We’ve all seen her—the woman in yoga class who flows from crow pose to headstand with ease. Guess what? You too can be the envy of the yoga studio (just kidding, sort of). But seriously, getting a handle on “difficult” poses is a matter of believing in yourself, letting yourself fail, and just, plain good instruction. Plus, challenging your mind and your body in new ways is good for your brain. Health contributing expert Kristin McGee does just that in this video. She breaks down poses that you may think are difficult to master and gives you the stepping stones to get past your mental and physical blocks. Watch the video to learn step-by-step tricks to conquering your “fearasana” and deepening your practice.
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Don’t have time to watch? Read the full transcript:
Hi, my name is Kristin McGee. Today I’m showing you how to get into some of those intimidating yoga poses that you might think are very difficult, but are actually totally doable. I’ll show you all the steps that you can use to build up to these poses, or just get over the mental block that’s keeping you from trying them. Let’s get started.
Splits: Begin in a crescent or low lunge. Take 5-10 breaths here to open up the hip flexor of the back thigh. Then flex the front foot, lengthening the front leg, and leaning back to stretch the front hamstring. Next, take two blocks on either side of the body as you start to slide the front foot forward, keeping the hips facing forward. If you can, lower your blocks to the middle level and then the lowest level, eventually coming all the way down into your full split pose. If that’s not doable, place a block under the front thigh, so the hamstring rests against it in a supported split.
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Dolphin Pose: Place the forearms against the mat and interlace the hands. Tuck the toes under and come into a downward-facing dog on your forearms. From here, roll forward into a forearm plank. Push back to downward-facing dog. Repeat this motion 10 times.
Headstand: Place the forearms against the mat and interlace the hands, making a cradle for the crown of the head with your hands. From here, get into a downward-facing dog position, walking the feet as close as you can toward the forearms. Next, bring your knees into your armpits, so your body forms an egg shape. Once here, start to lift the legs all the way up toward the ceiling to get into a headstand position. Press into the elbows, not the top of my head. If you’re practicing at home, feel free to try this pose against a wall. As you start to come into that egg shape, plug the back of the hips against its surface as you walk your feet up the wall.
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Crow: Stand on a block with your body folding forward, palms placed flat against the mat. Bend your knees so that they get high enough to fit into your armpits. Once the knees are cradled in the armpits, plant the hands down firmly on the mat and try to float the feet off the mat to balance in crow pose.
Backbend: Get into a bridge pose with a block squeezed between your inner thighs. Press the feet firmly into the floor and place your hands by your ears with fingertips facing forward, toward the bottom of the mat. First prop the top of the head on the mat as you narrow your elbows and squeeze in on the block. Then work on pressing yourself up into the backbend. Slowly lower down.
Dancer Pose: For this pose, make a loop in your yoga strap or grab a towel or belt—anything you can put a foot through. Once you have your foot in the loop, fling the arm over the shoulder as you hold the top of the strap. Next, take both hands to the strap. As you keep your hips facing forward, pull on the strap to start lifting the back leg up higher behind you. Walk the hands down the strap, reaching closer and closer to the foot until you come into a full dancer pose. This pose strengthens your ankles and improves your balance in no time.