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There are times when we are called to show up as our biggest and best selves—experiences where we must travel to the depths of our life force and bring everything we have to the table for a moment, a day, or an extended mission. Whether it’s a feat of physicality or one that demands intense mental focus, these challenges require us to tap into a strength that isn’t always at the surface and readily available in our day-to-day lives. But we are all born powerful, bold, and fearless—we simply have to find it within. This sequence is one I turn to when I want to manifest the warrior that is omnipresent in me; my hope is that it will help you connect to your inner warrior, too.
Before You Begin
Come to a comfortable seated position. Close your eyes and connect your sit bones to the earth as you lengthen your spine and the sides of your body. With your head resting directly over your sacrum, begin deliberate, powerful, full inhales and exhales through your nose. With each inhale, silently repeat, “I am strong. I am powerful.” With each exhale, silently repeat, “I am a warrior.” After 5 minutes, move into Balasana (Child’s Pose).
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Position your knees wide, with the tops of your feet on the mat. Bring your big toes to touch and send your hips toward your heels. Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso or stretched in front of you, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. Feel how the weight of your front shoulders pulls your shoulder blades wide across your back. Stay here for at least 5 deep, Ujjayi breaths as you silently repeat the following mantra: “I am connected.”
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Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
On an inhalation, come to Tabletop. Step your feet to the top of your mat and rise to stand, creating length through the sides of your body. Turn your upper thighs slightly inward as you raise your arms toward the sky. You might even reach up and back into a backbend if you are able. Stay here for at least 5 deep, Ujjayi breaths, silently repeating the following mantra: “I am awake.”
Upward-Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
From Mountain Pose, exhale to fold forward. Inhale to lift halfway up, then exhale to step into Plank, then Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose). On your next inhalation, press the tops of your feet down into the mat and lift your thighs off the floor as you straighten your arms and press your scapulas into your back body. Stay here for 1–2 breaths, silently repeating the following mantra: “I am courageous.”
Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
From Upward-Facing Dog, tuck your toes and send your hips up and back on an exhalation. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis, lifting your sit bones toward the ceiling. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them, and press your chest toward your thighs. Stay here for at least 5 deep, Ujjayi breaths, silently repeating your meditation mantra: “I am strong. I am powerful. I am a warrior.”
Warrior Pose I (Virabhadrasana I)
From Downward-Facing Dog, inhale and step your left foot to the inside of your left hand. Rotate your back (right) foot 60–90 degrees toward the front of your mat, aligning your front (left) heel with your right arch or heel. With your right heel firmly anchored to the floor, exhale and bend your left knee over your left ankle so your shin is perpendicular to the floor. Lengthen your torso to stand with your shoulders squarely forward, and lift your arms above your head. Gaze toward the sky and hold for 5 breaths, silently repeating: “I am what I say I am.”
Warrior Pose II (Virabhadrasana II)
Pivot your back foot so your toes are facing the side of your mat, and raise your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor. Exhale and bend your front knee over your left ankle, keeping your shin perpendicular to the floor. Create stability and strength in your foundation and ease in your upper body as you drop your shoulders away from your ears. Hold for 10 breaths, silently repeating: “I am a warrior.”
Reverse Warrior Pose (Viparita Virabhadrasana)
From Warrior Pose II, flip your front palm up toward the sky. On an inhalation, reach that arm up and toward the back of your mat, creating maximum length through your left side body as your right hand slides down your back leg. As you do this, try to keep a deep bend in your front (left) knee. Stay here for 1 full breath, silently repeating: “I am strong.”
Repeat poses 2–7 on the other side, then come into Downward-Facing Dog.
