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Spring-Friendly Yoga Poses That Make You Feel More Open

Warrior I with Back Arch

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Begin in down dog. Round right knee toward nose, and step right foot between hands to a low lunge. Spin left heel down with foot slightly angled out. Press into feet and reach arms to the ceiling, framing face. Square hips and find an internal rotation on left thigh. Allow hands to fall behind you, and clasp them behind sacrum. Look up slightly, opening chest, and breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on left side. (See also: The 10-Minute Yoga Workout for Muscle Tone)

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Malasana Squat

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From standing, heel-toe feet wide apart, pointing toes out so that hips are open. Start to soften and bend knees, releasing hips toward the ground, hovering above at whatever height feels good. Take elbows inside of thighs, lightly pressing them out, and take hands together like a prayer at the center of chest. Keep the spine long. Make sure all four corners of both feet are firmly rooted into the ground. Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Scandasana

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Begin in a wide-leg forward bend with both hands on the ground. Keeping hands on the ground, bend right knee while lengthening left leg and keeping bum low to the ground. Right knee will be in a half Malasana squat. Flex left foot so toes point toward the ceiling. Reach right arm long and in front of right leg with palm on ground, and left arm up to ceiling. Look up beyond left fingertips. Open through chest and breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Low Lunge with Side Opener

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Begin in down dog. Round right knee toward nose, and step right foot in between hands. Lower back knee down to the ground. Crawl hands up onto right thigh, bringing spine upright, and sink hips forward. Be sure front knee does not move beyond the front ankle. Breathe. Then, reach right fingers to the ground or a block and slightly behind hips. Reach left arm up and over to the right, creating as much space as you can between left hip and shoulder. Keep left shoulder dropped away from ear. Arch back slightly. Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Switch sides and repeat.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Bowed Half Moon

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Start in a supported warrior III on right leg with both hands on the ground or blocks underneath shoulders. Keep right fingertips on the ground, or a block, underneath right shoulder. Open left hip on top of right, and open torso toward left. Extend left arm straight up and look toward left fingers. Bend left knee, and take hold of left foot with left hand (if you cannot reach your foot, loop a towel or yoga strap around it). Lightly press foot into hand to open back, keeping knee in line with hip. Lean back and open chest. Stay here for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Rockstar

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Begin in down dog. Lift right leg high to down dog split, opening the hip and bending the knee. Open the hip so much that you start to tip over. Right ball of foot comes to the ground, right knee is bent, and right arm reaches up and out, in line with body. The outer edge of the left foot stays on the ground. Lengthen through left leg and lift hips up as you drop head back. Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Wheel

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Lie on back with knees bent and feet on the ground, hip-width apart. Bend elbows and place hands on either side of head, shoulder-width apart with fingers pointing toward shoulders. Pressing into feet and hands equally, lift hips and lengthen arms. Keep pressing into feet through the big toes and reach chest away from feet as you stay here for at least 5 deep breaths. (Psst...Should You Try Doing Yoga with Animals?)

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Fish Variation

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Sit with legs long and in front of you. Bring hands—palms on ground, fingertips facing forward—under butt, reaching elbows toward one another. Bend elbows, release forearms to the ground and lean into them, keep them parallel to one another. Lift your chest up toward the ceiling so that your back is arched. Allow head to relax down toward the ground. Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

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