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Naturalist John Muir once said, “The sun shines not on us but in us.” With this sentiment in mind, Two Fit Moms honors Monday’s summer solstice (the first day of summer and the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere) and Tuesday’s International Day of Yoga with this heat-producing flow. After each pose in this sequence, you will return to Warrior II. Rather than holding Warrior II for just a few breaths, as is typical in many flow classes, you will maintain a strong stance for a full minute. By holding this posture, you will generate heat, build strength, and train your ability to focus and find stillness. Consider adding a few rounds of Sun Salutations at the beginning of this flow to celebrate the sun and welcome summer. Close your practice with some seated/supine stretches and a well-deserved Savasana.
Revolved Downward-Facing Dog
Parivrtta Adho Mukha Svanasana
Begin in Downward-Facing Dog with your fingers spread wide and tailbone lifted toward the sky. Shift your weight into your right palm and bring your left hand to the outside of your right thigh. Twist your torso to the right and gaze underneath your right armpit. If your flexibility allows, deepen the stretch by sliding the left hand down to your right calf or ankle. If you prefer to keep both hands on your mat, you can still get a great twist by bending your left knee and turning your belly button to the right. Hold either of these twisted variations for 5 breaths before returning to Downward-Facing Dog.
From Downward-Facing Dog, step your right foot forward in between your hands, spin your back heel down, and turn your left foot so it’s parallel to the back edge of your mat. Windmill the arms up into Warrior II. An imaginary line drawn straight back from the heel of your right foot would intersect the arch of your left foot. Bend and straighten the right knee a few times, sinking deeper into the pose with each bend. In the deepest expression of the pose, your right thigh will be parallel to the ground, with the right knee stacked directly over the right ankle. Keep your shoulders stacked over your hips, and your fingertips in line with your shoulders. Gaze over your right middle finger, and settle into the pose for a full minute (about 10 full breaths).
From Warrior II, straighten the right leg and reach forward toward the top edge of your yoga mat as far as you can. Bring your right fingertips down to the pinky-side edge of your foot (or maybe to the top of a yoga block or the top of your shin). Extend your left arm toward the sky and try to make a straight line with your arms. Make an effort to roll your left shoulder back, lift your chest, and tuck your right hip under your body. Gaze up at your left fingertips, and take 5 full breaths before re-bending the right knee and returning to Warrior II. Settle into your deepest variation of Warrior II and find stillness for a full minute.
Half Moon Sugarcane Pose
Ardha Chandra Chapasana
From Warrior II, slide the left foot a bit closer to the right foot. Bring the right fingertips down to the mat, about 12 inches in front of the right foot. Begin to straighten the right leg while simultaneously lifting the left leg to be parallel to the floor. Flex your lifted foot. Bring your left hand onto your left hip, and begin to stack your left hip over your right hip and your left shoulder over your right shoulder. Your torso will now be turned to the left. Slowly extend your left arm toward the sky for Half Moon Pose. Feel free to stay here, or if you have your balance, transition into Sugarcane pose by bending your left knee, and bringing your left hand to the pinky-side edge of your left foot. Begin to kick your left foot into your hand to open the chest, shoulders, and hip flexors for a full front-body stretch. Hold either pose for 5 full breaths before re-bending the right knee and stepping the left leg back into Warrior II. Once again, find stillness and test your strength by holding Warrior II for a full minute.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend
From Warrior II, straighten your front leg. Turn your right foot to be parallel to the left foot. All 10 toes should now face the left edge of your mat. Hinge forward from the hips, slowly folding toward the ground. Feel free to bring your fingertips to the mat for support, or reach for the outer edges of your calves or ankles. If your flexibility allows, you can also wrap the index and middle fingers of each hand around the big toes for a toe lock. Bend your elbows and draw the torso toward the legs. Keep your head and neck relaxed, and shift your weight forward to help lift the hips higher. Stay here for at least 5 breaths before extending the arms out to the sides and rising back up to a standing position. Keep the arms extended, and turn the right foot to face the front of the mat. Re-bend the right knee for another full minute (about 10 deep breaths) in Warrior II.
From Warrior II, straighten your right leg, and turn the right foot to be parallel to the left foot. From this wide straddle, heel-toe your feet toward one another until your feet are slightly wider than hip-width apart. Rotate your feet 45 degrees out to the sides, and bend your knees deeply, coming into a squat. Bring your hands together in prayer in front of your heart, and use your triceps to push your inner thighs back in space. Keep your chest lifted and find extension in the spine. If you cannot plant the soles of your feet flat on the ground, don’t worry. Stay on the balls of your feet until you gain the flexibility required to lower your heels. Take 5 deep breaths in this pose and then bring your fingertips down to the mat. Straighten both legs and then heel-toe your feet apart until your feet are parallel to one another in your original wide straddle once again. Extend your arms out to the sides and slowly rise to a standing position. Turn your right foot to face the front of the mat and bend the right knee for your final Warrior II pose (on the right side, at least). Sink to your deepest expression of the pose for one last minute of strength training and stillness. After you’ve completed your final Warrior II, windmill your hands to the mat, step back into Plank Pose. From here, you can simply lift your hips up and back into Downward-Facing Dog, or move through Chaturanga and Upward-Facing Dog before making your way into Downward-Facing Dog. Find your focus once again, and repeat the entire sequence on the opposite side.