5 Peak Asanas to Practice for Mobility by Seneca McCue
Seneca McCue is a 500-hour Registered Yoga Teacher, NASM CPT. She specializes in core, mobility, and suspension training. She has worked as an accountability coach, and motivational speaker, and has been a nurse for 18 years.
Her commitment to her clients is clearly visible, as said by her “My goal is for you to succeed and for you to not only TRANSFORM your body but to also TRANSFORM your life!”
Often referred to as a Weightlifting Yogi, Seneca adds “here are 5 peak poses I teach and some of the prep poses I include in my classes to build strength, mobility, and flexibility.”
5 Asanas to Build Strength and Flexibility
- In an L-sit the shoulder blades are protracted as you press into your hands to lift your legs off the ground. To warm up for this pose I do marjaryasana (cat pose) to prep the back and shoulders. If you are not properly warmed up for an L-sit you may experience cramping in your quadriceps.
- To prevent this from happening I include poses that stretch out the quadriceps such as half frog, tiger, and king Arthur.
- An L-sit also requires core strength so I include core compression exercises such as the plank variation knee to nose, within my flow to build strength and activate the abdominal muscles.
- When learning this pose it is helpful to use blocks to elevate your body.
- Pro tip: it is easier to get into this pose by lifting up with your legs bent and then straightening them.
Contraindications for this pose would be any wrist or shoulder injury.
Eka pada koundinyasana II (flying split)
This arm balance is really fun and you don’t have to be able to do a full split in order to achieve it!
- To prep for this pose in my classes, we start by working on poses that stretch the hamstrings and quadriceps and open the hips such as downward facing dog, low lunge, forward fold, and lizard pose.
- In flying split the arms are in a similar position to how they are bent in chaturanga. Practicing chaturanga will build arm and core strength to help prepare you for flying split.
- In flying split students often struggle with lifting their legs off the ground. This pose unlocked for me when I realized that if I shift the floating leg forward and down the back leg will lift off the ground. Think of your legs as a see-saw in this pose. If one leg goes down the other must go up!
- Contraindications for this pose would be a wrist, shoulder, or hip injury.
Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (Seated Compass)
A seated compass is one of the poses I never thought I would be able to achieve. I am not naturally flexible and it requires quite a bit of flexibility.
- To warm up for this pose I focus on hip openers such as warrior 2, extended side angle, and yoga cradle.
- I also include postures that warm up and stretch the shoulders such as child’s pose, downward facing dog, and cow face arms. I used a strap for months before I was able to reach my leg. Stick with it and one day you will no longer need a strap either!
- Contraindications for this pose include a shoulder or hip injury.
Eka pada Padangusthasana (Pistol Squat)
I love this pose! This pose requires strength and mobility!
- To warm up for this pose I start with a downward-facing dog and malasana (yogi squat or garland pose). Both poses will improve ankle and hip mobility by lengthening the muscles in the leg.
- To build strength for this pose you can practice utkatasana (chair pose) and for an added challenge you can extend one leg while in chair pose to further build strength.
- When you are ready you can lower down while holding blocks alongside your body for support. Extend the arms forward when the blocks are no longer needed to help with balance as you lower down. Contraindications for this pose are ankle and knee injuries.
Parivrtta hasta padangusthasana (Shiva)
Shiva is beautiful! There is a lot going on in this pose!
- To prep for this pose, I start with shoulder openers and back strengthening exercises such as sphinx, locust, and reverse plank.
- To extend your leg in this pose it is also essential to open the hips with poses like the lizard, extended side angle, yogi squat, and happy baby.
- You also need to stretch out the back of the leg with poses such as downward facing dog, forward fold, and pyramid pose.
- Contraindications for this pose include shoulder and hip injury.
Note: Before trying any of these poses for the first time, make sure you properly warm up, start slow, and take the modifications if the full expression of the pose is too much.