Looking to up your yoga game? We’ve teamed up with @RobinMartinYoga to share 3 poses to open your heart and deepen your practice. Whether starting out or seeking an advanced practice, these asanas can improve your balance and strengthen your core, obliques, wrists, shoulders arms and legs.
Read on for detailed instructions from Robin.
UPWARD PLANK POSE (Purvottanasana)
Fun fact: The front of the body is referred to as the east side of the body, so Purvottanasana means “intense eastward facing stretch.” This pose is a fantastic shoulder opener that stretches the chest and ankles, as well as strengthens the wrists, triceps, back and legs.
- Begin in a seated staff pose (straight back, legs stretched in front of you, feet flexed). Place your hands a few inches behind your hips, fingers pointing forward.
- With bent knees, press through the inner feet and hands to lift the hips. You are now in a reverse tabletop – hands aligned with shoulders, feet directly under knees, torso parallel to the floor. Engage your quadriceps and release contraction of the glutes. If this is plenty of stretch, feel free to stay here.
- Without dropping the hips, slowly straighten one leg at a time. Continue to lift the hips without clenching your glutes.
- Draw the chest higher by pressing the shoulder blades back. Keep the neck neutral until you’re fully expressed in the pose.
- Finally, slowly drop your head back without compressing the back of the neck.
WHEEL POSE (Urdhva Dhanurasa)
Don’t be fooled, this pose is easier to perform than it is to pronounce. This is for yogis of all levels, so get ready to stretch the shoulders and work your arms, wrists, legs, abs and spine.
- Begin lying flat on your back, feet hip-width apart as close to your butt as possible.
- Place hands, palms down, on either side of the head, fingers spread wide pointing toward the shoulders.
- Root down through your inner feet. Keeping feet and thighs parallel, press through the feet to lift the hips. Contract your quadriceps and hamstrings to tightening the glutes.
- With fingers spread wide, press through the palms to gently lift onto the crown of the head. Integrate your shoulder blades onto back ribs.
- Press through hands and feet, exhale to lift your head off of the floor. Straighten arms and open through the front body. Rotate thighs inward slightly and reach the tailbone long.
TIP: Don’t squeeze your butt! Most importantly, don’t forget to breathe.
SIDE PLANK (Vasisthasana)
This pose is great for strengthening the core (with an emphasis on the obliques), as well as the wrists, arms, legs.
If you have wrist issues, you can modify by taking a forearm side plank pose. If the pose is too intense with both legs straight, the bottom knee can come down to the mat or floor. These steps will guide you through the foundation – modify or intensify as you desire.
- Start in downward facing dog or plank pose. Shift your weight to the outer edge of your left foot and stack your right foot on top.
- Shift your weight onto your right hand, aligned below or just in front of the shoulder – never behind. Press through your index finger and thumb to relieve pressure to the wrist and spiral the bicep forward.
- Hips, knees and ankles should be stacked to form a straight line from the crown of your head to your heels.
- Reach your top arm up to the sky and take your gaze up past your thumb to challenge your balance. 5. To intensify the pose, lift the top leg – maybe float it, find a tree leg variation or grab the big toe and extend the leg up and open (as pictured) – grounding down through the bottom foot for stability.