Tonight’s Homework: Try This Back to School Yoga Sequence
For some of us, fall means pumpkins. For others, it means back to school!
Getting back into your routine after summer can be tough. Whether you’re a student, teacher, parent, or anyone who’s returned to the academic environment over the last several weeks, here’s a yoga sequence to get you back in the swing of things.
Prop(s): one block, one strap (optional), one blanket (optional)
Begin in a comfortable, cross-legged position, sitting up tall. Allow your hands to rest in your lap. Stay here for 10 breaths.
Option: bring one block under each knee or sit up on a folded blanket to support the hips
From your seat, transition onto your hands and knees. Align your wrists directly beneath your shoulders with your fingers spread wide. Rotate your elbow creases to the front of the mat so your shoulders can open. Your knees should be just under your hips and hips width apart, with your calves tracking in two parallel lines. From here, as you breathe in, lift your ribcage, arching your back, pushing down through your palms, gazing toward the sky. As you exhale, push down through your hands, rounding your back and releasing your hold on your neck. Repeat for five breaths.
Option: place a blanket or fold your mat beneath your knees to alleviate knee pain
Thread The Needle
Bring your spine back to neutral on all fours. Firm down through your right palm. Take an inhale and extend your left fingertips toward the ceiling, lifting your gaze to follow. As you exhale, bring your left arm all the way back down to the mat, underneath the right, coming down on your left shoulder and left ear. Rest on this side for five to seven breaths. To exit, reach your left fingertips back up toward the ceiling for one breath, then return your left palm back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
From Thread The Needle, return to a neutral spine. Come down onto your forearms with the elbows in line with the shoulders and forearms parallel to one another. Extend your legs long behind you, hips width apart, with the tops of your legs and feet down on the mat. Without making any movement, energetically drag your forearms back and the chest forward. Hold for five breaths.
Press your palms down to straighten the arms, curl your toes under, and send your hips up and back. Encourage the backs of your thighs toward the back of the mat. Rotate your arms so the elbow creases open toward the top of the mat, the same as all fours. Hold for five breaths.
Option: place hands on blocks to help wrist pain
From Downward Dog, walk your feet up toward the top of the mat between your hands. Bend your knees as deeply as needed to allow your chest to touch your thighs. Clasp opposite elbows. Gently sway side to side. Hold for five breaths.
Forward Fold With Twist
Bring your right palm down to the mat and bend the right knee while straightening your left leg. Extend your left fingertips up toward the ceiling. Hold for three breaths. Return to your Forward Fold and repeat on the other side.
Option: bring hand on a block
From the twist, return to Forward Fold and roll up to a standing position. Your feet can be hips width apart or together. Stand tall for seven breaths.
Circle your arms back down to the mat. Plant your palms and step your feet back one at a time to the back of the mat. Hold for four breaths.
Option: Lower your knees to the mat to come to a half-plank
From Plank, lower your knees back to hands and knees. Bring your left foot between your hands. Reach both sets of fingertips up high. Hold for five breaths. Return to hands and knees to switch sides.
Option(s): curl your toes under on your back foot and lift your knee
pad the lowered knee with a blanket
From Crescent Lunge, return to hands and knees. Bring your big toes together to touch and separate your knees toward the outer edges of the mat. Sit your hips back toward your heels. Passively reach your fingertips toward the top of the mat. Allow your forehead to rest on the mat. Hold for seven breaths.
Option(s): bring the forehead to a block or blanket
keep the legs together instead of separating the knees and joining the toes
reach the arms alongside the body and bring the fingers toward the feet
if Child’s Pose is not comfortable in any variation, come to a comfortable seated position and rest there with the eyes gently closed for seven breaths
Transition through all fours into a seated position with your legs extended long. Bend both knees and bring your feet flat to the mat. Guide your left knee under the right, bringing your heel toward your left glute. Stack your right knee on top, guiding your right heel toward your left hip. Extend your right arm straight out to the right; spread your fingers and rotate your thumb toward the floor. Bend your elbow and bring your arm around your back. The back of your palm should be touching or facing the center of your back with your fingertips reaching up toward your neck. Extend your left arm straight up toward the ceiling, with your palm facing away from you. Bend your elbow and reach your hand behind your back with your fingertips reaching down and your palm facing your body to clasp the right fingers or reach toward them. Hold for five breaths. Use the hands to help unravel the legs and guide into the other side to repeat.
Option: use a strap to join the hands - from the starting position, place your strap on your right shoulder and clasp with your right palm, and then bring the left to join from the top
Transition all the way down onto your back. Hug both knees into your chest. Slide your hands down to your ankles or the inner arches of your feet and reach the soles of your feet toward the ceiling, while keeping your knees bent and tracking toward your armpits. Stay still or lightly rock side to side. Hold for seven breaths.
Option: bring your first two fingers to your big toe on both feet and straighten your legs, bringing them to a V shape
Prop: block (or use a thick book if you don’t have a block)
From happy baby, return both feet to the mat, knees bent, feet and knees about hips width apart. Push down through your feet and lift your hips a few inches away from your mat. Place your prop underneath your sacrum - the base of your spine - and rest your body down. Your feet and knees should remain where they are. Stay here for 10 breaths.
Push down through your feet and gently lift your body away from your prop. Gradually release your body back down to the mat. Extend your legs out long and your arms out to your sides. Rest here for five minutes.