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Yoga 101

The Martha Stewart Show, September 2008

Practicing yoga is a great way to bring more balance to your life. While helping you grow stronger on a physical level, it allows you to find focus in all aspects of your life.

Yoga sequence featured on the show:
1. Come into any comfortable seated position (cross-legged or on the knees):
-- Spend a few moments coming into your seat and focusing the form of the breath.

2. Gentle spinal rotations in a comfortable seated position (crossed-legged or on the knees, with or without a block):
-- Inhale, moving the arms out to a T.
-- Exhale, and with a straight spine, rotate to the right. Allow the left fingertips to reach the floor behind the body. The right hand can rest on the left knee. Stay for 3 to 5 breaths. With each inhalation, find a bit more length in the spine. With each exhalation, focus on leveling the shoulders and finding a bit more rotation.
-- Inhale through center and exhale to the left.

3. Roll or step back and come to all fours. Set up for cat and cow (wrists directly under shoulders and knees right under the hip, about two fist widths apart):
-- Inhale, broadening the collar bone, looking up, curving in the spine.
-- Exhale, rounding the spine, drawing the chin toward the sternum and the navel toward the back of the spine.

4. Restorative rotation from cat and cow:
-- As you exhale, thread the right arm under the left, coming onto the right shoulder. (Modify by placing the shoulder on a block or blanket).
-- Keep the left hand as is, or inhale, moving it up and placing it on the back. Or, you can bind the inside of the right thigh with the left hand.
-- Inhale, come through center; exhale and repeat on the second side.

5. Stretch from cow to a downward dog:
-- Stand with feet inner-hip width apart. Spread all 10 fingers and root them into the floor. Gaze is toward the center of the mat or toward the naval.
-- Peddle the feet left and right (slowly).
-- Inhale and roll forward to a plank pose, bringing the shoulders directly over the wrists and the hips in line with the rest of the body.
-- Stay in plank for 2 or 3 breaths before exhaling to downward facing dog.
-- Downward dog with adjustment.

6. Meditative walk to front of mat with feet or back of mat with hands -- hanging over legs:
-- Inhale and lengthen halfway, exhale and fold, extending from the lower back.
-- Take hold of opposite elbows and hang over the legs. Feel free to keep softness in the knees. Allow the weight of the head to elongate the neck. Relax the shoulders away from the ears. Stay for a few breaths.
-- Exhale to release the arms, and inhale to roll all the way back to stand.

7. Tadasana:
-- Coming to stand.

Types of Yoga
Here are brief descriptions of some of the most common types of yoga:
-- Ananda: Emphasis on meditation
-- Anusara: Heart-oriented
-- Ashtanga: The power of yoga
-- Bikram: Turning up the heat
-- Hatha: Control of the body through poses
-- Integral: The healing power of relaxation
-- Iyengar: Symmetry and alignment
-- Kripalu: Meditation-in-motion
-- Kundalini: Awakening energy
-- Sivananda: Encouraging a healthy lifestyle
-- Tantra: Sensual spirituality
-- Viniyoga: Gentle flow

Special Thanks
Special thanks to Sophie Herbert, the New York coordinator and web designer for Energy 4 Orphans, a small but ever expanding international nonprofit organization that raises support for destitute and orphaned children through yoga and other creative fundraising projects.

Special thanks to Gaiam for giving everyone in our studio audience a Yoga for Beginners Kit.

To learn more about Yoga and various Yoga poses, visit

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