Yoga Sequences

16 Yoga Poses to Keep You Grounded & Present

This strong, balanced sequence is designed to ground you even as life's craziness swirls around you.

Whether it’s a big deadline at work, relationship issues, holiday season busyness, or some other stressor, life can certainly present challenges that turn on our fight-or-flight response. This instinctual physiological stress response can serve us well in life-threatening situations. (To wit: the oft-cited running-from-a-tiger scenario.) Yet these days, even stressors that aren’t life-threatening can switch on our fight-or-flight mode—and we stay in this heightened stress state because we can’t physically run away from things like deadlines or soaring daycare costs. The result? We become reactive rather than responsive, and our overall mental and physical health takes a hit. Enter this strong, balanced sequence, designed to ground you even as life’s craziness swirls around you.

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Practice Alignment for Weak Knees in Tadasana.
Paul Miller

Stand with your big toes touching and heels slightly apart. Lift your chest and roll your shoulders down your back, palms forward. Finish by adding the slightest tuck to the chin (Jalandhara Bandha) and lengthen the crown of your head toward the sky. Find your Ujjayi Pranayama by breathing in and out through your nose while constricting your throat. Stay here for 5–10 breaths.

See also Master Class: Find Calm in 60 Seconds with This Guided Grounding Practice

Garudasana (Eagle Pose)

Paul Miller

Reach your arms straight forward and then cross your right elbow under the left, bringing your forearms up and twisting through the wrists so your palms meet. Lift your elbows so they’re in line with your shoulders, and pull your forearms forward as you glide your shoulders down the back. Shift your weight onto your right leg, and then inhale your left leg high up and over your right leg, wrapping your foot around the outer edge of your right calf. Then, sit down as deeply as you can. Stay here for 5–10 breaths.

See also 5-Minute Grounding Meditation for Beginners

Urdhva Prasarita Ekapadasana (Standing Splits with Eagle Arms)

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Paul Miller

Keep your arms as they are and slowly unwrap your left leg, floating it up toward the sky. Fold your torso down and dip your bound arms toward the earth. Spin your outer left hip down toward the mat to keep your hips square to the earth, and keep your left foot active by pointing through the ball mound of your foot as it lifts upward. Find a focal point a few inches in front of you and stay here for 5–10 breaths. 

See also Hit a High Point in Standing Splits

Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge with Eagle Arms)

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Paul Miller

Keep your arms as they are and bend your standing leg, stepping your left leg way back and landing on your toes. Lift your chest and then bend into your back knee, sinking your front hip forward and down. Move toward a 90-degree angle in your front leg. Engage your abs as you move your left thighbone skyward, moving your back leg toward straight. Then, begin to pull your Eagle Arms forward and up so that your forearms and elbows point toward the sky. Stay here for 5–10 breaths.

See also Master High Lunge in 6 Steps

Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge, variation)

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Paul Miller

Unwrap your arms and interlace your fingers, cupping the back of your skull with your hands. Keeping your elbows wide, plug your shoulder blades into your heart and lift your heart to the sky. As you arch your back, allow the weight of your head to fall into your hands. This will help open your chest and reverse the hunched-forward posture most of us unconsciously slip into when we’re stressed. If you feel any pinching in your low back, bend your back leg and tuck your tailbone down toward the earth to find a neutral spine. Stay here for 5–10 breaths.

See also Standing and Backbending Sequence

Parivrtta Anjaneyasana (Revolved Lunge Pose)

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Paul Miller

Lift your chest so it’s directly over your hips, and bring your hands to Anjali Mudra (Prayer Pose) in front of your heart. Lean your chest halfway forward and twist your left elbow to the outside of your right thigh. Drive your left heel back and press your
left thighbone up toward the ceiling; this is your anchor and will keep you balanced. Stack your elbows so you can press your palms together. You can also raise your top arm skyward and move your bottom-arm fingertips to the mat, or take a bind. Push the tips of your shoulder blades into your heart as you stay here for 5–10 breaths.

See also Warrior I Pose

Plank Pose

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Paul Miller

Release your hands to the mat and step your front foot back to come to High Plank: Place your feet hip-width apart and push your heels toward the wall behind you. Spin your inner thighs up toward the ceiling, keeping your hips level with your shoulder blades. Stack your wrists under your shoulders and push the earth away from you while broadening your chest so you’re not rounding in the shoulder blades. Finally, pull the crown of your head forward as you tuck your tailbone toward your heels and engage your lower belly. Stay here for 5–10 breaths.

