joan white

level I asana sequence

This sequence is for those who have completed the beginning level course and are continuing to work on the asanas from the level I syllabus. (It is also applicable for a person in the Level II course who is not practicing headstand.)

Click the triangle for instructions on each asana:

Join the toes and join the heels. IF you cannot join the toes and the heels, keep your feet parallel to each another. Balance the weight evenly on your feet. Check that the weight on the front of the each foot and the back of the foot is equal. Also check that the inside of the foot and the outside of the foot are even. If the weight is evenly balanced your front thighs should move back and your quadriceps will lift. Keep the buttocks moving downwards and the pubic plate lifted upwards. Spread your collar bones and open your chest well. Roll your shoulders back. Your gaze should be straight head. Keep the eyes and the tongue soft. Normal breathing.

Stand in Tadasana. Bend your right leg and bring your right foot against your left thigh. Create resistance by pressing your foot into your thigh and your thigh into your foot. Keep your pelvis level while attempting to open the groin of the bent leg.

Bring your palms together and raise your arms over your head. In the beginning you may need to go to the wall to work on your balance. If this is the case just fold your arms in front of your chest bringing the palms together in Namaste. When learning to bring your arms overhead start by having them run parallel to each other and then work to bring the palms together when everything else is in place. Alternate sides.

Stand in Tadasana. Bend your elbows in line with your chest and jump the feet 4 to 4 1/2 feet apart. Turn you entire leg from the hip to the foot 90 degrees. Turn the left foot about 10 degrees towards the right foot. Align the right heel with the center of the left big arch. Move your buttocks away from your waist bringing the right sit bone in line with the center of the right heel. Extend your arms level with your shoulders palms down. On an exhalation reach out over your right leg as far as possible making sure not to bend from the waist and then bring your hand down. You may rest your hand on your leg, a block or the floor depending your your level of flexibility. Normal breathing. Open your chest well by spreading your collar bones and bringing your shoulder blades into your back ribs as you do in Tadasana. Turn your head to look up at the thumb of your left hand. Inhale to come up. Alternate sides.

For a beginner this pose should come before Utthita Parsvakonasana. From Tadasana bend your elbows, exhale and Jump your legs 4 1/4 ft apart arms level with your shoulders and palms down. Keep your trunk and head in the center. Strongly press your back foot into the floor. Exhale and bend your front leg into a right angle. Take care that the knee bends directly over your foot and doesn't go inwards or outwards. The trunk should not change positions even though you are bending your knee. Turn your head to look straight over your middle finger on your right side. Inhaling press into your back foot and your front heel to come up. Change sides

Stand in Tadasana. Bend your elbows and jump your feet 4 1/2 ft wide. Turn and align your legs and your arms as you did in Utthita Trikonasana. Exhaling, keep the weight on the outer edge of your left foot as you bend your right leg to form a 90 degree angle. Take care that the knee goes directly over your foot and not inwards or outwards. Take your right arm down and place your palm, in line with your shoulder, on the floor or on a block so that the thigh is moving against the arm. Take your left arm up to a 90 degree angle and widen your chest as you did in Utthita Trikonasana the revolve your arm and take it over your left ear . There should be a straight line between your outer heel and your side body and your extended arm creating the "flank" angle. Eyes turn up to look at the upper arm or armpit. Normal breathing while in the pose. Inhale to come up. Change sides.

From Tadasana jump your feet  into Utthita Hasta Padasana. Turn your upper arms so that your palms are facing upward. Inhale and raise both arms overhead, elbows straight and palms facing each other.

Turn your left foot in 35 degrees and turn your right leg and foot out 90 degrees. Inhale and turn your pelvis, back leg and trunk to the right. Keep your chest lifted and your arms extended. Keep your hips compact at all times.

Exhale and bend your right leg until your shin is at a right angle and your thigh is parallel to the floor. Make sure to keep your pubic bone lifting,your buttocks descending downwards and your sacrum broad. Your left leg (your back leg) should turn from the inside to the outside. Keep it straight with your heel pressed down. Keep extending your upper body upwards without lifting or disturbing the position of your legs and look up. Hold 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the left side.

Have a block on your mat before you start. From Tadasana jump your feet apart in Utthita Hasta Padasana. Turn your right leg out 90 degrees and turn you left foot slight inwards. Extend your arms, open your chest and look straight ahead.

