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Yoga Sequences

Bibi McGill’s Calming Sequence: Yoga Poses to Keep You Grounded

Need a break from life? Recharge your batteries with this relaxing flow.

Need a break from life? Recharge your batteries with this relaxing flow.

How Flexibility Works in Paschimottanasana.

This grounding sequence will help you release stress and redirect tense energy so that you can maintain internal peace in the midst of chaos. The poses, breathwork, and mudras, or hand seals, can open sensory receptors in the skin, begin to activate the energy channels of the body, or nadis, and guide prana, or life force, through them, bringing you into a state of awareness. This sequence also stretches and relaxes the neck, shoulders, and hips—where we might hold stress and trauma. The key is remaining present and creating a tranquil space, one breath at a time.

Practice Tip
Set an intention at the beginning of your practice—something you want to create for yourself or something you want to let go of. Keep your awareness on your breath, with long, smooth, even inhalations and exhalations. When your practice gets challenging, think kind and loving thoughts about yourself to stay calm.

See also3 Steps to a Balanced Home Practice

If you have 10 minutes, try this practice

Nov 14 Home Practice Padmasana Lotus Pose

Lotus Pose

Sit in Lotus with your eyes closed. Root through your sitting bones and lengthen your spine. If Lotus isn’t accessible, sit in any comfortable position. Place your left hand on the heart, with the intention of calming your nerves and sending healing energy to your endocrine system. Place your right hand about 3 inches below your belly button, ring finger above the end of the vagus nerve, which starts in the brain and helps control heart rate and breath.

See also Connect to Your Center: Great Heart Meditation

Nov 14 Home Practice Spinal Warm Up

Spinal Warm-Up

Interlace your fingers above your head, pointing the index fingers upward. Inhale and lengthen the spine. Exhale and round the back, pressing your palms away from you as you bring your arms level with your shoulders and your chin to your chest. Return to the beginning; repeat this warm-up 5 times.

See alsoPractice for Inner Peace

Nov 14 Home Practice Neck Stretch

Neck Stretches

Sit tall, keeping your eyes closed, and release your right ear toward your right shoulder. Ground down through your left palm, pressing it into the floor. If it does not cause strain, gently bring your right hand to the left side of your head for a little more stretch. Slowly release to a neutral position and repeat on the other side.

See alsoPain in the Neck? Try Yoga

Nov 14 Home Practice Gomukhasana Cow Face Pose

Cow Face Pose

Bend both legs, stacking your right knee on top of your left. Flex both feet and keep them close to your hips, with your sit bones grounding down. Clasp your hands at the center of your back; if you can’t reach, use a strap or grab hold of your clothes. Keep the back of the neck and spine long. Switch arms and legs; repeat on the other side.

See alsoBreaktime Shoulder Stretches

Bharadvaja's Twist

Easy Bharadvaja’s Twist

Bring the right foot to the left upper thigh. Bend the left leg back so the top of the foot is on the floor. Inhale, extend both arms overhead. Exhale and twist right, placing your left hand on your right knee and your right hand on the floor behind you. Inhale, lift the heart; exhale, twist deeper. Switch sides.

See alsoA New Twist on Twists

If you have 20 minutes add these poses to your sequence

Nov 14 Home Practice Urdhva Hastasana Upward Salute

Upward Salute

Come to standing, balls of the feet together, heels slightly separated. If you are tight in the hips, bring your feet hip-distance apart. Ground down through the feet and inhale as you bring your palms to touch above your head. Lift the heart, draw the shoulders away from your ears and the navel in toward your spine, and lengthen the tailbone.

See alsoBuild Stability in Standing Poses

Nov 14 Home Practice Half Moon Pose variation

Half Moon Pose, variation

Exhale and slide the left hand down the left leg. Press into the right foot and bring the right arm up and over to the left. Breathe into the right side body. Keep the heart directed toward the heavens. Inhale and come back to center with both arms up. Repeat on the other side, then come to Tadasana.

See alsoSpace Odyssey to the Side Bend

Understanding Flexibility.

Standing Forward Bend

With feet hip-distance apart, inhale into Urdhva Hastasana and then exhale as you swan-dive forward with a long spine. Let the head be heavy; bend the knees as needed. For a deeper stretch, grab the ankles, forearms behind the calves. To come out, bend knees and roll up one vertebra at a time. Let the head be the last thing to come up.

