We practice yoga for a number of reasons: to keep fit, stay sane, challenge ourselves—the list goes on. But no matter how or why you practice, when we pursue that mind-body connection with courage and perseverance, it can help us come to know ourselves better. And on this fertile ground, real change is possible, says Seane Corn.
“It’s about praying through the body in your poses with intention,” says Corn.
Here are her tips and suggested poses to let go of the rigidity that holds us back in life, and surrender to your inner light.
1. Put Aside Fear and Ask the Right Questions
We need to ask ourselves fundamental, and sometimes uncomfortable, questions—and be willing to sit with them. How do we become empowered, in spite of our wounds, to create the space to make the change? How can we take responsibility for our lives? “It’s all about the isolation of you, your mat, your breath, and dealing with all the crap that comes up on it,” says Corn. “Yoga holds up a mirror to our soul and gives us the opportunity of choice—to really be with it.” In that vulnerability, we can find answers.
2. Pay Attention to Transitions Between Poses
Transitions, Corn says, are just as important as deepening the actual poses. “Think of your practice not as a series of disjointed poses, but rather one pose,” she says. “Move through them with your breath to encounter passion, love and forgiveness.”
3. Yoga Poses to Add to Your Practice
The calming effects of forward folds relax your mind and bring awareness to what’s really going on inside you. Try Humble Warrior. Come into Warrior I with your right foot forward, release the arms and interlace your fingers behind your back. Reach your arms down your back to open your chest, exhale as you bow forward over your bent right knee. Keep your hips squared to the front and be mindful not to rest all of your weight on your knee. Stay here for 5 breaths, switch sides.
Focusing on your hips helps you release the anxiety you hold in your belly and refocus your energy. Try Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana).
From Down Dog, step your right foot between your hands to a lunge position. Bring both forearms to the floor inside the right leg. Keep your inner left thigh lifting and resisting. As your left heel reaches back, your heart opens forward to create length in your upper back. Modify the pose by bringing your back knee down if you wish. Stay here for 5 breaths, then switch sides.
In the middle of a pose or transition, we can quickly lose our breath. Coming back to this is what centers your entire practice. Use Lion’s Breath to bring awareness back to the way you circulating air through your body.
Take a deep inhalation through your nose. Then open your mouth wide and stretch your tongue out, contract the muscles on the front of your throat, and exhale the breath slowly out through your mouth with a distinct “ha” sound.
See also: Amy Ippoliti’s Advice For Tight or Injured Shoulders