Hello to all of my Yogi friends and dedicated students.
If you’ve been to one of my classes lately you’d probably know how much I got addicted to threading propped up, fully supported postures to my sequences.
Here is a bunch of my favourite postures which are balancing and relaxing, but at the same time can give you one hell of a stretch!
I am gladly sharing these with you 🙂
Most of these shapes require quite a bit of prop support and also a practice space close to a wall. Ideally, before attempting these postures you want to be set up with: at least one bolster, a blanket, two blocks, a Yoga strap and your Yoga mat set by a wall.
If this equipment is unavailable, you can improvise with some cushions and straps you may have at home or skip some of the postures in the sequence. Most of the postures I offer in this blog can actually be done without props, or with less support. But propping yourself up enhances the experience in the posture and helps to hold the form for a longer period of time without coming out of alignment.
Any of these postures can be a good choice if you only have few spare minutes during your day and you want to dedicate them to an authentic practice. Otherwise, you are welcome to practice the full sequence – it will require about 40 minutes of your time all together.
Once you are ready with your props and space, it is time to get to practice!
1. Subta Badaconasana – Lying Butterfly
This is one awesome posture to ground and prepare for the practice as well as start creating space in the inner thighs. In this variation, we recline on a bolster with a blanket under the head. The legs are tied with a strap into a butterfly position.
If you don’t have all the props you can also just recline on a cushion without a strap, tucking the chin slightly to the chest. Set yourself an alarm to hold the shape for full five minutes 🙂
*Make sure that the strap sits on your sacrum at the back, reminding you to draw the tailbone under and elongate the lower spine. You want the strap to be tight enough to hold your shape but also comfortable enough for you to hold the pose for few minutes.
To come out of the pose, pull both sides of your strap to lift yourself up with a straight spine.
2. Subta Virasana – Full Saddle
This one is often a little bit harder to hold and requires more support. Connect the knees together and sit in between your feet – notice that the sole of your foot is looking upwards and your toes are pointing back. You might already find it hard to sit down in this position, if so, sit on a block or two to elevate yourself. Tie your knees together with your strap and lean back like in the previous form.
You don’t have to lean back far! One option could be to place the bolster against a wall diagonally to monitor the degree of your lean back.
If you don’t have all the props you can just preform the pose seated on a cushion or even a pile of books. Set yourself an alarm to hold the shape for full five minutes 🙂
*Make sure you draw the tailbone under and elongate the lower spine in the form. If you feel pain in your lower back or knees, it is better to sit higher or come out of the pose! – the target area should be your front thighs and groins.
To come out, press the palms from both sides of the body to the mat and pick yourself up with a straight spine.
3. Subta Padangushta Asana – The Comfy Variation
This one should feel like heaven for the back of your neck and a very gentle stretch for the bak of your leg. Create a large loop out of your strap and place the back of your head and one of your feet in it. You will need to play a bit with the position of your legs; they can be bent or straight as much as you need to feel comfortable and fully supported by the strap. Basically, if it doesn’t feel super comfy – you are doing it wrong!
Try to hold the pose for at least two minutes on each side.
*To feel fully supported, the strap should be in tension through the full hold of the pose.
4. Active Leg Stretch with a Strap
After a passive stretch, your hamstrings might be ready to take on a bit more of a challenge! Make the loop in your strap smaller and tie it around your foot like a sandal. Press your other foot against the wall and with both palms pull the strap to bring your leg closer to your face.
Try to hold this one for two minutes on each side as well. It is much more effort though, so don’t be too hard on yourself!
*Make sure you have a good grip to the wall with your opposite foot – it is a very big part of your support.
*I like to circle the strap around my thumbs and try to reach with my fingers to the floor overhead. This gives me a good sense of control over my stretch – you are welcome to try!
5. Active Leg Stretch with a Strap – Side Extension
You can try the same posture with a side extension. If you are stretching your right leg, grab the strap in your right hand and extend your leg to the right. Slide the strap underneath your neck and grab to it with your left hand as well. The left hand should pull the strap strongly to hold your right leg a bit higher and direct it towards your right ear. Can you hold another two minutes?
*Remember, the goal is not to reach the floor but to lift your leg higher to your ear! Press the opposite foot strongly against the wall to avoid collapsing to the right.
6. Downward Facing Dog on the Forearms
To enter the pose, strap your arms a bit higher then your elbows, shoulder width apart. Plant your forearms on the mat and make sure they are as parallel as possible. Press your hips up and try to stretch the legs. Hold for at least five breaths!
If your shoulders are tight, you might want to prep yourself with some shoulder rotations or a regular downward facing dog first.
*It is quite hard to reach with your hills to the mat in this one, so you can lean them against the wall or just hold on your tippy toes. Try to keep your forearms parallel: the outer side of your wrist should be in line with the outer edge of your elbow.
7. Setubanda Sarvangasana
This one is my absolute favourite!
Tie your thighs together with a strap, place one block underneath your sacrum and the other underneath your feet. Press both feet against the wall. You want to have a posture where your legs are both straight and pressed firmly against the wall – you will probably need to play with your distance from the wall a few times until you get it right.
Give this one a try for a 3-5 minute hold.
*You are welcome to place the blocks in a lower position to make the bend softer. Make sure that the posture is comfortable and not painful for your back.
To come out, hold on to your block with both hands, bend your knees and place your feet on the mat. Then slowly remove the block and roll the spine down to the mat.
After this pose you can straight away go into few minutes of shavasana, full relaxation. Lie down on your back, close your eyes and take it all in!
You are welcome to request any of these postures if you come to practice with me or try them while waiting for your class to start.
Sign up for classes with me at Active Sanctuary, Prahran HERE