This simple sequence of standing poses will be ideal for kickstarting your yoga home practice. It concentrates mainly on standing poses, and includes a couple of inverted poses that are central to a classical Iyengar Yoga sequence. The inverted poses are intended for more experienced students, and can easily be left out by beginners. In addition to standing poses, techniques and methods for promoting healthy knees are explored in detail throughout the class. For this reason the class may be of particular interest to anyone working with knee difficulties. More broadly, the class will appeal to anyone looking to strengthen their legs and improve their posture.

The teaching points in this post will help to build a general understanding of standing poses, whilst also conveying the specific flavour of an individual class. The post is intended to be used in conjunction with the yogaselection.com video “Hamstrings and Knee Care – Weekly Advanced Class 38”. All of the poses in that particular video are documented here. You will not need a lot of extra yoga equipment to practice this class. A yoga mat and a couple of blocks will be useful but not essential. Give it a Try!

Uttanasana

Basic Shape

  • Stand with your feet hip-width, and the inner edges of your feet parallel.
  • Reach down bringing your hands either to the floor or to your shins. Relax your neck, let your head hang, but lift and broaden your shoulders.
  • Keep your knees straight, and align your hips directly over your ankles.
  • Lengthen the front of your torso, whilst straightening the back of your torso.

Going Deeeper

  • Partially bend your knees (roughly 15° from the vertical).
  • Keeping your knees bent, turn your kneecaps to face directly forwards.
  • With your kneecaps facing forwards… simultaneously press your big toe bases, and heel bones down.
  • Maintain these actions as you now re-straighten your legs.
  • Ensure that your knees have remained facing directly forwards.

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Basic Shape

  • Place your hands to the floor with a shoulder width distance between them. Turn your fingers to face directly forwards and spread your fingers apart.
  • Position your feet with a hip width distance between them. Turn your toes to face directly forwards.
  • Keep sufficient distance between your feet and hands so that you body forms a right angle when seen from the side.

Going Deeper

  • Partially bend your knees, as you did in the previous pose.
  • With your knees partially bent, consciously adjust the angle of your knees so that they face directly forwards.
  • Without disturbing the angle of your knees gradually re-straighten your legs. As your legs re-straighten, observe any habitual tendency for the legs to turn inwards or outwards.
  • Once the legs are straight, ensure that the area above the knee, and the the area below the knee press back with equal force.
  • Now press the tops of your thighs, and the lower shins back with equal force.

Trikonasana

Basic Shape

  • Keeping your left heel to the wall, step your right foot away from the wall. Ensure that there is a legs length distance between your feet.
  • Turn your left foot in, and turn your right leg out.
  • Align your right heel with your left arch.
  • Reach your right hand down to the floor, or shin.
  • Extend your top arm straight up.

Going Deeper

  • Partially bend your right knee, and look down at your right foot.
  • Keeping your right knee partially bent, press the base of your right big toe more firmly to the floor.
  • Maintaining the pressure of the big toe base, turn your kneecap to face directly out to the side.
  • Contain your right hip socket towards the front of the body.
  • Maintaining the above actions, gradually re-straighten your leg, ensuring that your kneecap remains turned out to the side.
  • Keeping your knee turned to the side, turn your chest and face towards the ceiling, and look up towards your top thumb.

Virabhadrasana II

Basic Shape

  • With your left heel touching the wall, step your right foot out wider than a legs length distance.
  • Ensure that when you bend your front leg your knee aligns over your ankle.
  • Extend your right arm out to the side with your wrist level to your shoulder and your palm facing down.
  • As you bend your front leg, maintain contact with your left fingertips to the wall.

Going Deeper

  • Rather than bending your right leg in one continuous action, partially bend your right leg (come down half way).
  • With your leg partially bent, increase the pressure of your right outer heel and turn your inner knee away from your pelvis. Whilst doing this contain your right hip socket towards the front of your body.
  • Maintaining the above actions, continue to bend your right leg until the top of your thigh becomes parallel to the floor.
  • As you remain in the pose lengthen from your pubic bone to inner knee outwards.
  • Simultaneously, from your right outer knee to outer buttock draw inwards, towards the centre line of the body.

Parsvakonasana

Basic Shape

  • Position your right foot with the ball of your foot up the wall and your heel to the floor. The angle of the sole of your foot will be 45°.
  • Step your left foot back so that the distance between your feet is slightly wider than a legs length.
  • Place your right hand to the floor, or block beside the right outer leg. Make sure that your right arm is in contact with your right outer knee.
  • Bring your left fingertips to the wall directly above your right foot. Your elbow is bent straight up towards the ceiling above.

