1. Half Moon Pose
To come into your half moon pose, press your standing foot firmly into the mat, and extend your floating foot out behind you, keeping the foot flexed and the heel pushing away as though you were standing on a wall. Open your hips towards the long edge of your mat, and use a block on any height to allow your body to stay in a straight line. Reach your top hand towards the sky and find lightness through the fingertips on your block.
2. Halfway Lift
The “halfway lift.” A staple of so many yoga classes, but often rushed through and forgotten about. From your forward fold, press your palms into your blocks beside your feet. With an inhale, straighten your elbows and arch your torso away from your thighs, finding as much length between your pubic bone and navel as possible. Use the blocks as an extension of the arms and press down, lifting the top of your sternum away from the floor and forward. You might bend your knees slightly to help get this movement, which will arch the back.
3. Runner's Lunge
Moving into a low lunge or a runner's lunge is about finding length – so grab a set of 3 or 4 inch blocks to help bring the floor a little closer to you! Play around with the heights of each block on either side of the front leg – for days when the hips feel warm and open try lowering the height of the blocks, and for those days when you need a little extra support, find a little extra height. Make sure that your front knee is stacked directly over the ankle, and use the blocks to support you in lengthening through the spine. Use your inhales to find length, and the exhales to find depth in your lunge.
4. Seated Forward Fold
Calming and cooling, this seated forward fold is a great way to slow the breath before the end of a practice. If there is tightness in the hips, use a block to prop your hips up. Before folding forward, loop your strap around the balls of your feet, and find length through both sides of the waist. Keeping this length, tilt at the pelvis and bring your chest forward. Use the strap to support your torso in it's extension, looping the ends of the strap around the fingers to ensure a strong grip. With each inhale find length, and with each exhale release tension and sink a little deeper.
5. Shoulder Stretch
Working towards getting a full bind to open your shoulders? Use your strap as an extension of your arms. Reach your right arm up towards the sky, holding the strap in the same hand. Bend at the elbow and bring your hand toward your shoulder blades on your back. At the same time, bring your left hand to your low back with the palm facing out. Take hold of the hanging strap, and begin to walk your hands closer together, keeping the shoulders relaxed and the collarbones wide.
6. Legs Up the Wall
A favourite pose after a long, busy day — legs up the wall is restorative, rejuvenating and so beneficial! Make a loop in your strap between hip and shoulder width apart, and slide your legs into that loop. Set your hips a few inches from the wall, and extend the legs so the heels rest against the wall. Using the strap to keep the legs parallel means that you can relax into your pose even further.
Gratitude is an attitude that can be cultivated not only around Thanksgiving for blessings in our lives, but during each moment of life — towards ourselves! Our brains are programmed to protect and to survive, and when we live a life out in the world it is nearly impossible to avoid feelings of self-judgment or unworthiness.