Doing yoga is a great way to keep your body and mind fit, especially before the upcoming winter shred season.
Tailoring your practice especially to your own specific needs is even more beneficial, which is why Lara Baumann has created Quantum Yoga. Her method aims for everybody to compile their own yoga sequence according to their individual needs and daily changing conditions and consists of ten groupings, from which you choose exactly those asanas that suit you and your current condition best.
To make sure you can fully rock into winter mode once the first flakes start dancing in front of your window, Lara created a unique sequence for you to prepare your body for the upcoming ski and snowboard season.
Start by sitting with bent knees between your heels. If your buttocks can’t reach the floor, sit on a thick book or block. Place your under arms behind you and gradually lay back until your shoulders and upper back rest on the floor – if you sit on something stay with your forearms on the floor. Make sure your knees don’t drift apart and your back isn’t overly arched. Back off and just sit upright if it hurts! Stay for a couple of breaths.
Stand with spread legs, feet pointed outwards at about 45°, neutral spine and upright pelvis, then hunker down just short of a right angle between your thigh and lower leg. Stay for a couple of breaths.
Dhanushmatasna (Dynamic Archer Sequence)
From the Horse Riding Stance Position, shift your weight to the right side and straighten the left leg and arm, while you move the right arm with the palm facing up over your head. Come back to middle in one fluent motion and repeat on the other side. Go back and forth like this a couple of times.
Now you go a bit further, so instead of stretching the left arm and holding the right one over you head, you squat deeper and let the left arm rest on your left shin, while you grab your right ankle with your right hand and let the elbow rest against the knee. Come back to middle in one fluent motion and repeat on the other side. Go back and forth like this a couple of times and return to the middle.
Keep your legs spread, raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach out to the sides. Turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel and activate your thigh muscles. Bend your right knee over the right ankle with an exhalation, so that the shin is perpendicular and the thigh parallel to the floor. Put you left arm straight up toward the ceiling, then turn the left palm to face toward your head and with an inhalation reach the arm over the back of your left ear, palm facing the floor. Stay for a couple of breaths and come back up with an inhalation. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.
Start in a lunge with the left leg back as before. Exhaling you turn your torso to the right though and bend the right knee. With another exhale turn further to the right and lean down to place the left hand on the outside of your right foot on the floor. If you can’t reach the floor, support your left arm with a block or book. Keep the right hand on your hip or stretch it over the back of the right ear and look at the right arm. As in all twists lengthen and soften the belly, extend the spine with each inhalation, and increase the twist as you exhale. Stay for a couple of breaths and return to standing.
Inhale and raise your arms over your head, either hold them parallel or bring the palms together. Exhaling bend your knees and bring the the thighs as parallel to the floor as you can. Make sure to keep the pelvis tilted back to prevent a hollow back. Stay for a couple of breaths and exhaling come back to standing. Repeat a couple of times.
Shift your weight onto your right foot, activate the muscles in the right leg, and lift your left heel toward your left buttock as you bend the knee. Grab your left foot with your left hand, pressing your tailbone toward the floor to avoid compression in the lower back but keeping your torso relatively upright. Begin to lift your left foot up, away from the floor, and back, away from your torso. Stretch the right arm forward or try to grab the inner left foot to challenge your balance even more. Stay for a couple of breaths and come back to standing before you repeat on the other side.
Shift your weight slightly onto the left foot and press it against the floor. Grab your right ankle and place the sole of the right foot against the inner left thigh. Draw your tailbone towards the floor to reduce lordosis. Make sure the pelvis is in a neutral position, with the top rim parallel to the floor. Put your palms together in front of your chest or lift them up over your head and soften your gaze. Stay for a couple of breaths and exhaling come back to standing before you repeat on the other side.
Shift weight onto the left foot and press it against the floor. Bend your right knee and pull the leg up in front of your chest. Grab your right big toe with two fingers while the left hand rest on your hip. Extend the right leg exhaling and flex your foot. Make sure your back is not hollow and keep your hips aligned at the same level. Open your right hip by bringing your leg out to the right and reach the left arm the side to keep your balance. Stay for a couple of breaths, come back and repeat on the other side.
Come to the floor on your hands and knees, lift your buttocks away from the floor and stretch into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog). Shift your weight onto the outside edge of your left foot, stack your right foot on top of the left and turn your torso so you balance your whole body on the left foot and arm, with the left hand should be a bit in front of the left shoulder. Engage all muscles in your body, especially the core and don’t let your hip sink. If you want more, stretch the top arm up to the ceiling and look up. Stay a couple of breaths, come back to Downward Dog, stay a couple of breaths, then repeat to other side.
In Downward Dog, lower your knees to the floor, rest your torso on your thighs and relax for a couple of breaths. From here come to a seatin position with your buttocks on a folded blanket or book and your legs straight in front of you. Pull the muscles from your sitting bones to the sides, lengthen your spine towards the ceiling and lean forward from the hip joints, not the waist. Grab the sides of the feet or loop a strap around the foot soles. Fold deeper into the pose with every exhale and lengthen your spine with every inhale, keeping your head raised. The lower belly should touch the thighs first, then the upper belly, then the ribs, and the head last. Stay as long as comfortable. Slowly lift up and come back to sitting.
