The key to a successful yoga practice is to not force yourself into any poses and to be able to just be in your body. Don’t compare yourself to others, and focus on your breath. The use of yoga blocks, blankets, and a strap can do wonders for your practice. *Here’s some tips on how to modify common yoga poses to feel balanced, light, and centered:
- Kneeling Pose: If flexibility doesn’t allow you to sit on your ankles, place a blanket or two in between the back of the knees to create more space.
- Seated Forward Bend: Start seated on a blanket with your knees bent to ease any tension in your lower back. Place your hands on yoga blocks if needed. You can also face a chair and rest your head on the seat of the chair for forward fold relaxation poses.
- Wide Legged Seated Forward Bend: Same rules as seated forward bend. Make sure toes are pointing straight up.
- Wide Legged Seated Forward Bend (progression): You can rest your head on the seat of a chair or yoga block – as long as you can breathe easily into the pose.
- Bent Knee Standing Forward Fold: As you bend your knees place your hands on yoga blocks. Let your chest rest on your thighs and breathe. Slowly straighten the legs as much as possible without forcing.
- Lunge: Focus on keeping hips squared off, don’t let the sides of your waist shorten. Have hands on blocks or even a chair to breathe easily into the pose.
- Bent Knee Downward Dog: Start with bent knees and focus on getting as much length in your spine first. Have your hands on blocks and press weight into your fingers and hands. Open your chest and let your head hang. You can slowly pump the legs to get more blood flow into those legs before attempting to plant your heels down.
- Warrior 2: Focus on lower body first. Back foot at 15 degrees and front foot at 90 degrees. You should be able to see your first two toes on the inside of your front (bent knee). Have weight on the outside of the back foot.
- Warrior 1: Focus on lower body first. Back foot at 45 degrees and front foot at 90 degrees. Attempt to square your hips off without forcing and open your chest towards the sky.
- Triangle: Focus on lower body first. Back foot at 15 degrees and front foot at 90 degrees. Push your hip towards your back leg and have weight on the outside of the back foot. Place your hand on a chair or yoga block and keep your chest open.
- Camel: Start with your hands pushing down on your glutes. Open your chest and breathe.
- Camel (progression): Use yoga blocks to assist the pose. Pinch your shoulder blades.
- Sphinx Pose: If cobra is too intense of an extension for your spine, modify it with sphinx pose. Press your shoulders down and lengthen your neck. As you prop yourself up onto your elbows, attempt to pull your elbows towards you.
- Bridge: If clasping hands together is too intense, just press arms into the floor.
- Supine Leg Stretch: Use a strap wrapped around the foot and hold it up higher so your arms can just relax. You can also bend your bottom leg as an option.
- Spinal Twist: If flexibility doesn’t allow you to rotate all the way over to the side, use 1-2 blankets folded for your knees. Never jam your spine with twists.
As you get successful with these poses you can experiment with taking away blocks, the blanket, or extending the legs out further, etc.
*Consult your physician before starting any new exercise program.