Bibi McGill’s Calming Sequence: Yoga Poses to Keep You Grounded

Need a break from life? Recharge your batteries with this relaxing flow.

  • This grounding sequence will help you release stress and redirect tense energy so that you can maintain internal peace in the midst of chaos. The poses, breathwork, and mudras, or hand seals, can open sensory receptors in the skin, begin to activate the energy channels of the body, or nadis, and guide prana, or life force, through them, bringing you into a state of awareness. This sequence also stretches and relaxes the neck, shoulders, and hips—where we might hold stress and trauma. The key is remaining present and creating a tranquil space, one breath at a time.

    Practice Tip
    Set an intention at the beginning of your practice—something you want to create for yourself or something you want to let go of. Keep your awareness on your breath, with long, smooth, even inhalations and exhalations. When your practice gets challenging, think kind and loving thoughts about yourself to stay calm.

    See also 3 Steps to a Balanced Home Practice

  • If you have 10 minutes, try this practice

    If you have 10 minutes, try this practice

    Lotus Pose

    Sit in Lotus with your eyes closed. Root through your sitting bones and lengthen your spine. If Lotus isn’t accessible, sit in any comfortable position. Place your left hand on the heart, with the intention of calming your nerves and sending healing energy to your endocrine system. Place your right hand about 3 inches below your belly button, ring finger above the end of the vagus nerve, which starts in the brain and helps control heart rate and breath.

    See also Connect to Your Center: Great Heart Meditation

  • Spinal Warm-Up

    Interlace your fingers above your head, pointing the index fingers upward. Inhale and lengthen the spine. Exhale and round the back, pressing your palms away from you as you bring your arms level with your shoulders and your chin to your chest. Return to the beginning; repeat this warm-up 5 times.

    See also Practice for Inner Peace

  • Neck Stretches

    Sit tall, keeping your eyes closed, and release your right ear toward your right shoulder. Ground down through your left palm, pressing it into the floor. If it does not cause strain, gently bring your right hand to the left side of your head for a little more stretch. Slowly release to a neutral position and repeat on the other side.

    See also Pain in the Neck? Try Yoga

  • Cow Face Pose

    Bend both legs, stacking your right knee on top of your left. Flex both feet and keep them close to your hips, with your sit bones grounding down. Clasp your hands at the center of your back; if you can’t reach, use a strap or grab hold of your clothes. Keep the back of the neck and spine long. Switch arms and legs; repeat on the other side.

    See also Breaktime Shoulder Stretches

  • Easy Bharadvaja's Twist

    Bring the right foot to the left upper thigh. Bend the left leg back so the top of the foot is on the floor. Inhale, extend both arms overhead. Exhale and twist right, placing your left hand on your right knee and your right hand on the floor behind you. Inhale, lift the heart; exhale, twist deeper. Switch sides.

    See also A New Twist on Twists

  • If you have 20 minutes add these poses to your sequence

    If you have 20 minutes add these poses to your sequence

    Upward Salute

    Come to standing, balls of the feet together, heels slightly separated. If you are tight in the hips, bring your feet hip-distance apart. Ground down through the feet and inhale as you bring your palms to touch above your head. Lift the heart, draw the shoulders away from your ears and the navel in toward your spine, and lengthen the tailbone.

    See also Build Stability in Standing Poses

  • Half Moon Pose, variation

    Exhale and slide the left hand down the left leg. Press into the right foot and bring the right arm up and over to the left. Breathe into the right side body. Keep the heart directed toward the heavens. Inhale and come back to center with both arms up. Repeat on the other side, then come to Tadasana.

    See also Space Odyssey to the Side Bend

  • Standing Forward Bend

    With feet hip-distance apart, inhale into Urdhva Hastasana and then exhale as you swan-dive forward with a long spine. Let the head be heavy; bend the knees as needed. For a deeper stretch, grab the ankles, forearms behind the calves. To come out, bend knees and roll up one vertebra at a time. Let the head be the last thing to come up.

