The Practice: This standing twist sequence will open your upper back, leaving you refreshed and energized. Do the sequence on its own or use it to prepare for a longer backbending practice.
Mind-Body Benefits: Spending hours at a time sitting at a desk can take a toll on your posture: Your shoulders slump, your head tips forward, and your circulation stagnates. This sequence counteracts hunched posture and gets the blood flowing. This practice includes challenging poses, so work steadily at your own pace. When you finish, you should feel stronger, more open, and more empowered.
Key Focal Points: In each twist, focus on keeping your pelvis square and stable so that you create the twist from your mid and upper back. By working this way, you'll get the desired opening in your upper back, and you'll reduce potential strain on your sacrum.
Watch: A video of this Home Practice sequence here.
Charge Up: Open Your Spine
Start seated, crossing your shins in Sukhasana (Easy Pose). Sit up tall and twist to the right. Place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind you. Keep your pelvis square to the front of the mat and your collarbones wide. Twist from the mid to upper back. Repeat on the other side.
Do 3 rounds of traditional Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutation A) and 3 rounds of Surya Namaskar B.
1. Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)
After your third round of Sun Salutation B, end in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose). Step your right foot forward and drop your back knee to the mat. Sweep your arms up. Hold this and all of the poses in this sequence for 5 deep breaths.
2. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
Come into Down Dog, pressing the entirety of each palm down. Hug your outer arms in and roll them toward the ground. Do Low Lunge on the other side, and then return to Downward-Facing Dog.
3. High Lunge Twist
Step your right foot forward between your hands, with your feet hip-width apart. Place your left hand on the floor directly under your shoulder and twist to the right. Keep your hips square as you reach your right arm toward the ceiling.
4. Adho Mukha Svanasana
Come into Down Dog, pressing your thighs back to fully lengthen the spine. Do High Lunge Twist on the other side, and then return to Down Dog.
5. High Lunge
Step your right foot forward into High Lunge and reach your arms up. Lengthen your side body toward your fingertips and your breastbone toward your chin. If you can keep your elbows straight, look up and press your palms together.
6. Adho Mukha Svanasana
Come into Down Dog, taking a few breaths to reestablish length in your spine. Do High Lunge on the other side, and then return to Downward-Facing Dog.
7. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana I (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose I)
Come forward to standing. Bring your left hand to your left hip. Lift your right leg and grab your right big toe with your first two fingers. Move directly into the next pose.
8. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana III (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose III):
Take your left hand to the outer edge of your right foot and reach your right arm back. After 5 breaths, come back to center, release your right leg, and do the other side.
9. Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)
Step your left foot back. Fold forward and bring your left hand to the outer edge of your right foot. Release and come to Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Do both sides.
10. Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose), variation:
Do Sun Salutation A and end in Down Dog. Step your right foot forward to High Lunge. Bring your hands to prayer, lean forward, and bring your left elbow to your right knee.
11. Adho Mukha Svanasana
Place both hands on the floor and step back into Down Dog. Take a few breaths here, and then step your left foot forward into Revolved Side Angle. Finish in Down Dog.
12. Virabhadrasana III (Warrior Pose III)
Step your right foot forward between your hands into High Lunge. Take a baby step forward with your back foot and straighten your standing leg to come to Warrior III. Pull your chest forward and keep it wide.
13. Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana (Revolved Half Moon Pose)
Release your left hand down to the mat. Twist your chest open to the right from your upper back. Reach your right arm up. Re-lease the pose; come into Tadasana.
14. Adho Mukha Svanasana
Come into Down Dog; then step your left foot forward in Warrior III.
15. Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose)
Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart. Bring your hands under your shoulders, lift your hips, and straighten your elbows. Repeat 2 more times.
16. Reclined Twist
Lie on your back. Drop the knees to the left and stretch out your arms along the floor. Look over your right shoulder. Repeat on the other side, and then relax for at least 5 minutes in Savasana (Corpse Pose).