By Kalli Rasbury
Updated March 05, 2008

An essential element of sun salutations, these poses help you move smoothly from one position to another.

Extended Child
Start on hands and knees. Press your hips back so that your bottom rests on your heels. Stretch your arms straight, palms down on the mat. Let your back round down and relax.

Downward Dog
Start on hands and knees. Move hands forward about a hand-length, spreading your fingers wide with the pinkies about an inch from each side of your mat. Press your hips up and back (imagine a string tied around your waist pulling you back.) Slowly lower your heels toward the floor. Dont worry if they dont drop all the way to the floor at first—it takes time. Reduce the pressure on your elbows and wrists by extending your upper body and transferring your weight toward your heels. Use your upper back muscles to broaden your shoulder blades, letting your head hang loose like an apple dangling from a tree. Practice so that you can hold this pose for 5 to 10 breaths.

Standing Mountain
Stand up straight with your feet next to each other, facing forward, with big toes touching. Arms hang by your side. Feel your legs rooted into the ground.

Standing Mountain with Hands in Prayer Position
Bend your arms and place your hands together, as if you were praying, in front of your chest.

Seated Mountain
Sit down with your legs straight ahead of you, inner ankles touching and torso upright. Try to keep your back straight.

Kalli Rasbury (pictured in photos) is a yoga instructor in Birmingham, Alabama.