High Lunge, variation
From Downward-Facing Dog, inhale and step your left foot between your hands. On an inhalation, keep your right leg strong and firm as you raise your torso upright. At the same time, sweep your arms overhead, palms facing one another. Inhale and lift your torso away from your pelvis; exhale and twist your torso to face the long side of your mat. Hold here for 5 breaths, silently repeating the mantra: “I am balanced.” Try to keep a deep bend in your front leg as you hold here for 5 breaths. Then move through a vinyasa, repeat on the other side, and finish in Tadasana.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
From Tadasana, exhale and bring your hands to your heart center. Shift your weight slightly onto your left foot and bend your right knee. Use your right hand to help you place the sole of your right foot against either your inner left thigh, the inside of your shin, or over your ankle, with your toes pointing toward (or touching, if your foot is on your ankle) the floor. Root down into the ground with your standing leg and hold here for 5 deep breaths, silently repeating: “I am centered.” Move through a vinyasa, then repeat poses 8 and 9 on the other side, finishing in Downward-Facing Dog.
Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
From Down Dog, step your left foot between your hands, moving into Warrior Pose II. Then, straighten your front leg and on an exhale, reach your left arm forward, extending your torso to the left. Raise your right arm skyward and move your gaze toward your top thumb. Stay here for 5 deep breaths, silently repeating: ”I am grounded.” Move through a vinyasa; repeat on the other side. Then move through another vinyasa, and finish lying face-down on your mat.
Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
Lie on your belly with your arms at your sides, palms down, forehead resting on the floor. Turn your big toes toward each other to inwardly rotate your thighs. On an inhalation, lift your feet, knees, chest, and arms from the earth, while pulling your shoulders back. Hold for 3 breaths, silently repeating the mantra: “I am alive.” Repeat once more, then come into Child’s Pose.
Upward Bow (Wheel) Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)
Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, knees bent, and heels close to your sit bones. Bend your elbows and spread your palms on the floor beside your head, fingers pointing toward your shoulders. Exhale and push your tailbone up, then place the crown of your head on the mat. On your next exhale, lift your head off the mat and straighten your arms. Stay here for 3 breaths, silently repeating the mantra: “I am bold.” Once you come out of the pose, rest on your back with your knees bent and touching one another in Constructive Rest.
Full Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)
From Constructive Rest, engage your core. On an inhale, lift your shoulders, torso, and legs off the ground. If you can, straighten your legs so your thighs are angled about 45–50 degrees from the floor, and lift through the top of your sternum as you lean back. Stretch your arms forward, parallel to each other and the floor, and feel your heart center lift. Hold here for 5 breaths, silently repeating: “I am stable.”
Frog Pose (Bhekasana)
Come to Child’s Pose and slide both hands forward. Bring your knees wide while sitting on your heels. Slowly, and as you feel ready, lift your hips and bring your knees wider, possibly so they come to rest in line with your hip points. For full Frog, separate your feet as wide as your knees and flex your toes toward your head. Pull your low belly up and in, and try to surrender here. Hold at least 10 breaths, silently repeating: “I am open.”
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Come to a seated position on your mat with your legs extended straight out in front of you. On an inhalation, reach your arms skyward to lengthen your torso. On an exhalation, fold forward, leading with your heart. Place your hands around your feet, or hold a strap, as you continue to move your torso toward your thighs. Stay here for 3 deep breaths, silently repeating the mantra: “I am free.” Then, keep all of the actions you’ve just created but round your back, feeling a deep stretch through your shoulder blades. Stay here for 3 more breaths, while you silently repeat your mantra.
Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)
Make your way to Down Dog and walk your hands toward your feet. (If you know you need support, move to a wall.) Position your shoulders directly over your hands and tiptoe your feet toward your hands until your hips are stacked over your shoulders. Hug in toward your midline, then lift one leg up overhead, followed by the other. Try not to kick up, but rather use your core strength to float into Handstand. Hold here for at least 5 breaths, silently repeating the mantra: “I am new.” When you’re finished with Handstand, rest in Child’s Pose and then move into Savasana (Corpse Pose). Stay here, resting completely, for at least 5 minutes.
About Our Pro
Teacher and model Dan Nevins is a certified Baptiste yoga teacher who has brought his unique expression of the practice all over the country. He lost his legs while serving in the US Army during the Iraq war. Learn more at dannevins.com.