After a year like 2020, we all could use a boost of confidence. Developing a sense that you can handle all of life’s challenges helps you navigate a climate of stress and change. One of the ways we build resilience is to challenge ourselves incrementally, and often. Yoga can help us do just that. Through practicing postures that invite us to focus on our sense of balance, we can learn to breathe through discomfort and to trust that we will find our way, even if that means a few wobbles here and there. This sequence by yoga teacher Gabby Marchese is filled with heart openers for deepening your sense of inner trust, plus balancing postures to build your resilience and inner strength. This is the perfect sequence to start your day on a confident note.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
Warm up your body with a couple of Sun Salutations, or in any way that feels good and intuitive for you. Start in Tabletop Pose (all fours.) Keep your spine long as you press through your palms and lift your hips up and back to create an inverted V shape with your body. You can keep a bend in your knees if needed, and allow your heels to be heavy. Bend one knee and then the other, peddling out your Dog as you begin to warm up your hamstrings and calves. Stay here for 5 breaths.
Take a deep inhale in your Down Dog. On an exhale press into your palms. Engage your core and step your right foot in between your hands. Inhale and lift your torso up. Keep your right knee stacked above your right ankle. Stay on the ball of your back foot as you keep your left leg straight and engaged. Extend your arms up to frame your face as you relax your shoulders. Stay in this shape for 3-5 breaths.
Virabhadrasana III (Warrior Pose III)
On an exhale, slowly extend your arms to frame the sides of your torso as you lower your upper body almost parallel to the mat. Root firmly through your right foot as you lift your left leg off the ground. Keep your left foot flexed and around hip height and lift your your heart slightly higher than your hips. Find a steady gaze at a fixed point (drishti) and focus on your breath as you balance. Hold for 5 breaths.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
On an inhale, root firmly through your right foot and slowly come up to stand as you bring your left knee into your chest. Eagle wrap your left leg over your right and bend deeply into your legs as you keep your upper body upright. Wrap your left arm underneath your right and lift your elbows to shoulder height. Keep your hips level and engage your core. Find a steady gaze. Hold for 5 breaths.
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
On an inhale, unwind your arms and legs as you come to Tadasana (Mountain Pose). If you need, kick or shake out your limbs to release any tension from Garudasana. Plant your feet hip width apart. Exhale and sink your seat low as you bring your arms up by your face, finding Chair Pose. Make sure that you can see your toes in front of your knees and keep your weight toward your heels. Tuck your tailbone slightly as you engage your core. Hold for 3 breaths.
Virabhadrasana Pose II (Warrior Pose II)
On an exhale, release your arms and fold your torso down to come into Uttansana (Standing Foward Bend). Inhale halfway to lift and elongate your spine. As you exhale, plant your palms on your mat and either make your way back to a Downward Facing Dog or take a vinyasa.
Take a deep breath in, then, on an exhale, step your right foot forward between or near your hands. Inhale and come up to stand as you pivot your left heel to the mat, planting your foot at a 45 degree angle. Cartwheel your arms open into Warrior Pose II position, keeping them extended at shoulder height as you gaze over your front middle finger. Keep a 90 degree bend in your right leg. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. Hold for 5 breaths.
Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose)
On an inhale, straighten both your arms and legs as you pivot your body toward the long edge of the mat. Bring your heels in and toes out. On an exhale bend your knees and sink your seat low, coming into Goddess Pose. You can bring your hands to your heart center and hold and breathe here for 5 counts, or weave in a lift and lower your hips, creating little pulses that add some extra heat to your practice.
Prasarita Padottanasana, variation (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)
Inhale and straighten your legs and release your arms by your sides. Shift your feet so that your heels are out and toes are facing slightly in. Hinge from your hips and fold your torso forward and down. Interlace your hands behind the base of your spine and press them away from your body, stretching into your shoulders. Allow your neck to relax, and release the crown of your head toward the floor. Hold for 5-7 breaths. When you are finished, make your way back to Down Dog, then repeat poses 2-8 on the other side.
Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose)
From Prasarita Padottanasana on your second side, engage your core, press through your feet and return to Tadasana. Find Down Dog again, then shift to Plank. Hug your elbows in toward your center and lower slowly down to your belly. Roll over onto your back and draw your knees into your chest. Reach for the outer edges of your feet with your hands, encouraging your knees in toward your armpits. Take any movements that feel good for 7-10 breaths.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
On an exhale, release your hold on your feet and come to lie down on your back. Extend your arms out by your sides and your legs out wide. Take a deep breath in, and exhale, sighing it out the mouth. Allow your body to be heavy as you let go of any control over your thoughts and breath. Stay here for at least 5 minutes, or relax as long as you like. Gently come out when you are ready to resume your day.