This is one of my favorite go-to sequences. It gets into all those places and spaces that tend to want a little extra love and leaves me feeling open, spacious, refreshed and renewed. You can practice this at any time of the day. It's awesome to do this first thing in the morning to clear the cobwebs and it can also be really soothing to do this sequence before bed as a way to unwind from the day. This particular sequence is also very good for runners and cyclists. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Come onto your hands and knees, stacking your hips over your knees and your shoulders over your wrists. Allow your knees to be hip distance and your hands to be shoulder distance apart, with the spine neutral. On an inhale, begin to lift your tailbone up to the sky, let your belly drop toward the earth, lift your heart and look up if it's OK with your neck.
On an exhale, begin to lengthen your tailbone to the ground, draw the belly up to the spine and round the upper back. Really press your hands into the ground to create lots of space between the shoulder blades. Let the head drop. Move through a few rounds of Cat/Cow, then return to a neutral spine.
From all fours, lift your right leg and extend it long behind you while you reach your left arm forward, lengthening the spine as you extend your arm and leg in opposite directions. Lift the low belly up toward the low back to widen the sacrum and maintain length in the back of the neck as you gaze down just in front of your right fingertips. Hold for 5 breaths.
Elbow To Knee
From the extension, draw in a big inhale, and on your exhale hug your left elbow and your right knee in bringing them to touch under the body. Engage through the core to create this action, continuing to feel a lift in the belly. Inhale to extend arm and leg and exhale to bring elbow and knee to touch. Repeat 5 times.
Reach your left arm back and as you bend your right knee, take hold of the right foot with the left hand. Press the foot into the hand and kick back to open across the chest. Continue to roll the left shoulder open toward the sky as you draw the right shoulder back and down away from the right ear. Resist allowing the right knee to open too far to the right. Keep it extending straight back from the hip. Hold for 5 breaths. To release slowly let go of the foot and extend the right leg back, keeping it lifted, as you lower your left hand to the ground.
Low Lunge Variation
Step your right foot forward in between your hands, and on an inhale lift your torso and reach your arms up to the sky, keeping shoulders soft down the back. Push your right foot down and feel your heart lift up and you allow your outer hips to lower toward the earth. Keep the low ribs drawing in to engage the core so that you don't puff out your chest too much. Hold for 5 breaths.
Low Lunge/Side Psoas Stretch
From your low lunge, lower your right fingertips down to the ground outside of your right hip. You can use a block or just place your right hand on your right hip. Inhale and reach up with the left fingertips and exhale to reach all the way to the right, feeling for a big stretch in the whole left side of the body. Continue to press the right foot down, and try not to pitch the upper body too far forward. Keep the core engaged and the chest open. Hold for 5 breaths.
Ardha Hanumanasana - Half Splits
With both hands on the ground, slowly pull your hips back so that they stack over your left knee, straightening the right leg. Press your right heel into the earth, lengthen your inner right ankle forward and draw the outer right hip back. Allow the right knee to remain unlocked as you flex the right toes back toward your right knee. Hold for 5 breaths.
Utthan Pristhasana - Lizard Pose Variation
Bend the right knee and return the sole of the right foot to the mat. Turn your right toes out to a 45-degree angle and open to the outer edge of the right foot, keeping the ankle flexed and stable. If you can lower down to your forearms and pull the shoulders down away from the ears as the heart continues to move forward. Allow the right knee to carefully drop open. Hold for 5 breaths.
Reach your right arm up and then back to take hold of your left foot. Kick back with the left foot as you roll the right shoulder open, expanding all the way across the chest. Lean the upper body back and open for 5 breaths. Slowly and carefully release the bind.
Forearm Vasisthasana - Side Plank Variation
From Twisted Monkey, adjust your left forearm so that it's parallel to the top of the mat, with your left shoulder directly over your left elbow. Tuck the back toes under and lift the back knee and then step your front foot back to the back of the mat. Stack your right foot on top of your left and engage the obliques to lift the hips in line with the shoulders. Extend your top arm over your head with the palm of the hand facing down to get a good side-body stretch. Hold for 5 breaths.
Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog
Unravel to downward facing dog, with your hands at the top of the mat and your feet at the back. Press into your palms, drawing the upper outer hips up and back. Roll the inner thighs in, activate the quadriceps and lower your heels down toward the earth. Let the head hang heavy and hold for 5 breaths.