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Master Baptiste Yoga teacher Leah Cullis, who leads YJ’s online course Pillars of Power Yoga(sign up here), demonstrates 10 poses that will help you love and accept your body.
Yoga gives us the opportunity to find peace in the ways things already are and that includes our bodies. When we give up the idea that something needs to change, we can move past perceived limitations. And when we love ourselves as whole and complete, we realize the goal of yoga.
The 10 poses in this sequence open up a conversation with the body through sensation and breath. As you come into each of these longer hip openers and folds, let your body be your friend and guide to connect you to your inner wisdom. As you listen to and love your body as it is, your body will respond by helping you get deeper into poses and giving you more freedom and peace as you move through your life, both on and off the mat.
To begin this sequence, generate ujjayi breath to set the rhythm for your practice. Warm up with a rag doll Standing Forward Bend for 10 breaths and at least 3 rounds of Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B.
To finish the sequence, I recommend closing with 10 breaths in Seated Forward Bend and a supine twist on each side.
1&2. Cat Pose and Cow Pose
Come to Tabletop on your hands and knees, with your hands rooted under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Tuck your toes to help you stabilize, lifting your low belly up. With your inhale, relax your belly down, open across your chest, and lift your gaze into Cow Pose. With your exhale, round your back in Cat Pose, arch your back to the sky, press the ground away, and tuck your chin to your chest. Keep going one breath per movement for 10 rounds, and return to Tabletop.
See also 4 Myths About Baptiste Yoga
3. Modified Side Plank
From Tabletop, extend your right foot to the back of your mat, spin your heel to the ground, and stack your right hip on top of your left. Ground down through your left hand, and with your inhale lift your right arm high, expand across your heart, and gaze past your top hand. Hold for 5 deep breaths.
4. Modified Side Plank, Bow Variation
From modified Side Plank, float your right foot up off the ground and bend your top knee. With your right hand, catch your right foot and kick your foot into your hand to open up into a bow. Hold for 5 full breaths. Return to Tabletop and repeat Modified Side Plank and Modified Side Plank, Bow Variation on the left side.
5. Thread the Needle
From all fours, thread your right arm under your left armpit and rest your right cheek on the mat. Walk your left hand slightly forward, tent your fingers, and hug your top shoulder blade toward your spine. Hold for 5 breaths, then unwind and repeat on the other side. (Shown here on the left side.)
6. Half Pigeon
From Downward-Facing Dog, step your right foot toward your left wrist and place your right knee toward your right hand. Square both hips and straighten your arms to lift your heart for a few breaths. Walk your hands forward, lower to your forearms, and fold forward. Open with each inhale and send out gratitude for your body with each exhale. Hold for 10 rounds of breath. To finish, walk your hands back and sit upright.
7. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Bend your knees and put your feet on the floor. Slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. Lay the outside of the left leg on the floor. Step the right foot over the left leg and stand it on the floor outside your left hip. The right knee will point directly up at the ceiling. With your inhale, reach your left arm high, and with your exhale, hook your elbow over your right thigh. Hold for 5 deep breaths as you rinse and and unwind. (Shown here on the other side.)
8. Fire Log Pose
From your twist, turn your chest back to center and stack your right shin on top of your left, with your feet flexed. Lift your heart high as you inhale and broaden your chest. You always have the option to stay seated upright if this is where you feel your edge. Ride your exhalation down as you fold forward. Rest your forearms to the ground or a block. Hold for 10 full breaths.
9. Cow Face Pose
From Fire Log Pose, stack your knees and transition to Cow Face pose. Adjust your feet by either moving them closer to your body or away from you until you find your sweet spot. Anchor your seat down, lift the crown of your head high, and lengthen your spine. On your exhale, hinge at your hips and fold forward. You can stay up on your hands, or move your forearms down to a block or your mat. Hold for 10 deep breaths or more. Come back up to your seat, unwind, and press back to Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat Half Pigeon, Half Lord of the Fishes Pose, Fire Log Pose, and Cow Face Pose on the other side.
10. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
Make your way onto your back and lift your feet up to the sky, or bring your legs up a wall. Let the weight of your legs set your thighbones back and expand your low back. Keep your legs active but easy and allow the energy to flow from your legs to your vital organs. Extend your arms by your sides and allow your body to restore and rejuvenate. Hold for 10–20 breaths or more.