously, bend the right arm and let the right hand reach down the upper back. Reach the hands towards one another until they clap (or until you’ve found your max range of motion). Retract the shoulder blades so that the chest shines forwards, and pull the navel in towards the spine to avoid arching into the lower back.
Cresent Lunge with Gomukhasana Arms
Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III) with Gomukhasana Arms
While remaining in your bind, begin to shift the upper body forward over the front knee. Slowly, lift the back leg up into a Warrior III. Ground down firmly through the bottom leg (taking a slight micro-bend in the knee if you tend to hyperextend). Reach energetically through the lifted heel, while the toes of your back leg point downward (i.e. the hips are closed).
Windmill the Arms
While in your Warrior III with Gomukhasana arms, release the clasp of the hands. Reach the top hand all the way up overhead, while the bottom hand reaches towards the back leg. From here, make a giant spiral with the arms until the rotate around to towards the same Gomukhasana position, but on the opposite side. Instead of finding the full clasp of the hands on this second side, just place one hand on the back of the head, and the other on the lower back. Be sure to actively reach out in every direction as you rotate. Then, spiral again to return to the first side (once again, not finding your full bind).
Standing Knee to Chest (Eka Pada Tadasana)
From here, release the hands down by the sides and lift the chest to come all the way up to a standing position. Bend the knee of the back, lifted leg in towards the chest. Feel free to grab the shin with the hands if you like, pulling it up and inwards.
From Standing Knee to Chest, cross the lifted ankle over the opposite knee and begin sitting the hips backward until the supporting leg is bent towards a 90-degree angle. Flex actively through the top leg to protect the knee. Bring the hands to prayer (Anjali Mudra) in front of the chest and lengthen up through the spine.
If comfortable, begin to lean the upper body forward and allow the hands to reach downward towards the ground. Once the fingertips find the mat, begin to straighten the bottom leg. Reach forward through the crown of the head to lengthen the spine as you fold from the hips, remaining actively flexed through the foot of the lifted leg.
With a slight bend in knee of the grounded leg, slowly return to standing and uncross the legs. However, instead of placing the lifted foot on the ground, bring the sole of the foot directly onto the inside of the opposite thigh or calf. The foot can go above or below the knee, however be sure to avoid placing directly on the knee. Engage the legs towards one another, while maintaining a solid core. Pull the shoulder blades back and down as you bring your hands to heart center or reach the arms up overhead.
Cross-legged Forward Fold
On an exhale, release the lifted leg and bring it to the ground, crossing it over the opposite leg so that that the outside edges of the feet are against one another. With a long spine, fold forward, allowing the fingertips to rest on the ground. If your hamstrings are tight, try to maintain a slight anterior pelvic tilt as your fold to avoid collapsing into the lower back. From here, return to standing, uncross the leg, and move through the other side.