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Bringing attention and awareness to certain areas of the body to summon healing energies may sound metaphorical, but research shows that combining movement with imagery—while also bringing mental attention to that body part—can actually lead to greater recovery and function in the area of focus. In this sequence, for which you’ll want to grab a couple of bolsters and blankets and warm up with a few Sun Salutations, we’ll use mental imagery and physical touch to reconnect and reestablish our sense of belonging—both in this world and to one another.
Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose). Raise your left leg while rooting into the ground with your right foot. Bend your left knee, roll onto the edge of your right foot, and rotate your torso slowly to the left. Lower your left foot toward the floor behind you. As your toes reach the mat, extend your left hand to the sky to lift your heart center. On an inhalation, touch your left hand to your chest. Bring your attention to your heartbeat and connect to the fullness of life. Stay here for 3 to 5 breaths, then slowly return to Down Dog. Repeat on the other side.
From Downward-Facing Dog, shift forward into Plank Pose and lower to the ground with your legs extended and your toes pointing back. Place your palms into the mat next to your rib cage with your fingers spread wide. Straighten your elbows as you move your chest forward and upward. Press into the tops of your feet to lift your thighs off the mat. Feel the strong, loving energy drawing up from your toes into your heart. Spread your collarbones wide. Imagine your shoulder blades tenderly holding the back side of your heart. Stay here for 3 to 5 breaths.
From Upward-Facing Dog, lower to your stomach with your arms by your sides. Inhale, and lift your head, chest, and arms. Pull your shoulder blades back to shine your heart open. Gaze forward, keeping your neck and jaw relaxed. On your next breath, lift your feet and legs. Keep your pelvis and belly rooted to the ground. Reach your fingers straight back, or interlace them behind you. Feel your heart soar with the lightness of a bird in flight. Take 3 to 5 breaths here and then lower back to the ground.
From Locust, find your way to Down Dog. Step your right foot forward between your hands, and point your left foot slightly outward. Inhale your arms to the sky as you bend your right knee at a 90-degree angle. Tilt your chest up slightly as you root firmly into both legs to lift your heart. Imagine the energy in your heart moving up through your arms to your hands and fingers, spreading a feeling of connectedness to the world. Take 5 to 10 breaths, lower your arms, and step back into Down Dog. Repeat on the other side.
Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior Pose), Variation
Come back to Warrior I on your right side. Rotate your left toes to point to the long edge of your mat, opening your ribs and torso to the left. Root through your feet and bring your arms to Warrior II Pose by extending your arms parallel to the mat. Flip your right palm up. Inhale and lower your left hand to the back of your left thigh as you reach your right arm toward the sky. Feel expansion in your chest, rib cage, and upper back. Exhale, and touch your left hand to your strong and resilient warrior heart. Stay here 3 to 5 breaths, then step into Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Repeat on the opposite side.
Find your way to Plank, then lower your knees and come into Hero Pose. Bring your legs straight in front of you. Place your hands, palms down and shoulder-width apart, behind your hips, fingers pointing toward your feet. On an inhalation, press into your palms and lift your hips as high as is comfortable and feel your heart space open. Envision joyful energy spreading out from your heart. Let go of any sadness or fear. Allow your breath to be your guide as to how long you hold this pose. When you feel ready, lower your hips to the mat.
Place a block lengthwise on your mat, approximately 6 to 8 inches behind your hips. Walk your hands back so that you lay your spine onto the prop, with the bottom of the block at the level of your lower ribs. Your chin should be either slightly tucked or level with your forehead. If your chin tilts upward, place a block under your head. Extend your arms out to your sides so the backs of your hands rest on the ground. Walk your feet slightly wider than your hips, and let your inner knees rest together. Inhale. As you exhale, allow your heart and throat to open and relax. Connect to the feeling of an open, kind heart. Stay here as long as you like.
Position a bolster with the short side against your sacrum. Lie back onto it with your knees still bent and your feet on the mat. Rest your arms comfortably to the sides with your palms up. Lower your knees to the sides, bringing the soles of your feet together. Use props for support beneath your knees, if you like. Close your eyes, and focus on the rhythm of your open, loving heart. With each beat, release any fears or anxieties into the ground. Remain here for as long as you feel comfortable.
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