Anusara Yoga teacher Sianna Sherman believes in the power of play, a concept that's known in yoga as lila. "Play can so easily be dismissed or even trivialized, as if there's no profundity. But the most profound truths often emerge when you feel free and playful," she says. Sherman contends that a playful approach not only builds self-awareness, but it also encourages you to accept your idiosyncrasies. "When you let play lead the way, you recognize that every situation in life is an opportunity for greater heart energy."
To tap into the playful side of asana, Sherman created the uplifting backbending sequence on the pages that follow. She starts the practice with standing hip openers to help establish the blueprint for the hips and legs in backbends. "Once you establish the basic form of your backbend, then you can practice a wide array of variations," she says. The basic form she refers to includes widening the inner thighs and pelvic bones as you root your tailbone down. These actions will keep your lower back spacious and prevent compression as you arch up and back.
As you move through the sequence, pause at the beginning of each pose to feel your breath and to settle into the foundation of the pose. Hold each pose for five breaths, moving your breath into your back body.
Before You Begin
Open To Grace: Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and set an intention.
Align Your Spine: Do several rounds of Cat-Cow.
Salute: Do 3 to 5 rounds of your favorite Sun Salutation.
After You Finish
Bow: Sit in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) and bathe in your inner light. Take Balasana (Child's Pose) and make an offering from your heart.
Recline: Do Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose) on both legs.
Rest: Take Savasana (Corpse Pose), with hands over your heart for the first few breaths.