Asanas & Physical Moves

Long and Lean

I have observed that some popular yoga practices are turning women and men who practice them into athletic body builders. The sequences are heavy and many of my clients complain that they cannot possibly do the poses at the speed that is done in the sequences -specially in the so called ‘hot yoga’-, and Emile and I have plenty of people with injured shoulders from too many incorrect planks and handstands.

The following short sequence is part of what real Yoga should be: postures that elongate and lengthen your body, creating space, as your breathe, in your back, legs, hips, arms and neck. Interestingly, this lengthening way to practice really strengthens your muscles, but without the bulk. Open and create space for yourself…

*New:  look at this sequence at a glance at the bottom of this article!


Standing Mountain -Tadasana

Mountain Pose- Tadasana. Gently but firmly engage all the muscles in your body, from the ground up: legs, buttocks, abdomen and arms, raising up to the sky. Hold for 10 breaths. Gaze in the horizon.


Streching warm up 3

Lengthening warm-up: Legs apart, hands clasped together and making wide circles stretching your upper body away from you. Inhale up and exhale as you go down. 4 slow circles in each direction.


Stretching warm up 2

Lengthening warm up



Stretching warm up1

Lengthening warm-up


Standing Forward Bend- Uttanasana. Feet together with a small space between them. Lengthen your upper body forward, thighs slightly engaged as the back of the legs stretch. Feel your hips lifting up.Breathe in your belly paying attention to the lengthening of your lower back. Shoulders back and hands on the ground or supported with bricks. Head gently down. 10 slow breaths.



Warrior III- Virabhadrasana III. Balancing poses are mainly about lifting and lengthening.  You should feel light, as if you are just about to “take off”. The standing leg is strong but lifted, pressing the foot on the ground with a slight push upwards. Lengthen the other leg back and lift it, with no fear. The upper body will naturally stretch forward. Lengthen the space between your toes and your finger tips, making yourself longer! 5 breaths each leg.


Wide-legged forward bend-Prasarita Padottasana

Wide-legged Forward Bend- Prasarita Padottasana. Legs wide apart, feet facing forward. Lengthen your upper body forward and place the hands gently on the ground. Head gently forward and shoulders back. Breathe into the belly, paying attention to the stretch in your lower back. 10 breaths.



Prasarita-Padottasana 2

Wide-legged Forward Bend- Prasarita-Padottasana with hands to big toes.


Side angle stretch variation

Side-Angle stretch variation. Start on your knees, then stretch your left leg to the side with your foot facing forward. Raise the upper body to the right, lengthening and stretching the left arm and hand, creating space on your left side. You may place your right hand on your finger tips or on a brick. Have a feeling of opening and lifting. 5 breaths each side.




Pigeon pose-Eka Pada Rajakopotasana

Pigeon pose- Eka Pada Rajakopotasana. Stage 1. If your knee hurts or you have a knee injury, skip this pose. Make sure to keep the hips balanced, so you are not leaning more on one side than the other. Lengthen the back leg. Sink the pelvis to the ground and the same time lift the upper body.  Stay for a few comfortable breaths…

Eka Pada Rajakopotasana

Pigeon Pose- Eka Pada Rajakopotasana. Stage 2. Lengthen your upper body forward and stretch your arms with palms touching. Forehead on the ground. Alternatively, place your hands under your forehead. The pelvis is grounded and centered, make sure not to tilt to one side, and feel the length between your finger tips and the toes of the stretched leg. 10 breaths and repeat the other leg.


Janu Sirsasana

Head-to-knee pose- Janu Sirsasana. Sitting forward bend with one leg bent to the side, begin from a sitting position and take your time to lengthen your upper body forward. Hold on to your foot or which ever part of your leg feels comfortable -ankle, knee- or alternativily use a belt. The stretched leg is strong, thigh slightly contracted, and the bent leg is also engaged, don’t let it just “flop” to the side. The abdomen is slightly pulled inwards. Breathe with attention to the stretch on your lower back. Feel your back opening and expanding. 10 breaths each leg.


Jathara Parvatasana1

Lying down twist- Jathara Parvatasana Stage 1. Lie on your back with your arms stretched to the sides, palms down. Bend the knees and bring them to your chest. Stay here for a few breaths…


Jathara Parvatasana 2

Lying down twist-Jathara Parvatasana. State 2. With the knees still bent, twist the legs to the right side, then stretch the legs away from you, holding them with your right hand at the level of your knees. Make sure to keep the left side of your body on the ground, avoid lifting your left shoulder. If you do, bring your left hand down until your left shoulder finally rests on the ground. Alternatively, do not stretch the legs and keep the legs bent in this twist. The stretched legs are strong and engaged, and the upper body firm. Head in a comfortable position. If the head is hanging back, use a cushion under your head. Have a feeling of opening, and breathe on the side of your body expanding the ribs, for 10 breaths. Change to the other side.

Jathara Parvatasana

Lying down twist-Jathara Parvatasana -other side. 10 breaths.



Corpse pose variation-Shavasana or Savasana, Lying down on your back with arms up, stretch the whole body from finger tips to toes, lengthening your spine along the ground. Visualise Mountain pose, the first position in this series, when you started. It is the same position, but this time lying down. Feel your body light and lengthened. 10 breaths or as long as you like…


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