to Yoga Journal for this sequence. I've been teaching it in my classes
and it has gotten wonderful response from students! That makes me happy!
tall with your arms at your sides in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). As
you inhale, bring your weight onto your right leg, and place the sole
of your left foot onto your inner right thigh. Bring your hands together
at the heart center. Feel the meeting of the palms as a mirror of
the meeting of your left foot and right thigh. Lengthen the spine.
Slowly raise your arms overhead, extending every finger up to the
sky. Try to rest within the natural swaying motion of the tree, rather
than trying to change it. Riding the ebb and flow of this organic
movement can be a way to practice steadiness and openheartedness in
the midst of change. Stay here for 5-7 breaths. To come out, release
the left leg and return to Tadasana.
- From Tadasana, on an exhalation, stretch your left leg 3-4 feet
behind you and place the left food on the floor, pointing the left
toes outward 45 degrees. Bring your right heel so it points toward
your left arch. Bend your right leg deeply and turn your torso to
the left as you stretch your arms out to the sides and look past your
right fingertips. Feel the outward extension of the arms originate
from the middle of your chest; let this expansion be a reminder of
your own enormous capacity to open your joints, your heart, and your
mind. Relax in this big space. Maybe feeling strong and expansive
could be one of your definitions of happiness. Stay here for 5-7 breaths.
- From Warrior II, on an exhalation, reach away from the body with
the right arm and place the hand on the floor to the outside of your
right foot. Come up onto your fingertips or rest your hand on a block
to create more space and length on the underside of your ribs. Reach
your left arm toward the ceiling and then bring the left bicep alongside
your left ear. Turn your head so you are looking up under your tricep
and rotate your ribs towards the ceiling. Look for equal length and
opening on both sides of the rib cage. Now that your body is organized
in a way that creates the conditions for opening the hips, see if
you can rest your mind and be content with the sensations you’re
feeling. Stay here for 5-7 breaths.
- While in Extended Side Angle Pose, direct your exhalation to to
your back heel to create a sense of rooting in the foot. As you inhale,
straighten your right leg to stand all the way back up and bring the
arms parallel to the floor. Exhale again and on your next inhalations,
allow the left side of your pelvis to swivel slightly to the right
until your right knee comes directly in line with your right foot.
On an exhalation, reach out with the right hand and lower it down
to the floor, a block, or your shin – wherever you can reach
and still maintain proper alignment in the hips. Notice if you have
a craving to touch the floor even though doing so would overstretch
your inner thigh or restrict your breathing. Make the choice that
will enable you to have a sense of freedom in the pose, and practice
being content there. Stay here for 5-7 breaths.
- From Triangle, rotate your torso on an exhalation so you bring
both hands to the floor on either side of your right foot. Walk your
hands to the left until they are equidistant between your feet; turn
the right foot in so it is parallel to the left. To lengthen the spine,
lift the torso slightly and lengthen the side body on an inhalation;
fold forward on an exhalation so your spine and head release to the
floor. Some people covet the flexibility of those who flop right over
in this pose; others envy those with the strength to contain their
looseness and avoid injury. These feelings aren’t obstacles
to happiness, but how you relate to your body’s limitations
could be. Stay for 5-7 breaths.
- From Wide-Leg Standing Forward Bend, walk your hands to the right
to the front of your mat, point your right toes in the same direction,
and turn the left toes in slightly. Bend your right knee and keep
your left leg straight, coming onto your left toes for a low lunge.
Bring both hands to the inside of the right foot, then slowly walk
them forward and bring your forearms to the floor. If this is too
intense, place your hands on blocks or lower your back knee to the
floor. Rather than letting your head drop in despair, maintain length
in the spine. This sensation might not be your favorite, but try to
pay close attention to how uncomfortable feelings such as this actually
begin to shift. Finding more space and clarity in your hips might
even lead to a sense of lightness in your heart. After 5-7 breaths,
it is over!
- Move into this posture from the previous pose by walking your hands
back underneath your shoulders. Move your right hand to the outside
of your right foot so your hands are framing your foot. Press down
with your palms and use the strength of your left thigh to lift your
hips up; rotate the front leg so your right shin rests on the floor
with the right ankle near the left wrist and the right knee near the
right wrist. Aim your hip points straight ahead. If this levitates
the right hip, accessorize; Place a blanket or block underneath the
hip so you can release into the organic support of the earth. Walk
your hands forward; exhale as you fold over. Continue to let go of
unnecessary effort in the shoulders, neck, elbow, and tummy. Learning
how to not work too hard is an important part of our practice and
an antidote to unhappiness. Stay here for 5-7 breaths.
- From Pigeon, walk your hands back under your shoulders and lift
your torso up. Draw your left knee behind your right, sit back on
your buttocks, and stack your shins so your right ankle sits on top
of your left knee. Either stay sitting up with your arms at your sides
or walk your hands forward and fold over, little by little. There
may be a temptation to “cheat” by not really lining up
the knees and ankles, but try to be precise with your alignment, which
can pave the way for contentment and steadiness. This is not the most
popular pose in yoga, but there is always a way to make it work: Sit
on a block or straighten the bottom leg out in front of you. Stay
here for 8-10 breaths.
- On an inhalation, sit up straight and undo your stacked shins by
sliding you knees away from each other. (If your pelvis is slumping
under and you cannot sit up tall on your sitting bones, slip a folded
blanket under your bottom.) Place the soles of your feet together.
Then bring your hands to the floor in front of you or hold on to your
ankles, but don’t pull on your toes. Without using your hands,
press the baby-toe edges of your feet together so the big-toe sides
of the feet open up like a book. This action rotates the thighs outward,
so protect them by not pushing down on them. Maintaining length in
the spine, slowly fold forward. Get to know yourself and this pose
gradually by applying the same kindness and friendliness you would
with any new acquaintance. Hint: Take your time letting it all unfold.
Stay here 5-7 breaths.
- Sit up on an inhalation. Place your hands on the inside of your
knees and use your arms to open your legs out to a straddle. Make
sure your kneecaps and toes are facing the ceiling, not falling inward
or outward. The first time you do this pose, sit up tall and press
your fingertips down into the floor behind your sitting bones to stay
lifted. Over time, fold forward and lengthen your sternum away from
your pubic bone, bringing your abdomen and forehead toward the floor.
Don’t worry about this now, because wherever you are today is
perfectly fine – even if you never fold all the way over, you
can still live a full and happy life! Stay for at least 5-7 breaths.
If you are folded over, come up on an inhalation.
- From the upright straddle position, bend your left leg and place
the sole of the left foot high up against your inner right thigh so
it’s at a 90- to 100-degree angle to your right leg. On an exhalation,
twist to the left and bring your right forearm onto the floor on the
inside of the right leg as you bring your torso closer to the floor.
Reach your left arm alongside your left ear, feeling open in the chest,
strong in the back, and free in the breath. Create a sense of length
in the spine from the firm grounding of the sitting bones. Lift the
corners of your mouth too. After 5-7 breaths, inhale to sit up.
sequence on other side. You can get there with this sequence if you
want: cross legs, jump back into Down Dog, Chaturanga
Dandasana, Down Dog, Up Dog,
jump up into Forward Bend, Upward Salute
Mary Esther Middleton