I hope you’ve been enjoying your pranayama breathing technique since January’s Ambitious Yoga Pose of the Month. Now, it’s time to move on with part two of the sequence. But before you get up from your “Easy Seat,” we’re staying put in Sukhasana and adding a couple more movements that are proven to benefit your body from a physiological, musculoskeletal and mental perspective. Specifically, we’re adding in twists and lateral stretches, which:

· Improve flexibility, spinal mobility and posture

· Stimulate circulation

· Cleanse and massage organs and glands (e.g., stomach, kidneys, liver, spleen and pancreas)

· Support digestion

· Aid concentration and focus

· Eliminate tension

· Improve breathing

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started.

Ambitious Yoga Pose of the Month #2 (February 2013): Sukhasana Twist and Lateral Stretch

1. Remain seated at the top of your mat in Sukhasana (Easy Seat), lifting through the chest to create a long spine, hands resting comfortably on the tops of your thighs.

2. Notice how the weight is distributed on your sit bones (the pointy bones underneath your tush). If you are leaning to one side or the other, try to balance the weight evenly front-to-back, side-to-side.

3. On your next inhale, extend the arms straight up overhead.

4. On your exhale, begin to twist to the RIGHT, placing your LEFT hand on your RIGHT knee and your RIGHT hand behind your back for support. Think of the RIGHT hand like a kickstand, with the goal of keeping your spine as long/tall as possible.

5. With every inhale, lengthen the spine more (sit up nice and tall). With every exhale, deepen the twist, while still keeping the sit bones balanced evenly on the floor. Pay particular attention to that LEFT sit bone, which may try to come along for the ride with your upper body as it twists RIGHT. Don’t let it! Take 3 full breaths here.

6. On your next inhale, come out of the twist, returning your upper body to face center and extend the arms straight up overhead.

7. On your exhale, begin to twist to the LEFT, placing your RIGHT hand on your left knee and your LEFT hand behind your back for support. Again, think of the LEFT hand like a kickstand, supporting an upright spine.

8. With every inhale, lengthen the spine. With every exhale, deepen the twist slightly, while still keeping the sit bones balanced evenly on the floor. This time, try to maintain contact between the RIGHT sit bone and the floor. Take 3 full breaths here.

9. On your next inhale, come out of the twist, returning your upper body to face center and extend the arms straight up overhead.

10. On your exhale, release the RIGHT arm toward the floor, placing the palm down flat and reach the LEFT arm over your head toward the right side of the room. You should feel a deep stretch all the way along the LEFT side of the body. Is that RIGHT shoulder hunched around the ears? If so, release the shoulder down toward the floor creating a nice long spine that extends all the way through the neck.

11. On your inhale, think about filling that LEFT side body with air to deepen the stretch. Notice if that LEFT sit bone is starting to rise up from the floor. Don’t let it! Try to extend the sit bone down toward the floor to keep the weight balanced between both sit bones evenly. Take 3 breaths here.

12. On your next inhale, come out of the side bend, lifting both arms up toward the ceiling.

13. On your exhale, switch sides, releasing the LEFT arm toward the floor, placing the palm down flat on the floor and reaching the RIGHT arm over your head toward the LEFT side of the room. Remember to release that LEFT shoulder down toward the floor to keep the neck long. Now, you should feel a deep stretch all the way along the RIGHT side of the body.

14. On your inhale, think about filling that RIGHT side body with air to deepen the stretch. Extend the RIGHT sit bone down toward the floor to keep the weight balanced between both sit bones. Take 3 breaths here.

15. On your next inhale, come out of the side bend, lifting both arms up toward the ceiling.

16. Exhale, release the hands toward the floor.

17. Uncross your legs and cross them the opposite way, with the opposite shin in front.

18. Repeat Steps 1-16 with your legs crossed in this way.

Helpful Resources:

· Article: Let’s Twist Again, Yoga Journal

Namaste,

Emilie