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Summer is right around the corner and our calendars are already filling up with exciting outdoor activities. It can be tempting to let yoga go when things heat up, but the stretch and invigoration you get from your practice may be just what you need. Rev up your routine with these fresh yoga poses to spark joy and energize your body for the season.
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
- Begin in Dandasana (Staff Pose), sitting on the edge of a folded blanket. Press your heels away from your body; press your palms or finger tips into the floor beside your hips.
- Inhale. Keeping your front torso long, exhale and lean forward from your hips. Lengthen the spine to fold toward your legs, without rounding your back.
- Walk your hands out along the outside of each leg as far as they will go. If you can reach them, hold the sides of your feet with your hands.
- With each inhalation, lift and lengthen your front torso just slightly; with each exhalation, release a little more fully into the forward bend. If you are holding your feet, bend your elbows out to the sides and lift them away from the floor.
- Stay in the pose from 1–3 minutes. To come up, release your feet. Inhale and lift your torso by pulling your tailbone down and into the pelvis.
For more details, tips, and variations on Seated Forward Bend and all the poses you see here, visit the Yoga Journal Pose Library.
Parivrtta Janu Sirsana (Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose)
- Begin in Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend). Ground through your sitting bones and open your legs to about 120-degrees. Your quadriceps should face the ceiling.
- Bend your right knee, and bring the heel to your groin.
- As you inhale, lengthen your spine. As you exhale, twist your torso to the right.
- Maintaining the rotation of your spine, tilt your torso laterally to the left. Move your left shoulder toward the inside of your left knee while revolving your torso toward the ceiling.
- Extend your left hand, palm up, toward your left foot, and clasp your inner foot or reach your hand toward your foot.
- Raise your right arm and bring it over your head. If you can reach it comfortably, grab the your left foot.
- Press your left thigh and your right knee toward the floor to balance the weight of your torso.
- As you inhale, lengthen your spine. As you exhale, twist your torso further to the right and rotate your chest to the ceiling.
- Hold for 10 breaths to 1 minute. Reverse the steps to come out of the pose.
- Repeat on the other side.
Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose)
- From a high lunge, place both hands on the floor to the inside of your left foot.
- Lengthen the spine and neck, reaching the crown of your head forward as you gaze at the floor between your hands.
- Tone and lift your right thigh, and press back though your left heel. Keep your hips level and low.
- Hold here, or, for a deeper stretch, place your forearms onto the floor.
- Stay in the pose for 5 to 10 breaths.
Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose) variation
- Begin in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), then shift forward into Plank Pose.
- Roll onto the outside edge of your left foot.
- Bend your right knee and step that foot in front of your body, allowing it to act as a support.
- Place your right hand onto your right hip, turning your torso to the right as you do, and support the weight of your body on the outer left foot and left hand.
- Align your right hip on top of your left, and lengthen your tailbone toward your heels.
- Lift your hips up. Focus on aligning your body into one long diagonal line from your right heel to the crown of your head.
- Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling, so it is in line with your shoulders. Keep the head neutral, or gaze up at the left hand.
- Stay in the position for several breaths, then return to Plank and repeat on the other side.
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
- Lie on your belly on your mat, with a blanket under your pelvis if needed. Press all of your toes into the floor and then bend your knees, keeping the toes active.
- Grab the outer edges of your ankles with your hands and flex your feet strongly.
- On an inhalation, lift your rib cage and shoulders toward your ears. On an exhalation, lengthen your tailbone and kick your legs back into your hands as you hold on firmly
- From here, lift your head and heart. Gaze forward. Press down through your thighs to lift your chest.
- Stay lifted for 5 breaths.
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
- Stand in Tadasana. Inhale and raise your arms overhead so that your biceps are just slightly in front of your ears. Either keep the arms parallel, palms facing inward, or join the palms.
- Exhale and bend your knees so that your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible. Your knees will project out over your feet, and your trunk will lean slightly forward over your thighs until your front torso forms approximately a right angle with the tops of your thighs.
- Keep your inner thighs parallel to each other and press the heads of the thigh bones down toward your heels.
- Firm your shoulder blades against your back. Direct your tailbone down toward the floor and in toward your pubis to keep your lower back long.
- Stay for 30 seconds to a minute. To come out of this pose, straighten your knees with an inhalation, lifting strongly through your arms. Exhale and release your arms to your sides into Tadasana.
Parsva Bakasana (Side Crow/Crane Pose)
- Facing the long side of your mat, come into a squat with your feet and knees together.
- Inhale, lifting your left arm to the ceiling. Exhale, twist to the right and bring both hands to the floor or to blocks on the outside of your right foot. Position your hands shoulder-distance apart with your wrist creases parallel to each other and to the edge of the mat.
- Shift your torso forward, bending your elbows to a 90-degree angle so that your elbows stack over your wrists as if you are moving into Chaturanga Dandasana. Roll the heads of your upper arms back and away from the floor.
- Perch your right outer thigh on the shelf of your left upper arm. Draw your elbows toward each other keeping them close to the body.
- Twisting deeply, lift your feet off the floor, keeping your knees and feet stacked.
