Diary Of A Happy Yogi: Progressions and Regressions

Posted: March 9, 2015 at 2:44 pm

By: Ashley Whimpey

Modify is to change. Modification can take, “Now scratch your nose with your toes,” and change it into something more “all-levels” friendly. It could also take a mastered pose into a new and exciting place. As a personal journey, it’s important to personalize classes. Yoga is for the individual, and comes to that individual in the way they need it. Formal yoga classes (surprisingly) can move a little too quickly for an instructor to offer up variations of the poses for all participants. Luckily, I’ve collected some for you to either take the asana up a notch or down to a different level!

Mountain Pose: The standing and beginning pose of many yoga classes.

Take it down: The purpose of Mountain Pose is to feel grounded. If putting your feet wider creates a more comfortable (and stable) position, that’s okay. There isn’t a law.

Level up: keeping the core engaged, bring palms together above your head, shoulders down, and rotate at the hips drawing a large circle. Do both sides, and feel the warmth in your center.

Warrior three: the table top balance pose.

Take it down: Place both hands on a block and focus on the balance with the legs instead of both arms and legs. Try removing one hand, then the other. Try placing the arms behind you like a cape, or in Eagle Pose Arms, instead of above your head in the traditional Superman-esk position.

Forward fold: Half bent from the hips to stretch the hamstrings.

Take it down: Place the hands on the thighs or shins into a flat-back extension pose. Try placing the hands on a block to bring the ground closer.

Level up: Keeping the heels together, move the toes apart into a V shape. Try placing the hands on the calves to deepen the fold.

Sun God: Essentially a wide legged squat, the feet are also turned out and the chest is lifted.

Take it down: Try keeping the elbows on the thighs and pressing up the chest. Rising slightly from the deeper squat is also appropriate. The pose should only be performed if the chest can remain more perpendicular than parallel to the floor.

Level up: Raise onto the balls of the feet.

Pigeon pose: This half-split is a great preparation for full split, as well as a great stretch to the hip flexor, hamstring, and lower back.

Take it down: Bend the back leg and bring it in toward the front foot, creating a diamond shape.

Level up: Try to move the front foot forward until the shin is parallel to the wall in front of you while keeping the knee and upper thigh on the ground.

Side plank: from a hands-under-shoulders full plank, balance on one side with the chest turned to the wall.

Take it down: Drop the inner leg and use the knee to assist you. Stagger the feet.

Level up: Raise the top foot off the ground. Try and reach for the foot with your top hand, further extending the leg up or bending it behind you into Raindrop Drinking Bird.

Triangle:  Hamstring side stretch. To get specific and offer the best solutions, imagine a right-sided triangle pose, meaning you are leaning toward the right leg. The left foot should be pointed forward to the front of the room, and the right foot should be pointing to the right.

Take it down: Triangle only works its magic if it is performed with an “uncompromised line” in the torso. Compromised lines turn into C’s. When the upper body is tipping toward the leg, drop the lower ribs and at the moment the line begins to curve, drop the arm. The arm should balance on the leg and offer support.

Level up: Keeping a straight torso, in line with the leg, open the chest and sink the leading hand all the way to the ankle, or the floor.