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Kicking off your day with an energizing morning yoga practice can be a beautiful way to find focus and feel more balanced and empowered in any season. That’s especially true in kapha season (aka spring), as we shake off winter’s doldrums and feel our creativity firing up.
This kapha-balancing sequence offered by yoga teacher, author, and Ayurvedist Claire Raggozzino focuses on dynamic movement with longer holds, chest openers, and twists to cleanse and strengthen the body. Back-bending and twisting encourage opening the heart to help you relax and release attachments.
While practicing this sequence on an empty stomach in the morning is optimal, you can also flow through it in the afternoon, several hours after eating. As you move through this practice, ask yourself, “Where can I create more space in my life? How can I soften my inner resistance to change?”
More tips to make your yoga poses
- Prepare your practice space the night before so you can avoid procrastination.
- Focus on deep ujjayi breathing to warm your body while moving.
- Practice with a brisk pace to generate heat and break a sweat.
- Incorporate longer holds in postures with a focused gaze to stay present and engaged.
Before you begin: Dosha-centric practice tips
- Follow the below practice as written. It’s custom-made for your dosha and for kapha season.
- Shorten posture holds for 1–2 breaths per posture to avoid overexerting yourself.
- Focus on smooth and steady breathing.
- Enjoy a longer Savasana to support your nervous system.
- Move through the sequence with fluidity and repetition, holding postures for a shorter duration but repeating the overall sequence several times to satisfy the need for movement and challenge without becoming overheated.
- Practice with a gentle, lighthearted attitude.
An energy-boosting yoga sequence
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with both of your feet together. Draw your hands in prayer position at your heart. Inhale, stretch your arms overhead. Exhale, bend your knees and sit back like you’re sitting in a chair. Lift your upper body and broaden your chest. Hold for 5 breaths. Return to standing when done.
Accessibility Option: Approach the pose with your feet hip-distance apart and place a block between your thighs for more stability.
Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I)
Step your left foot back about 4–5 feet at a 45-degree angle. Keep your right foot pointed forward. Bend your right knee directly over your ankle. Keep your left leg straight, pressing weight into the outer edge of the foot. Your hips will face the front of the mat. Lift your arms overhead and gaze toward your hands. Hold for 5 breaths. Return to standing when done. Repeat on the other side.
Accessibility Option: For tight ankles and hips, lift your back heel off the ground into a lunge position.
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II)
Step your left foot back 4–5 feet, or as wide as your wrists when your arms are extended. Turn your foot to face the long side of the mat. Keep your right foot facing forward. Bend your right knee directly over your right ankle, and keep your left leg straight. Your hips will face the side of the mat. Extend your arms wide at shoulder height, palms facing down. Gaze over your front hand. Hold for 5 breaths. Return to standing when done. Repeat on the other side.
Accessibility Option: Stand with the edge of your back foot braced against a wall for support.
Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
From Warrior Pose II, lower your right forearm onto your right thigh. If your mobility allows, lower your right hand to the ground or a block placed on the outside of your right foot. Inhale, extend your left arm overhead toward the front of the mat. Open your chest to the left of the room. Hold for 5 breaths. Return to standing when done. Repeat on the other side.
Accessibility Option: Use a block outside of your front foot as a place to rest your hand or rest your forearm on your thigh.
Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
From Warrior Pose II, lower your right forearm to your right thigh and your left hand to your left hip. Inhale, transfer your weight to your right leg and reach your right hand to the ground or a block about a foot in front of your right foot. Gaze at a side wall or the floor. Balance on your right leg and lift your left leg until it’s parallel to the floor, creating a 90-degree angle in your legs. Open your body to face the left side of the room. Reach your left arm upward toward the sky. Balance and breathe. Hold for 5 breaths. Return to standing. Repeat on the other side.
Accessibility Options: Use a block or chair under your supporting hand for stability or place your lifted foot against the wall. You can also keep your top hand on your hip. Skip this posture if you’ve had a hip replacement.
Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
Lie on your belly. Extend your arms by your sides and draw your legs together. Rest your forehead on the floor. Squeeze your inner thighs and press the tops of your feet to the floor to create a stable base in your lower body. Press the backs of your hands into the floor. Inhale, lift your chest and head off the floor into a gentle backbend. Hold for 5 breaths. Lower your upper body and rest with your head turned to one side. Extend your arms forward and lift your legs for a more challenging variation. Repeat 2–3 times. When complete, draw your hips back to your heels and release your upper body on your thighs in Balasana (Child’s Pose.)
Accessibility Options: To relieve low-back tension, focus on engaging your abs and lengthening your tailbone. You can keep your palms closer to or on the floor if you’re experiencing tightness in your shoulders.
Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
Stand on your knees and separate your thighs hip-distance apart. Inhale, lengthen your spine and place your palms on your lower back with your fingers facing down. Exhale, draw your chin toward your chest. Inhale, strongly engage your abdominals, breathe into your sternum, and draw your shoulder blades together to arch your upper back into a backbend. Option: Lower your hands to your heels for a deeper backbend. Hold for 5 breaths. Return to Child’s Pose to rest.
Accessibility Options: Place a block between your thighs ankles to rest your hands or slide a block between your thighs to stabilize your lower body. You can also take a blanket beneath your knees.
Ardha Navasana (Half Boat Pose)
Sit upright and extend your legs in front of you. Inhale, bend your knees, place your feet on the floor, and hold behind your knees. Exhale, lean your upper body back, keeping your spine straight. Find a stable balancing point on your sit bones, lift your feet, and draw your shins parallel to the floor. Bring your big toes to touch, flex your toes, and press through the balls of your feet. Hold for 5 breaths. Extend your hands and legs straight for a more challenging variation. Lower your feet for a rest, then repeat for 3–5 times.
Accessibility Options: Keep your feet on the floor for a gentle variation.
Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose)
Lie flat on your back, draw your knees into your chest. Inhale, extend your arms out to your sides at shoulder height. Exhale, engage your pelvic floor and abs, slowly lower your legs over to the right side of your body onto the floor. Turn your head away from your legs. Hold for 5–10 breaths, with each breath easing deeper into the twist. To come out of the posture, actively engage your abs and lift your legs back to center, use your hands for support if needed. Repeat on the other side.
Accessibility Options: Place a pillow or blanket between and beneath your bent knees to relieve low-back discomfort. Straighten one leg and twist with one knee bent.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
The queen of all poses—do not skip this one! Set a gentle alarm if you’re worried you may fall asleep. Lie on your back with your legs extended long and your palms resting by your side. Close your eyes, exhale deeply, and relax every inch of your body. Relax any controlled effort to breathe. Rest in stillness for 5–7 minutes to complete your practice.
Extra Comfort Options: Place a pillow or bolster under your knees and an eye pillow/cloth over your eyes. Cover yourself with a blanket if you’re cold.
This piece is adapted from Living Ayurveda by Claire Ragozzino © 2020 by Claire Ragozzino. Reprinted in arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO. roostbooks.com
About our contributor
Claire Ragozzino, author of Living Ayurveda: Nourishing Body and Mind Through Seasonal Recipes, Rituals, and Yoga, is a certified yoga instructor and Ayurvedic practitioner with a background in holistic nutrition and natural cooking. Her work is dedicated to bringing yoga, Ayurveda, and nutrition to a modern lifestyle. She is the author of the popular blog, Vidya Living, and also writes and photographs for online and print publications surrounding topics of food, culture and our relationship to nature. Claire works with clients around the globe and leads immersive workshops and retreats. Learn more at vidyaliving.com.