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I am Cree, which translates to “Nehiyaw,” which translates to “the people of the land” or “four-bodied person”—which interweaves the four aspects we all have within ourselves: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. These are the foundations within the medicine wheel. It’s a circle that’s divided into four sections to symbolize the four directions, the four seasons, and the four cycles of life. It represents the interconnectedness of everyone and everything. In order to be balanced within life, you must be balanced within your medicine wheel. Yoga cultivates the same thing—balance and harmony between mind, body, and spirit. Just like the ceremonial sweetgrass braid. With this practice, I invite you to join me on this journey of reconnecting to the Creator within and above.
Begin with 4 rounds of pranayama/Sun Salutations to honor the four directions, the four seasons, the four cycles, and the four aspects to our well-being. Then, coming to Tadasana (Mountain Pose), set an intention for today’s practice. What are you here today to cultivate?
Sucirandhrasana (Eye-of-the-Needle Pose)
Come to Tabletop, and ground down through your left hand. Inhale, lifting your right arm up toward the sky. Open your heart. On the exhalation, thread your arm across the mat. Let your right cheek kiss the earth. Take a few breaths. When you’re ready, bring your left hand back to the mat. Inhale; open up to the right-hand side, and exhale back to Tabletop.
Marjaryasana and Bitilasana (Cat-Cow Pose)
Ground down through each finger, pressing away from Mother Earth. Inhale with your heart forward, looking ahead toward Father Sky. Exhale, curling in, rounding your spine for Cat Pose. Then inhale, and open up through your heart for Cow Pose. Exhale, curling in for Cat. Repeat 4 times using your own natural breath.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Transitioning through Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), come to Mountain Pose. Set your feet parallel, pelvis-width apart. Turn the palms of your hands to face forward. Expand your upper body. Firm the muscles in your arms and legs. Press your pubic bone toward Mother Earth, and from your pelvis to the crown of your head, lift up toward Father Sky.
Square your pelvis toward the front of the mat. Ground down through your left foot, and take a big step back with your right. Lower your right knee to the earth. Roll your shoulders back. Open your heart. Lift your right knee. On the inhalation, lift your arms overhead. On the exhalation, lunge into your front knee. Inhale to lengthen; exhale to lunge a little deeper. Repeat 4 times.
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose)
On an exhalation, transition into Warrior II, bringing your hands out to a T shape. Take a moment to lift each toe up off the earth, then gently place them back down. Energetically bring your thighs together to ignite your core. Take a deep breath in, and exhale to radiate in all directions.
Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior Pose)
On an inhalation, reverse your Warrior, bringing your right hand to your back thigh and sending your left arm up overhead. Turn the palm of your left hand toward the sky and gaze upward. Exhale, softening here, and lunging a little deeper.
Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
From Warrior II, shift your weight to your right foot and on an inhalation, bring your right elbow to your right knee. Extend your left arm toward the sky. Take a deep breath in, then exhale, swinging your left arm over your ear. Gaze up toward the sky, keeping your left shoulder away from your ear, creating space and relaxing your face. Stay here for 4 breaths, coming back to your intention.
Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)
Turn your hips and feet toward the long side of your mat, toes slightly inward. Bring your hands to your hips, reaching the crown of your head up to Father Sky. Inhale deeply. Exhaling, bend at your hips, bringing your arms up overhead and down to the floor. Stay here for 4 breaths. Let your face soften and tension melt into Mother Earth beneath you. On an inhalation, bring your hands to your hips and return to standing. Exhale, and soften.
Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose) with Lion’s Breath
Keep your ankles in line with your knees, and turn your toes out to 45 degrees. Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Slide your shoulder blades down your back, engage your core, and open up your heart. Bring your hands to heart center. Stay here, or cactus your arms. Take a deep breath, calling in your intention. On your exhalation, open your mouth, crossing your eyes and letting your tongue out for Lion’s Breath. Release what no longer serves you. Repeat 4 times.