A creative yoga sequence to help you stay grounded through tough times. And we’ve certainly had enough of those lately.
WHEN WE PRACTICE YOGA, we have a chance to play with opposites. For example, we learn how to root down into the earth in order to rise up toward the sky, or to empty the breath in order to feel the fullness of that void. We can also use our practice to embrace the opposing concepts of peace and possibility. After all, peace is a feeling of being in harmony with the world exactly as it is, whereas possibility implies that there is something we’d like to attain.
Learning to hold both peace and possibility in our hearts can help us balance the art of actively creating with letting go and trusting the process. It means we can be OK with life unfolding, rather than getting caught up in controlling it (and experiencing the resulting frenzied, anxious expectation).
I created this sequence while I was in Baja, feeling both peace and possibility in my heart. I felt light and grounded, present and hopeful. To me, the peak posture in this flow— Grasshopper Pose—represents these qualities. The sequence leading up to it helps open the hips and oblique muscles, while also developing hand balance.
1 Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana One-Legged Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Come to Downward-Facing Dog Pose and hold for 5 breaths, making any movements you need to settle into the pose. Then, on an inhale, root down through your hands and lengthen your right leg toward the sky. Press through your right heel and use your diaphragm to create traction in the spine.
2 High Lunge, variation
Step your right foot forward between your hands and come into High Lunge. Keeping your shoulders square and your hips level, focus on the stretch in your left hip flexor. Either reach both arms up or, if it feels safe for your joints, deepen the hip-flexor stretch by taking your right hand to your outer left thigh. Stay here, breathing deeply, for 45 seconds.
3 Parivrtta Trikonasana Revolved Triangle Pose
From High Lunge, straighten your right leg and, on an exhalation, bring your left hand to the floor inside your right foot. Then, twist from your torso as you press your outer right hip back, which should intensify the stretch of the gluteus medius and iliotibial (IT) band. Keep your left toes active to help elongate your spine. Stay here, breathing deeply, for 45 seconds.
4 ParsvottanasanaIntense Side Stretch Pose
Bring your hands to either side of your right foot, which should be facing forward. On an inhalation, lengthen your spine. On an exhalation, fold forward from your hip joints while reaching out through the crown of your head. Stay here for 45 seconds, breathing tension out of your hamstrings.
5 Anjaneyasana Low Lunge, variation
Shift back into Low Lunge with your back left knee on the floor. For maximum stability and traction in the spine, stay on your left toe mounds. Reach both arms up, gently arching your spine—just enough to open your front body without overly compressing your lower back. (Optional: Reach back for your outer left thigh with your right hand, as shown.) Reach your spine up and away from your back foot with long, smooth breaths for 45 seconds.
6 Parivrtta Parsvakonasana Revolved Side Angle Pose
Come back to High Lunge. On an inhalation, reach your left hand forward. On an exhalation, twist your torso to reach your left elbow around your right thigh. Keep your back full and broad as you press your right knee and left elbow together, then move your right hip back and lift your left knee off the mat. Stay here for 45 seconds, taking long, full breaths.
7 Ardha Matsyendrasana Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Come out of the standing twist, shift your right foot to the left, and slide your left knee to the outside of your right foot so you can sit down beside your left heel. Place your left elbow around your right thigh with your left fingertips on the floor. On an inhale, feel your torso grow longer; on an exhale, twist. Stay here for 1 minute, breathing slowly and twisting more deeply on every exhalation.
8 Ankle-to-Knee Pose
Untwist your body, face forward, and place your right ankle on your left knee so that your shins are stacked. If your hips are tight, support your knees with blocks, or sit on a blanket (or bolster) to protect your knee joints. Stretch your arms straight out in front of you—fingertips on the floor—and fold forward from your hip joints, using your hands as leverage to lengthen your spine. Breathe deeply and relax your jaw for 1 minute, then repeat with your opposite shin on top.
Repeat poses 1–8
9 Navasana Boat Pose
From a seated position, lift your feet off your mat so your thighs make a 45-degree angle with the floor. Keep your knees bent with shins parallel to the floor, or straighten your legs and stretch your arms parallel to each other (shown). You can also place your hands behind your knees for more support. No matter which expression your Boat takes, root your sitting bones into the ground so your spine stays long. Stay here for 30 seconds. Next, hug your knees into your chest and roll up to Chair Pose.
10 Bakasana Crane Pose
From Chair Pose, place your hands on the ground and bring your knees into your armpits. Bend your elbows and lift your hips higher than your shoulders, balancing on your hands. Then, bring your big toes to touch. Look and lean forward, squeezing your inner arms and legs toward the midline. Stay here, breathing deeply, for 30 seconds.
11 Parsva Bakasana Side Crane Pose
From Crane Pose, move into Chair Pose again, then twist your left elbow around your right thigh—the higher you can get your elbow on your thigh, the better. Place your hands on the floor and gather your elbows in toward the midline, as if moving into Chaturanga. As you move your weight forward to balance on your hands, track along a diagonal, leaning your face and torso toward your right hand as you bring your shins parallel to the floor. Stay here, breathing deeply, for 25 seconds.
12 Eka Pada Koundinyasana I One-Footed Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya I
From Side Crane, engage your quadriceps to straighten your legs, taking your top leg up and back and your bottom leg out to the right. Squeeze your elbows in toward the midline and use your feet to create an “in and up” force. Breathe deeply for 15–20 seconds here, and try to find a sense of playfulness in this pose!
Repeat poses 11 and 12 on the other side.
13 Standing Pigeon Pose
From Tadasana, shift your weight onto your left foot and cross your right ankle directly above your left knee, so that your foot is flexed and hanging slightly off to the side of your left leg. Find your drishti and sink into your hips as you bend your standing knee. Place your hands at your hips, heart, or on the floor. Feel your hip opening deeply. Stay here, breathing deeply, for 45 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side. (If your hips don’t feel open enough to move on to the next pose, stay here.)
14 Grasshopper Pose
From Standing Pigeon (standing on your left foot), move your right hand forward a few inches and bring the sole of your right foot onto your right upper arm. Move your elbows in toward the midline as you lean slightly toward your left hand. Keep your right foot active and press through the left big-toe mound. Smile from deep inside as you work toward floating your left leg. Repeat on the opposite side.
15 Uttanasana Standing Forward Bend
From Tadasana, bend your knees and fold forward from your hips, keeping your spine long. Place your hands on your shins, the floor, or under your feet. As you exhale, start straightening your legs, lifting your sitting bones as you tip your pelvis forward. Keep your spine long, relax your mind, and breathe here for 1 minute.
16 Padmasana Lotus Pose
Lie down; take an easy twist on both sides. Then, rest in Savasana for at least 5 minutes, letting your active muscles find ease while light fills your heart. Next, come up into Sukhasana (Easy Pose) or Padmasana and fold forward with your hands in Anjali Mudra. Feel the peace in your heart and the ease in your body—then ask for what you’d like to manifest and let it go. Focus your mind on calmness and acceptance, which will give your intention some space.
OUR PRO Teacher and model Eoin Finn is a yogi, surfer, eco-activist, and founder of Blissology, a yoga system that promotes reverence for nature as the foundation for happiness. Learn more at blissology.com.
photos: caveman collective; model: eoin finn; grooming: megan ray; clothing: model’s own