Imprints essential actions to strengthen the abdomen and legs, and protect the shoulders
Loop a strap so it is shoulder-width and place it around your upper arms, just above your elbows. From your knees, bring your forearms to the floor, shoulders stacked over elbows. Squeeze your elbows into the midline until the strap loosens slightly. This action helps strengthen the shoulder muscles that are often vulnerable in weight-bearing poses. Step back, creating a straight line from the crown of your head to your heels. Engage your quadriceps, direct the tops of your femurs to the ceiling, and release your tailbone down. Engage your lower belly to support your lower back. Root through your big-toe mounds, press your heels back, and extend your sternum forward. Hold for 15–20 slow, even breaths; release to the floor.
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Begins to mobilize your upper back and cultivates a strong central axis, or a sense of where your midline exists
From Down Dog, step your left foot forward, stacking your knee directly over your ankle, left thigh parallel to the floor. Inhale into a High Lunge, bringing your arms alongside your ears. Draw your palms down in front of your chest in Anjali Mudra. Plug your right big-toe mound into the floor for stability. Inhale and elongate your spine; exhale and tilt your torso forward, pressing back into your right heel, re-creating the taut line that you discovered in Chaturanga. Pin your left hip back and in toward your right heel to create equal length on both sides of your torso. Exhale and hook your right elbow to the outside of your left thigh, keeping your hands at the center of your chest. Inhale and find length along your central axis. Exhale to rotate more deeply to the left. Hold for 10–12 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
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Deepens the awakening in your upper back as you integrate the power of your legs
Standing in Tadasana, lift your inner arches and press down with your big-toe mounds, observing the subtle internal rotation of your thighs. Lift your kneecaps and press your femurs toward the wall behind you as you gently release your tailbone down. Step your right foot back about 4 feet, lining up heel to heel, so your back foot is at a 45-degree angle. With your left hand, pin the left hip back and into the midline as you simultaneously root down with your right heel and left big-toe mound. Inhale and raise your right arm to the ceiling. Exhale and take your torso forward, until your upper body is parallel to the floor. Place your right hand to the outside of your left foot, on the floor or a block, and extend your left arm up, gazing at your thumb. Recommit to your central axis, pressing through the back heel and firming your left outer hip into the midline as you continue to move your chest forward. Hold for 10–12 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
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