See also5 Steps to Master Standing Forward Bend

Nov 14 Home Practice Utkatasana Chair Pose

Chair Pose

Stand with your feet together, then inhale, drop the hips, and bend your knees. Bring the arms above your head. Squeeze the ankles, knees, and thighs together. Lengthen your tailbone. Lift the chest, bringing the backs of your shoulders against an imaginary wall behind you. Maintain an even breath. When things become difficult, think pure, nourishing thoughts in order to cultivate a nonjudgmental mind.

See alsoThighs Matter

Nov 14 Home Practice Utkatasana Twist Chair Pose Twist

Chair Pose Twist

From Utkatasana, inhale to lengthen the spine, and exhale to twist to the right, hooking the left elbow on the outside of the right knee. Press the palms together at the heart center. To make sure one knee doesn’t creep out in front of the other, shift the left hip back. Inhale back to center and repeat on the left side. If you need a break, come to Uttanasana in between sides.

See alsoWring Out With a Twist

Nov 14 Home Practice Parivrtta Trikonasana Revolved Triangle

Revolved Triangle Pose

Come to Tadasana and step your left foot back 4–5 feet, lining up your front and back heels. Bring hands to hips, squaring them to the front of your mat. Inhale and raise your left arm alongside your left ear. Reach forward, finding length in your spine. Press into your feet; place your left hand to the inside or outside of your right foot. Raise your right arm and gaze. Inhale to unwind and come up.

See alsoA Delicate Balance: Revolved Triangle

If you have 30 minutes, add these poses to your sequence

Nov 14 Home Practice Tree Pose Vrksasana variation

Tree Pose, variation

From standing, shift your weight into your left leg. Bring the right foot into the left hip crease. Or, if that’s not accessible, bring the sole of the right foot against your left ankle, calf, or upper inner thigh, avoiding the knee. Stand tall, drawing the navel in toward your spine. Find a dristhi, or gazing point, about 3 feet in front of you. Set your hands in Lotus Mudra at the heart center, then bring it above your head. Lotus Mudra is the symbol of purity; it opens us up to the Divine and allows us to receive whatever it is that we need. Play around with this pose, not being afraid to fall. Switch sides.

See alsoFind Your Roots in Tree Pose

Nov 14 Home Practice Vasisthasana Side Plank Pose

Side Plank Pose

Come into Plank Pose, with your shoulders over wrists and heels above toes. Bring the left hand underneath your face and begin to shift your weight into your left hand, stacking your right side body on top of your left side body. Reach the right arm up, opening the chest. Bring the inner edges of the feet together and lift the hips, keeping the spine long. To modify, bend the right leg and place the sole of the right foot on the ground in front of you. Repeat on the other side.

See alsoVideo: Work Toward Side Plank Pose

Nov 14 Home Practice Navasana Boat Pose

Boat Pose

Come to a seated position. Balance your weight on your sitting bones and, with knees bent, bring your calves parallel to the floor. Or extend legs straight. Keep the heart open and the back of your neck and spine long. Draw your shoulders back and extend both arms forward with your palms facing up. Point your toes or flex through the heels, and breathe.

See alsoStrong to Your Core: Full Boat Pose

Nov 14 Home Practice Paschimottanasana Seated Forward Bend

Seated Forward Bend

Extend your legs in front of you, with the feet touching. Flex the feet, pushing out through the heels. Inhale and bring the arms above the head. Exhale and maintain the length in your spine as you slowly reach for your knees, shins, ankles, or beyond the feet, keeping the navel drawn in toward the spine. With each inhalation, create length; with each exhalation, fold deeper from the hip crease.

See alsoNot Flexible? You Need This Seated Forward Bend

Nov 14 Home Practice Baddha Padmasana Bound Lotus Pose

Bound Lotus Pose

Come into full Lotus Pose with the right leg on top. Reach the left arm around your back and bind the big toe of the left foot with your fingers, doing the same with the right fingers and toes. To modify, come to an easy cross-legged seated pose, crossing the arms behind you and placing the hands on the opposite hips. Inhale as you lengthen the spine and draw the shoulders away from the ears. To come out of the pose, exhale and slowly release all binds.

See alsoTake a Seat in Lotus

Nov 14 Home Practice Padmasana Lotus Pose

Lotus Pose, variation

Come to full Lotus or any easy seated pose. With eyes closed, shoulders relaxed, and the spine long, remain alert as you settle in and breathe. Bring the fingers of both hands together to touch. Keeping the middle fingers extended, bend the other fingers of both hands and press the knuckles together with the thumbs pointed toward the navel center. Kalesvara Mudra calms thoughts and feelings of agitation, supports memory and concentration, and helps release addictive behavior.

See alsoFrom Hand to Heart