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When working towards more challenging yoga poses, such as yoga balance poses, I often like to use standing balance poses as a warm up. That's because they offer an easier way to practice feeling your center of gravity as well as controlling it.

Standing poses are also a great way to practice developing stability in yoga poses.

Both of these qualities (feeling your center of gravity, and stabilizing your foundation) can then be carried into doing balancing poses like arm balances (including poses like Crow Pose and Galavasana)

They can also be carried into inverted yoga poses. As an example, Headstand.

standing side bend, Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Warming Up Without Sun Salutations

sun salutations, Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

So what are some seated poses that you can start a yoga practice and warm up your body with?

One option is seated yoga poses like:

(Table top bends the hips backwards while in Boat pose the hips are bent forwards.)

Another way to warm up for yoga is bend the spine forwards and backwards while sitting with legs crossed.

cross leg forward bend, Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
Cross Leg Forward Bend

With legs crossed, you can also twist your spine or bend forwards or do some shoulder work. From a cross legged position, it's easy to swing one leg back into some variation of yoga pigeon pose.

Getting Comfortable Kneeling

Another way to begin a yoga practice is to focus on a pose or action that you have difficulty with. So for example, if you have trouble kneeling, you could try warming up with kneeling or semi-kneeling yoga poses. You may find that stretching the toes and ankles makes it easier to get more comfortable while kneeling.

kneeling ankle stretch, Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
kneeling toe stretch, Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
kneeling comfortably, Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Kneeling type postures can also be used to practice balance.

Prepping the Shoulders and Wrists

From kneeling postures it is easy to move into Cat Pose and use it for working on the wrists, hands and shoulders. From cat pose you can lift the knees and do Dog Pose as a way to prepare for Plank Pose.

Other arm supported yoga poses include:

Note that most of these arm supported yoga poses are with the hands either in front of the body, or equivalently, over head (downward dog and dolphin).

For balance you should also include arm supported yoga poses like Side Plank, Table Top and/or Reverse Plank in some part of your routine.

Side plank variation, Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

Active Rests

You could sequence poses to focus on one part of the body. Or you could sequence poses so that you rest a part that is tired by focusing on another part of the body.

It's difficult to learn when tired.

So if you've done a lot of bent knee standing poses like:

and you need a rest, then use a straight leg position like:

If you want to rest from standing poses in general, you could go to the floor for seated yoga poses.

You could also lunge or go on all fours for various hip stretches.

And if you wanted to you could stretch your quadriceps while kneeling
or you could stretch your quads while lying.

Backbending and Front Bending Your Spine

Two categories of poses that can be used to work on the spine (as well as the legs and arms) are:

Prone yoga poses like:

can be used for spinal back bends. You could think of them as a back bending yoga poses.

Back bending poses like locust, where the spinal erectors are working against gravity can also be thought of as back strengthening yoga poses.

Belly up yoga poses include:

Where bridge and wheel pose are both back bends for the spine, dead dog reach is a forward bend. And so the latter pose can be used as a counterpose for the former two as well as a strengthening yoga pose for the abs.

Spinal Twists and Side Bends

Side bends and twists for the spine have already been included in the context of standing and sitting poses, however you might choose to do a yoga practice based on side bending yoga poses or twisting yoga poses.

The Shoulders

You could also do a practice based on stretching the shoulders and arms. When using the arms, some basic arm positions to consider include arms up, arms forwards, arms to the side, arm across the chest and arms back. arm stretches for these positions include puppy dog, lapasana, half dragonfly and rack pose.

The Meridians

One tool that can be handy for guiding the way you stretch (and strengthen) your body is the Chinese Meridian system.

The meridians can be followed throughout the body in a complete circuit. Thus you can work the body fairly completely and smoothly just by stretching the meridians in turn.

Yoga poses are an opportunity for you to get to know your body. The shape of any pose is just the starting point for improving health, strength, balance, flexibility and coordination. It's a context for learning to sense and control your body, to experience it.


Sequencing Yoga Poses

Published: 2017 09 10
Updated: 2020 10 24
Clearly defined poses, exercises and stretches for improving stability, body awareness and flexibility.
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