Going deeper

  • Press your right big toe base firmly into the wall.
  • Press your right knee firmly into your right arm. Resist this pressure with your arm.
  • Turn your chest upwards towards the ceiling.
  • Draw your right thigh bone back into your hip socket.
  • To improve your chest rotation walk your hand back along the wall.
  • To further improve your chest rotation, press your left heel more firmly to the floor.

Ardha Chandrasana

Basic Shape

  • Stand on your right foot and step your left foot up the wall.
  • Place your right hand to the floor directly under your right shoulder. Use a block for your hand if you are unable to reach the floor without your knee bending.
  • Ensure that your right ankle is positioned directly under your right hip.
  • Extend your top arm up positioning your wrist over your shoulder.

Going Deeper

  • Partially bend your right knee.
  • keeping your right knee bent, turn your kneecap directly out to the side.
  • Simultaneously turn your right outer thigh back to the wall, whilst lifting it up towards the buttock.
  • As you slowly re-straighten your leg keep you knee cap turning out to the side, and maintain the lift in your right outer thigh.
  • Press more firmly your left heel into the wall.
  • Lift your left inner knee up.
  • Contain the left outer thigh towards the thigh bone.
  • As you turn your chest towards the ceiling, look up at your top thumb.

Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana

Basic Shape

  • Step your left foot up the wall so that your ankle is the same height as your hip.
  • Stand on your right foot with your ankle directly under your right hip.
  • Place both hands to the floor directly under your shoulders. Use blocks under your hands if necessary.
  • Glance at your top foot and check that your toes point directly down.
  • Keeping your left hand to the floor (or block) bring your right hand onto your right hip.
  • Turn your left shoulder down and your right shoulder up.
  • Take your right arm up towards the ceiling.
  • Turn your head and look up at the top thumb.

Going deeper

  • Press more firmly your left heel into the wall.
  • Lift your left shin upwards.
  • Without dropping your left hip, turn your left buttock away from your right buttock.
  • Without dropping your left hip, lengthen your left waist and turn it downwards towards the floor.
  • Turn your left back ribs down towards the floor.
  • Lift and lengthen the inside of your left leg back into the wall.
  • Lengthen the left side of your spine away from the wall.

Parivrtta Trikonasana

Basic Shape

  • Position your left heel against the wall with your foot turned deeply in.
  • Step your right foot out a legs length away from the left foot.
  • Bring your left hand down to the floor beside the outside of your right foot. Use a block for your hand if necessary.
  • Bring your right hand onto your right hip.
  • Turn your left shoulder downwards, and simultaneously turn your right shoulder upwards.
  • Turn your head and look upwards.
  • Extend your top arm upwards.

Going deeper

  • Turn your head from the position described above so that you can look down at your right foot. Stay looking down and align the centre of your face with the inside of your right foot.
  • Press more firmly the inside of your right foot down into the floor.
  • Maintain the pressure of the inner foot to the floor and turn your right outer hip back towards the wall behind.
  • Lengthen your left waist and turn it downwards towards the floor.
  • Turn your left back ribs down towards the floor.
  • Press more firmly your left hand to the floor (or block) and move your left shoulder blade deep into the body.
  • Once you are clear that your waist, ribs and shoulders are turning, return your gaze upwards towards your top thumb.

Parivrtta Parsvakonasana

Basic Shape

  • Place your left heel up the wall.
  • Step your right foot out and away from the wall.
  • Bend your right leg ensuring that your knee aligns vertically over your ankle. Adjust the distance between your feet if necessary to bring about this alignment.
  • Swing your left shoulder past your right knee closing the gap between your armpit and knee.
  • Turn your left shoulder down and simultaneously turn your right shoulder upwards.
  • Take your top arm up and then over.

Going deeper

  • Press more firmly your right inner heel to the floor, and as you do this relax your right inner groin.
  • Allow your right thigh bone to release downwards.
  • Without raising your pelvis, energetically lift your left shin bone.
  • Pressing your left heel into the wall, turn the inside of your left leg away from the floor.
  • Keeping your right inner groin relaxed, move your pubic bone towards your right hip socket.
  • Turn your left buttock away from your right buttock.
  • Lengthen your left waist and turn it downwards.
  • Left back ribs turn downwards.
  • Keeping your right outer hip tucked back towards the wall, move your sternum bone towards your throat.
  • Lengthen your back leg into the wall.
  • Move your lumbar spine towards the skull.
  • Move the back leg, and the top arm in opposite directions.

