Level 1: Upper Body Core Strength

In this class, focus on keeping the upper back and the top of the chest equally wide throughout all of the poses. In this sequence we are looking less to find strength in the arms and more to find strength in the sides of the body, linking the arms and upper ribs to the core.

The Sequence

Side Stretch at the wall
• Stand with the feet together about eight to twelve inches away from the wall and lean the right hip, waist and ribs against it. Reach the right arm up. Pause here for a few breaths.
• Come up onto the balls of the feet. Stay here for a few breaths.
• Slowly drop the right heel, resisting up through the ribs and arms to lengthen out the right side of the waist. When the right heel is down, drop the left.
• Bend the right elbow and clasp it with the left hand. Draw the upper arm bone up towards the ceiling. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Take the tip of the elbow up and over the top of the head while keeping the outer armpit moving into the wall. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Turn the chest a slightly into the middle of the room to send the stretch towards the back. Hold here for a few breaths.
• Release and repeat on the second side.

Garudasana (Eagle Pose) arms with the back against the wall

Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose) with the back against the wall

All Fours

Plank Pose

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Child’s Pose

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Child’s Pose

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)
• The focus of this Sun Salute is to practice hopping back and forth between Uttanasana and Adho Mukha Shvanasana. It is quite simplified so as not to confuse the issue with more challenging poses.
• When jumping back the key is to press the floor away from you and move the chest away from the hands to carry the body back on the strength of the connection between the arms and the sides of the trunk. This is quite different from donkey-kicking back into a Plank pose and then moving back into Adho Mukha Shvanasana.
• Initially you might need to make a small hop back and forth and walk the rest of the way.
• Follow this order of progression:
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Hands Pose)
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Plank Pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Hands Pose)
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
• Repeat for a total of five cycles.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
• Put the hand of the raised arm on the hip.
• Press the collarbone away from the ear and roll it up towards the ceiling.

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose 2)

Utthita Parshvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)


Head Stand Preparation
• Do twice, once with each interlock of the fingers.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Have a foam block or rolled towel between the feet to make the inner thighs engage.
• Use some sort of heavy weight: a sandbag, a dumbbell or a heavy book. Have the arms over head and the weight in the hands. Press up into the weight to brace the arms. Widen the upper back and press it into the floor.
• Cycle through the pose three times, holding the legs in place at approximately 90°, 60°, 30° and 10° if possible.
• If this variation proves to be too challenging for the lower back, do it either with one leg at a time, or release the arms and have them down by the sides.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Turning Pose)
• Have one of your weights on each hand.
• If the legs are going to the right, press down with the right arm while pressing up into the left weight to brace the arm. Press the left shoulder firmly down into the ground. Throughout the entire sequence, keep the backs of both shoulders firmly grounded and the chest wide.
• For the first rep, keep the knees bent. For subsequent reps, start with the knees bent, but work on straightening the legs, keeping the knees at waist height and aiming the feet at the hands.
• Do three reps in total.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) over a bolster
• 3 to 5 minutes.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over a bolster
• 3 to 5 minutes.

Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose)
• 3 to 5 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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