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Instructions: Do 3 rounds of this sequence, switching sides with the first four poses and doing the final two poses twice each. In round 1, hold each pose for 30 seconds, or 5–6 breaths. In round 2, hold each pose for 10–12 seconds, or 2 breaths. And in round 3, hold each pose for 5–6 seconds, or 1 breath.
Start in Samasthiti (Equal Standing) or Tadasana (Mountain Pose), pressing your feet into the floor. Place your hands in Anjali Mudra at the center of your chest. As you inhale, lift your arms overhead; as you exhale, bring them back to Anjali Mudra. Repeat for 1-–2 minutes.
From Tadasana, on an inhalation, gracefully step your left foot back about 2 to 3 feet behind you, placing it on the floor with care. Be mindful during the transition. Exhale as you bend your right knee so that it is directly above your right ankle, with your right thigh as parallel to the floor as possible. Keep both legs equally active, pushing both feet into the floor to find balance.
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Warrior Pose II
Carefully plant your left foot flat on your mat, turning the toes out slightly to create a close-to-60-degree angle. Line up your front heel with your back arch. Do not lean forward or arch your back. Maintain spinal awareness, keeping your shoulders above your hips, lower ribs pulled in, and your core engaged. Actively extend your arms and feel your legs ground down.
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Keep the lower half of your body exactly the same as you extend your right arm up and back. Place your left arm along your left leg but don’t apply any weight. Feel your back muscles engage as you transition from Warrior Pose II to Reverse Warrior. Keep your sternum lifted so that your spine stays long. Take full and rhythmic breaths. Inhale to come back to Warrior II.
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Humble Warrior, variation
Interlace your fingers behind your back. Contract your leg muscles, then slowly exhale to lower your chest and right shoulder carefully to the inside of your right knee. Maintain equal weight in both feet. Feel your chest and shoulders open while you reach your arms over your head. Breathe fully and deeply. Inhale to lift the chest, exhale to release the hands, and come back to Tadasana.
Tree Pose, variation
From Tadasana, shift your weight to the right foot. On an inhalation, lift your left leg and externally rotate it, turning the sole of the foot to the ceiling and placing it on the upper right thigh in Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose). Bring one or both hands to Anajali Mudra. Inhale to lengthen your spine. Move slowly and gracefully, being mindful of all four focal points at once in order to stay present.
Warrior Pose III
Maintain your attention on the standing, right leg, and on an inhalation, bring your left knee into your chest. On an exhalation, lean the torso forward by leading with the chest. Maintain a long spine as your left leg straightens behind you. Keep both of your legs engaged, as you extend your arms in front of you alongside your ears. Be mindful of your spinal alignment and your transition.
See also Master Class: Warrior III
Lord of the Dance Pose
Bend your left knee and bring your left arm behind you to grab your left foot, turning your palm out with your thumb up. Press your foot into your hand to create the traction you need to lift your leg and chest higher. If needed, lean forward to find equilibrium. Stabilize the standing leg by engaging the quadriceps. Keep your eyes fixed on one spot, or a drishti, a couple of feet in front of you. Your center in this pose is your strong core.
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With your eyes still fixed on your drishti, slowly bend your right knee, and, with control, lower your left leg behind you so that it lands without a sound. (If that isn’t possible, move through a Standing Forward Bend first). Gently place your left knee on the floor and point your left foot back, pressing the top of the foot into the floor. Extend your arms alongside your ears. Square your chest and lift the sternum. Push down into the front foot to connect to the floor and pull the lower belly up and in so that you are centered and lifted.
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On an exhalation, gently place both forearms on the floor inside your right foot. Step your right leg back slowly, bringing it back to meet your left leg. Keep your feet hip-width apart. Align your spine so that your back, hips, and legs are as parallel to the floor as possible. Push the forearms into the floor and the heels back while engaging your quadriceps and core muscles. Breathe deeply and fully, focusing on the navel. Exhale to release to the floor. Inhale to push back up into Forearm Plank. Repeat.
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Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Using your core, lift your hips and straighten one arm at a time. Press all four corners of your palms into the floor. Make sure your feet are hip-width apart, and your hands are shoulder-width apart, then extend the spine and rotate the pelvis forward to lift the sitting bones. Check in with all four focal points. Exhale to Balasana (Child’s Pose) and inhale to come back to Down Dog. Repeat, then inhale to step your feet forward, exhale to fold, and inhale to come up to Tadasana.