To progress: Instead of resting forearm on thigh, place yoga block or large book on floor near right ankle and place hand on it. Strengthens legs; stretches sides of torso and inner thighs.
6. Toe Dipping
Lie face up on floor. Bend knees in toward chest until they line up with hips and calves are parallel to floor. Contract abdominals so back is firmly against floor; relax arms by sides. Lower left foot toward floor; toes will just touch floor. Bring left knee back in to meet right and repeat, alternating with right foot. Keep back on floor throughout movement (abs will have to work hard to maintain this position). Always return legs together before lowering one leg. Begin with 5 reps (toe dipping with both legs); then add 5 reps a week until you can do 25. Strengthens abdominals.
7. Supine Hand–to–Big–Toe Pose
Lie face up on floor with left leg extended, toes up. Bring right leg straight up, in line with hips. Wrap rope, strap or towel around arch of right foot and hold with both hands as you bring leg toward chest. Keep head, shoulders and back in contact with floor and don’t flatten or arch lower back; keep belly relaxed. If you’re flexible enough, stretch right hand up to hold big toe of right foot while holding towel in left hand. Breathe evenly for 5 cycles; then switch legs and repeat. Stretches lower back and hamstrings; relieves sciatica pain and hip stiffness.
Lie face up on floor with knees bent and feet on floor, hip-width apart; relax arms by sides. Inhale and contract buttocks strongly, lifting tailbone and hips toward ceiling and breastbone toward chin to open chest. Lift as high as you can, and maintain position. Hold for breathing cycles. Slowly lower upper back first, then lower back, touching tailbone down last. Do pose 3–5 times. Strengthens lower back, buttocks and legs; opens chest; helps stabilize sacrum.
9. Restorative Inverted Pose (also called “Legs up the Wall”)
Sit with left side to wall, bringing buttocks as close to it as possible. Swing legs around and place feet on wall; lie back on floor. Walk feet up wall until legs are straight but relaxed; heels alone should touch wall. Stay in this position up to 15 minutes; practice deep or energy breathing throughout. If you want more inversion, place rectangular bolster or 3 folded blankets against wall. Center hips on bolster or blankets, keeping buttocks as close to wall as possible; relax arms by sides. Come down by lowering legs to left side; sit up slowly. Improves circulation; increases energy; induces calm.