Yoga Sequences

Earth Salutations to Soothe Stress and Calm an Overactive Mind

Ground your energy and become more present with this stabilizing sequence.

Sometimes multi-tasking can make you feel less like a human being and more like a human doing. An overactive mind can lead to scattered focus, feelings of overwhelm, and to negative emotions creeping in. Yoga can aid us in breaking this cycle by grounding us, helping us center, and bringing us into the present moment. Presence helps stabilize us, and allows us to experience more love, peace, joy and harmony in our lives.

To get more grounded, try this Prithvi Namaskar (earth salutation) yoga sequence by yoga teacher Melissa Gall. Anchoring warrior poses offer a steady path to quieting a jittery mind. These shapes also encourage focus because the movements build strength, endurance, and stability.

Warrior poses were named for Virabhadra. The legend of Virabhadra says this great warrior was created from the earth and his mission was to destroy the ego mind with his great sword, eliminating suffering. Each pose represents Virabhadra and his sword as he rises from the Earth (Virabhadrasana I), aims his sword (Virabhadrasana II), draws back his sword (Viparita Virabhadrasana), and destroys the ego (Virabhadrasana III).

Begin this practice with 3-5 minutes of conscious breathing to center and calm your mind before moving. The poses can either flow in as one breath per movement in a vinyasa style or each be held, perhaps for 5-10 breaths per pose. Finish with Savasana to anchor and surrender your body and concerns to the earth with every breath.

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

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From standing, feel your feet press firmly into the earth as the crown of your head lifts toward the sky, creating dynamic tension in the body so that prana can flow freely. You can place your feet together or apart. As we bring awareness to conscious breathing in this space, imagine standing tall like a mountain, grounded, rooted down and unmovable.

Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I)

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Step your left foot back toward the back of your mat. Coil your inner left thigh bone toward your midline, (internally rotating) so you can spin your back heel down and aim your back toes toward the top left edge of your mat. Stack your right knee on top of your right ankle. Keep the front of your pelvis squaring off toward the front (short) edge of your mat. Focus on balancing the energy between your feet by hugging your inner thigh muscles toward your midline, creating strength in your core that stabilizes your pelvis. Depending on your shoulders’ range of motion and comfort level, you can reach your arms overhead, as if holding up a great sword, keeping your shoulders relaxed. You could also place your hands at your heart center.

Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II)

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Open your hips to the long edge of the mat, moving your arms to make a “t” shape at shoulder height with your palms facing down. If stabilizing, you can reposition your feet to align heel to heel or heel to arch. Press your feet into the earth. Stack your shoulders over your hips. The extension in your arms creates strength and endurance, especially if you actively reach from fingertip to fingertip as if aiming a sword toward unwanted thoughts.

Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior Pose)

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From Virabhadrasana II, turn your right palm up and lean your torso back toward your left leg, creating lateral flexion (side bending) in your spine. You may feel the stretch from your right armpit, all the way down to your right hip. Stay active in your front leg. Imagine drawing back a sword with your lifted hand, getting ready to strike.

Virabhardasana III (Warrior Pose III)

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Upright your torso and return to Warrior Pose I. Lift your back heel off of the floor. Shift your torso forward as you back leg lifts.

Engage the quadriceps of the supporting leg and hug your outer hips and inner thighs to your midline to create stability. Try to keep your hips parallel to the mat and level with each other as the energy of your body flows from the crown of the head, all the way down to the back heel. 

Stabilize the pose even further by lifting your belly to engage your core. Choose which arm variation works best and feels most grounding to you. You could place your hands on blocks or on the floor under your shoulders, extend your arms out ahead of you or by your sides, or bring your hands to your heart center. Focus on creating strength and stability as you quiet your mind.

Baddha Virabhadrasana (Humble Warrior Pose)

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Carefully release back to Virabhadrasana I. Reach your arms behind your back to expand your chest. You can interlace your fingers together or hold a yoga strap in your hands if desired. Fold your torso down, releasing your head toward the inside of your front thigh, bowing humbly to the divine energy that guides us from within.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)

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Release your hands down to frame your front foot and step back into Down Dog. Place your hands about shoulder width apart, and your feet hip width apart. Visualize releasing the energy of your heart toward the earth as your hips lift back up toward the sky, keeping your neck relaxed, pressing the energy of your heels toward Earth.

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

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From Down Dog, gaze up toward your fingers and either step, hop or walk your feet to your hands. Hang your torso on top of the fronts of your thighs, letting gravity draw the energy from the crown of your head toward the earth as your belly and hamstrings engage to lengthen the back of your body. Option to add a gentle rock from side to side. Slowly work your way back up to Tadasana. Take a moment to connect to your breath and any feelings of groundedness, rootedness, strength, and support before moving through the sequence on the other side.

See also 11 Yoga Practices for Working Through Stress and Anxiety