In my last post, I talked about stress responses and how they show up in our everyday lives, igniting a fight/flight response. This physiological instinct served our ancestors very well when they were physically running from a predator while living in the wilderness, but times have changed and society has evolved, whether our fundamental human instincts have or not. It’s pretty obvious that our stressors are vastly different from those that came before us, (have you ever tried to run away from your email inbox? YOU CAN’T!) Since we can’t physically escape many of the stressors we feel in our daily lives, we often stay in this heightened state of stress, unless we actively work to calm ourselves and relax our nervous systems.
I wrote this grounding yoga sequence to challenge myself and my students, to stay focused on my breath and the sensation of my foot planted against the mat. This sequence will force you to stay in tune with your body, actively work to keep yourself calm and connected to your breath. It goes like this:
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
Come to standing at the top of your mat, toes, and heels touching. Inhale to lift your arms over your head. Exhale to sit low, chair pose. Glance down to make sure you can see all ten toes. Squeeze your thighs and knees together.
Half Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
Begin to find eagle arms. Placing your left arm under your right, cross at the elbows, and again at the wrists. If this doesn’t feel good in your shoulder or your upper back, just hug yourself, seeing if you can get your fingertips to kiss behind your back. Inhale lift your elbows, exhale round, and curl, tapping elbows to knees. Do this motion four more times.
Full Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
Now begin to shift your weight into your right foot. So much so that you can pick up your left foot and cross your left leg over your right. Option to kickstand your left foot by your ankle or work to wrap your left foot behind your left calf. Either way squeeze your legs and your arms into your midline.
Virabhadrasana III w/ Eagle Arms (Warrior Three)
Release your legs, but keep your arms, and begin to fly your left leg back for warrior three. Keeping your hips in one line, pretend like you’re stamping your left foot against the back wall while grounding down through your right foot. Keep your core engaged and extend the crown of your head forward, staring at one unmoving spot.
Virabhadrasana I Legs w/ Eagle Arms
Keep your arms and land your left foot at the back of your mat, and pivot your left heel so your foot forms a 45-degree angle to the side of your mat. Sit low in your front right knee and press it more to the right. Inhale lift your elbows.
Baddha Virabhadrasana (Humble Warrior, eagle arms)
Exhale humble your warrior, folding your upper body to the inside of your right thigh. Find your breath here. Don’t let yourself collapse.
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Two)
Spin open warrior two. Release the arms! Right heel to left arch alignment in the feet. Your head is over your heart over your hips, your gaze is out over your front middle finger, and you’re sitting low in your right leg.
Viparita Trikonasana (Reverse Triangle)
Inhale, flip your front palm, straighten your front leg, peaceful/reverse triangle. Your back arm can half-bind around your low back or maybe it snakes down your back leg. Enjoy this nice side-body stretch.
Utthita Parsvakonasana (Side Angle)
Bringing your right down to either docking on your right leg or fingertips tinting on the ground or resting on a block. Press the outer edge of your left foot down as you bend into your right knee toward a 90-degree angle with your right thigh parallel to the floor.
Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Runner’s lunge w/ twist)
Left palm finds the mat and you spin onto the ball of your back left foot. Planting your left palm down, inhale to left your right arm up, twisting and breathing.
Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (Standing Split)
Both palms find the mat, and you shift your weight forward into your right foot and take off for a standing split. Your right foot is rooted and planted, while your left leg is extended high into the air. Try to your hips in one line, so drop your left hip in line with your right. An option here to play with balance by reaching for your calf with one or two hands. You could even plant both palms and play with some L-hops to elevate your heart rate and challenge your cardio and balance simultaneously.
Finger tips tinting on the mat, inhale to engage your left glute and exhale to tap your left knee to your right calf. Do five of these.
Uttanasana (Forward Fold)
Both feet find the mat, fold your upper body over your lower body.
Now go through all that on the left side. Our bodies are extremely asymmetrical, so notice how the second side feels different.