    See also 5 Steps to Master Standing Forward Bend

  • Chair Pose

    Stand with your feet together, then inhale, drop the hips, and bend your knees. Bring the arms above your head. Squeeze the ankles, knees, and thighs together. Lengthen your tailbone. Lift the chest, bringing the backs of your shoulders against an imaginary wall behind you. Maintain an even breath. When things become difficult, think pure, nourishing thoughts in order to cultivate a nonjudgmental mind.

    See also Thighs Matter

  • Chair Pose Twist

    From Utkatasana, inhale to lengthen the spine, and exhale to twist to the right, hooking the left elbow on the outside of the right knee. Press the palms together at the heart center. To make sure one knee doesn’t creep out in front of the other, shift the left hip back. Inhale back to center and repeat on the left side. If you need a break, come to Uttanasana in between sides.

    See also Wring Out With a Twist

  • Revolved Triangle Pose

    Come to Tadasana and step your left foot back 4–5 feet, lining up your front and back heels. Bring hands to hips, squaring them to the front of your mat. Inhale and raise your left arm alongside your left ear. Reach forward, finding length in your spine. Press into your feet; place your left hand to the inside or outside of your right foot. Raise your right arm and gaze. Inhale to unwind and come up.

    See also A Delicate Balance: Revolved Triangle

  • If you have 30 minutes, add these poses to your sequence

    If you have 30 minutes, add these poses to your sequence

    Tree Pose, variation

    From standing, shift your weight into your left leg. Bring the right foot into the left hip crease. Or, if that’s not accessible, bring the sole of the right foot against your left ankle, calf, or upper inner thigh, avoiding the knee. Stand tall, drawing the navel in toward your spine. Find a dristhi, or gazing point, about 3 feet in front of you. Set your hands in Lotus Mudra at the heart center, then bring it above your head. Lotus Mudra is the symbol of purity; it opens us up to the Divine and allows us to receive whatever it is that we need. Play around with this pose, not being afraid to fall. Switch sides.

    See also Find Your Roots in Tree Pose

  • Side Plank Pose

    Come into Plank Pose, with your shoulders over wrists and heels above toes. Bring the left hand underneath your face and begin to shift your weight into your left hand, stacking your right side body on top of your left side body. Reach the right arm up, opening the chest. Bring the inner edges of the feet together and lift the hips, keeping the spine long. To modify, bend the right leg and place the sole of the right foot on the ground in front of you. Repeat on the other side.

    See also Video: Work Toward Side Plank Pose

  • Boat Pose

    Come to a seated position. Balance your weight on your sitting bones and, with knees bent, bring your calves parallel to the floor. Or extend legs straight. Keep the heart open and the back of your neck and spine long. Draw your shoulders back and extend both arms forward with your palms facing up. Point your toes or flex through the heels, and breathe.

    See also Strong to Your Core: Full Boat Pose

  • Seated Forward Bend

    Extend your legs in front of you, with the feet touching. Flex the feet, pushing out through the heels. Inhale and bring the arms above the head. Exhale and maintain the length in your spine as you slowly reach for your knees, shins, ankles, or beyond the feet, keeping the navel drawn in toward the spine. With each inhalation, create length; with each exhalation, fold deeper from the hip crease.

    See also Not Flexible? You Need This Seated Forward Bend

  • Bound Lotus Pose

    Come into full Lotus Pose with the right leg on top. Reach the left arm around your back and bind the big toe of the left foot with your fingers, doing the same with the right fingers and toes. To modify, come to an easy cross-legged seated pose, crossing the arms behind you and placing the hands on the opposite hips. Inhale as you lengthen the spine and draw the shoulders away from the ears. To come out of the pose, exhale and slowly release all binds.

    See also Take a Seat in Lotus

  • Lotus Pose, variation

    Come to full Lotus or any easy seated pose. With eyes closed, shoulders relaxed, and the spine long, remain alert as you settle in and breathe. Bring the fingers of both hands together to touch. Keeping the middle fingers extended, bend the other fingers of both hands and press the knuckles together with the thumbs pointed toward the navel center. Kalesvara Mudra calms thoughts and feelings of agitation, supports memory and concentration, and helps release addictive behavior.

    See also From Hand to Heart