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Master Baptiste Yoga teacher Leah Cullis, who leads YJ’s online course Pillars of Power Yoga (sign up here), demonstrates 5 poses that will help you discover your imperfections and have fun in the process.
This weekend at Yoga Journal LIVE! in New York City, Baron Baptiste and I are leading an in-person immersion into the Pillars of Power Yoga, where Baron will introduce practices from his new book, Perfectly Imperfect, that will help you embrace your imperfections and access more power on and off the mat. As you welcome the unsteady parts of your yoga practice with acceptance, patience, and grace, you can start to meet life as it comes, both the highs and the lows, and feel the freedom and ease that emerge.
The following 5 poses will help you discover your imperfections and reveal the wisdom and the fun of falling down. You can practice them together as a sequence (remember to do both sides) or add them individually into your practice.
Lord of the Dance (Natarajasana)
Lord of the Dance Pose teaches us how to be grounded and stable. As you come into the pose, set your vision on one point and remember that falling is part of the process.
Come to a standing position. Anchor into your standing foot and press down into all four corners. Bend your other knee and catch the inner arch of your other foot with your hand, thumb facing up and shoulder open. Reach your opposite arm to the sky. Tilt your tailbone down toward the ground and lift your low belly up and in to stabilize at your core. Hug both knees toward your centerline, and with your inhale, kick your lifted shin behind you. As you lift and power up your pose, cultivate a balance of effort and ease. Hold for 5–10 breaths.
Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)
Inversions infuse a sense of wonder, exploration, and play into your practice, helping you loosen up and take a break from the seriousness of the adult life.
Walk your feet halfway up your mat and come into a short Downward-Facing Dog. Lift your gaze between your hands, shift your shoulders over your wrists, and lift your right leg high. Bend your standing leg slightly, exhale your air, and hop up. You can keep your heels up to a wall or try to catch some air out in the open. Hold for 5–10 breaths, and have fun.
Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)
Boat Pose strengthens and tones the core and creates whole-body integration — it can be tricky to find your balance! Hug into your center and lift your sails high.
Sit up straight, lift your legs off the floor, and balance on your seat. Hook your hands behind your knees and lift your heels to knee level or extend your heels toward the sky. Activate your feet, pressing the inner arches together and spreading your toes. Extend your hands forward and spread your fingers open. Draw your upper arm bones back, open across your chest, and lift your heart high. Enjoy 5–10 breaths here.
Fire Log Pose (Agnistambhasana)
Hip-opening poses help us accept things exactly as they are right now. As you stay and breathe during deep hip openers, you learn to withstand the heat during intense situations and trust that everything will be OK.
Stack your shins on top of one another and flex your feet. Lift your heart high as you inhale and broaden your chest. As you exhale, hinge at your hips and fold forward. Rest your forearms to the ground or a block. Hold for 10 full breaths. You always have the option to stay seated upright if this is where you feel your edge.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Some of my most powerful moments on the mat have come through opting out of what is being offered in the class and resting in Child’s Pose. There is power available when you pause.
Bring your big toes to touch at the back of your mat and spread your knees as wide as the edges of your mat. Drop your hips back to your heels, reach your arms forward, spread your fingers, and anchor your knuckles into the mat. Touch your forehead to the ground, drop the weight of your head, and allow your shoulders to soften. Stay here for 5 breaths or more.