Asanaglyph Illustrations by Erica Jago
This is an invigorating morning (or even afternoon!) yoga sequence that can be done with longer breath holds or you may choose to make it more of a flow by moving breath by breath. Feel free to follow the suggestions below and add your own touches where needed. This is a moderate to intermediate yoga sequence.
Begin in Tadasana with your hands in prayer and your spine upright.
Close your eyes and take a few deep, clearing breaths.
Set the mood for your day by setting an intention. It can be as simple as a word you’d like to weave into your practice and into your day.
Kali Mudra: Inhale, extend your arms above your head and bring your hands into Kali Mudra (interlock your fingers extending your pointer fingers straight up). Continue to stretch your arms firmly upward, elbows straight, as you lengthen and stretch your waist and spine. Root down firmly and evening into your heels, keeping your legs steady.
Side Stretch: Keep Kali Mudra extending above your head. Inhale deeply to lengthen your spine, and exhale side bend over to the right. Take 3-5 breaths here. Then come up to center and repeat on the other side. Once you do both sides, come up to center, inhale deeply, and stretch up and back into a chest opening backbend. Keep legs strong throughout this sequence.
Inhale back to Tadasana, hands in Anjali Mudra. Bow chin in and allow your head to soften in service to your heart as you return to Ujjayi breath and repeat your intention to yourself once more.
Step feet wide and begin to swing your arms from side to side, twisting throughout your hips and spine. Keep your arms fairly limp as they swing and allow the movement to be more organic, as though you’re churning your spine to release any gunk or static.
Down Dog: Step back to Down Dog for 5 breaths. In Down Dog, lengthen out your legs, torso and arms. Allow your neck and skull to release here as your hips lift up and your heels root towards the ground. Be sure to press through both hands firmly and evenly.
Plank Pose: Inhale forward to plank pose. Hold plank for 3- 5 breaths. Keep arms and legs working with the same intensity, spine long, gaze slightly ahead of fingertips.
Press back to Down Dog.
One-legged Plank: Inhale forward to plank once again and fire up your limbs and your core. Lift your right foot up off the floor as high as your right hip and take 1-3 breaths. Lower your foot and do the left side. Then place both feet down for one more breath to find symmetry again. (Be sure to keep both legs and arms equally working, even when one leg is hovering above ground).
Rest in Child’s Pose for a couple breaths and feel your low back broaden and release.
Then move forward onto hands and knees for 5 rounds of Cat/Cow Pose.
Press back to Down Dog and lift your right leg up for Down Dog split. Take a breath here to stretch and lengthen.
Anjaneyasana: Step right foot forward and lower back knee down. Stabilize your feet firmly into the ground as you lengthen your spine and heart upright. Lift your arms above you and take Kali Mudra once again. With legs and arms strong, begin to lift your chest into a gentle back bend. Keep your eyes and face soft as you breathe here – 3 breaths.
Parsvottanasana: Take hands to the floor, lift your back left knee. Inhale to lengthen, exhale fold over your front right leg. 3-5 breaths into straight legs, allowing your head to release.
Twisting Low Lunge: Re-bend your front knee, keeping back leg lifted and straight for a low lunge. Lift your right arm straight up above your right shoulder as you rotate your chest into a twist. Allow yourself to lean back into the twist so that your heart and head bow back slightly for a liberating chest opener. Keep your legs steady and strong throughout. 3-5 breaths.
Ardha Chandrasana: Extend top arm overhead and allow your gaze to follow your right fingertips. Land your fingertips on the ground slightly ahead of your front foot. Step firmly into your front foot and slowly transition into Ardha Chandrasana. As you lift your back left leg, flex your ankle and reach out through the heel. Reach your left arm directly above your shoulder and extend through your fingertips. Lengthen and extend through all sides, keep your shoulders and hips stacked, and take 3-5 breaths.
Utkatasana: From Half Moon, look down, bend both knees in towards one another, and slowly land your feet together at the top of your mat for chair pose. Take a full breath in as you sit lower into your hips and reach higher through your arms. Exhale, fold over your legs.
Vinyasa: Step back to plank for a full vinyasa. Or lightly jump back into Chaturanga and follow your in breath into Bhujangasana or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.
Repeat this standing sequence on your left side, landing in Down Dog when you’re done.
Dandasana: from Down Dog, step or hop into Dandasana, Staff Pose. Flex out through both heels with toes straight up. Root hands down next to your hips with fingers forward. Puff chest up, lengthen sitting-bones straight down, and keep your spine long. Lower your chin towards your lifted chest for a gentle Jalandhara Bandha. 5 breaths.
Setu Bandhasana: roll onto back and prepare for Bridge Pose. Step your feet hip distance, root firmly and evenly into both heels, and slowly lift up your hips. Interlace your fingers together beneath you into a fist and gently wiggle your shoulders down and under so that your shoulders feel more compact and your heart swells more fully towards your chin. 5 rounds of breath.
Lower your hips down and pause for a moment with knees bent and low back grounded on the floor.
Supta Baddha Konasana: then rest the soles of your feet together with knees bent outward to the side. Rest one hand on you heart and one hand on your belly. Come back to the intention you set at the beginning of your practice and allow your breath to naturally rise and fall.
Savasana: release your limbs onto the ground, straightening your arms and legs out slightly so that you feel your entire body fall into the support of the ground. Be here for 1-3 minutes.
Meditation: sit upright and find a comfortable seat. Give thanks for your healthy body, your willing heart, and your nourishing breath. Feel free to chant OM or simply bow into your prayer hands.