- To secure your balance, lower your forehead onto a block or bolster as you lift your feet.
- Hold for 3–5 breaths, then release your feet to the floor.
- Repeat on the other side.
Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
- Start in Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle) with your left foot forward.
- Bring your right hand to your hip and turn your head to look at the floor.
- Bend your left leg and shift your weight into your left foot.
- Reach your left hand a little forward and place it on the mat or a block directly beneath your left shoulder. Press down through your fingers to steady yourself.
- Lift your right leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Slowly turn your chest to face the right, twisting your torso and hips. Reach your right hand to the ceiling.
- Either keep your gaze on the floor or slowly bring it to your right hand. Keep a slight bend in your standing leg so you don’t hyperextend your knee.
- Exit the pose the same way you came into it and return to Extended Triangle.
- Repeat on the other side.
See also Build Balance in Revolved Half Moon
Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)
- Begin facing the long side of your mat in Mountain Pose (Tadasana).
- Step your feet 3 to 4 feet apart, with your hands on your hips.
- Lift tall through your whole torso and fold slowly over your legs. Bend from your hip joints instead of rounding your lower back. If your back starts to round, stop folding forward.
- Place your hands flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart; begin to stretch your torso forward.
- Fold deeper, bringing your head toward the floor. Anchor your feet, firm your leg muscles and activate your inner thigh muscles. Lengthen your entire spine from your sitting bones to the crown of your head.
- After several breaths, ground into your feet, straighten your arms, and lengthen your spine forward.
- Inhale as you slowly lift up to standing. Step your feet together, come into Mountain Pose at the front of the mat, and pause.
Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle)
- Start in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Jump your legs about 4 feet apart. Extend your arms into a T position, with your palms facing down; reach out through the fingertips as if your arms were being pulled in opposite directions.
- Turn your left foot out to 90 degrees, and turn your right foot slightly inward. Lift through your spine, keeping the sides of your torso equally long.
- Press your right outer foot and heel to the floor as you bend your left knee toward a 90-degree angle with your left thigh parallel to the floor. Adjust your stance to establish a strong foundation.
- Lean toward your left knee, hinging at the hips to bring your left arm own toward the floor. You may place your left fingertips to the ground or on a block. Move your left armpit close to the outer left knee so your arm and shin are parallel.
- Reach your right arm up over your right ear, palm facing the floor. Turn your chest toward your raised arm and press the right hip toward the floor to create a straight line from your right ankle to you
- Turn your head to look past your right thumb. Breathe freely in the pose. Stay for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Inhale reach up then bring your torso up and straighten the left leg. Switch sides.
Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand)
- Fold two or more firm blankets stack them one on top of the other.
- Lie on the blankets so that your torso and shoulders are supported and your head rests on the floor.
- Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor with your heels close to your sitting bones.
- Press your arms into the blankets and bring your shoulder blades toward each other, tucking your upper arms underneath you.
- Exhale, press your arms against the floor and lift your legs, drawing your thighs in toward your body. Curl your pelvis and back away from the floor so that your knees come toward your face.
- Bend your elbows and bring your hands up to support your back. Walk your hands toward your shoulder blades.
- Inhale and lift your knees toward the ceiling. Align your pelvis over your shoulders and your thighs with your torso, and hang your heels down by your buttocks. Press your tailbone toward your pubis.
- On your next inhale, straighten your legs, pressing the balls of your feet toward the ceiling.
- Firm your shoulder blades against the back, and move the sternum toward the chin, keeping space at the front of your neck. Gaze toward your chest.
- Press the backs of your upper arms and the tops of your shoulders actively into the blanket for support. Avoid collapsing into your neck.
- Stay in the pose for 1-3 breaths.
- To come down, exhale, bend your knees into your torso, and roll down carefully. Return to starting position.
See also More Inversion Poses
Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor.
- Inhale, lift your pelvis slightly off the floor, and slide your hands, palms down, under your buttocks. Then rest your buttocks on the backs of your hands Tuck your forearms and elbows close to your sides.
- Inhale and press your forearms and elbows firmly against the floor and lift your upper torso and head away from the floor. Press your shoulder blades into your back, lift your chest, and arch your back.
- On an exhale, release your head back onto the floor. Depending on how high you arch your back, either the back of your head or its crown will rest on the floor.
- Support your upper body with your arms to avoid putting too much weight on your head. Avoid crunching the back of your neck.
- You can keep your knees bent or straighten your legs out onto the floor.
- Stay for 1-5 smooth breaths.
- To release the pose, exhale, lift your head, tuck your chin slightly and lower your torso and head to the floor.
About our contributor
Ryanne Cunningham is a practicing yogi for over 20 years and a yoga instructor for 16 years. Ryanne is a published author (“Yoga For Athletes” published by Human Kinetics). She has her 500hr advanced TT. She has studied at Satchidanada Ashram through the Hatha Yoga and Cardiac Yoga programs. She has trained at a Green Bay, WI Ashtanga and Vinyasa studio for 10 years and is currently studying Dharma Yoga. For the past 6 years she has owned her own yoga studio (Flow Yoga Studio in De Pere, WI) where she works with many athletes of all levels, including many of the Green Bay Packers.