Spring arrives at a time when we're often feeling pretty lethargic and just over winter. So when it begins warming up, we're so ready to get outside and be active.
With that in mind, here is a short yoga sequence you can practice inside or outside. We focus on lengthening, twisting, and stretching the tissues of the body in order to feel stretched and renewed - even after a short practice.
1. Standing (Tadasana)
Begin in tadasana - standing (see photo above), option to have hands down at the sides or in a prayer position at the chest, anjali mudra. Allow yourself to be really present with the the breath in the body, and the weight of the body pressing into the floor.
See if you can balance the weight through your feet equally. Then roll the shoulders up toward the ears and back, so they come together and down the spine. Lastly, imagine a thread running along your spine and up through the crown of your head; lift your head and neck as if someone were pulling on that thread.
Take a moment before practice to set an intention, maybe something related to a goal or idea you may have set for yourself this spring. If nothing arises, maybe just make the intention to be present and move with the breath. Take a long breath in through the nose and out through the mouth to seal the intention and open the practice.
2. Standing Side Bends
Keeping that engagement, take the right wrist with the left hand and curl slightly toward the left, stretching through the right side of the body.
We engage the core here in order to prevent this side stretch from becoming a back bend, which feels different in the body.
Take 3-5 breaths here, then switch sides.
3. Chair Twists (Parivrtta Utkatasana)
Before twisting, raise your arms up toward the sky, and look at your feet - can you see your toes? If not, try shifting your weight back further so your knees come more over your ankles. (This may also mean bending less deeply through the knees, play with it and find somewhere you feel stable.)
Now bring your hands in toward your chest - prayer/anjali mudra - and bring your left elbow to the right knee. Press deeply through both hands and your left elbow to lengthen and twist deeper - avoiding collapsing through the upper body.
Take 3-5 breaths here, then without switching sides just yet, move onto the next pose.
4. High Lunge Twist
Again, press the hands firmly together here and press through the left elbow to twist more deeply. Be sure that the front knee stays above or behind the ankle, not tracking forward toward the toes which can be hard on the joint.
Take 3-5 breaths here.
5. Lizard (Utthan Pristhasana)
Option to stay pretty high here, hands on the ground to the inside of the front foot, or to bend at the elbows to rest on the forearms. If you have props, this is where a block or a couple books can come in handy to bring the floor up to you.
Take 5-7 breaths here.
6. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Back toes can stay tucked or top of the foot can come to the ground - each option feels a little different on that back knee. If you have a blanket handy, this can be a great place to put it under the back knee for a little more support.
Settling in here, begin to activate through both legs as if your back knee and front foot were magnetized toward each other. Find a slight scoop to the tailbone here, and maybe draw your right (front) hip back and your left (back) hip forward to find a little more squaring through the hips. All of these actions can help us to feel more stable in the pose, and keep us from collapsing into the low back.
Option to hook the thumbs here to find a slight upper back bend, opening through the chest.
Take 3-5 breaths here.
7. Half Splits (Ardha Hanumanasana)
Option to stay here and hold, or flow back and forth from low lunge to half splits with your breath, inhaling forward and up for low lunge, exhaling back to half splits.
Eventually find stillness here, and hold for 5-7 breaths.
Before moving on to the last two poses, we're going to repeat this sequence on the second side. It's an inhale to shift forward, bending through the font knee, hands frame the foot, exhale to bring the back foot to meet the front, forward fold (Uttanasana). Look at your feet, bring your big toes to touch with heels slightly apart, then inhale to bend the knees deeply back into Chair pose.
Take a couple breaths here before taking poses 3-7 on the second side. (Begin by bringing your right elbow to the left knee for that chair twist.)
Once you reach half splits on the second side, bring the hands forward to frame the foot, bending through the front knee, then shift the left knee back to meet the right - table top - and lower onto the belly.
8. Locust (Salabhasana)
Bring the hands to clasp at the low back, press the pelvis firmly into the ground, then inhale to raise the chest up off the ground, as if someone were pulling your hands back. Option to take the feet up off the ground as well.
Take 3-5 breaths here, then release one cheek to the mat, and wiggle through the hips to release through the back.
9. Legs-Up-the-Wall (Viparita Karani)
When you're ready, bring your feet to the floor as if we were going to come into bridge pose. If you have a block, pillow, blanket, or bolster handy, you can slide this under your hips before lifting each leg up toward the sky.
If you don't have a prop, simply lift the feat up. Find a place with the legs where you don't need to hold them, they can just hang. This may mean bringing the props further up beneath you, or bending gently through the knees.
Take 10+ breaths here.
From here, option to take savasana or a short meditation before moving on with the rest of your day.