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Summer of Core Day 15: Spinal Balance Flow

We are nearly halfway through our month of core. I hope you are feeling a difference! I know I am feeling stronger and more aware of my abs during yoga and other activities.

Today we’re going to have some fun optional flows for Spinal Balance, which we worked to fine tune yesterday.

So take that well-aligned Spinal Balance and let’s get to work.

Flow Option 1: Alternate sides with breath

  • Inhale to a solid Spinal Balance on one side.
  • Exhale return to all fours.
  • Inhale, switch sides.
  • Exhale return to all fours.
  • Repeat for three to five rounds.
  • Rest in Child’s Pose.

As you move through this flow, keep your breath flowing long, and stretch out your movement to match that long breath. Try to keep your hips stable and your core engaged. Extend through your heel and your fingertips to get long on your inhale.

Flow Option 2: Knee-to-Nose Crunch

  • Inhale to a solid Spinal Balance on one side.
  • Exhale and pull your knee to your elbow, meeting near your belly button, arching your back.
  • Inhale, extend to Spinal Balance.
  • Exhale, return to all fours.
  • Switch sides.
  • Repeat three to five full rounds.
  • You can make this more challenging by continuing on one side for three to five reps, then switching sides.

Flow Option 3: Sunbird

  • Inhale to a solid Spinal Balance on one side.
  • Bend your extended leg so your foot is facing the ceiling.
  • Inhale, lift your foot straight up to get into the glutes.
  • Exhale bring your knee to your elbow.
  • Inhale and extend, keeping your knee bent and foot toward the ceiling.
  • Repeat on one side three to five times. Switch sides.

Flow Option 4: Leg & Arm Reach

  • Inhale to a solid Spinal Balance on one side.
  • Exhale, reach your extended arm and leg out to opposite sides simultaneously.
  • Inhale, return to Spinal Balance.
  • Repeat on one side for three to five reps. Switch sides.
  • Try to keep your back flat and your torso immobile as you move your limbs in and out.

Rest in Child’s Pose.

Katy Mangan demonstrates each variation on the flow in this video.

Thanks Katy for the great demo! Katy is often in the morning flow and power classes, a dedicated student and a talented storyteller. She regularly collaborates with instructor Dawn Justice for a restorative yoga and storytelling class at Soul. It’s a real treat!

Have fun with today’s options. You might string them all together into one long flow, or take breaks between the series. These are great flows to do in the morning, as they are energizing and get the cardiovascular system going. Enjoy!

~ Shoshana

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Summer of Core Day 14: Spinal Balance

Today’s pose, spinal balance, is one that takes core strength in the back muscles as well as the front for stability.


Spinal balance, dandayamna bharmasana in Sanskrit, is also known as balancing table in some yoga circles. It’s often called a beginner’s pose, but in my experience, it takes a lot of body awareness and control to execute and can be a challenge to hold.

I love using it as a warm-up, because it helps you get a feel for elongating your body while connecting to your core. In my classes I often incorporate it into a flow to get the breath linked to movement. But today, we are going to break down this pose and get into proper alignment for optimum benefit.

Let’s Do It

  • From hands and knees (use a blanket or a doubled-up mat under your knees if they’re sensitive), bring your belly button in towards your spine to firm your abs and flatten your back.
  • Keep your gaze at the ground and draw your shoulders away from your ears for length in your neck.
  • Extend your left leg behind you, keeping toes on the ground.
  • Press through your heel to strengthen your thigh and feel strong from hip to heel.
  • Inhale, lift your leg to hip height.
  • Extend your right arm forward, turning your palm to face in, your thumb to the sky.
  • Work to keep your hips level and your abs turned on as you breathe.
  • Hold for three to five breaths. Switch sides.

Options

  • Lift your leg only, not your arm if you feel unstable or wobbly. Work on your balance and strength from here.
  • If your wrists bother you, use fists for wrists or come to your forearms.

Fine-Tune the Alignment

In class, I often see students with concave backs, their bellies dipping toward the ground and their leg and arm coming higher than shoulder or hip height. To maximize the benefits of this pose:

  • Try to keep your leg at hip level.
  • Keep your core muscles engaged to support your back and keep it flat.
  • Lift your arm just to shoulder height.
  • Think about reaching out and back, creating length rather than height.
  • Keep your gaze at the ground, your neck long.

It can be helpful to have someone watch you and tell you when you are in proper alignment or to do this in front of a full-length mirror, though you may know my thoughts on mirrors and yoga.

As always, let me know if you have any questions, if anything’s not clear or if you just want to say hi!

Have a great time with this one. Come see me in class today at 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.!

~ Shoshana