Part 1 | Part 2
For the second part of the routine the focus is on the splits and arm strength.
One of the reasons for this seemingly strange combination is that in half splits in particular the arms can be bent in a position simular to that in push up. As for front to back splits, the arms can be used to help support the weight of the body in order to give the legs a chance to rest.
In this particular routine, the split preparations and variations are done first as a possible warm up for the arms. In addition, to keep with the idea of knee strengthening, in all of the split variations, the focus in this particular routine is again activating the calfs and the tendons at the back of the knees.
For the Forefoot Press stand with one heel lifted. Shift weight to that forefoot, then additionally press the forefoot strongly into the floor.
You'll feel some pressure after shifting weight to the forefoot. The exercise is to try to increase that pressure by actively pressing through your forefoot.
The feeling can be like pulling on a tight pair of jeans.
After pressing your forefoot into the floor you can try lifting the other foot.
The Heel press is more or less the same as the forefoot press except you focus on pressing the heel into the floor instead of the forefoot.
This tends to be more difficult than the forefoot.
For the Low Lunge focus first on your front foot. Press your front heel and forefoot into the floor. Your thigh should activate as you do so.
For the Low Lunge Hand Lift press the front foot into the floor. Then press the back knee into the floor (the front of the thigh should activate). Then shift your weight towards the front leg side so that your hands can relax. Then, if your hands relax completely, lift them.
Pause then put your hands down and then relax your legs.
For Front Splits the action is much the same as for the low lunge hand lift.
Start with the front knee bent and front ankle bent at about 90 degrees. Activate the front calf and back of the front knee. Then press the heel down.
You should feel your hamstrings activating. Practice this a few times then in addition press the back knee down.
Shift weight left or right if necessary so that you can lift your hands. Lower your hands, relax your legs and repeat.
In between sides you can rest by kneeling.
When doing the previous exercises one action that is important is Stiffening the Foot. Stiffening the foot may make it easier to activate the calf muscles, by giving the a firm foundation from which to activate.
Another important action for the splits is pressing the hands down.
The feeling is much the same as in the side plank variation you did earlier.
When you press your hands down while working towards splits you can relax the legs. Likewise when you activate the legs (by pressing them down) you can relax the arms.
Half side splits is a preparation or easy way of working towards full side splits. It allows you to get lower so that you can use your arms to support your body.
In addition it can be easier that full side splits because only one leg is straight and you can focus on moving the foot of the straight leg away from the bent knee.
For half side split prep position your bent knee hip directly over the knee. Practice making the straight leg foot rigid, then activate calf and the back of the knee, then press the foot down into the floor. Relax and repeat a few times then switch sides.
Prior to making the foot rigid you can touch the blade of the foot to the floor.
For Half Side Splits there are three main arm options. You can keep the arms straight. You can bend the elbows and rest with the forearms on the floor. You can bend the elbows and have the arms in a push up-like position.
Which ever arm position you use (and you can switch them as you move deeper into the pose) use the same actions you practiced in the Half Side Splits prep. Each time you relax the action you can try to go deeper into the stretch.
Repeat a few times then come out and repeat on the other side.
The next few exercises focus on the shoulders.
For this Down Dog Shoulder exercise start in cat pose but with your knees back a bit further than usual. Push your ribcage back so that it and your arms are in line. Push your hands forwards against the floor and at the same time push your ribcage back. Relax and repeat.
To test that you are actually activating your shoulders, push your hands forwards and ribcage back and then push your feet down into the floor to lift your knees. Lower, relax and repeat.
For Push Up 1, lie with your elbows bent and hands on the floor beside your ribcage, elbows pointing back.
Use your shoulders to push your hands forwards and your ribcage back, exactly as you did in the previous exercise.
Relax and repeat.
For the Prone Hip Lift press your knees down into the floor and lift your hips. Lower your hips and then relax. Repeat.
For the Prone Hip Press press your hips down into the floor. As you do so notice your butt cheeks activating. Relax and repeat. Then, press your hips down first. After, keeping the hip pressure, lift your chest. Pause, lower and relax, then repeat.
For the push up chest lift use your shoulders to push your hands forwards and your ribcage back. Keep the arms active and peel you ribs an inch off of the floor. Lower and relax. Repeat.
For the Knee and Hip lift press the feet down into the floor to lift the hips. Lower and repeat. Then add the hips. After lifting your knees, press your chest down into the floor to lift your hips.
For Push Up 2 first push the hands forwards and chest back. Lift your chest. Then push your knees down to lift your hips. Lower and repeat.
For the Leg Lift push your hips down (feel your butt activate) then lift your legs keeping your knees straight as you do so. Pause, lower and relax and then repeat.
For Push Up 3 Press your hands forwards and ribcage back. Lift your chest. Then push your knees down to lift your hips. Then press your feet down to lift your knees. Pause, then lower everything and relax.
For locust, Locust press your hips down (feel your butt activate). Then lift your chest and your legs. Pause, lower and repeat.
For push up 4 First push the hands forwards and chest back (don't lift yet). Think of this as "taking up the slack." Then lift chest, pelvis and knees simultaneously an inch off of the floor. Pause, and slowly lower. Repeat.
For Down Dog 2 start with knees bent. Push your hands forwards and ribcage back. Then optionally straighten the knees and press your heels down. Relax and repeat.
If you have trouble getting your heels to the floor in downward dog you can practice Ankle Flexing. Sitting upright bend your ankles back (forefeet towards your knees) so that the front of your shins activate. Relax and repeat. memorize the feeling of your muscles activating and of your forefoot pulling towards your knees.
For the Downward dog Forefoot Lift, after pushing your hands forwards and ribcage back, and with knees straight, focus on lifting the fronts of your feet to help get your heels to the floor. Relax and repeat slowly and smoothly.
The next set of exercises are a fun wrap up which also helps you to practice pressure sensitivity.
Standing upright do a forward weight shift and notice your toes activating and pressing into the floor. Shift back so that your toes relax. Repeat slowly and smoothly.
For this crow pose weight shift squat down with feet open 90 degrees and heels separated a fist width.
Place your hands on the floor just in front of your feet, shoulder width apart.
Shift your weight forwards.
Feel your knees press into your arms.
Shift further forwards so that your fingers press into the floor. Shift back and relax. Repeat.
Don't worry if you can't lift your feet.
Remember to look forwards when shifting your weight forwards. And remember to breath!
For this standing weight shift focus on feeling your heels. As you shift forwards feel your heel pressure reducing so that your heels only lightly touch the floor. Then as you shift back feel your heels pressing down.
For this crow pose weight shift focus on feeling your feet. As you shift forwards feel the pressure of your feet reducing. As you shift back feel it increasing.
If you shift forwards far enough that your feet totally relax then you can lift them.
To finish, lie on your back andhug knees. Then reach your hands and legs straight up into the air, wiggle fingers and toes if you like. Then lower your arm and legs to the floor and rest with eyes closed.
As a yoga teacher, I'm constantly exploring new exercises, new ways of doing yoga poses.
There is no single "right way" of doing a yoga pose. Instead, there are options. And the better you are at "feeling" your body, the better you can get at choosing the right option for your body as it is now.
For any technique, the point of practice is to learn feel it and to control it, so that it can be used without thinking about how to use it.
And that is more or less the approach taken in all of my ebooks and videos. They help you to feel your body and control it so that you can work towards using it effectively in anything that you do.