THE THIRD RITE
PHYSICAL BENEFITS: Opens the front of the body; relieves muscle tension; stretches the spine.
EMOTIONAL BENEFITS: Helps connect you to your emotions; gives you full access to your creativity; allows you to go with the flow.
A. Kneel on a yoga mat with your legs hip-width apart, your knees in line with your hips (contract your abdominals to keep your hips from pushing forward), your toes curled under, and your hands on your buttocks, fingers pointing down. Keep your back straight.
B. Keeping your abdominals contracted, inhale as you lift your chest (without puffing out your ribs). Arch your back slightly and look up, gently squeezing your shoulder blades together, keeping your neck long. (Rather than bending back, focus on lengthening up and opening your chest.)
TO FINISH: Exhale and return to start position. When you've completed all your repetitions (if this is your first week, do three), take three deep, cleansing breaths.
TO PROGRESS: Deepen the stretch in your back: Press your shoulder blades together more firmly while lengthening your spine up. Squeeze your buttocks to keep your hips aligned over your knees.
THE FOURTH RITE
PHYSICAL BENEFITS: Builds strong arms, wrists, shoulders, and legs; improves balance and stability; invigorates the circulatory and lymphatic systems.
EMOTIONAL BENEFITS: Initiates feelings of stability, balance, and order; enhances self–discipline and improves productivity.
A. Sit on a yoga mat with your legs about hip-width apart, your knees slightly bent, and your feet flat on the floor about two feet away from you. Place your hands behind you near your hips, palms flat on the mat and fingers pointing toward your toes. Pull your abdominals toward your spine.
B. Inhale as you press down through your hands and feet, and lift your hips off the floor until they're at the same height as your knees. Slide your knees forward until they're aligned over your ankles. Bring your head back slightly and gaze toward the ceiling, keeping your neck long. Your posture should look like a flat tabletop with your torso parallel to the floor, arms straight, wrists aligned with shoulders, and knees aligned with ankles.
TO FINISH: Exhale and lower to the starting position. When you've completed all your repetitions (if this is your first week, do three), take three deep, cleansing breaths.
TO PROGRESS: Start by sitting with your legs extended in front of you rather than bent; this will further strengthen and stretch the arms, wrists, and shoulders.
THE FIFTH RITE
PHYSICAL BENEFITS: Relieves fatigue and stress; improves flexibility and overall strength.
EMOTIONAL BENEFITS: Promotes insight, passion, and expansion.
A. Come onto your hands and knees on the yoga mat, with your hands under your shoulders (fingers pointing forward) and your knees under your hips. Keep your arms straight and move your hands forward three to five inches. Contract your abdominals and tuck your pelvis toward your spine. Curl your toes under. Inhale and lift your knees off the mat. Lift your tailbone toward the ceiling and straighten your legs as much as possible without locking your knees until your body forms an inverted V. Press your heels toward the floor. Keep your neck in line with your back and your head between your upper arms. Gaze toward the mat.
B. Exhale, contract your buttocks, come onto the balls of your feet, and lower your hips toward the mat while shifting your weight to your hands, keeping your arms straight. Slide your head forward and up, open your chest, and gaze up slightly. Press your shoulders back; your body should be parallel to but not touching the floor.
TO FINISH: Return to start position. When you've done all your repetitions (if this is your first week, do three), take three deep, cleansing breaths.
TO PROGRESS: Contract your abdominals throughout the entire move to further strengthen your core.