One of the many benefits of moving through your day in a more mindful, present way is the opportunity to observe and notice how you are feeling physically, energetically and mentally at any given moment. I dare say all of us have experienced feeling drained and sluggish at one point or another. I’ve created this short, dynamic sequence of yoga postures to help awaken and energize you on those days you need an extra boost. Rather than reaching for another cup of Joe, give this sequence a go and let us know how you feel!
Come into a tabletop position. Place your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. Bring your wrist creases parallel to the front edge of your mat and spread your fingers wide pressing evenly through all four corners of your palms. Bring your gaze down and slightly forward so you feel length in the back of your neck.
As you inhale, tuck your toes under, draw your chest forward between your arm bones, lift your tail bone and allow your belly to drop toward the floor for Cow Pose.
As you exhale, untuck your toes and press the floor away from you as you round your spine towards the ceiling. Draw your navel center up and in towards your spine and release your head for Cat Pose.
Continue to move in and out of Cow and Cat coordinating each movement with your breath. Each time you inhale, allow your belly to naturally expand towards the floor. Each time you exhale, gently draw your belly up and in towards your spine and widen across the back of your torso.
Move through 10 full rounds of breath then release your hips back towards your heels for Childs Pose.
2. Downward Facing Dog Variation
Prop: 2 Blocks
From tabletop position, place two blocks lengthwise on the lowest level on the top corners of your mat.
Place one hand on each block making sure your palms are flat on the surface of the block with the base of your palm towards the bottom edge of the block. To stabilize your grip, wrap your pinky fingers around the outer edge of the blocks and your thumbs around the inner edges.
Inhale, and as you exhale, tuck your toes under and lift your hips up and back into Downward Facing Dog. Press your hands into the blocks as you lift your hips up and back and sense your spine lengthening. Hug your outer upper arms in towards your ears while keeping the side of your neck soft.
Root your thigh bones back towards your hamstrings and your heels down toward the earth. If you feel strain or rounding in the lower back, take your feet wider and/or bend your knees.
Continue to press your hands into the blocks and lift your hips up and back. Take slow, deep breaths and stay here for 1-2 minutes.
To come out, lower your knees to the floor and rest in Child’s Pose for a few breaths.
3. High Crescent Lunge
From Downward Facing Dog, inhale to look forward and as you exhale, step your right foot forward between your hands. Align your right heel directly below your knee. Be sure that your feet are hip-width distance apart.
Inhale and lift your torso and arms high towards the sky. Fix your gaze on a point in front of you to help with your balance. Continue to take slow deep breaths here.
Anchor down through your front heel and simultaneously lift your lower belly in and up and lengthen your tailbone down towards the floor. Lift your chest towards the ceiling and soften your front ribs into your body. Reach up actively through your arms and fingertips while allowing the sides of your neck and tops of your shoulders to relax.
Stay here for 5 full rounds of breath. Release your hands down, step back to downward facing dog and repeat on the left side.
4. Locust Pose with Arm Variation
Prop: Strap or towel optional
Lie on your belly with your arms alongside your torso, palms facing the ceiling. Position your legs and feet hip-width distance apart. Rest your forehead on the floor and take a few deep breaths.
Interlace your hands behind your back or hold a strap (or towel) between your hands.
Roll your shoulder heads up and away from the floor and widen across your collar bones.
Press your feet down into the mat as you reach your sternum forward and up until your head, chest and shoulders are lifting off of the floor. Keep your gaze slightly forward and down so the back of your neck stays long. On your inhale, lift your legs up away from the floor and reach strongly back through your toes.
Stay here for 5 breaths. On an exhale, release the pose and rest your right cheek on the mat. Take a few breaths and repeat the pose two more times.
5. Downward Dog into Upward Dog Variation
Prop: Two Blocks
Return to a tabletop position and place two blocks lengthwise on the lowest level, on the top corners of your mat.
Place one hand on each block with palms flat on the surface, and the base of your palm towards the bottom edge of the block. To stabilize your grip, wrap your pinky fingers around the outer edge of the blocks and your thumbs around the inner edges.
Inhale, and as you exhale, tuck your toes under and lift your hips up and back into Downward Facing Dog with feet hip-width distance apart. Press your hands into the blocks as you lift your hips up and back and sense your spine lengthening. Hug your outer upper arms in towards your ears while keeping the side of your neck soft. Root your thigh bones back towards your hamstrings and your heels down toward the earth.
Inhale and lift your heels. As you exhale, draw your naval up and in towards your spine. Maintain this connection in your core center and on your next inhale shift forward towards a plank pose.
Keep your legs active and your naval engaged as you lower your hips and lift your chest into Upward Facing Dog with your toes tucked under. Actively press your hands into the blocks and lift your sternum. Roll your shoulder heads open and back. Keep your lower belly gently engaged and your tailbone lengthening down.
Stay here for 2 full rounds of breath. On an exhale, lift your hips up and back into Downward Facing Dog.
Continue to move dynamically through this sequence coordinating your movement with your breath : Exhale Downward Dog, Inhale Upward Dog, Exhale Downward Dog. Flow through this 3 – 5 times, then from Downward Dog, lower your knees to your mat and come to rest in Child’s Pose.
6. Low Lunge Twist Variation
props: strap optional
From Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot forward between your hands and lower your back knee to the mat. If your back knee is sensitive, place a folded blanket or towel underneath your knee.
Slowly dial your right foot out to the right a few inches and make sure your knee follows the angle of your foot. Your knee should align with your second and third toes.
Place your left palm directly beneath your left shoulder and inhale your right arm to the sky for a twist. On an exhale, bend your back knee bringing your heel towards your seat and clasp your foot with your right hand. If your foot is out of reach, loop a strap (or a belt) around the foot and hold onto the strap.
Root down through your left hand as you gently hug your lower belly in and up and lift your sternum. Begin to turn your torso open toward the sky. If your neck allows, let your gaze follow the rotation of the twist as you look towards the sky. Hug your back heel toward your seat as you maintain the lift in your lower belly.
Stay here for 5 full cycles of breath. To come out of the pose, gently release the hold of your back foot, turn your front foot straight forward and step back to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat on the second side.
7. Dancer Pose
Come to stand at the top of your mat. Bring your feet hip-distance apart and place your hands on your hips. Set your gaze on a point in front of you to steady your balance. Inhale as you shift your weight into your right leg, then exhale, and lift your left heel towards your seat. Reach back with your left hand and clasp either the inside or the outside of your foot. Maintain your gazing point and take a full cycle of breath here.
Inhale your right are to the sky. As you exhale, gently engage your lower belly. Slowly begin to kick your left foot back into your hand while keeping your sternum lifted.
Stay here for 5 full cycles of breath. To come out of the pose, release your left foot and return to standing with your feet hip-distance apart. Repeat on the second side.
tutorial and demo by Kate Waitzkin
photography by Dagny Piasecki
location SHDW Studios