I’m currently sitting at an airport restaurant on my layover between Reno and Orlando after my 10-day teaching stint in California. It’s always interesting for me to come back to where I taught for 8 years. There’s so much passion for yoga in this part of the country. It inspired me.
I love yoga, but have been practicing for quite some time now and often need a little kick in the behind to stay inspired. I was contemplating my next Challenge Pose post when I ran across a photo of fellow teacher Tiffany Cruikshank in a variation of Grasshopper. It wasn’t as deep as the original pose, and I found it to be accessible, and honestly, cute. I decided to name it aptly: Baby Hopper. This is a fabulous variation to get you ready for the full twist/hip opener, or maybe just a fun spin on the original to remind you why we do yoga—to smile, to love, to have fun.
The first goal is to open up our hips. Stand on your right foot and cross your left ankle directly above your right knee so the foot hangs over the side. Keep your left foot flexed and the weight of your body in your standing heel. Bend your right leg, sinking your hips down, and place your hands in Anjali Mudra at your heart. Firm the outer right hip in as you allow the left knee to relax down toward the ground in deeper external rotation. Hold here for a solid 8 breaths, and either rest and repeat or continue to the next step.
Begin to twist your upper body toward the sole of your left foot. In regular Grasshopper, we twist the left elbow into the left foot, but we’re only going about two-thirds of the way here (hence the name Baby Hopper). Lean forward and bring your hands shoulder-width apart to the ground. Land your left arm in between your left foot and right knee. Try to place your left shin as high up your left arm as comfortable. Relax your left foot.
Shift the weight of your left shinbone onto your left arm. Your left foot will dangle in between your arms below your chest. Your right knee will rest onto the back of your left triceps, just above your left elbow. This part is crucial, as you’ll want to rest your back leg on the arm for extra support. You can also use a slight push from your back leg to help snuggle your left shinbone further up toward your armpit, which will make you feel more compact and together. Keep your gaze forward of your fingertips and bend your elbows toward a 90-degree angle.
Once your arms bend into full Chaturanga, lean the weight of your heart and gaze forward, making your rear leg lighter. Elevate your hips with the lean until you can lift your right bent knee leg off of the ground. Keep the right leg on the back of your left arm and extend the right leg straight out to the side. Spread your toes. Keep the gaze a few inches past your fingertips and take 5-8 breaths. Come back down and switch sides.
Kathryn Budig is jet-setting yoga teacher who teaches online at Yogaglo. She is the Contributing Yoga Expert for Women’s Health Magazine, Yogi-Foodie for MindBodyGreen, creator of Gaiam’s Aim True Yoga DVD, co-founder of Poses for Paws and author of Rodale’s The Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga . Follow her on Twitter; Facebook; Instagram or on her website. Come on retreat with her in Stowe, Vermont this October for yoga, archery + outdoor beauty via The Travel Yogi.