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Working from home, or, for some of us, working from anywhere, has its benefits. And let’s face it, this setup can also take its toll on our bodies and minds. When we’re not throwing on a load of laundry while a meeting drones on in the background (hooray multi-tasking!), or fending off cameo appearances by pets or people interrupting our Zoom calls, we may find ourselves feeling stressed, tight, and fatigued.
Try this energy boosting sequence to get your blood flowing, re-connect with your body and breath, and unravel physical and mental tension. Warm up with a few rounds of Sun Salutations, and make sure to spend a few minutes in Savasana (Corpse Pose) to round out your practice.
A sequence for releasing tension and boosting energy
Marjaryasana and Bitilasana (Cat and Cow Poses)
Start in Tabletop. For Cow Pose, inhale and tip your hip points down. Dip down into your belly and open through your chest. For Cat Pose, exhale, curl your chin in and use your exhale to lift your navel in and up. Press into your hands and feel some space between your shoulder blades as your upper spine domes. Your spine arches tail-to-crown, like an angry cat. Use your breath to help you move through these shapes for 5-10 cycles.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
Return to Tabletop. Plant your hands ﬁrmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart. With your feet hip-width apart, draw your hips up and backward. You can bend your knees and/or pedal through your feet to stretch and enliven your hamstrings and calves. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
From Tadasana, fold your torso down on top of the front of your thighs, or use a chair (shown) to create this pose. If using the chair, hold onto opposite elbows and rest your forearms on the chair’s seat. Allow your head to hang heavy. In all variations of this pose, keep your hips stacked on top of your heels, avoid locking your knees, and firm your belly into your back so that your core muscles support you in the shape. Hold for 5–10 breaths.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Try this more grounded version of Tadasana to feel solid and steady as a mountain. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and parallel. Root your feet firmly to the earth while slightly lifting your inner arches. Lengthen from the base of your pelvis to the crown of your head to rebound the earth energy up into your body. Let your arms extend beside your torso as you cultivate openness across your chest and a slight drawing in of your front ribs. Hold for 5–10 breaths.
Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)
From Tadasana at the top of your mat, place your hands at your hips and notice that the frontal hip bones are square to the front of the mat. Observe also that the two sides of the waist are equally long.
Now imagine a central axis like a column of energy running through your torso from your pelvic floor to the crown of your head. With every inhale emphasize both the length and the integrity of this axis; the column is straight and is not tilting or curving off to one side or another.
Keeping your hips square as you step your left foot back 3 ½ to 4 feet. Line up heel to heel with the back foot at a 45-degree angle. Having stepped back, notice what has changed with the pelvis. To recreate the pelvis from Tadasana, root down with your right big toe mound while drawing your right outer hip back and in towards the left heel. Spin your left inner thigh back to roll the left outer hip forward. Simultaneously press your left thigh bone back and drop anchor with your left heel.
Inhale, raise your left arm. Exhale and reach your torso forward, aiming your sternum for the front center of the mat. Place your left hand to the outside of the right ankle or on a block, and take your right arm to the ceiling, hand above the right ear. Gaze at your top thumb. Continue to pin your right hip back and in while pressing the left femur back –the effort is to keep the two sides of the waist equally long.
Inhale to lengthen the spine, maintaining the integrity of the central axis by aiming the sternum to the front center of the mat, rather than letting it drift to one side or the other. Exhale to revolve around that length.
Hold for 5-10 breaths, then take the gaze to the floor and backstroke the right arm towards the back of the mat and windmill the left arm up and around to exit the pose. Return to Tadasana at the front of the mat and repeat on the other side.
Agnistambhasana (Fire Log Pose)
From Tadasana, kneel down and transition into a cross-legged seat. Place your right ankle on top of your left knee. Keep both feet flexed. You can place a blanket or block under your top knee for extra support and to help your hips anchor toward the ground. Sit tall or slowly fold forward by hinging at your hips and extending your arms in front of you. Hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Camatkarasana (Wild Thing)
Start in Downward-Facing Dog. Bring your weight into your right hand and roll onto the outer edge of your right foot like Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose). On an inhalation, lift your hips with buoyancy. Stay strong in your right hand, making a clawing action with the fingers. Keep the head of the right arm bone back. On an exhalation, step your left foot back and place your toes on the floor with your knee partially bent.
Curl back through your upper back to create a sweeping action of the shoulder blades into the back of the rib cage. On an inhalation lift your hips higher until you curl more into a backbend with your right foot solid on the ground. Keep breathing and curl your head back, extending your left arm from your heart and expressing your power and freedom. Hold for 5-10 breaths, return to Dog and repeat on the other side.
Neutralize your spine by returning to Tabletop for a few breaths. Then wind down with any seated postures you like, and rest for a few minutes in the Savasana of your choice.