Did you know that yoga teachers sometimes draw out their yoga sequences, a set of poses within the practice, using stick figures? Well, welcome to Yogi Stix, a page where you can spy with your little eye a yoga ‘stix’ figure and a description of the pose to help you practice at home!
From sitting on your bottom, with legs extended long out in front of you, place your hands by your sides, next to your hips. Take a big breath in and begin to lean back onto your elbows. From elbows to fingertips keep your forearms, the lowest part of your arms, on your mat or the floor. Be careful to position your elbows underneath or slightly in front of your shoulders, as feels best in your body. Then, curling your spine, as if your leaning back over a big beach ball, gently place the top of your head near or on the ground behind you. Keep your legs extended long (or see one of the variations below) and press your seat and forearms into the ground for support, while being sure not to put pressure on the head or neck.
Let the tops of your shoulders relax a little bit and stretch across your upper chest while you bring your shoulder blades closer together in the upper-middle part of your back. Soften your ribs together to help engage your upper belly and then imagine letting your belly button soften in the direction of your spine. Reach your tailbone down and long towards the floor, so you don’t put too much pressure, or compress, your low back. Reach your toes towards the ceiling and the bottoms of your feet to the space in front of you. Hold for 3 – 5 breaths and gently release back to a seat with spine long or all the way down to your back. Close your eyes and rest in the sensation of openness across your chest as well as the breath in your lungs.
As always, remember that the pose can be done in a bunch of different ways, maybe it feels better to you to stand your feet on the floor, reaching your knees to the ceiling or bring the bottoms of your feet together and knees wide for a sleeping butterfly variation. Or if your neck, shoulder(s) or lower back hurts, consider supporting your back with a bolster (comfy yoga pillow!) or a block along your spine. These are just a couple of the ways to change this pose to make it better, more accessible, for your own body so play, give all of the variations a try to find out what makes you happy in this pose! And grown-up yogis, please remember that this pose looks different in everyone’s bodies so let the kiddo’s bodies do what feels good to them – no cheating, let them find it themselves. ;0)