Challenge Pose: Ardha Shayanasana

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Being an Angeleno, I'm not super accustomed to rain.

Seeing that my dog Ashi was raised in LA from a pup, she goes into super princess mode if even a puddle crosses her path. 

We're horribly spoiled. We also both love our long walk down the canal to the marina. We suited up the other day with scattered rains dancing outside, and hoped for the best. Problem was, the darkest clouds lay over our favorite destination spot. I glanced over my shoulder in the other direction to a less-desirable location to see fairly clear skies. I stood and pondered. My dog sat and sniffed a bush.

Do I go where I know I want to, even though it could be turbulent and stormy? Or do I settle, taking the path that is easy, safe, but not terribly desirable?

I gave my dog a firm tug and marched straight into the storm. Funny part was, once we got there, the clouds were gone. Not a single drop of rain fell. It was the walk we've always loved, and it worked because no matter what stood in our way, I knew it was what I wanted.

These Challenge Poses can be similar to my adventure into the "potential" rainstorm. The outlook may be dreary, you may even get soaked in the process, but if it's where you truly want to go--storm or not--you'll arrive stronger, truer to yourself, and more full of life because of the experience.

Venture into this amazing posture, Ardha Shayanasana (Half Reclined Pose), knowing that there might be some thunderheads and lightening bolts from time to time, but success lies in your ability to do exactly what you want and be exactly who you are. Enjoy!


Step One: Contemplate Life . . .

Start on all fours. Place the forearms flat on the mat, shoulder-width apart and parallel to each other. Step the feet back, hip-width apart. This is Forearm Plank. Make sure that the shoulders are stacked over the elbows and that the hips are in line with the shoulders and heels. Draw the crest of the pelvis upright as you elongate the tailbone toward the heels. Gaze slightly past the fingertips and karate chop your right hand: pinky edge down, thumb up towards the ceiling. Extend the sternum forward and draw the right palm to the right cheek. Repeat this motion with the left hand. Keep extending the heart to engage your core. Quads remain engaged and the heels extend back. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Release the hands back to Forearm Plank. Drop the knees and take rest.

Step Two: Karate Chop!

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Take your mat to the wall. Set up for Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance) by placing the forearms onto the mat parallel to each other. Have your fingers about 8 inches or so away from the wall. Curl the toes under, lift the hips and walk the feet in towards the elbows. Lift one leg and lightly kick up into Pincha Mayurasana, with the feet at the wall. Bring the inner feet together to touch and push the soles of the feet into the wall. Gaze past the fingertips and towards the wall. Melt the tips of the shoulder blades down into the heart. Lengthen the gaze and neck forward, encouraging the actions of scorpion. Keep the gaze forward and karate chop the right hand--pinky edge down, thumb side up. Hold for a few breaths and then place the palm flat. Do the same with the left hand. Release. Hold here for step three or come down and rest.

Step Three: Answer Your Phone

Angelenos are really talented at this next step. From the karate chop position of Step Two, draw the weight from your hand to your elbow. If possible, extend the heart forward a pinch more, and don't forget to look forward and up. As the chest weaves through, keep pulling the shoulder heads back as if you could smile your collarbone. Root weight into the elbow of the karate chop arm and look even higher as you elongate the neck. Bring the palm to the cheek (it's crucial to look up or you'll just smack your chin or lower face with your hand) and try holding for several breaths. If you struggle with this move, imagine a critical phone call coming in--answer it!! (No Bluetooth, sorry.) Come down and rest or repeat with the other hand.

Step Four: Chill For a Bit . . .

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The full pose involves bringing your forearm balance away from the wall. Lightly kick up into a traditional Pincha Mayurasana. Melt the heart down towards the ground, softening the chest like the last bit of toothpaste being squeezed out of the tube. Start to gaze forward, lengthening the front of the throat. Once you can't melt the chest any further, squeeze the inner thighs together and spread and reach through the toes. Think scorpion energy in your legs without the bend in the knees. Karate chop your right hand as the gaze stays forward. Root into the right elbow to bring the palm up to the cheek. Place lightly and take 5 breaths. Smile. Switch hands or come down to rest in between sides.

Kathryn Budig is a yoga teacher, writer, philanthropist, Huffington Post, Elephant Journal, MindBodyGreen + Yoga Journal blogger, foodie, and lover of her dog. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook or on her website.