Yoga Class 2021 – Standing Twists Shoulders

The Yoga props you will need for this remote class include a mat, two blocks (or one block and a similar-sized item), and a belt or similar.

Please note that the Yoga videos are not “real-time” in terms of duration for holding the poses, but simply meant to show the basic movements into, within, and out of each pose.

Core Exercises – Warm Up 3 x through

Bird Dog x 10

Dead Bug x 10


Locust Back Extension with Arm Actions x 5

Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose Variations) – 2x through both sides on each variation

Lying on your back, take the right leg up with a belt. Extend both legs, reaching through the heels, both arms straight as well. Repeat on second side.

Variations II and III: Belt the foot from inner ankle around outer heel to help externally rotate the leg and while grounding the left thigh, exhale and take the right leg to the right. Rest the foot on something, if not the floor. Continue to extend and externally rotate the leg. Inhale to bring the leg back up and switch hands to bring the leg across the body. Rest the backs of the shoulders on the floor and extend through the belted leg. Inhale to bring the leg back up and repeat on second side.

Key actions:

  • For variations II and III, belted leg is externally rotated.
  • For variation III (twist), both thighs grounded)
  • All arms and legs extended throughout.

Tadasana (Mountain Pose) – hold for 5 full breaths

Hold for 5 conscious breaths while working with awareness and actions from the feet up to the crown of the head.

Key actions:

  • Spread, well-connected feet
  • Legs active, thighs inwardly rotated
  • Spine long, chest open, neck relaxed
  • Shoulders “un-shrugged”

Tadasana (Mountain Pose) Arm Variations (2x through)

Inhale and extend arms overhead, interlace fingers above head and rotate palms up.

Exhale to release arms down.

Inhale and interlace fingers behind your back, then exhale and role the shoulders back, extending the arms behind.

Key actions:

  • Move arms with the breath
  • Keep the jaw, throat and neck relaxed

Vrksasana (Tree Pose) – 2x through both sides, hold for 3-5 complete breaths

Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Bend the right knee and draw the heel as high up the inner left thigh as possible. Grounding the standing leg thigh and as you press the sole of the right foot against the inner left thigh, press the thigh into the foot. Externally rotate the bent knee thigh. Bring hands into Namaskar (Prayer), then extend arms upward toward the sky, shoulders externally rotated, palms facing each other. Bring hands back to Prayer. Come back to Mounatin pose and repeat on the second side.

This pose can be done close to a wall for support if desired.

Key actions:

  • Straight leg thigh grounded and pressed firmly against sole of foot
  • Bent leg thigh externally rotates, pressing foot firmly into straight leg thigh.

Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) – 2x through both sides, hold for 3-5 complete breaths

From Mountain Pose, step the feet wide, right foot turns out 90 deg, left heel out slightly. Right heel lines up with arch of left foot. Align legs, externally rotating the thighs, keeping all corners of the feet connected. Inhale and raise arms to shoulder height, exhale, shift the hips to the left and extend to the right, bringing the right hand down and extending left arm up. Elongate both sides of the torso.

Key actions:

  • Legs active, thighs rotate outward, drawing upward from the feet through the legs to the hips. 
  • Lengthen the lower waist and ribs.
  • Externally rotate the shoulders
  • Neck and jaw relaxed

Prasarita Padottanasana (Spread Foot Forward Bend), hold for 5-10 complete breaths

From Mountain Pose, step the feet wide apart, turning the toes in slightly to align the outer edge of the feet with the ends of the mat. Exhale and hinge from the hips, placing the hands down directly beneath the shoulders (variations with blocks shown in video). Maintain a slightly concave spine. If no low back issues, stack blocks to support the crown of the head and exhale, releasing the head, neck and torso downward, resting the head on the block(s). Hold for 3-5 full breaths. To come out, bring the torso back to neutral spine, strong legs and inhale to come up. Step the feet back together into Mountain.

Key actions:

  • Legs active, drawing upward from the arches of the feet through the hips. 
  • Feet well-connected to the floor, even when bent forward.
  • When placing the head on block, maintain same weight on feet and avoid leaning forward or placing weight through the head.

Parivritta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose) – 2x through both sides, hold for 3-5 complete breaths

From Mountain Pose variation at the end of the mat with a block between your feet, step the left foot straight back, slightly shorter stance than regular triangle, with the back foot angled at least 45-60 deg to avoid twisting the knee. Square the hips and shoulders, exhale and bend forward, placing the left hand on the block and palm or right hand on the sacrum. Engage back legs strongly, pressing the heel into the floor, exhale and rotate torso to the right, extending right arm up if shoulder mobility allows (otherwise keep hand at sacrum). Keep back leg strong throughout. Inhale to untwist and come up. Step back foot forward and repeat on second side.

Key actions:

  • Back leg straight, strong, pressing foot into the floor.
  • Draw forward hip back.
  • Externally rotate the shoulders
  • Neck and jaw relaxed

Uttanasana + Ahdo Mukha Svanasana w/ Chair (Standing Forward Bend + Downward Dog w/ chair), hold for 5-10 complete breaths each

Stand in Tadasana (Mountain) with the feet at hip-width about two feet in front of a chair. Exhale and hinge at the hips, keeping the spine neutral and take the hands onto the chair under the shoulders. Pause and take a few full breaths then step the feet back and move the hands forward on the chair seat into Downward Dog variation. Press the heels into the floor, internally rotate the thighs while pressing the hands/ palms evenly down onto the chair set and externally rotating the shoulders. Inhale and step back to the initial forward bend position, pausing for a breath or two, then on next inhalation stand back up in Tadasana (Mountain).