See also The Abdominal Crunch Yogis Actually Need (Sorry)

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

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Paul Miller

From Upward-Facing Dog, lower your belly onto the mat and tuck your toes under so the balls of your feet are on the mat and your heels are pressing toward the back wall. Lift your knees off the mat, firm your thighs, and engage your lower abdominal muscles. As you inhale, push yourself up halfway to Chaturanga. On your exhale, lower your belly back down to the mat. Repeat 3–5 times to build core and arm strength.

See also Upward Plank Pose

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)

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Paul Miller

On an inhalation, straighten your arms, lifting the chest and pulling the heart through the gateway of the arms. Flip the tops of your feet to the mat and drive all 10 toes back, hugging your outer ankles in, lifting your shins, and bringing your knees and thighs off the mat. Do all of these actions during one inhalation, and stay here in Upward-Facing Dog for 3–5 breaths.

See also Poses for Your Chest

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

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Paul Miller

From Upward-Facing Dog, lower your belly onto the mat and tuck your toes under so the balls of your feet are on the mat and your heels are pressing toward the back wall. Lift your knees off the mat, firm your thighs, and engage your lower abdominal muscles. As you inhale, push yourself up halfway to Chaturanga. On your exhale, lower your belly back down to the mat. Repeat 3–5 times to build core and arm strength.

See also Upward Plank Pose

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)

Pilates Can Help Yogis Lengthen Their Side Body in Poses Like Downward-Facing Dog.
Paul Miller

Keep your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees to lift your hip creases toward the sky. Lengthen your lower back, knit your ribs in toward one another, and maintain the length in your spine as you spin your inner thighs toward the wall behind you and press your heels toward the mat. Keep your head and neck relaxed, spread your fingers wide, and then press them into the mat. Hug your triceps back toward your ears and allow your shoulders to relax and drop away from your ears. Stay here for 5–10 breaths. From here, come back to Tadasana and repeat poses 2–10 on the left side, finishing in Downward-Facing Dog.

See also Poses for Your Hands

Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand with Eagle Legs)

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Paul Miller

From Down Dog, step your feet forward 1–2 feet, gaze between your hands, and, as you inhale, lift your right leg skyward. On your next inhale, come onto the ball of your left foot and then gently hop off your left foot. As your left heel comes off the mat, bring it in close to your butt. Once balanced, cross your legs just as you did in Garudasana. If you’re practicing with a wall behind you, plant your hands about 2 feet away, and maybe even bind your legs. Then slowly begin to remove your foot from the wall by pressing away with your toes.

See also Challenge Poses: The Best Handstand Tip You’ve Never Tried

Sukhasana (Easy Pose with a Twist)

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Paul Miller

After playing with Handstand, come to a comfortable cross-legged position (Sukhasana). Take the peace-sign fingers of both hands and grab your big toes, pulling them forward and out so that your feet stay wide. Sitting up tall, plant your right hand about 6 inches behind your right hip, and inhale your left hand up
to the sky. As you exhale, bring your left hand to the outside of your right knee to move into a twist. On each inhale, feel yourself growing taller; on each exhale, twist a little deeper. Once you’ve taken about 8 breaths, come back to center, switch the cross of your legs, and twist to the other side for 8 breaths.

See also 3 Ways to Modify Bharadvaja’s Twist II

Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)

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Paul Miller

Bring both legs straight out in front of you and root your sitting bones into your mat. Sit up tall, flex your feet, and inhale, sending your arms straight up toward the sky. On an exhalation, lead with your heart and reach your hands toward your toes, folding your body forward and relaxing your head and neck. Keep in mind it’s important to find length first and then fold forward. Stay here for 5–10 breaths. 

See also Standing Forward Bend

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)

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Paul Miller

Roll onto your back, bend your knees, and plant your feet hip-width apart. On an inhalation, lift your hips, interlace your hands underneath you, and press the outer edges of your forearms into the mat as you roll your shoulders underneath you. Turn your big toes in slightly and spin your inner thighs down toward the mat. Soften your bottom and lengthen your tailbone toward your calves as you move your heart in the opposite direction. Stay here for 5–10 breaths. 

See also 3 Ways to Modify Bridge Pose

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose, variation)

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Paul Miller

Lie on your back and place one block at the low or medium height under your shoulders—the bottom of the block should rest at the bottom of your shoulder blades—and the other at the same height under your head. Let your arms open wide with your palms facing up, and then bring the soles of your feet together, sliding them up toward your groin and letting your knees fall open. (Option: Place a block or bolster under each knee for additional support.) Stay here for at least 5–10 breaths, then remove the blocks and rest in Savasana for 5 minutes or longer.

See also 3 Hip Openers to Prep for Lotus Pose