First level exercises – Mindful Yoga
First level exercises are relatively easy and suitable for all people. They are also used as preparatory exercises, before performing yoga positions.
The basic principle in these exercises is to connect movement and breath. This means that a certain movement has the duration of a normal inhalation or exhalation. So, the exercises are performed in a slow rhythm.
This exercises are part of Mindful Yoga online program.
Structure of an 80 minute First level class:
Introductory relaxation 10 min.
First level Asanas 40-50 min.
Sun or Moon Salutation 5-10 min.
Final relaxation 5-10 min.
Breathing exercise 10 min.
It is always good to start yoga practice with an introductory relaxation from a lying position, during which our attention connects more deeply with the body. The focus is on the feeling of being in the body and the breathing process. Then we feel the flow, the lightness – the iner rhythm – and then we preform the exercises with that feeling.
After relaxation we are continue to practice. The order of the exercises is not prescribed. We suggest that you do the exercises first from a lying position, then from a sitting and then from a standing position. An important principle is to relax for a few inhales and exhales after each exercise, returning attention to the “feeling of flow”, thus suporting the power of regeneration and cellular intelligence. You don’t have to do all the exercises described im material, choose as many as you like and change them from day to day.
Note for beginners: In case you have certain health problems, consult your doctor before exercising.
Exercises from lying position:
Way of performing: lie on the back with legs extended. The feet are joined, arms stretched to the body. Inhaling raise both arms above the head, tighten toes against knees and press the lower back towards the floor. Hold your breath for a moment, stretch your hands and heels in the opposite direction. Exhaling return arms to the starting position and relax feet and back. Hand movement is slow. Raising of arms lasts as much as inhalation, lowering as much as exhalation.
Repetitions: 5 to 8 dynamic.
Forehead towards the knee – Pavan Muktasana
Way of performing: Lie on your back, arms stretched by your body. With an inhale, bend your right leg, hold with hands below the knee and intertwine your fingers. With an exhalation, pul the upper leg to the trunk and lift the head with the forehead towards the knee. With an inhale, lower your head and hands to the floor and extend your leg vertically up. With an exhalation, lower the extended leg to the floor.
Than repeat exercise with oposit leg.
Note: while entering the position with exhale, first pull the upper leg towards the trunk and then raise the head.
Repetitions: 3 to 4 times with each leg. On the last repetition, stay in the position for a few inhales and exhalations.
Basic spine twist
Way of performing: lie on your back and spread your arms in height of shoulders. Bend your knees, heels to his buttocks. Knees are together during the exercise. Inhale in the middle. Exhaling go with your knees to the left and turn the head to the right. Inhaling get your knees and head back in the middle. With next exhalation go to the opposite side. Return to the middle with inhalation.
Repetitions: 2-3 times dynamic on each side and then hold position ones on each side.
Notice: be careful if you have back pain situation. Practice easy, without pushing.
Way of performing: bend your knees from the lying position and hold them with your arms slightly below your knees. If you can, intertwine your fingers. Roll alternately to the left and to the right. At first you go only halfway, and after slowly increase the rolling. The knees should not be separated during the exercise.
Repetitions: 5 to 10 on each side.
Riding a bicycle – variation with one leg
Way of performing: lie on your back with stretched legs. The feet are together, the arms are extended along the body, palms facing the floor. In the forward variant, with an inhale bend the knee and raise the leg vertically, and with an exhale lower the stretched leg towards the floor. In the backward variant, with an inhale lift the stretched leg and bend it at the knee, and with an exhale extend it along the floor. In both directions, the foot is tight (toes towards the knee) with inhalation, and relaxed with exhalation.
Note: the palms provide support, and the leg do not touch the floor. Relax after each cycle.
Repetitions: we do with one leg forward for 10-20 rounds, then with the opposite leg forward. Then again with the right leg backwards, then with the left as well.
Riding a bicycle – variations with both legs
Way of performing: In the variation “both legs alternately”, we circulate with our legs like turning the pedals on a bicycle. Breathing is normal, we do not conect it with movement. We try to apply instructions from the one leg variation, which should be learned first. In the “both legs at the same time” variation, we connect movement and breath, in the same way as in the one leg variation.
Note: same notes as in the veriation with one leg.
Repetitions: We are cycling forward, and then backwards, as long as you feel to. Relax in between and after.
Way of performing: bend your knees and spread them, feet remain together. Grab your feet or ankles with your hands, pull them towards your stomach, and push with your elbows the inner part of your leg. Straighten your lower back and begin to gently roll left and right.
Note: the effect of the exercise is achieved when you actively push your legs to the side with your elbows.
Repetitions: several times left – right.