Exhale and go to Utthita Trikonassana. Bend your right knee and step one foot forward with your left leg. Move your hand or block one foot forward and in line with your right foot if possible. Shift your weight onto your right hand and right foot while lifting your left leg. Place your left hand on the top of your pelvis. Keep the left leg straight at all times. Exhale and lift your left leg making sure not to disturb you right foot. Straighten your right leg while lifting your left leg. In the beginning keep you head looking straight ahead. Later learn to turn your head and look up.

Hold the pose 20-30 seconds with normal breathing. To come out of the pose bend your right leg and step back with your left leg into Trikonasana. Repeat on the opposite side.

Stand in Tadasana. Stretch out your arms then take them behind your back. Join the tips of the fingers of both hands, with your fingers pointing down.

Rotate your wrists so your fingers point inward, then move your spine forward and up. Press your palms together and slide them up between your shoulder-blades. Draw your shoulders and elbows down and back, and press your fingers and palms together. Exhale and jump your feet 3 to 3 and a half feet apart. (90 cm)

Turn your left foot in 60°, your right leg and foot 90° to the right. Turn to your right side so that your entire pelvis is facing the wall in front of you. . Inhale, lift your abdomen and chest, and look up. Curve back over your fingers.

Straighten your head and, on an exhalation, extend forward from the tops of your thighs. Press your palms together to open your chest and extend your spine until your torso is parallel to the floor.

Continue to extend your torso evenly to bring your chest forward toward your right thigh and your head toward your shinbone, until your nose, lips, and chin rest beyond your knee. Hold for 20-30 seconds. breathing evenly. Inhale, lift your trunk , then repeat to the other side. Finish in Tadasana.

Stand in Tadasana arms on your hips. Exhale and jump your feet 4 to 4 1/2 feet apart. Then walk the feet out as wide as you are able without doing a side split. Keep the outer edges of your feet parallel and your front thighs and knees well lifted. Bend from the hips and place your hands on the floor arms extended creating a concave spine. Do not overarch your lower back. Look up keeping your shoulders away from your ears. Then bend your elbows and take your head down to the floor. Walk your hands back so that the upper and lower arms form a right angle. If your arms don't reach the floor place a block under each hand. If your head doesn't reach the floor you can place a support under your head. Inhale to come up and walk, don't jump your feet back together.

Stand in Tadasana with your feet hip width apart and bend over and place your palms on the floor. Step back with your feet until you feel your weight is evenly placed between your arms and your legs. You will resemble a triangle with the buttocks being the apex. Spread your palms and extend your fingers. Spread your toes and extend the heels back. Rotate your outer armpits towards your inner armpits maintaining space between your neck and your shoulders. In the beginning most people cannot take their heels to the floor. If you are very stiff in the shoulders try taking your palms to the wall placing them well over your head with your arms straight. Then step back as far as you can maintaining straight arms and keeping your palms firmly on the wall. This pose has many variations which your yoga teacher can show you. to come out either walk forward or bend your knees and come down.

Sit on the floor with the legs extended knees and feet together. Keep the knees firm . Extend the spine upwards from the sitting bones through the crown of the head. Elevate the buttocks if the back rounds place your arms by the sides of your hips. Lift the sternum and roll the shoulders back and down. Keep the abdomen soft and moving back towards the spine. The Chest is well lifted and the collar bones spread.

This pose should be approached carefully. Kneel down with your knees together and your heels apart. The heels should be wider than your pelvis. Place a block underneath your buttocks and sit back on it. If this is easy move to a lower support such as a folded blanket. Gradually remove all support so that you are sitting on the floor. Your toes must point back in line with your ankles and your shins at all phases of this pose. Work to bring your shins down to the floor. You can extend your arms so that your palms are resting on your thighs or you can interlock your fingers and take your arms up over your head. If doing the latter make sure to keep your arms straight.

Alternate: its simpler variation Vajrasana (sitting on the heels)





From Dandasana, spread the legs wlde apart with your knee caps facing the ceiling. Stay in this position upright position for at least a minute. Once you are able to hold the upright position you can proceed by taking hold of your feet either with your hands or by using to straps and extend the spine upwards. Keep the back of the legs pressing firmly into the floor. Lift the sternum and the navel. Continue from here to bend forward until your chest is parallel to the floor and look up. As in all forward bends. the front body becomes longer than the back body. Do not attempt the full pose but take it in the stages that are given here.

