Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Want to design a viable personal practice? Don’t miss Elena’s workshop, Peace, Power, and Potency in Your Home Practice, at Yoga Journal LIVE New York on Friday, April 21. Sign up today!
Today, you’ll spend time opening your hips, hamstrings, front body, and side body. This will free up space for energy to flow, helping your organs function optimally for greater mental clarity and endurance.
Sit on your mat and set your timer for 2 to 3 minutes. Extend your left leg, bend your right knee, and open the bent leg wide. Place your right foot on your left inner groin. Turn your upper body toward your extended left foot and place your hands on either side of your leg. With your inner groins grounded, inhale to lengthen your sides and central channel from your pelvis upward, and then exhale to fold over your extended leg. Breathe deeply here until your timer chimes, then reset your timer and switch sides.
See also A Meditation for Conscious Parenting
Intense Side Stretch
From Janu Sirsasana, find your way to Tabletop, and then take a few breaths in Down Dog. Step your right foot forward and place your palms or your fingertips on either side of your front foot, 3 to 12 inches in front of it; straighten your front leg. Reach both sitting bones high and wide as you lengthen your right hip back and invite your left hip forward. Take 5 deep breaths on this side, step back to Down Dog, and then change sides for another 5 breaths. To finish, return to Down Dog and stretch long on the mat.
Extended Side Angle Pose, Katonah-style
From Down Dog, step your left foot forward and bend your leg at a 90-degree angle. Turn your back (right) heel onto the floor, working toward a 45-degree angle, and place your left hand inside your left foot. Alternatively, flip your left wrist out to the left and then all the way back, fingers pointing toward your back foot. Keeping your right hip moving forward, spin your left belly upward; send your right arm up, palm facing forward; lengthen your neck to gaze skyward. Breathe here for 3 to 5 breaths, return your top hand to the floor, find your way back to Down Dog, and repeat on the second side.
From Down Dog, bring your right knee forward, just outside your right hand; bring your back leg to the floor. Point your back foot’s toes and root down through the baby toe; walk your hands forward and let the gaze follow. Invite your right seat back and your left hip forward, breathing deeply. For a more active posture, keep your elbows off the floor and gaze forward; for a more restful posture, lay your elbows and head on the floor. Take 5 big breaths, and then change sides.
Take a comfortable seat on a chair or sofa, with your back supported and your head free. Set your timer for 5, 10, or 20 minutes, close your eyes, and settle into a natural breathing rhythm. When your timer chimes, keep your eyes closed for a minute as you reacclimate and return to your day.
Elena Brower is the author of Art of Attention, a renowned yoga workbook, now translated into five languages. Studying and teaching since 1998, she’s respected globally for her distinct blend of alignment and attention in her teaching of yoga and meditation. Her audio meditation coursework, Cultivating Spiritual Intelligence, is beloved for its accessibility and relevance, and her yoga teaching is influenced by several traditions including Katonah Yoga, Kundalini and ParaYoga. Elena is also the founder of Teach.yoga, a global website for teachers, and her second book, Practice You, will be published in 2018 by Sounds True. Practices with Elena can be found on YogaGlo.com.