Way of performing: bend your knees and stretch your legs vertically, hands next to the body, palms down. Stay in the position and follow your breath. While holding the position you can rotate your feet.
Note: this is a slight reverse position. If you cannot extend your legs completely, extend them as far as possible and occasionally bend the knees if necessary – so without forcing.
Repetitions: one hold of the position for 30-60 seconds.
Exercises from sitting position:
Way of performing: Sit on your shins (diamond position). Get up on your knees and put your palms on the floor, under your shoulders. The palms are distant from the knees as the length of the torso. With exhalation, round your back up, bend your head down. With an inhale, round your back down, lift your head up. You repeat the movement several times in each direction by bending your spine from the bottom up. Then you rise to your knees with inhale, and sit on your shins again with exhale.
Repetitions: 2-3 rounds of 10 repetitions (5 in each direction)
Way of performing: starting position is the stick (Dandasana). In the forward variation, with exhalation you go into a forward bend and close the thumbs into fists. Inhaling as if you were pulling an oar, then extend your arms above your head while opening your fists. Exhaling with a long back and stretched arms, you go into a forward bend. Then close your thumbs, and a new inhalation and “pulling the oar” follow. In the backward variant, turn the palms upwards from the stick. Exhale into a forward bend, then inhale with a long straight back and stretched arms. When your hands are above your head, close your thumbs into fists and pull the rope downwards. Open your fists, turn your palms upwards and a new forward bend follows with exhalation.
Note: the exercise is dynamic and is done by connecting movement and breath. One circle is inhale and exhale. Exhalation is a little longer than inhalation, so the movement slows down slightly when exhaling.
Repetitions: 10 – 15 rounds each side, first forward and then backward. Relaxation between and after.
Way of performing: starting position is a stick, stretch your arms forward and intertwine your fingers. With exhalation you go into a forward bend, then with an inhale you make a semi-circle backwards, and with an exhalation a semi-circle forward (again into a forward bend). Pay attention to the back, which should always be upright in the lower part, especially in position towards the back.
Note: the exercise is dynamic and is done by connecting movement and breath. As with “Rowing”, one round consists of inhalation and exhalation. Exhalation is a little longer than inhalation, so the movement slows down slightly when exhaling. The arms are always horizontal and extended at the elbows (microflex included).
Repetitions: 10-15 rounds first in one direction and then in the other direction. Relaxation between and after.
The sitting position is ideal for performing simple joint rotations. Shoulder rotation can be performed from the stick, diamond or Sukhasan position. The rotation of the head is done from the stick position, with the note that it should be done very gently with an elongated neck and slight tension in the neck muscles. Ankle rotation is great to do from the position of the shins over the thigh of the other leg.
Butterfly and half-butterfly with a forward bend
In the butterfly and half-butterfly exercises, the focus is on stretching the adductors (inner thighs). With the butterfly exercise, pay attention to lengthening the back and activating abdominal breathing. After the half-butterfly exercise, you can make a forward bend in the direction of the stretched leg; twice dynamically and then stay in the position with breathing.
Side Bend from a sitting position -one leg screeched variation
Same exercise can be done with both legs bended (from Sukhasan position)
Way of performing: from a sitting position with legs extended, bend the left leg so that the foot rests against the upper part of the right leg. The heel is up to the groin. Rotate your torso to the left so that you are facing your left knee and place your palms on your left tigh. With an inhale, raise your hands in the air, join your palms and stretch upwards. Exhaling, bend the torso to the right, so that the right hand goes to the right leg while the left bends in an arc over the head. With an inhale, straighten the torso vertically, raising both arms again, joining the palms and stretching upwards. With an exhalation, return the palms to the left thigh.
We repeat the exercise few times on the same side, then change the position and do the same exercise on the opposite side.
Notes: When entering the position, only the side of the torso is stretched, so be careful not to twist.
Repetitions: 3-4 times on one side. On the last repetition, hold the position for a few inhales and exhales.
Exercises from standing position:
Palm tree – Tadasana
Way of performing: from standing position, raise your hands above your head with bent elbows. Intertwine your fingers and turn your palms upwards. Inhale, rise on your toes and stretch your arms vertically. Exhale and lower yourself to the starting position.
Note: when lifting, start by lifting on the toes, and then extend the arms.
Repetitions: 5 to 6 times dynamically, then hold the position with breathing and walk a few steps on your toes and then a few steps on your heels.
Bird position with a twist
Way of performing: standing position, hands next to the body, foot next to the foot (a few centimeters apart). Inhale and lift your arms to the side, and with exhale, go into a forward bend (Bird position). Lower your right hand and bend your right knee. The lower arm is in contact with the opposite leg, the upper arm is vertical. The back remains elongated, the gaze is up. When coming back, first come out of the twist, then lift yourself up. Repeat the exercise on the opposite side.