Sit in Dandasna (staff pose) bend your knees and place the souls and heels of your feet together. Your thighs will be turned out. Draw your heels as close to you as possible. Let your inner thighs soften and lengthen so that the knees can come closer to the floor. Sit erect holding your feet together with your hands. Open your chest and roll your shoulders back and down. If you cannot keep your spine straight or your knees are much higher than your hips elevate your pelvis on a block or on blankets.

From Dandasana, bend the right leg as if doing Baddha Konasana, bringing the right heel against the root of the left groin. Elevate the buttocks if the back rounds and use a belt to catch the foot of the extended leg. Lift the spins so it is concave and look up. TAke the abdomen back and bend forward at the hips. Turn the belly button towards the center of the outstretched leg while going forward. Move your sternum in the direction of your shin. Keep your eyes and tongue soft. Do not go down unless you continue to keep the straight leg knee in contact with the floor and the torso in line with the straight leg. Repeat on the other side.

From Dandasana, On an exhale extend your arms upward and bending from your hips reach towards your feet. Lift and extend the front body forward, taking the sternum towards the toes. Keep both legs pressing into the floor. Elevate the buttocks if the back rounds and use a belt to catch the feet if you are unable to reach your feet. People with tight hamstrings or extra weight around the waist should take their legs hip width apart.

From Dandasana place a block or two folded blankets underneath your right hip. Bend knees, move legs and feet back to the left side of the hips. Place the left leg shin across the top of the right foot arch. Turn to the right placing the left hand on the right knee. Keep your thighs together and facing forward. Take your right arm behind you and as close to the left buttock as you can manage. All turning should be done on an exhalation. The spine should remain perpendicular to the floor the entire time you are twisting. Keep the shoulders level. Turn from the base of the spine. Alternate sides.

Lie on your back and bend the legs at the knees until the feet are flat on the floor. The kneecaps face the ceiling. Keep the feet hip width apart and parallel. Press the feet down, lift the hips up, and keep rolling the shoulders under away from the neck. Place a vertical block underneath your tailbone and sacrum. Focus on opening your chest by either bending your arms and placing your upper arms and elbows on the floor and attempting to lift the chest or by extending your arms and interlocking your fingers behind the block. Those who are able can walk the feet out keeping the legs together until the legs are straight and the heels are resting on the floor with toes pointing towards the ceiling.

Place your mat on the floor and place 3 folded blankets at one end of the mat. Make sure that the folded edges of the blankets are evenly placed. You can fold your mat so that the bottom half is covering three quarters of the blankets. Place either a folded blanket or a block at the rear of the blankets. Lie down so that the tops of your shoulders are about one to one and a half inches from the edge. Bend your knees and place your feet near your buttocks, hip-width apart. Rest your arms by your sides, palms up. Roll your shoulder bones back and down, and lift your chest.

Turn your palms downward, press them into the floor and, exhaling, swing your legs overhead, raising your hips and torso and supporting your back with your hands.

Drop your feet to the floor in Halasana and stretch your legs, pressing your toes down. Clasp your fingers, extend your arms, and lift your chest and hips, making your torso vertical.

Place your palms on your back and lift your spine even further. Then exhale, raise one foot, and lift the leg in line with your torso . Once your torso is at right angles to the floor, follow with the other leg, keeping both legs straight, until your legs are together.

Extend your heels and your toes upward, keeping your knees firm and elbows in line with your shoulders. Hold for up to 5 minutes, breathing evenly. Exhale, bend your knees, bring your thighs to your chest, then lower your buttocks and back, releasing your hands. Lie over the support to rest, feet on the floor and knees bent.

This is a variation of salamba  sarvangasana in which you lower one of your legs to a right angle without disturbing the other leg. Both legs have to be kept straight at all times.  You hold for about 10 to 15 seconds and then bring the right leg up and change sides lowering the left leg while keeping the right leg straight. This can be done to a chair if your hamstrings are tight.

This is similar to Eka Pada Sarvangasana only now your are taking one leg to the side instead of to the front.




Begin in Salamba Sarvangasana. Keep your palms pressed against the middle of your back as you move into the next step.

