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The Best Yoga Moves That Make Meditation Way Easier
Use cat/cow to work out any kinks in your back and connect your breath to your movement. Come to all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Inhale and look up with an arched spine, rolling shoulders away from ears for cow. As you exhale, press the floor away with hands and knees, and round your spine, like an angry cat. Do at least 5 complete breath cycles (5 inhales/cats and 5 exhales/cows).
Downward Facing Dog
Open your hamstrings and lengthen your spine in down dog. Begin on all fours. Tuck your toes and lift your hips high, reaching your sitz bones toward the ceiling. Reach your heels back toward the mat. Drop your head so that your neck is long. Wrist creases stay parallel to the front edge of the mat. Press into the knuckles of your forefinger and thumbs to alleviate pressure from your wrists. Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
Thread the Needle
Loosen up your shoulders in thread the needle pose. Begin on all fours. Reach your right arm underneath your body, to the left. Release your right shoulder and right temple to the ground. Your hips will sink back a bit toward your heels. Allow your left hand to stay where it is, or crawl it a bit to the right on the ground over to your head. Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths and then repeat on other side.
Open your shoulders, back and hips in eagle pose. From standing, hug right knee to chest. Bend left knee and cross right leg around left leg, hooking right foot on either side of left leg. Wrap right arm under left arm and press palms together, fingertips facing up. Sit down low while keeping hips square and lift up through elbows and fingertips. Upper arms should be parallel to the ground and fingertips reach away from your face to open the shoulders. Stay here for 5 to 10 long, deep breaths. Unwind and repeat on other side.
Ankle to Knee
Get a deep release of your hips in ankle to knee pose. Start seated with your legs wide out to either side. Bend your right knee and place your right shin on the ground in front of you, parallel to the front edge of your mat. Then, take your left shin and stack it on top of your right shin, so that your left ankle is on top of your right knee and your right ankle is on top of your left knee. Flex both of your feet to provide static stability to protect your knees. Place your hands on the ground in front of your shins. Inhale your navel to your spine, and use your exhale to lengthen forward. Allow your head to relax and breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Supported Fish Variation
Use this restorative hip, shoulder, and chest opener to melt away any remaining kinks in your body. While sitting on the ground, place a medium-height block behind you beneath where shoulder blades will lay and either place another block behind that one to use as a pillow for head, or for deeper shoulder opening rest head in clasped hands with elbows wide (pictured). If you are using both blocks, allow your arms to lie long on either side of you. Allow body to gently rest on the block or blocks, adjusting their placement until you are comfortable. Bend your knees, take your feet together and knees apart. Stay here for at least 10 deep breaths. Start with blocks on medium height and adjust from there. For deeper shoulder opening, take the shoulder blade block to the medium height and rest head in clasped hands with elbows wide (pictured).
Easy Seated Spinal Twist
Wring out your spine and any last bits of tension with this easy spinal twist. Begin seated in staff pose with your legs long and in front of you. Bend your right knee and place your right foot on the ground outside of your left thigh. Turn your torso to the right and take your right hand to the ground behind your sacrum. Gently hug your right leg with your left arm to twist. Use each inhale to lengthen your spine, and use each exhale to press into the ground and twist. Keep this breathing pattern for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.