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Yoga for Beginners

3 Poses to Flow and Let Go of Performance Anxiety

In the next 3 poses, let's breathe, connect, and link body to mind to let go of expectations, the real killer of the moment.

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Bryant Park Yoga is back in New York City for its 12th season, featuring teachers curated by Yoga Journal. This week’s featured instructor is John Salisbury, who taught at Bryant Park last night.

My late stepfather and yoga teacher, Dave Oliver, would always say, “let go of performance anxiety.” My current teacher, Tim Miller, states that the Western mind seems to be attached to form over substance, substance being our essential nature. Patanjali says do your best and let it go. Non-attachment to the end result is necessary, but it’s contrary to our goal-oriented Western mind, which seeks the payoff or reward for effort. In the next 3 poses, let’s breathe, connect, and link body to mind to let go of expectations, the real killer of the moment. Photo credit: Kevin Sutton Photography.

Extended Hand Triangle Pose

John Salisbury in Extended Hand Triangle Pose, trikonasana

Utthita Hasta Trikonasana

Prepare the feet, spreading them out 3 to 3 1/2 feet wide. The front right foot is pointed straight toward the front of the mat while externally rotating the femur bone in the hip joint. The back foot turns in slightly from parallel to the short edge of the back of the mat. Raise the left arm and inhale, lengthening the sides of the body and lifting the ribcage. The bottom hand presses down on the ankle or floor. Make sure both shoulders are drawing back in external rotation, more or less pointing the inner elbows forward. Take the upper hand and extend it out toward the short edge of the mat, pinky finger moving down and inner shoulder drawing back behind the ear. Squeeze the quadriceps and draw earth energy upward while breathing length into the torso and arms. Make sure to lean back a bit, pushing the pelvis forward while anchoring the tailbone to the back heel. Do a half vinyasa (Upward-Facing Dog/Downward-Facing Dog) and begin again on the left side.

Revolving Hand-to-Foot Pose

John Salisbury in Revolving Hand-to-Foot Pose, parivrtta hasta padangusthasana

Parivrtta Hasta Padangusthasana

Stand at the front of the mat. From Mountain Pose, grounding down through the bottom left leg, bring the right leg up, grabbing the knee and bringing it close to the chest. Make sure the right hip does not lift too high — the tendency is to offset the pelvis, making balancing difficult. Either continue holding the knee or grab the foot with the opposite left hand on the outer pinky edge, extending the top leg straight out in front. Lift the chest, twist the body to the right and look back if balance is solid. Continue straightening the bottom standing leg, firming the thigh back and pulling the groin back as well. The bottom foot has a tendency to turn out when the groin is not kept back. Reach up through the crown of the head, lengthening sides and drawing the shoulders back. Lift the navel and breathe comfortably. Repeat on the other side.

Crooked Baby Monkey Pose

John Salisbury in Crooked Baby Monkey Pose

This complicated-looking pose is a lunge with some twists to it. Beginning from Downward-Facing Dog, step the right foot to the right thumb into a High Lunge. The front foot is then turned out on the heel 35-45 degrees, externally rotating the thigh bone in the hip joint. The toes of the front foot spread while the ankle firms in, so as not to roll over the ankle, which weakens the stability of the knee joint. The left hand stays where it is while the right hand is placed on the knee to begin. The front left hand looks like a Downward-Facing Dog hand, with the middle finger pointing forward and the inner palm flat. Externally rotate the right shoulder and draw it back so it doesn’t internally rotate, putting the rotator cuff at risk. Lift the chest and broaden the collarbones. The right hand then reaches back for the left inner ankle or foot. Spread the toes of the back foot and kick moderately straight toward the back of the mat, making sure to not over-rotate the torso. This is a backbend, so the chest needs to stay lifted, freeing the collarbones and expanding/lengthening the front body. Clear the posture with a half vinyasa and begin again, stepping the left foot up.

Bryant Park Yoga classes take place every Tuesday and Thursday through Sept. 23rd. Follow the Bryant Park Yoga series at #YJendlessYOGAsummer.