Exhale and lower your legs, taking your chest and hips slightly back. until your toes touch the floor. Hold for 1-5 minutes. After the first minute or two stretch your arms and interlock your fingers. (halfway through, change the interlock of your fingers). Release your hands and reverse the actions to return to Salamba Sarvangasana. Gradually unroll your spine to the floor, then lie back and relax.

This can be done in two ways; supported and unsupported. If you are doing unsupported then lie down on your back. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. Move your buttocks as close to your feet as possible. Raise your arms over your head and rest. You can hold this from to 5 minutes.

If you are doing this in a supported manner you will need a bolster a belt and a blanket. You sit down in front of the bolster or on the bolster if you prefer. Make a large loop with your belt and place it over your head. Bend your knees place the soles of your feet together. Place the belt around your feet and tighten the belt. Lie down over the bolster with a blanket for your head. Make sure that the belt remains in the middle of your sacrum while lying down.

Begin in Salamba Sarvangasana. Keep your palms pressed against the middle of your back as you move into the next step.

Exhale and lower your legs, taking your chest and hips slightly back. until your toes touch the floor. Hold for 1-5 minutes. After the first minute or two stretch your arms and interlock your fingers. (halfway through, change the interlock of your fingers). Release your hands and reverse the actions to return to Salamba Sarvangasana. Gradually unroll your spine to the floor, then lie back and relax.

Beginner version.

You will need one or two blocks.

Lie down on your mat. Bend your knees and place your feet hip width apart. Exhale pressing your feet down to lift your pelvis. Place the block on its high side underneath your sacrum/tailbone area. Turn your upper arms inside out and clasp your fingers behind the block. Gradually learn to walk your legs out one by one until the are straight.

If you have trouble keeping your shoulders on the mat place between one and three blankets under your shoulder neck and head so that you can keep the block on its high side.

For a more relaxing pose your can either extend your legs to the wall keeping your feet at the same height as your pelvis or you can use a second block to support your feet. If you want to stay in this pose for a longer time then place a belt 2/3rds of the way up your thighs to keep your thighs together. You can also belt your ankles and or your calves for the same reason.

More advanced students can follow the instructions below:

Place a folded mat beneath your shoulders. Bend your knees, place your feet hip-width apart, with your arms by your side, palms facing up.

Exhale, press your arms and feet down to help lift your buttocks and hips, then place your palms on either side of your spine. Lift onto your toes, raising your sacrum to increase the height of your pelvis, the extension of your spine and the lift of your chest.

Press your shoulders and upper arms down and forearms up to maintain the lift of your chest and pelvis, then lower your heels. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
Now stretch out one leg, maintaining the lift of your chest and the extension of your body.

Extend your other leg, then straighten both legs. Keep |ifting your hips and chest. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Bend your knees and walk your feet toward your buttocks,, then lower yourself to the floor and rest.

You can also do this pose from Sarvangasana by dropping back to the floor. For further instructions on how to do this please refer to Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar.

Fold a mat in half placing the short side next to the wall. Place a blanket over the mat. Then place a brick etc

Place a brick with its long side touching a wall. Place a bolster parallel to the brick. Sit sideways to the wall on the bolster.

Swivel to face the wall, fingers behind you for support. Turn to the wall, lifting each leg up, knees bent. Push your palms down and move your buttocks nearer the wall.

Lower yourself until your shoulders are on the floor. Straighten your legs and rest your head and neck, chest lifted, and shoulders moving toward the
bolster. Spread your arms to the sides, palms up, and close your eyes. Rest for 3-20 minutes. Cross your legs in Svastikasana, pause, uncross your legs, push into the wall, and slide back to the mat.

Lie on your back in a straight line, balancing the left and right sides of your body. Lift hips slightly and lengthen the lower back by moving your buttock flesh towards your feet. . Separate the legs 4 - 6". Move upper arms away from side of chest, palms facing up. If the chin lifts and the head tilts back, support the back of the head with a folded towel or blanket, keeping the chin level with the forehead. Gently close the eyes to help them relax. Allow yourself time to rest. Use your breath as a vehicle to help you soften your abdomen with each exhalation. sLet your eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin soften Remain alert and attentive. When the mind wanders, refocus on the breath flowing softly and smoothly. If you low back is uncomfortable , bend your knees and place a rolled blanket or a bolster under the knees. Stay 10 -15 minutes.