Thich Nhat Hanh
“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”-Thich Nhat Hanh

Signature Daily Mindful Practice Yoga Sequence

Detailed Instructions


Yoga Sequence Poses (15 minutes)

  • Child's Pose (1minute)
  • Cat-Cow Stretch (1minute)
  • Extend one arm, extend one leg stretch (1 minute)
  • Downward Facing Dog (30 seconds)
  • Lunge (5 seconds)
  • Standing Forward Bend (30 seconds)
  • Raised Hands Pose (30 seconds)
  • Mountain Pose (30 seconds)
  • Tree Pose (1 minute per side for a total of 2 minutes)
  • Head-to-Knee Pose (30 seconds per side for a total of 1 minute)
  • Bridge Pose (1 minute)
  • Supine Spinal Twist (30 seconds per side for a total of 1 minute)
  • Corpse Pose (5 minutes)

 

1. Child's Pose - Balasana

Yoga pose 1

Type of pose: Resting

Benefits: Gentle stretch for the hips, thighs and ankles.

Instructions:

  1. Start on hands and knees.
  2. Spread the knees as wide as the mat, keeping the big toes touching.
  3. Bring the belly to rest between the thighs and the forehead to the floor.
  4. Stretch the arms in front of you with the palms toward the floor.
  5. Take 8 deep breaths in Child's Pose (approximately 1 minute)

 

2. Cat - Cow Stretch

Yoga 2 Cat and Cow Poses

Type of Pose: All Fours - Neutral Spine

Benefits: Increases spinal flexibility and abdominal strength.

Instructions:

  1. Start on all fours, bringing the wrists underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips.
  2. Think of the spine as a straight line connecting the shoulders to the hips. Try visualizing the line extending forward through the crown of the head and backwards through the tail bone.
  3. Keep the neck the natural extension of the spine.
  4. Cow Pose
    1. On an inhale drop your belly.
    2. Take the gaze up toward the ceiling.
    3. Let the movement in the spine start from the tailbone, so that that neck is the last part to move.
  5. Cat Pose
    1. On the next exhale round your spine.
    2. Drop the head.
    3. Take the gaze to the navel.
  6. Repeat the Cat - Cow Stretch on each inhale and exhale, matching the movement to your own breath.
  7. Continue for 8-10 breaths, moving the whole spine. After your final exhale, come back to a neutral spine (approximately 1 minute).

 

3. Extend one arm, extend one leg stretch

Superman pose

Type of Pose: All Fours - Neutral Spine

Benefits: Strengthens the lower back and warms up the body.

Instructions:

  1. Start on hands and knees.
  2. Extend the right arm and left leg.  (Inhale as you extend your arm and leg)
  3. Return to hands and knees. (Exhale as you return to your hands and knees)
  4. Extend the left arm and right leg and inhale.
  5. On the exhale, return to hands and knees.
  6. Continue alternating extending your arms and legs at your own pace for approximately 1 minute or 8 deep breaths.
  7. Remember to inhale as you extend your arm and leg and exhale as you return to hands and knees.

 

4. Downward Facing Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana

Downward facing dog

Type of pose: Standing, Mild Inversion, Resting

Benefits: Stretches and strengthens the whole body.

Downward facing dog is done many times during most yoga classes. It is a transitional pose, a resting pose and a great strengthener in its own right. It may be the first yoga pose you encounter as you begin a yoga practice. Downward dog is so prevalent, even people who have never done yoga have probably heard of it.

Instructions:

  1. Come to your hands and knees with the wrists underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips.
  2. Curl the toes under and push back raising the hips and straightening the legs.
  3. Spread the fingers and ground down from the forearms into the fingertips.
  4. Outwardly rotate the upper arms broadening the collarbones.
  5. Let the head hang, move the shoulder blades away from the ears towards the hips.
  6. Engage the quadriceps strongly to take the weight off the arms, making this a resting pose.
  7. Rotate the thighs inward, keep the tail high and sink your heels towards the floor.
  8. Check that the distance between your hands and feet is correct by coming forward to a plank position. The distance between the hands and feet should be the same in these two poses.
  9. Do not step the feet toward the hands in Down Dog in order the get the heels to the floor.  This will happen eventually as the muscles lengthen.
  10. Take 4 deep breaths in Downward Facing Dog (approximately 30 seconds).
  11. Beginners: Try bending your knees, coming up onto the balls of your feet, bringing the belly to rest on the thighs and the sit bones up high. Then sink your heels, straightening the legs keeping the high upward rotation of the sit bones. Also try bending the arms slightly out to the side, drawing the chest towards the thighs. Then re-straighten the arms.

