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If the cooler, shorter days have you feeling tired and ungrounded, you’re not alone. Even though moving vigorously might be the last thing you feel like doing lately, heat-building standing and heart-opening postures can quickly balance the cool, dry, airy qualities (vata energy) that can leave us feeling frazzled and spacey. Try this sequence by yoga teacher Gabrielle Marchese to boost your energy and alertness and to warm up from within.
Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
Begin in a comfortable, easy seat. Allow the weight of your pelvis to distribute evenly on your mat. Keep your spine long and shoulders relaxed as the crown of your head gently reaches toward the ceiling. Place your palms face down on your thighs to ground your energy. Begin to breathe deeply through the diaphragm. As you inhale, feel your lower belly expand; as you exhale feel the air easily leave your body. Direct your full awareness to the sensation of your breath, gently redirecting your focus when your mind begins to wander. Continue for 3–5 minutes.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
From your seat, come forward to your hands and knees into Tabletop Pose. Walk your palms out a handprint or two as you tuck your toes under. Press firmly through your palms and extend your legs as you bring your hips toward the ceiling, creating an inverted “V” shape with your body. You can keep your knees bent if necessary to maintain a long spine. Invite in any gentle movements to your body before finding stillness. Hold for 5 breaths.
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II)
On an inhale, step your right foot in between your hands. Pivot your back foot to a 45 degree angle. As you inhale, lift your torso and anchor into your feet. Keep a strong bend in your front knee as you press back into the earth with the blade edge of your left foot. Create a “T” shape with your arms by extending your left arm behind you and your right arm forward. Keep your arms at shoulder height and relax your shoulders away from your ears. Gaze over your front middle finger. Hold for 5 breaths.
Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
On an inhale, straighten through your right leg. Reach your right hand as far forward as you can while simultaneously shifting your hips toward the back of your mat. Place your right palm down either inside of your right ankle or on a block. Extend your left arm to the sky, keeping it stacked over your shoulders. You can gaze at the floor or at your left hand if doing so feels okay for your neck. Keep the weight light in your bottom hand and stamp your heart back in space. Hold for 5 breaths.
Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
Gaze down at your right foot. Begin to shift your weight into your right foot, bend your right knee, and place your right hand or block on the mat about a handprint in front of the standing foot (slightly outside your foot’s pinky toe edge). Press down into your right foot, straighten your right leg, and lift your back leg up and away from the mat to hip height. Keep your left foot firmly flexed and extend your left arm toward the sky. Find a steady gaze or drishti to maintain your balance. (You can focus on the floor, wall, or at your lifted hand). Hold for 3–5 breaths.
To exit Half Moon, step your lifted foot to meet your grounded foot and land in Uttanasana. For a more challenging transition, step back into Warrior Pose II, tilt your torso back briefly into Reverse Warrior, then cartwheel your hands down to frame your front foot. Step back to Down Dog.
Repeat poses 2–5, then return to Downward Facing Dog.
Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)
From Down Dog, walk your hands and feet to the center of your mat. Turn and face the long edge of your mat. Stand tall for a moment in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Step your feet out wider than hip-width apart. Bring your toes in and heels out as you hinge at your hips to fold over your legs. Interlace your hands at the base of your spine and press your palms away from your body, stretching into your shoulders. Hold for 5 breaths.
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
From Prasarita Padottanasana, exhale and release the bind as you bring your hands back down to the mat. Turn all ten toes to face the front of your mat. Step back into Plank Pose slowly and lower all the way down to the mat.
Bring your arms by your sides and move your hips side to side to settle your pelvis. When you’re ready, bring your heels in toward your glutes and reach back for your ankles as you flex your feet. On your next inhale, kick your ankles into your palms as you lift up through your heart, keeping your weight toward your hips. On every inhale, see if you can kick your feet into your hands to open up through your heart a little bit more. Hold for 3–5 breaths.
Prone Shoulder Stretch
Release Bow Pose and slowly lower back down to the mat on an exhale. Bring one cheek to the mat and allow yourself to settle and breathe for a moment. Extend both arms out to your sides at shoulder height. Bring your left heel in toward your glutes as you begin to roll off onto your right side. Place the ball of your left foot behind your body as you bring your left fingertips to the mat, pressing into them to encourage the twist. If this is too intense, you can extend your left leg and place it on top of your right. Hold for 5 breaths. Return to center and repeat on the other side.
Balasana, Variation (Child’s Pose)
Gently roll off your right shoulder and back onto your belly. Press back through your palms into Child’s Pose, sitting your hips back onto your heels. Walk your elbows forward a bit as you bend your arms, bringing them into prayer behind the base of your neck to stretch into your triceps and shoulders. Hold for 5–10 breaths.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Lie down on your back. Extend your arms and legs out to the side, taking up space on your mat. Let go of all breath control and attempts to direct your thoughts. Allow your body to release any tension into the earth and let go fully. Stay in Savasana for 5–10 minutes, slowly coming up to Sukhasana when you are finished.