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Today, you’ll get acquainted with your feet, stretch and strengthen your legs, and treat your entire body to a rejuvenating rest before you sit. Consider this a reorientation to your foundation.
Massage Your Feet
Caring for our feet and legs is a good way to ground, center, and remember ourselves. Sitting on your mat, fold your right leg so that you can easily use your left thumb to massage the foot, including the arch, each toe, and the spaces between the toes. Keep your eyes soft as you observe the circulation in your foot and the quiet in your mind; massage your foot for 5 breaths, and then switch to the other side.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Adho Mukha Svanasana
This pose opens the entire back of the body and helps recirculate energy throughout the system. From Tabletop (on your hands and knees), press down into your index-finger knuckles and lift your knees, reaching your sitting bones high and wide and keeping your knees slightly bent to stay stable and bouncy. Relax your face and breathe as you ground through your hands and stretch your seat high. Externally rotate your arms and turn your armpits toward your heart to maintain buoyancy in your arms. Take 3 to 5 long, deep breaths.
See also A Meditation for Conscious Parenting
Standing Forward Bend
Walk your feet to your hands and rest your belly on your thighs. Work toward placing your armpits on your knees and relax your head down. Holding the backs of your ankles in your palms, reach your sitting bones high and wide, balancing your weight over the balls of your feet. Take 3 to 5 long, deep breaths.
Find a clear space at the wall or against a chair or sofa. Sit down near it, shimmy your seat close, and rest your legs up the wall or on the chair or sofa. Notice how you shift into a state of deep relaxation. Set your timer for 3 to 5 minutes, and smile as you breathe normally. To come out, swivel one hip toward the wall and gently lower your legs.
Slowly roll up to sitting, and with your back against the wall or your furniture, close your eyes and invite in the silence. Feel how the back support holds you steady as you become more comfortable sitting for meditation. Set your timer for 5, 10, or 20 minutes. Let your breath rise and fall effortlessly as you settle in, allowing thoughts to arise—and the moments of silence to seep in, calming your body. Once your timer chimes, keep your eyes closed and feel free to move and stretch as you take several slow, deep breaths. Now sit quietly again, keeping your eyes closed for another minute or two. When you’re ready, open your eyes and let the world back in.
Elena Brower is the author of Art of Attention, a renowned yoga workbook, now translated into five languages. Studying and teaching since 1998, she’s respected globally for her distinct blend of alignment and attention in her teaching of yoga and meditation. Her audio meditation coursework, Cultivating Spiritual Intelligence, is beloved for its accessibility and relevance, and her yoga teaching is influenced by several traditions including Katonah Yoga, Kundalini and ParaYoga. Elena is also the founder of Teach.yoga, a global website for teachers, and her second book, Practice You, will be published in 2018 by Sounds True. Practices with Elena can be found on YogaGlo.com.