• Heather Lilleston


by Heather Lilleston

10 Poses I Recommend When You Are Hanging Onto Summer

It’s been hot and it’s been beautiful. And while we are hanging on to these golden days of summer, I am gonna keep this short and sweet. This goes in line with what you might have time for anyways in terms of a physical yoga practice amongst the outdoor concerts and travel schedules and nap times and BBQ’s and sunsets and lazy hours at the beach - none of which I recommend missing. So here are my 10 favorite poses (in order as they should be practiced) from Summer 2018. Enjoy!

1. Triangle

I highly recommend a block under your bottom hand and a really wide stance. Make sure to keep the front foot at a 90 degree angle and the back foot at a 20 degree ankle. Hold for 10 breaths on each side, pivoting on your feet between sides. 

2. Plank

Focus on distributing your weight equally throughout the whole body, engaging all your muscles in a balanced way. Hold for at least one minute. Make sure you are aware of the use of your abdominal muscles and leg muscles, and that all the weight bearing doesn’t just get stuck in your wrists. 

3. Straddle Forward Fold

I recommend going into this pose with a slightly bent knee, that way as you fold forward from standing (with your legs already in a straddle) you can bend from the hinge in your hips instead of overloading the low back. With this arm variation you also don’t need to be able to touch the floor. Once you are folding, gradually extend your legs by pressing the inner thighs towards the outer thighs and grounding consistently through the outer edges of your feet. 

4. Seated Straddle Forward Fold

The main thing here is to keep the feet and legs engaged and the toes facing directly towards the sky. If you have tight hamstrings or a tight back you can place a pillow or blanket under your seat and add a little bend to your knees. Use your hands to fold forward in front of you but also make sure to continuously lengthen the waist. Hold for 10 breaths.

5. Ankle to Knee with Arm Variation

There is a method to this sequence madness. Sitting upright to keep some neutrality in the spine, double wrap the arms (garudasana arms if you know the Sanskrit) and press the forearms forward away from your face to broaden the upper back and space between the shoulder blades. Flex the feet breath 5 breaths (5 with left arm on top and right leg on top and 5 with right arm on top and left leg on top). 

6. Table Top

Undo your legs and shake them out from ankle to knee, then place your feet hips width distance apart. Place your hands behind you with your fingers facing forward, draw your navel to your spine and lift your sacrum up, moving your shoulders away from your hips/knees. It’s optional to let your head go back or not depending on the status of your neck and cervical spine. Breath 5 breaths. 

7. Ankle to Knee with Backbend

Coming back to ankle to knee with the legs stacked, place the hands behind you and lift your chest into a back bend. Breath 10 breaths with either stacking of the legs.

8. Crescent Lunge Twist

You will probably want to come to Downward Facing Dog or Hands and Knees to transition into this one. Feel free to place some padding under the back knee and make sure to keep the front knee above the ankle. I used a block to support my bottom arm, and I find that getting the forearm down opens the quadriceps a lot more. Don’t worry if you can’t reach your back foot - just reach for it with an open chest (do not let the chest collapse) and let the foot reach for the hand. Breath 5 breaths each side. 

9. Headstand with Variations

One of the best poses you can do when you are a busy bee or traveling a ton in summer. You can use the wall or even keep your head off the floor and your feet on the floor in more of a Dolphin like posture, if you aren't ready yet to put pressure on your head or balance upside down. I will say though, that EVERYONE (and yes I do mean e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e) has the strength and ability to stand on their head with just a little bit of practice. And once you get it, you have it for life. Completely resets the system, flushes out what you don’t need and removed a lot of inflammation from airplanes and drinking and overheating. I recommend 5 minutes, but you can build up to that of course. 

11.Legs Up the Wall

And finally, when you are ready for the cool down, find somewhere to slide your booty as close as possible to the wall and your legs up the wall, to totally release the low back, drain the legs some more, and give you a deep state of relaxation. Keep in mind - some bodies need props under the low back or even need to have their legs bent and folded not up a wall but resting on something similar to an ottoman or the edge of a chair. There are all sorts of ways to get similar benefits so just do your best to listen to discomfort and adjust accordingly. That is how anyone came up with any recommended props, or supports, and we aren’t done finding more ways to support relaxation in the body, so you never know what a little attention on discomfort can do for you. Spend a minimum of 5 minutes in this pose. You can also slide it into savasana (lying on the floor). It’s helpful to listen to a mellow song for the duration of time you have to relax. 

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