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Yoga Sequences

Find Serenity with this Self-Compassion Sequence

Radical self-compassion is essential for the health and wellness of all human beings. Yoga provides a powerful way to practice it with our own bodies before practicing it with others. This flow is ideal for quickly honoring your body with both gentle movement and rest.

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1. Chakra clearing

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TABIA S. LISENBEE-PARKER

Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), and check in with how your body is feeling. Notice what feels clear and what is in need of clearing. Inhale your arms up alongside your ears, and draw your fingertips together with your palms facing the earth. As you begin to exhale, slowly press your palms downward, passing in front of your crown, brow, throat, heart, and belly. Then, when your hands reach your hips, sweep your arms open. Repeat this cycle 5–7 times. During each cycle, visualize yourself clearing the path for your breath to flow freely through your body.

2. Tadasana variation

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TABIA S. LISENBEE-PARKER

Mountain Pose

Stand with your feet planted firmly on the ground with your arms beside you. Begin sweeping your arms from front to back. Each time you lift your arms vertically, take in an energetic inhalation. As you exhale, sweep your arms behind you, allowing your wrists and fingertips to move past your lower back. Allow your arms to relax and move with the rhythm of your breath. Continue for at least 7–10 rounds of breath.

3. Trident and Temple Mudras

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TABIA S. LISENBEE-PARKER

From Mountain Pose, ground into the soles of your feet. Allow your body to feel the flow of your breath. Once you are ready, inhale your arms into Trident Mudra with your elbows bent, palms facing forward. Press your shoulder blades into your back as the center of your heart lifts gently. Concentrate on lengthening through your spine and opening your throat. Then, as you exhale, clasp your palms together near the center of your chest and interlace your fingers. Continue exhaling through your nose, and extend your index fingers away from your body in Temple Mudra. Roll your chin toward your throat, rounding your shoulders and pressing your navel toward your spine. Return to Trident during each inhalation. Focus on opening and closing the front of your body between the two postures. Repeat for 7–10 rounds of breath.

4. Urdhva Hastasana

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Upward Salute

From Mountain Pose, separate your feet, making sure they are parallel to each other. Press all four corners of each foot into the earth. Pause here for a few breaths. When you are ready, inhale your arms up alongside your ears. Concentrate on grounding your weight into the soles of your feet while elongating your spine and arms. Bring awareness to the front of your body, and avoid pressing your ribs and hips forward. Instead, lift the top of your sternum toward the sky, and draw your shoulder blades softly down your back.

5. Uttanasana

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TABIA S. LISENBEE-PARKER

Standing Forward Bend

Exhale and bow forward. Bend your knees as necessary to support your lower back and hamstrings. Once your fingertips touch the earth (or blocks, if you want to bring the earth closer to you), allow your upper body to lengthen. Walk your hands away from your toes in order to make room for the breath in your belly and rib cage. Relax your face, jaw, and brow.

6. Ardha Uttanasana

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TABIA S. LISENBEE-PARKER

Half Standing Forward Bend

Inhale into a half lift with your fingertips on the earth or a block—or your hands on your shins. Remain long through your spine by extending through the crown of your head and lengthening your torso. Use your hands as your anchor.

7. Standing Forward Bend

Exhale, returning to a forward fold as you release the breath. This time, try moving deeper into the fold with awareness. Continue to bend your knees as needed, or try lifting your hips even more toward the sky to lengthen your hamstrings. Be sure your hips are not moving beyond your toes. Instead, stack your hip joints above your ankles while pressing into all four corners of the soles of your feet. Continue to use your fingertips as your anchor—on the earth or a block.

8. Mountain pose

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TABIA S. LISENBEE-PARKER

Inhale and reverse swan-dive—sweeping your arms beside you and opening the center of your heart—as you come back to standing. Bend your knees as necessary as you come up. On the sweep, circle your arms around your body, eventually bringing your palms together into Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal) at the center of your heart as you exhale.

Moving with the flow of your breath, repeat poses 3–7 for 5–7 times.

9. Supported Spinal Twist

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TABIA S. LISENBEE-PARKER

Make your way onto your back. Allow your spine to settle into the ground. When you’re ready, inhale, feeling expansion throughout your body. Exhale your knees into your chest, and place a block or pillow between your thighs for support. Extend your arms, creating a T shape, and allow your palms to face up while anchoring the tops of your hands to the earth. Draw your shoulder blades into your back, and notice the connection between your back and the earth. Draw your knees over to the left side of your mat. Try stacking your hips, knees, and ankles. Gently rotate your head, gazing to the right. Soften your face and joints while tracing the flow of your breath from the base of your spine to the top of your head. Once you have completed 5–7 rounds of breath, inhale, and draw your knees back to center. Repeat on the other side.

10. Savasana Corpse Pose

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TABIA S. LISENBEE-PARKER

Fully extend and relax your arms and legs, and notice how your body feels. Is it in need of support? If you have any lower-back pain, try placing a pillow or bolster below your knees. Allow your palms to face the sky with your toes naturally swaying outward as you release any tension in your hips. If your body is longing for care in a particular area, feel free to place your hands there. If comfortable, close your eyes, and bring awareness to the natural flow of your breath. Try softening your face, brow, eyelids, jaw, and the joints of your body. Notice where tension exists, and also notice where your body feels free or at peace. Stay in Corpse Pose for at least 3–5 minutes as your body absorbs the breath and the benefits of your practice.

“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.” – Martin Luther King

See also Align Your Heart Chakra with This Chest-Opening Sequence