 

5. Lunge

Lunge

Type of pose: Lunge, Mild Inversion, Strech

Benefits: Stretches and strengthens the thighs and calves.

Instructions:

  1. From Downward Facing Dog, inhale and bring the right foot forward next to the right hand.
  2. Bend you right knee and come into a lunge position.
  3. Make sure the toes on your right foot line up with the fingertips on your right hand.
  4. Hold for 4 deep breaths (approximately 30 seconds).
  5. Bring right foot back next to left, resuming Downward Facing Dog pose.
  6. Repeat on opposite side by bringing left foot forward.

 

6. Standing Forward Bend - Uttanasana

Standing forward bend

Type of pose: Forward bend

Benefits: Stretches and lengthens the hamstrings

Instructions:

  1. Make sure the fold come from the hips, deepening the hip creases, and not from the back.
  2. Bring the fingertips in line with the toes and press the palms flat.
  3. Engage the quadriceps muscles of the thighs. The more you use your quads, the more the hamstrings (the muscles on the back of the thighs) will open up.
  4. Bring your weight a little bit forward into the balls of your feet so that your hips stay over the ankles.
  5. Let your head hang.
  6. Take 4 deep breaths (approximately 30 seconds).
  7. Beginners: Bend the knees if you need to in order to bring the palms flat. Then work on straightening the legs.
  8. Advanced: If you are very open in the hamstrings, bend the elbows out to the sides. If you are holding the pose for a long time, bring the palm flat underneath your feet.

 

7. Raised Hands Pose - Urdhva Hastasana

Raised hands pose

Type of pose: Standing

Benefits: Improves posture, strengthens thighs, opens shoulders

Instructions:

  1. Bring your arms out to the side and up.
  2. Press the palms together, keep the arms straight and take the gaze up toward your thumbs.
  3. Slide the shoulder blades down the back.
  4. Maintain your alignment.
  5. Take 4 deep breaths (approximately 30 seconds).
  6. Beginners: Practice the pose with your back to the wall so you can feel the alignment. Place a block between the thighs, squeeze it and roll it slightly backward to feel the engagement and rotation of the thighs.

 

8. Mountain Pose - Tadasana

Mountain Pose

Type of pose: Standing

Benefits: Improves posture, strengthens thighs.

Instructions:

  1. Come to stand with the big toes touching.
  2. Lift up all your toes and let them fan out, and then drop them down creating a wide solid base. You can separate your heels slightly if your ankles are knocking together uncomfortably.
  3. Bring your weight evenly onto all four corners of both feet.
  4. Let the feet and the calves root down into the floor.
  5. Engage the quadriceps and draw them upward, causing your knee caps to rise.
  6. Rotate both thighs inward, creating a widening of the sit bones, and tuck your tailbone in between the sit bones.
  7. Tone the belly, drawing it in slightly.
  8. Widen the collar bones and make sure the shoulders are parallel to the pelvis.
  9. The neck is long, the crown of the head rises toward the ceiling, and the shoulder blades slide down the back.
  10. Take 4 deep breaths (approximately 30 seconds).

 

9. Tree Pose - Vrksasana

Tree pose

Type of pose: Balancing, standing

Benefits: Strengthens legs, improves balance.

Instructions:

  1. Begin by standing in Mountain Pose.
  2. Feel your weight equally on all four corners of both feet.
  3. Begin to shift the weight over to the right foot, lifting the left foot off the floor.
  4. Bend the left knee, bringing the sole of the left foot high onto the inner right thigh.
  5. Press the foot into the thigh and the thigh back into the foot.
  6. Try not to let the right hip jut out. Keep both hips squared towards the front.
  7. Focus on something that doesn't move to help you keep your balance.
  8. Take 8 deep breaths (approximately 1 minute).
  9. Repeat the move while standing on the left foot.
  10. Beginners: If you cannot bring the left foot high inside the right thigh, bring it lower on the right leg -- but be careful to avoid placing the left foot directly on the right knee. Use the wall for balance if necessary.
  11. Advanced: Bring the arms up towards the ceiling with the palms touching. Open the arms out to side. Try closing the eyes and see if you can stay balanced.