Note: it is important to first go into the bird’s position, and then into a twist, and the reverse when coming back. The back should remain elongated the entire time.
Repetitions: 1 to 2 times to the left and then to the right dynamically, and then staying in the position with breathing, once on each side.
Balancing on a rope – balance position
Way of performing: standing position, step with one foot in front of the other, as if you were standing on a rope. Rise your hands to the side and balance. The gaze is directed to one point in space. When you get comfortable in the position, continue to balance with your eyes closed. When you come back from the position, repeat it again, with the opposite leg forward.
Notes: when entering the position, pay attention to the contact of the feet with the ground and microflex the knees to increase stability.
Repetitions: twice, with breathing in the position.
One leg stand – balance position
Way of performing: standing position, put the weight to one leg, bend the other leg at the knee and hold it with your hands. Then pull your upper leg towards your stomach. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat the exercise with the other leg. You are looking at one point in space.
Note: it is necessary to gradually transfer the weight to one leg and do a microflex of the knee of the standing leg for greater stability. If you want to intensify the exercise, you can close your eyes while in the position. The return to the starting position is slow and controlled.
Repetitions: several times dynamically, and then once on each leg with breathing in the position.
Standing side band – a simple variation (Trikonasana)
Way of performing: standing position, legs are wide apart, hands are next to the body. Inhale in the middle position, exhaleing bend sideways to the left side, palms slide along the body. The elbow of the upper arm goes up, gaze to the elbow. Inhale back up, exhale bend sideways to the right side, inhale back up.
Notes: During the exercise, the palms are not separated from the body, the upper elbow is raised and the head rotates. Go only sideways, without bending forward – the goal is not to go as deep as possible, but to achieve optimal stretching of the side of the body.
Repetitions: 3 to 4 times left and right dynamically, and then with breathing in the position, once on each side.
Shifting weight to one leg
Way of performing: standing position, legs are wide appart, feet are at 45 degrees, palms are on the hips. Inhale in the starting position, exhale to the left, bending the knee and shifting the weight to the left foot. Inhale go back up, exhale go to the right and inhale up.
Note: the tip of the knee should go in the direction of the toes, and the back should be straight during the entire exercise. The feet are appart, so the top of the knee does not go in front of the toes.
Repetitions: several times to the left and right dynamically, and then with breathing in the position, once on each side.
Sun Salutation (Surja Namaskar) and Moon Salutation (Chandra Namaskar) exercises
After performing the first level exercises, you can do several rounds of Sun Salutation or Moon Salutation.
If you haven’t done this exercise before, do it in a very slow pace and without forcing yourself.
The purpose of this exercises is to stimulate the “inner flow” in the system, relax tensions trough opening the zones that are les flexible, bring strength to the muscles, fluidity to the joints and balance the nervous system. This requires a soft approach and an understanding of the body. This is something which is developed trough practice.
Integrating Asana practice through relaxation
After preforming described exercises, it is recommended to do a final relaxation, which looks similar to the initial relaxation, but is usually shorter.
During the final relaxation, the focus is on observing the effect of the exercises on the system. Our presence and mindful attention supports integration and regeneration.
After relaxing for few minutes, we recommend breathing exercises from a sitting position.
In the Mindful Yoga program, we learn different breathing exercises. They are performed after practicing Asana, or during classes dedicated to a deeper approach to breathing and energization.
Breathing trough one nostril – first level Pranayama
For beginners, the most important thing is to settle into a comfortable sitting position, in which they can sit motionless. The back should be straight, the eyes closed and the head in a neutral position (neither forward nor backward).
It is possible to sit on a flour or on a chair. In fact, those who have the discomfort of sitting on the floor for 5 minutes are better off doing exercises sitting on a chair. Relaxing more deeply, they will have a greater effect of the breathing exercise.
First level breathing exercise: raise your right hand (in the position in the picture). The index and middle fingers are on the point on the forehead, close the right nostril with the thumb and breathe only through the left nostril. After 8 to 10 inhalations and exhalations, open the right nostril, close the left nostril with the ring finger and breathe 8 to 10 inhalations and exhalations through the right nostril. After exhaling, lower your hand. Repeat the same once more (two rounds are made).
During the exercise, try to maintain natural and relaxed breathing. The breath will spontaneously deepen slightly, due to breathing through one nostril. Mindfully follow the flow of air through the nostril.
When you finish the second round, stay a little longer and just observe your breath. At the end of the exercise, rub your palms together and cover your eyes with palms, before opening them.