This sequence creates an opening for the hip flexors, it provides a challenge for the thigh muscles whilst making the practitioner develop an awareness in finding strength and balance through the feet. As the sequence progresses it integrates an opening for the anterior body incorporating the chest, shoulders and the spine.
1 – Start in TADASANA (Mountain pose)
Spread through the toes aiming to find all four corners of the feet. Activate the legs by drawing the kneecaps up whilst engaging the thighs. Tuck the tailbone under and draw the pubic bone towards the navel, engage the pelvic floor muscles. Inhale; bring the hands to chest centre and rise through the chest allowing the natural lift of the shoulders. Exhale, allow the shoulder girdle to externally rotate completely
relaxing any tensions through the upper-back and shoulders, whilst still keeping the alignment and awareness in the feet, legs and pelvis.
2 – URDHVA HASTASANA (Upward Salute)
Inhale, raise the hands above the head keeping the arms shoulder width apart (option to keep hands together). Still keep the focus by aiming to really find connection from the Earth by grounding down through all four corners of the feet, engaging the legs and posteriorly tilting the pelvis.
3 – UTTANASANA (Standing Forward Bend)
Exhale, fold forward bringing the palms either side of the feet bringing the abdomen to the tops of the thighs, bend into the knees if less flexible aim to straighten legs if more advanced drawing the forehead to the shins. Engage mula bandha and uddiyana bandha to create more space and depth in the posture.
4 – ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA (Downward Facing Dog)
Walk, step or jump back into Downward Dog. Take a moment to bring the focus to the alignment. Ke
ep the palms shoulder width apart, feet hip width apart. Connect through the pads of the hands spreading the weight evenly. Externally rotate through the arms by wrapping the triceps under and drawing the biceps towards the sky, creating space in the trapezius and shoulder girdle. Draw the navel in and up towards the sternum engaging ‘uddiyana bandha.’ Spread the sit bones whilst aiming to make the tailbone the apex (highest point) of the asana. Engage both thighs by elevating the kneecaps providing a stretch to the hamstrings whilst allowing the heels to magnetise towards the mat.
5 – VIRABHADRASANA 1 (Warrior 1)
Inhale, turn the heel of the left foot towards the arch of the right foot then step the right foot forward inline with the hands. Inhale, rise the hands above the head shoulder width apart (option to keep palms together). Bringing awareness to finding stability through the feet aim to ground through the outer edge of the left foot looking to find the centre of the heel. Spread through the toes of the front foot (right) bringing the knee in line or just behind the alignment of the ankle. Draw the right side of the pelvis back whilst aiming to draw the left side forward. Create length in the lumbar spine by tucking the tailbone under while drawing the pubis towards the stomach. Aim to elevate through the chest centre providing extra space for the lungs.
6 – VIRABHADRASANA 2 (Warrior 2)
Reach the right hand forward and the left hand back aligning the length of the arms to the height of the shoulders. Adjust the pelvis so it is square with the side edge of the mat, create length in the lower back by drawing the tailbone under, posteriorly rotating the hips. Square the back foot (left) so it runs parallel to the back edge of the mat.
7 – VIPARITA VIRABHADRASANA (Humble Warrior)
Externally rotate the shoulders and interlace the fingers, aim to draw both shoulder blades together towards the centre of the upper-back. Inhale; broaden the chest by widening the collar bones. Exhale; fold forward aiming to lengthen through the entire spinal column. Keep the torso to the inside of the right thigh. Spread through the toes in both feet, keep the left leg active by drawing the energy through the outer edge of the foot.
8 – ANJANEYASANA (Lunge pose)
Release the palms, place the hands either side of the right foot. Bring the left knee and shin to the floor (option to flex the foot for practitioners with tender knees), square the hips to the front edge of the mat. Draw the right knee inline with the ankle or option to place it forward for a deeper stretch for the hip flexors. Inhale, bring both hands together in ‘Anjali’ mudra raising them above the head. Through each exhalation allow gravity and the weight of the body to sink down through the hips. Keep the glutes (outer hips) active whilst aiming to elevate through the chest centre with each inhalation.
9 – CHATURANGA DANDASANA (Four-Limbed Staff pose)
Step the right foot back, bringing the feet hip-width apart. Engage the full length of the leg drawing the heels back whilst tucking the tailbone. The placement of the hands/wrists should directly align with the shoulders, chest centre lifting forward. Exhale, lower the body keeping the elbows tucked towards the rib cage and the heads of the arms inline with the chest. Aim to keep the shoulders inline with the elbows paying careful attention on this alignment. Falling below will bring unnecessary pressure to the rotator cuff.
10 – URDHVA MUKHA SVANASANA (Upward Dog)
Inhale, rise through the chest centre whilst drawing the shoulders down and back. Aim to keep the pelvis and front of the legs away from the mat. Un-tuck the toes extending the ankles.
11 – ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA (Downward Facing Dog)
Exhale push back into Downward Facing Dog. Take a moment to bring the focus to the alignment. Keep the palms shoulder width apart, feet hip width apart. Connect through the pads of the hands spreading the weight evenly. Externally rotate through the arms by wrapping the triceps under and drawing the biceps towards the sky, creating space in the trapezius and shoulder girdle. Draw the navel in and up towards the sternum engaging uddiyana bandha. Spread the sit bones whilst aiming to make the tailbone the apex (highest point) of the asana. Engage both thighs by elevating the kneecaps providing a stretch to the hamstrings whilst allowing the heels to magnetise towards the mat.
Repeat sequence on the left side