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Master teacher Sianna Sherman created this short sequence integrating the physical and spiritual to take your practice to another level.
Sianna Sherman is on a quest to help every woman discover her inner deity. Deepen your physical, mental, and spiritual practice with knowledge of mythic feminine power through this blog series and Sianna’s four-session Goddess Yoga Project online course. Sign up now and join @yogajournal and @siannasherman using #YJGoddessProject to create an inspiring female collective, sharing experiences in real time.
Yoga’s fame is now widespread worldwide—and still growing by leaps and bounds. As a global traveler, I see the rise and fall of various trends and the ways yogis are seeking change and transformation in all areas of life. I often hear the comment that westerners only love the physical practice of yoga but not the spiritual. Yet in my experience, yogis everywhere are asking for an integration of practices. They are asking for the entirety of the tradition.
Why Did You Begin Practicing Yoga?
Last month, I was teaching in a northern European country with a predominantly asana-based yoga culture. In an open discussion with 40 yogis, I asked them why they started the practice of yoga. The breadth of their answers represented the wide landscape of the human soul:
- to lift me out of darkness
- to heal me from my eating disorders
- to help me relax from my intense corporate job
- to heal my injuries from a car accident
- to sleep at night
- to clear my mind
- to carry me through my grief when my wife died
- to be as healthy as possible
- to know my true Self
There were many outpourings of the heart in these answers. This was a group of outstanding asana practitioners seeking the entire garland of practices.
What IS Yoga?
Yoga is an alchemical path, one that metaphorically transforms us from lead into gold, churning forth the elixir from within. The alchemy lies within the integration of the practices: asana, pranayama, mantra, mudra, meditation, and more. When life feels stuck or stagnant, yoga can help us break through resistance, heal unresolved wounds, and open up pathways for creative energy to flow.
Use this short sunrise practice to help you shift to a new level, clear your mind, and anchor your intention in your heart for a vibrant and healthy day.
Beyond-the-Breakthrough Sunrise Practice
Chant the Gayatri Mantra
Repeat 3 times with the sunrise
Gayatri is a universal mantra of spiritual illumination and invokes light into the mind, heart, and body. Gayatri is a goddess in the yoga tradition who rises up from a red lotus with five heads and ten eyes, so she can see in all directions plus earth and sky. She represents the power of awakening from our slumber and the rajas guna, or the fiery, active quality of nature. Gayatri is a protector of the life force and blesses with the vitality of the Sun.
Chant 3 rounds at sunrise:
Oṃ Bhūr Bhuvaha Svaha
Tat Savitur varēṇyam
Bhargo devasya dhīmahi
Dhiyo yo naf prachodayāt
Kapala means “skull” and Bhati means “shining,” “illuminating,” or “luster.” Kapalabhati is the “skull-shining breath.”
- Clears sinuses
- Helps dispel sluggishness from system
- Sit in a relaxed and upright position.
- Relax your hands on your legs.
- Breathe a few rounds of smooth, deep Ujjayi pranayama.
- Begin a series of short, strong, and active exhalations through the nose.
- Allow the inhalation to be natural and passive.
- The short powerful exhalations will pump the low belly.
- Practice for up to one minute.
- Take a few clearing rounds of Ujjayi, then repeat.
Also see Beginner’s Guide to Pranayama
Vira Mudra and Uttara Bodhi Mudra
Courage Mudra and Upward-Reaching Enlightenment Mudra
- Invokes courage
- Awakens enlightening forces
- Lifts the energy
- Strengthens willpower
- Increases mental clarity
- Creates both lightness and groundedness
- Works like a lightning rod for inspiration and clear sight
- Reach your arms up overhead.
- Extend your index fingers straight up, interlace the middle, ring, and little fingers, and cross your left thumb over your right thumb.
Also try Enlightenment Meditation
Utkata Konasana with Vira Mudra
Goddess Stance with Courage Mudra
- Helps to break through stagnancy
- Spread your arms wide to the sides and step your feet apart as wide as your wrists.
- Turn your feet out and bend your knees over your ankles.
- Reach your arms up overhead and bring your hands into Vira mudra.
Also see Sacral Chakra Tune-Up Practice
Meditation with Svaha Mantra
Svaha is a mantra for making offerings into your internal fire.
- Visualize a fire at the root of your heart.
- Relax your awareness into the flow of your breath.
- Internally chant Svaha as you make offerings into the fire of your heart.
- Offer your fears, limitations, worries, and doubts.
- Offer your gratitude for life and the opportunity to transform.
- Rest in meditation for at least 10 minutes to refresh your mind and rejuvenate in your inner light.
Remember: The morning sun always breaks through the darkest night. Offer your limitations into the heart fire and you will experience your own personal breakthrough and beyond.
Try More Practices from the Goddess Yoga Project
What Is Goddess Yoga?
The Goddess Every Vinyasa Flow Fan MUST Know
5 Heart Openers Dedicated to Lakshmi
3-Step Meditation to Inspire Intuition
Defeat Fear with Sword Breath
ABOUT SIANNA SHERMAN
Sianna Sherman is creator of the Goddess Yoga Project in partnership with Yoga Journal. She is the founder of Mythic Flow Yoga, a unique style of alignment-focused asana informed by ancient wisdom and myths. She leads teacher trainings and retreats around the world.