We are encouraged to come to our yoga mat through all seasons of life and emotions. We’re told that consistency will reap rewards, both physically and spiritually. But, some days are just plain hard. Some seasons are cold and stiff or gooey and full of resistance. How do we show up on those days?
Some days, rest is exactly what your body needs. On others, it may help to flow with more intuitive movements. On days when showing up for your physical yoga practice feels hard, listen to your body and give it the space to express itself.
This sequence taps into the root, solar plexus and crown chakras to ground and uplift. It can help to process change, pull up out of the weeds of life or just feel nice in the physical body. It works with the energetic body of the chakra system.
Chakras are said to be swirling energy centers throughout the spine, starting from the base and moving up to the crown of the head and into the aura. When we support the root chakra, we feel safe and grounded; the solar plexus fires up our confidence and self-efficacy, and the crown chakra is the mental and spiritual energy center — harmonizing and protecting the entire system.
Warm up with sun salutations or add them at any point between these postures.
Sukhasana / Seat with hand on earth and heart
Seated on the root chakra, you may feel comforted by the grounding support of the mat and floor beneath you.
Sit with your legs crossed in an easy position. It might be more comfortable to sit on a block or blanket, or prop up your knees. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on the ground. Breathe and feel the firm steadiness beneath you and within you.
Virabhadrasana one / Warrior one with hands behind head
Rooted through your feet, heart light and strong, relax your head in your hands as you stand in your power.
From downward-facing dog, step your right foot forward. Keep both heels grounded as you bend deeply into the front knee with both hips facing forward. Extend your arms up and clasp your hands at the nape of your neck. Draw the elbows back and shoulder blades down, away from the ears. Lift your gaze and let your head fall into your hands as you breathe and feel lightness travel through your chest. Stay for five breaths and then switch sides.
Virabhadrasana two / Warrior two
This stance is one of a warrior prepared to defend and destroy those that stand in the way of love and all that’s worth fighting for. Imagine swiftly brushing away all that stands in your way on the journey to your highest self.
From downward-facing dog, step your right foot forward between your hands and come to stand. Bend deeply into the front knee, gazing down to see the knee track over the outer toes. Firm your gaze beyond the fingers of the front hand as you reach back with the other hand. Roll your shoulder blades together and down your back. Conjure up all the strength of the earth beneath your feet and extend it through your fingertips. Stay for five breaths and then switch sides.
Navasana / Boat
This pose ignites the fire within while keeping a light and buoyant heart.
From a seated position, bring the soles of your feet to the floor with knees bent and your hands behind your knees. Rock back, so you are balancing on your sacrum (not your tail bone). Draw your chest forward, widen your collar bone and become light with your hands. Extend your arms out, palms face up, and breathe. Draw the navel in and up, and stay for five breaths.
Sirsasana (ii) / Tripod Headstand (with modification)
There’s nothing better for shifting perspective than to turn things upside down. This posture also stimulates blood flow to the heart and brain, which may increase feel-good neurochemicals.
From tabletop, bring the top of your head to the floor roughly a foot above your fingertips. Typically, when your wrists are below your elbows you feel most stable. Tuck your toes and lift your hips, walking the feet closer, so your hips stack over your shoulders. Place your knees on the backs of your arms. Stay, or, use your core to lean slightly back and draw the knees in to lift up.
Modification: If you have six blocks, stack three and three shoulder-width distance apart, directly against the wall. Place your fingertips at the end of the blocks and place your head between the two stacks. Your head should not touch the floor and the blocks should be very stable. Tuck your toes and lift your hips, slowly walking them closer to bring your legs up against the wall.
Balasana / Child’s pose
Return to earth and rest your center of intuition on the floor or a block.
From tabletop, extend your arms forward, and press your hips back by your ankles. Your knees may be together or as wide as the mat, whichever is more comfortable. Rest your head on something — if not the floor, then a block or a pillow. Rock side to side to massage your third eye and open the hips. Stay for five breaths, or as long as feels comfortable.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana / Supported bridge
Let the ground support you as your hips rest, raised on a prop, letting your body relax.
From laying down, bend your knees to bring the soles of your feet on the ground. Lift your hips and slide a block or pillow under them. There should be no discomfort, and you can adjust the prop until you can rest comfortably with no effort. Allow your hands to rest, palms face up, by your sides or above your head. Notice where you feel open and where you feel support.
Supta Vrksasana / Reclined tree
Just like standing tree, reclined tree allows your roots to reach deep and your branches to grow to the sky.
From laying down, bring your right knee into your chest, a little to the right to avoid the ribcage. Draw your right foot to your left leg, either above the knee or below down to the calf. Let the knee fall towards the ground (or a pillow). Just like standing tree, both legs may be active and both feet flexed as if standing flat on the ground. Imagine growing as tall as you can, soaking in the sunshine with your roots firm and strong.
On days where you feel like you could benefit from a revival, a rebirth, it’s best to find a physical yoga practice that honors the energetic body, as well as the physical one. It helps to move with intuition rather than discipline. When we honor our whole self, even the sticky and reluctant parts of ourselves, we have the opportunity to heal and move forward with more wisdom than before.
Photos courtesy of Revolution Power Yoga.
Originally published in Summer + Fall 2022 issue.