Get In the Groove

Sound and motion come together to help you find your center amid a whirlwind life.
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Sound and motion come together to help you find your center amid a whirlwind life.
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The hip-hop yoga artist MC Yogi and his wife, Amanda Giacomini, know a thing or two about yoga during times of stress and chaos. The couple, who split their time between teaching at their studio, Yoga Toes in Point Reyes, California, and traveling the world to promote his music, deal with new time zones, crazy eating schedules, and late-night shows that threaten to throw them off kilter. Not to mention the intensity of performing. "You rip open your heart and reveal yourself," says MC Yogi. "If there's not some way to ground, it can be very hard to deal with that amount of pressure and energy."

Their formula for practicing can be effective for anyone: When they need stability, they practice standing and balance poses. When exhaustion hovers around them, they wring themselves out with twisting poses. When life calls for surrender, they refresh their energy with inversions. Forward bends and hip openers help alleviate constriction in the lower back and hips.

To balance your own groove, practice their sequence to a selection of MC Yogi's old and new world music with hip-hop beats and conscious lyrics. If you long to feel grounded, try holding the standing poses a bit longer. If you're depleted, go easy on the standing poses and spend more time in the forward bends and inversions. You can also, as Amanda suggests, select music that either calms you or makes you feel more invigorated.

Yoga Practice by MC Yogi and Amanda Giacomini

Watch: For a video of this Home Practice sequence and a streaming of MC Yogi, visit Grounding Grooves.

To Begin: Connect with yourself and the supportive and nurturing energy of the earth for a few moments in a comfortable seated pose as you tune in to your breath.

1. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)

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Start in Balasana (Child's Pose) with your arms reaching forward. Roll your shoulders away from your ears as you lift your hips up and lengthen your spine. Keep your knees bent and lift your sitting bones, bringing a gentle arch to your lower back. Then gradually straighten your legs. Let your neck relax and take
5 to 10 slow, deep breaths. Feel the mind begin to quiet and the back body elongate and release.

2. Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

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Stand with your feet parallel and wide apart, right foot out 90 degrees and left foot in slightly. Ground through all four corners of your feet and bring your arms into a T shape at shoulder height. Reach your right arm forward and place your right hand on your right shin or on the floor. Extend your left arm up. Take 5 to 8 deep breaths; then press into your feet to slowly come up. Repeat on the left side; then bring your feet back to parallel.

3. Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

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Turn your right foot out and your left foot in. Bend your right knee until it is above your right ankle and your thighbone is parallel to the floor. Rest your right forearm on your thigh and stretch your left arm over your ear, creating a strong line of energy from your left heel all the way out to your left fingertips. Take 5 to 8 breaths and press into your feet to slowly come up. Repeat on the left side.

4. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

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Turn your right foot to the right, bend your right knee, and place your right hand about a foot in front of your right pinky toe. Lift your left leg and extend your left arm up. Firm your lower belly, activate both legs, and radiate energy out from your center to your hands and feet. Feel a sense of grounding through the right hand and foot while you expand through the left hand and foot. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, release, and then repeat on the left side.

5. Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)

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Stand with your feet parallel and your hands on your hips. Inhale, press down on your hips, and lengthen the sides of your waist up. Exhale, fold forward, and place your hands on the floor, shoulder-distance apart. Inhale, extend your spine and reach your heart forward. Exhale, let your neck relax, releasing the top of your head toward the floor. Take 5 to 8 slow breaths. To come up, take your hands to your hips, press through your feet, and rise up.

6. Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

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Step or hop into Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Firm your left leg and place your right foot to the inside of your left thigh. Draw the lower belly up and in, and lengthen your tailbone down. Press your palms together at your heart. If you feel steady, lift your arms up. Press the standing foot firmly into the floor, as if you are rooting down into the universal energy that connects us all. Take 5 breaths; then release and repeat on the left side.

7. Janu Sirsasana (Head-of-the-Knee Pose)

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Sit on the floor with your legs extended. Bend your right knee and place your right foot to the inside of your inner left thigh. Inhale, and lift your arms up. Exhale, and fold forward. Hold your left wrist with your right hand or, if you can't reach, hold a strap wrapped around the left foot. Press your right hip down and firm your left thigh to the floor. Take 5 to 8 breaths. Inhale as you come up and out of the pose. Repeat on the left side.

8. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

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Bend your knees and draw the soles of your feet together. If your hips are tight and it's difficult to sit up tall, sit on the edge of a blanket. Press the pinky-toe edges of the feet together and use your thumbs to gently open the soles of the feet to the sky. Slowly extend your heart forward toward your feet. Imagine you are bowing to your inner teacher and coming home to yourself. Take 5 to 8 slow breaths; then inhale to come back up.

9. Reclining Twist Pose

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Lie on your back and draw both knees toward your chest. Lower your knees to the right, keeping them in line with your hips. If you feel any strain in your lower back, place a bolster or blanket between your knees. Take your left arm out to the side. Relax here for 1 to 5 minutes. Let go of any stress and remember this mantra: What we hold in our back is what's holding us back. Repeat on the left side.

10. Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose), variation

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Lift your lower legs onto a chair. Align your body symmetrically and release your shoulder blades down your back. Turn your head slowly from left to right a few times; then let your head rest in a neutral position. Close your eyes and turn your attention inward. Inhale as you breathe love into yourself; exhale and shine that love out toward the world. Relax here 5 to 10 minutes.

To Finish: Ground down and come back to a comfortable seated pose. Close your eyes and drink in the balancing effects of your practice, feeling all that is good and right within you and the world. Be at peace. Know that inside your Self, you are always at home.

Watch: For a video of this Home Practice sequence and a streaming of MC Yogi, visit Grounding Grooves.