Bend your knees and cross the legs while still sitting on the floor, feet outside the respective hips, right knee stacked on top of the left. With an inhalation stretch your right arm to the right, rotate it inwardly so the thumb turns toward the floor and point toward the wall behind you. This movement will roll your right shoulder slightly up and forward, and round your upper back. With a full exhalation, sweep the arm behind you, with the right elbow against the right side of your torso. Inhale again and stretch your left arm up toward the ceiling, palm turned back and with an exhalation, bend the elbow and reach down for the right hand. If you can’t make your hands meet, take a strap into the upper hand that you grab with the bottom one. Stay for a couple of breaths before you release the arms, uncross the legs, and repeat with the arms and legs reversed.
Sit on your blanket again and straighten the legs in front of you. Bend your knees, put your feet on the floor and slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. The right leg is over the left one with the foot on the floor outside your left hip. Exhaling twist towards the right and press the right hand against the floor behind your back. The upper left arm can press against the right the knee. With every inhale, lengthen your spine towards the ceiling and with every exhale try to deepen the twist. Stay for a couple of breaths and come back with an exhalation before you repeat to the other side.
ABDOMINALS & CORE
Sitting on the floor with your legs straight press your hands on the floor a bit behind your hips, fingers pointing toward the feet. Lean back slightly, keeping your lower back strong and straight so it doesn't round. Exhale and bend your knees, then lift your feet off the floor, so that the thighs are angled about 45 degrees to the floor and straighten the legs. Stretch your arms alongside the legs, parallel to the floor. If you want to go further, exhaling slowly lower back and legs towards the floor and come back inhaling. Only stay one or two breaths in the beginning and increase over time. To come back, release the legs with an exhalation and sit upright on an inhalation.
Lie on belly on the floor, legs straight and feet together. Press your hands on the floor under your shoulders, elbows close to your body and inhaling lift the upper torso up from the floor. Press you feet, thighs and pubis into the floor and only go up so far that you can hold that connection, there should be almost no weight in the hands. Stay for a couple of breaths and come back with an exhalation.
Stay on your belly but with your arms along the sides of your torso, leg and core muscles all engaged. Exhaling lift your head, upper torso, arms, and legs from the floor, resting on your lower ribs, belly, and front pelvis. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and stretch through your fingertips and keep the neck long but relaxed. Stay for a couple of breaths and release with an exhalation. Take a few breaths and repeat 1 or 2 times more.
Lie as before with your palms up. Exhaling bend your knees and grab your ankles - not the tops of the feet. Keep your knees hip wide during the whole pose. Inhaling lift your heels away from your buttocks and the thighs away from the floor which will pull your upper torso and head off the floor automatically. Although breathing may be difficult in this position, make sure you don’t hold your breath but draw it as much in the upper chest as you can. Stay for a couple of breaths and release with an exhale. Take a couple of breaths and repeat once or twice.
Stay on your stomach, press your forearms against the floor and lift your head and upper torso. Bend your right knee and bring the heel toward the same-side buttock. Supporting your weight on the left forearm, reach back with your right hand, grab the inside of your foot and press the base of your palm on top of the foot. Press your foot toward the buttock or to the side if you’re already quite flexible. Stay for a couple of breaths and repeat on the other side. Once your thighs and groins open enough, you can try the full pose which is both legs at the same time.
Viparitakarni (Legs Up The Wall Pose)
Place a blanket about 4 cm from a wall – according to your size and flexibility you will have to experiment with height and distance of the blanket until you find the right position. Sit sideways on right side of the blanket, with your right side against the wall. Exhale and swing your legs up onto the wall and your shoulders and head lightly down onto the floor. Your sitting bones don't need to be right against the wall, but they should be "dripping" down into the space between the support and the wall. Check that the front of your torso gently arches from the pubis to the top of the shoulders. Relax your head, neck, chin and throat. Release your hands and arms to your sides, palms up, while the legs stay firm enough to hold them in place. Stay in this pose anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Coming back, make sure you slide off the blanket to the floor before you turn to the side. Stay on your side for a few breaths, and come up to sitting with an exhalation.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Lie on your back, lift your pelvis it towards the tailbone before you put it back on the floor. Let the feet fall to the sides, the knees slightly bent and supported by a blanket if the lower back feels tight. Relax the shoulders and let them sink into the floor, feel the weight of your head on the floor. Lie your arms alongside your body, palms facing up. Soften your jaw and put a strap or towel on your eyes if you find it hard to relax the lids. Stay like this for 5 minutes for every 30 minutes of practice. Then roll to one side, curl up and stay for another few deep breaths before you push yourself up to sitting.
For more info on Quantum Yoga, course in your city and copies of the book and DVDs go to quantumyoga.com