Hitting the road for a mid-summer vacation? There’s no need to take a break from your practice. Even if you’re traveling without a mat or don’t have the space to roll one out, you can still get your yoga fix and effectively stretch your whole body with these eight standing poses from Two Fit Moms.
Separate your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees, and bring your chest to your thighs. Fold forward, grab opposite elbows, and settle into this pose for two to three minutes. While this pose may resemble Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana), which is an active stretch of the hamstrings, the goal in this yin pose is to dangle the upper body for a longer period of time to help release the lower back.
Garland Pose (Malasana)
From Dangle Pose, bend your knees and lower your hips into Garland Pose. Bring the palms of your hands together, and press your inner thighs back in space with your triceps. Keep your chest lifted and hold this pose for five breaths before slowly rising to a standing position.
See also How Yogis Do Squat: Malasana
Standing Pigeon (Eka Pada Galavasana Prep)
Cross your right ankle over your left thigh, and flex your right foot to activate your leg muscles and protect the knee. Begin to sink your hips down into a squat, and extend your arms in front of you to aid balance. Hold this hip-opening pose for five breaths before rising back up and repeating on the opposite leg.
See also5 Steps to Eka Pada Galavasana
Lord of the Dance Pose (Natarajasana)
Stretch your entire front body while strengthening your legs and ankles in this standing balance pose. Focus on a stationary point a few feet in front of you to help find your balance, and kick your foot firmly into your hand to create the tension required to lift the leg higher and hold this posture. Raise the opposite arm toward the sky to assist in balance. Broaden across the collarbone, draw your shoulder blades toward each other, and lift your chest. Lord of the Dance Pose is a backbend and a one-legged balance all in one. Maintain your balance for five breaths, and then practice on the opposite side.
See alsoFind Your Inner Cosmic Dancer
Standing Backbend (Anuvittasana)
Choose either of these standing backbends to stretch the chest and reverse the hunching that many of us do throughout the day. In the supported version of this pose, the hands are on the lower back, and in the deeper variation, the hands are actively reaching overhead. Both versions of the backbend will stretch the chest and lengthen the spine to relieve tension. Hold for five breaths.
Revolved Chair Pose (Parivrtta Utkatasana)
Yoga twists are thought to massage the internal organs, tone the belly, and flush toxins from the body. With the possibility of such amazing benefits, we had to include one strengthening twist in this sequence. Bend your knees, bringing your hands together in Prayer in front of your heart. Twist your torso to the right, hooking your left elbow on the outside of your right thigh. Press your palms firmly together to gain leverage for a deeper twist. Lift and lengthen your spine with each inhalation and twist deeper with each exhalation. Both knees should be aligned with one another, and your weight should be over your heels, rather than the balls of your feet. Hold this pose for five breaths before twisting to the opposite side.
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Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
This standing balance pose will stretch the upper back and shoulders while challenging your balance and stretching the hips, thighs, and ankles. Shift your weight into your left foot. Cross your right thigh over your left thigh, and attempt to hook the top of your right foot behind the left calf. If you have a knee injury or would like a modification for Eagle Pose, just cross your thighs without adding the element of hooking the raised foot behind the standing-leg calf. Bend your elbows, bring them up to shoulder height, and place your left elbow into your right elbow crease. Intertwine your arms, being mindful to keep the shoulders rolled down and away from the ears. Hold for five breaths before repeating on the other side.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana C)
In this variation of a Wide-Legged Forward Bend, not only will you stretch your hamstrings, but you will also get a great stretch across your shoulders and chest. Open your legs 3–4 feet apart, clasping your hands behind your back. Keep your feet parallel as you hinge from the hips, and allow your clasped hands to fall forward for the deepest shoulder and chest stretch. Depending on your flexibility, your head may rest on the mat. Hold for five breaths before releasing the pose.