Opens and strengthens the shoulders; opens the hamstrings; prepares the body and mind to go upside down.
- From Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), kneel, then bring your elbows, forearms, and hands to the floor in front of your knees, shoulder-width apart. To get a good foundation, turn your palms up then rotate them down. Spread your fingers comfortably. Elongate your forearms away from your elbows; make sure they are parallel and grounded. Press down through your inner wrists. Think about your middle and index fingers reaching from the centers of your elbows -- this will keep your hands from sliding together and create a line of energy that helps you find stability in forearm-balance poses. This is your foundation.
Keep your upper arms parallel as you slide your knees directly under your hips. Curl your toes under. Bring your shoulders directly over your elbows. Engage the outsides of your upper arms to keep your elbows from splaying. Hug your upper arms to your bones to ground the inner elbows and engage your inner upper arms. Evenly lift the inner and outer arms -- this will create a level platform for the shoulders. Press the forearms down to lift the shoulders away from the elbows. Keep your shoulders over your elbows and exhale to lift your hips. Place your ears in line with your upper arms. Keep your shoulders lifted so your neck can release and lengthen. Let your legs share in the work. Press down with your feet to engage and lift the fronts of the legs. Take the top thighs toward the backs of the legs to open the hamstrings.Your front arms -- from the armpits to the elbows -- are pillars. Resist moving the fronts of the arms toward the fingertips; continue to engage the inner and outer arms. Lift your hips away from the shoulders even more to extend the sides of your body. Keep your legs active! Let your thoracic spine and shoulder blades move into the center of your body -- this will help lift your shoulders and keep your back from rounding. When the legs work and the shoulders lift, the body will get lighter and the breath will be free. Hold for several breaths before exhaling back to your knees.