Key actions:

  • Legs active, internally rotating the thighs. 
  • Shoulders externally rotated.
  • Spine long in both pose variations, including the neck.


Supta Dandasana (Reclining Staff Pose), hold main pose for 10 breaths, arm variations 3-5 breaths each

Place one block under thoracic spine (upper-mid back) and a slightly taller block under the head. The video shows two block orientation options.

Lie back and take the arms away from your sides turning the palms up, allowing the shoulders to roll back. Release into this position for 10 full breaths. This is the restorative and calming variation.

To progress to the more active variations, activate the legs by elongating through the heels, grounding and internally rotating the thighs. Then lower the block supporting the head to the same height as the thoracic block. Extend the arms up, press your open palms together and extend the arms beyond the head. Hold for 5 full breaths, then fold the arms and release them back and down. Hold for 3-5 breaths, then repeat changing the fold of the arms. To progress to a deeper variation (as shown in the video), lower the head block or remove it. Add the arm actions again.

To come out of the pose, replace the head block to its original height, bend a knee, press your arms into the floor and slowly sit up.

Key actions:

  • Externally rotate the shoulders.
  • Legs active, thighs rotate inward, ground the thighs and extend through the soles and heels of the feet. 
  • Keep the face passive, especially the jaw when adding arm variations.

Ahdo Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog), hold for 3-10 complete breaths

Come down to your hands and knees, place the hands at the front of the mat slightly wider than the shoulders and with the wrists aligned and equally long on both sides, spreading the fingers and thumbs widely apart. Externally rotate the shoulders and press all the knuckles of the hands equally into the floor.  With the feet hip-width, tuck the toes, exhale and raise the hips up, initially keeping the knees slightly bent. Draw the torso back toward the thighs, then exhale to straighten the legs and press the heels toward the floor. You can alternate bending one knee at a time to work on ankle/ calf flexibility. Ground and internally rotate the thighs, pressing the upper thighs back. Keep the shoulders rolled out and the hands pressed evenly down across the knuckles. Relax the neck and let the head drop. Place a block between the head and the floor.

Key actions:

  • Shoulders externally rotated.
  • Base of thumb and index finger pressed downward.
  • Thighs grounded and internally rotated.
  • Relax the neck and let the head rest on support

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) – hold for 5-10 complete breaths (2x)

Sit at the base of a wall in Staff Pose, with support under the sit bones (blanket or similar) if needed step to keep the sacrum and thoracic spine touching to the wall. Bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together, drawing the heels inward and releasing the knees toward the floor on either side. Hold the outside of the feet with your hands and release the shoulders down, sitting tall. Hold for 5-10 complete breaths. To come out, release the feet and straighten the legs back into Staff Pose. Repeat or come up.

Key actions:

  • Press the soles of the feet or outer edges of the feet together. 
  • Sit tall with neutral spine.
  • Un-shrug the shoulders
  • Neck and jaw relaxed

Marichiasana III (Marichi’s Twist), hold for 3-5 complete breaths, repeat 2x

Begin seated in Staff Pose. Bend the right knee and draw the heel in toward the sit bone. Press the foot evenly into the floor. Place your right hand directly behind you with the fingers pointing back and without compromising upright, neutral spine. Exhale and wrap the left arm around the bent right leg and twist to your right. Turn the head last and look back toward the left foot. Hold for 3-5 full breaths. Inhale and untwist, coming back into Staff Pose. Repeat same process on the left side.

Key actions:

  • Straight leg remains active throughout.
  • Relax the neck and turn the head last.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose), hold for 5-10 complete breaths, repeat 2x

Lying on your back, bend the knees and bring the feet under the knees. Hips, knees and feet all line up to the same width and should not change. Be sure to keep the knees at this width throughout, and keep the feet pressed evenly into the floor. Inhale to lift the pelvis up, inwardly rotating the thighs. Interlace the fingers underneath you and roll the shoulders under you as well. Place a block either at its intermediate height and wide, or tall and narrow underneath the sacrum. Be sure the block does not come in contact with your lumbar spine (low back). Hold for 5 full breaths. To come out, inhale to lift the pelvis up, remove the block and exhale to release the hips back down to the floor. Stay in that position for at least 2 full breaths before rolling to your right side and coming back up sideways.

Key actions:

  • Thighs rotate inward, feet well connected and evenly weighted, knees remain at hip width.
  • Externally rotate at the shoulders underneath you.

Savasana (Corpse Pose), hold for 5-10 min

Lie back on your mat with the head supported slightly on a blanket. A rolled blanket or bolster can support the knees if the low back is tight or uncomfortable in order to passively ground the thighs. And eyebag or similar works well to minimize brain stimulation. Arms away from your sides, palms facing up, shoulder roll back. Allow the legs to roll out as well. Let all your weight to sink into the floor. Relax the jaw, throat, tongue and eyes, letting the muscles of the face become soft. Hold for 5 minutes or more.

To come out, bend your knees and roll to your right side, keeping the eyes closed. Come up sideways, raising the head up last. Go slowly and come to a seated position. Hands in namaskar (prayer), tilt the chin toward your chest and take 2-3 conscious breaths. Bring the head back to neutral and slowly open your eyes.

Key actions:

  • Relax and receive.
  • Breathe.

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