 

10. Head-to-Knee Pose - Janu Sirsasana

Head to knee pose

Type of Pose: Forward Bend

Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings

Instructions:

  1. From a seated position , bend your knee and bring the sole of the left foot to your inner-right thigh.
  2. Square your torso over the extended right leg, and begin to forward bend over that leg.
  3. Keep the right foot flexed while pressing the back of the right thigh down toward the floor.
  4. In order to not collapse your back, keep the heart center lifted as long as possible as you come forward.
  5. When you reach your limit, bring the heart and head down toward the extended leg.
  6. On each inhale, extend the spine long, and on each exhale, deepen the forward bend.
  7. You may hold on to the extended leg or place the hands on the floor wherever they reach.
  8. Take 4 deep breaths (approximately 30 seconds).
  9. Repeat the pose on the opposite side.
  10. Beginners: You may sit up on a blanket if the hips are tight.
  11. Advanced: Clasp your hands under the sole of the extended foot.

 

11. Bridge Pose - Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Bridge pose

Type of pose: Backbend, Also known as Half Wheel

Benefits: Strengthens the spine, opens the chest, improves spinal flexibility, and stimulates the thyroid.

Instructions:

  1. Lay on your back.
  2. Bend the knees, bringing the soles of the feet parallel on the mat, close to the buttocks.
  3. Lift the hips up towards the ceiling.
  4. Interlace the fingers behind your back and straighten the arms, pressing them down into the mat.
  5. Roll one shoulder under and then the other.
  6. Lift the hips higher.
  7. Draw the chest toward the chin, but do not move the chin toward the chest.
  8. Make sure the feet stay parallel.
  9. Take 8 deep breaths (approximately 1 minute).
  10. Release the hands and bring the upper, middle, and then lower back down.
  11. When coming down, keep the hands interlaced under the weight of the body for a shoulder opener.
  12. Rest, allowing the knees to knock together
  13. Beginners: For a restorative variation, bring a block under the sacrum. Let your weight rest on the block.

 

12. Supine Spinal Twist - Supta Matsyendrasana

Supine spinal twist

Type of Pose: Supine

Benefits: Stretches the glutes. Stretches and relaxes the spine.

Instructions:

  1. Lay on your back.
  2. Bend your knees and put the soles of your feet on the floor.
  3. Lift your hips slightly off the floor and shift them about an inch to your right.
  4. Draw your right knee into your chest and extend the left leg on the floor.
  5. Drop your right knee over to the left side of your body.
  6. Open your right arm to the right side in line with your shoulder. Rest your left hand on your right knee.
  7. Turn your head to the right, bringing your gaze over the right shoulder.
  8. Work on releasing your left knee and your right shoulder to the floor.
  9. Take 4 deep breaths (approximately 30 seconds).
  10. Repeat on opposite side.

 

13. Corpse Pose - Savasana

Corpse pose

Also known as: Final Relaxation

Type of pose: Resting

Benefits: Allows the body time to process information at the end of a class.

No yoga session is complete without the final pose - Savasana. The body needs this time to understand the new information it has received through practicing yoga. Even though Savasana is a resting pose, it's not the same a sleeping! You should stay present and aware during the five minute duration of final relaxation.

Instructions:

  1. Come to lie down on the back and close the eyes.
  2. Let the feet fall out to either side.
  3. Bring the arms alongside the body, but slightly separated from the body, and turn the palms to face upwards.
  4. Relax the whole body, including the face. Let the body feel heavy.
  5. Let the breath occur naturally.  If you are comfortable, stay here 5 minutes.
  6. To come out, first begin to the deepen the breath. Then move the fingers and toes, awakening the body.
  7. Bring the knees into the chest if you like, keep the eyes closed.