13. Upward Plank Pose
One of the more challenging poses on this list, Purvottanasana can be modified when necessary. It’s also known as reverse plank or inclined plane.
- Sit on your yoga mat with your legs extended in front of you. Bring your arms behind your hips (several inches) with your palms down, fingers pointing forward. They should be shoulder-width apart.
- Inhale and plant your hands firmly into your mat, lifting your hips toward the ceiling. Keep your chest up and tall.
- Focus on keeping your feet flat and pressed into the floor, spine straight. Do not squeeze your buttocks.
- Once stabilized, allow your head to drop backwards and relax your neck and throat.
- Hold for up to 30 seconds. To come out of upward plank pose, slowly lower your hips and butt back onto the mat as you exhale.
14. Extended Triangle Pose
Extended triangle pose (Utthita Trikonasana) will help you build your strength in your core and back muscles. It should also take some pressure off of your neck.
- Begin in a standing position at the bottom of your mat, and step your feet apart. Your feet should be slightly further apart than is comfortable (about the length of one of your legs).
- Turn your right foot so that it is point towards the top of your mat (short edge), and your left foot between 45-90 degrees from the right foot. Make sure your weight is distributed evenly between your feet and evenly across your feet.
- Inhale and raise your arms up and out until they are parallel with the floor, palms down. Bend your knees slightly, engaging your thigh muscles.
- As you exhale, start to bend your upper body over your right leg. Make sure you’re bending at the hip and not at your waist.
- Rotate your torso to the left, and allow your left hip to move slightly forward.
- Keep extending forward until you can place your right hand on your knee, shin, ankle, foot, or on the floor. Aim for the lowest position you can reach that allows the best balance without twisting your torso. You may need a yoga block if you are a beginner.
- Reach your left arm toward the sky, and turn your head to gaze upwards.
- You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds.
- When coming out of Utthita Trikonasana, bend your right leg slightly and inhale as you draw your torso and right arm upright.
- Step your feet back together and repeat on the other side.
15. Point Shoulder Opener
You will want a yoga block or a rolled up towel to lay your head on for this movement. This movement is a little more advanced, so be sure to only do what you are comfortable with.
- Lay facedown on your stomach, legs relaxed. Bend your arms so your hands are near your head and elbows aren’t flared out. Your head should be resting on your yoga block, facing to the right.
- Move your left arm straight out at 90 degrees with your palm facing up.
- Move your right hand under your right shoulder and press down. Bend your right knee and lift your right leg up and over your body until your toes are touching the ground behind your left leg. Your body will be partially rotated.
- Bring your right arm back over your shoulders, reaching for your left hand. Breathe in and out as you bring your hands together, allowing gravity to do as much of the work as possible.
- Keep your hands clasped together for at least three breaths. When you release, come out of the position slowly and return to your original pose.
16. Shoulder Opener on Blocks
Shoulder opener on blocks is a much less advanced exercise than the previous move. You will need or or two yoga blocks, placed upright, or a shoebox (or something similar) that will reach a similar height.
- Kneel in front of the yoga blocks, sitting on your heels.
- Place your elbows on the blocks, allowing your head to fall between your arms.
- Bend your hands together into a prayer position above your head. Reach your hands back towards your upper back, resting them on your back if possible.
- Hold this position for at least 10 breaths.