Virabhadrasana I

Basic Shape

  • Step the ball of your right foot up the wall on a 45° angle.
  • Step your left foot back and away from the wall. Ensure that the distance between your feet is a little further than the length of one of your legs.
  • Place your fingertips to the wall at chest height.
  • Keeping your left leg straight, bend your right leg

Going Deeper

  • As you bend your right leg ensure that your kneecap faces directly forwards.
  • Lengthen your right inner knee away from you, and simultaneously draw your outer knee back towards your outer hip.
  • Turn your left buttock away from your right buttock.
  • Turn the front of your pevis towards the right side.
  • Simultaneously lift and lengthen the inside of your left leg.
  • Without dropping your back knee, move your buttock flesh downwards and lift your pubic bone upwards.
  • Press more firmly your fingertips into the wall and lift your sternum bone away from your navel.

Virabhadrasana III

Basic Shape

  • Start from a half dog pose position with your fingertips to the wall at hip height.
  • Stand with both feet together and with your ankles directly underneath your hips.
  • Raise your left leg up, keeping your knee straight and bringing you ankle to the height of your hips.

Going Deeper

  • Raise your left leg up without your right hip dropping.
  • Turn your left outer hip downwards.
  • Lift your left inner thigh lift upwards.
  • Turn your left buttock away from your right buttock.
  • Lift both elbows up as you move your chest closer to the floor.
  • Lift your navel up without dropping your back leg.
  • Pressing your fingertips more firmly into the wall, lengthen the inside of your left leg away from the wall.

Parsvottanasana

Basic Shape

  • Place your left heel against the wall with your foot turned deeply in.
  • Step your right foot out and away from the wall so that you have a legs length distance between your feet.
  • Start with your hands placed on your hips.
  • Keep your chest open as you bring your hands down to the floor either side of your right foot. Place your hands onto blocks if necessary.

Going deeper

  • Press the inner edge of your right foot more firmly into the floor.
  • Draw the thigh crease of your right leg up and back.
  • Turn your left buttock away from your right buttock.
  • Turn your abdomen from the left towards the right.
  • Lengthen your left waist and turn it downwards.
  • Stabilise your right hip socket, and move your pubic bone towards your right hip socket.
  • Walk your hands back towards your left foot. Bring the blocks with your hands if you are using blocks.
  • Move your chest (not face) closer to your right leg.

Prasarita Padottanasana

Basic Shape

  • Place the outer edge of one foot against the wall. The wall will help to keep this foot supported and straight.
  • Step the other foot out slightly beyond a legs length distance.
  • Ensure that the inner edges of your feet are parallel.
  • With a concave spine place your hands to the floor directly underneath your shoulders. Use blocks for your hands if necessary.
  • Walk your hands back, keeping your elbows bent and your hands flat to the floor. Point your fingers in the same direction as your toes.
  • Release your head downwards towards the floor.

Going Deeper

  • Press the outer edges of your feet down and lift your leg bones up and into your hip sockets.
  • Roll the insides of your fingers down.
  • Tuck your outer elbows back.
  • Lift your shoulders upwards.
  • Spread your trapezius outwards.
  • Allow your back waist skin to descend.
  • Soften your navel towards your spine.

Salamba Sirsasana

  • As your balance settles bring more bodyweight to the centre of each forearm.
  • Pressing your forearms down, lift your shoulder sockets up.
  • Simultaneously spread and lift your shoulder blades.
  • Move the muscles on the sides of your ribcage towards the front body
  • Lift the sides of your ribcage up without your front ribs leaning outwards.
  • Lift the sides of your pelvis up without the back of your pelvis dropping.
  • Turn your inner groins back and move your tailbone towards your inner groins.
  • From inner groins to inner heels lift and lengthen upwards.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

  • Position a tall block into your sacrum. Turn the block so that its width comes across the back of the pelvis, thus helping the pelvis to broaden.
  • Adjust the distance of the block away from the wall so that you can bring your feet to the wall with your ankles at hip height.
  • Ensure that you have firm contact with your inner heels pressing into the wall.
  • Ensure that your shoulders are clearly in contact with the floor.
  • Contain your front thighs so that the block helps to lift the back of your pelvis up.
  • Allow your abdomen to release down.
  • Lift the part of your spine between your shoulder blades upwards.
  • Lift your armpit chest upwards.
  • Relax your throat, tongue and eyes.
  • Observe your breath as it becomes softer and smoother.

Savasana

  • Allow the backs of your thighs to gravitate towards the floor.
  • Allow your front thighs to gravitate towards your back thighs.
  • With each exhalation encourage your abdomen to release in a downward direction.
  • Without deepening your inhalation check that there is space for the chest to lift and spread as you breathe in.
  • Eyes and temples release.