Yoga

A Yoga Practice to Kick Off the New Year

Yogi practicing Warrior III at sunset
Yogi practicing Warrior III at sunset

Our bodies hold the stories and experiences of our past. Clearing stagnation and creating space in the body is essential for fostering mental clarity and the freedom to welcome new stories, experiences, and ways of thinking. Entering a new year is a powerful time to create intention around what we would like to create for the year ahead. It’s important to have both clarity on our desires and the space to receive what we are calling in.

Yoga is a powerful way to come back to the body's wisdom and clear the stories held from the year past so you can welcome in the new. This yoga sequence is designed to create space mentally and physically to begin your new year feeling balanced and inspired. The postures in this sequence are designed to invigorate the body and open the heart. Find the most supportive and nourishing variations of these postures for your body.

Breath of Fire and Meditation

Begin in a seated position at the top of your mat. Close down your eyes and elongate your spine. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and take a few deep breaths to settle into your body. Come back to a natural breath, then begin Kapalabhati breathing, or breath of fire by taking a deep breath in, then sharp, short exhales out of the nose, contracting your diaphragm with every exhale.

The emphasis is on your exhale, allowing the inhales to be passive as you focus on pumping your diaphragm. Continue this pattern for one minute. Take a deep inhalation and retain the breath at the top for 20 seconds when you've finished. Exhale slowly, and find your natural breathing rhythm again.

Feel the energy in your body shift and settle as you invite your full awareness to your breath. Focus on the sensation of the air entering and leaving the nostrils. Allow your body to relax deeper with every exhale. When your mind wanders, shift your awareness back to the sensation of the breath.

Stay in this space for a few minutes, just focusing on the breath. From here, bring to mind an intention for your year ahead. It could be a word, a feeling you are trying to cultivate, something you are trying to create. Bring this intention to the forefront of your awareness.

Begin to feel into what this intention would mean for you and your life, how you would feel, the experiences it would create, breathe life into your intention. Remain in this space for a few minutes before gently beginning to blink your eyes open and coming out of your meditation.

Cat Cow (Marjaryasana)

Come into a table top position, hands stacked underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Keep a long spine and a neutral neck, gazing down at the mat below you. On an inhale, drop your belly, arching your spine and direct your gaze up toward the ceiling. On your exhale, press the mat away, creating a “C” curve with your spine and gazing toward your navel. Continue this pattern for up to ten rounds, inviting in any other movement that feels nourishing. Come back to a neutral spine when you are finished.

Extended puppy pose

From table top, begin to walk your palms forward, extending them out long as you slowly lower your chest toward the mat. Keep your hips stacked over your knees as you open up through your heart. Keep your forehead rooted on the mat or if you want added sensation, you can plant your chin on the mat for an even deeper stretch through the back body. Hold and breathe for 5-7 breaths before pressing into the palms to slowly come back up to table top.

Downward facing dog with twist (Adho Mukha Shvanasana)

Come into a downward-facing dog by tucking your toes under and pressing into the palms to extend your legs, creating an inverted “V” shape with your body. Keep your spine long and a micro bend in your knees as you press the mat away. Relax your head, neck, and shoulders and gaze at your navel. Hold still and breathe in downward facing dog for a few moments.

After around three breaths, bend your right knee and root firmly through your right hand as you reach underneath your body for the outside of your right calf with your left hand, coming into a twist. Encourage your body deeper into the twist by using the strength of your left arm to pull slightly on the left thigh. Hold for a few breaths, then go ahead and switch sides.

Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)

From downward facing dog, take a deep inhale, then on your exhale step your right foot between your hands. Come up into a high crescent lunge, then shift your weight into your right foot and slowly begin to lift your left leg off the mat. Extend your left leg long behind you at hip height while keeping your hips squared to the mat and a long spine. You can join the palms together at your heart center, or extend them out in front of you by your ears. Find a steady gaze and hold and breathe for five breaths.

Half moon (Ardha Chandrasana)

From Warrior III, gaze down at your toes and plant your right hand on a block or the mat outside your right pinky toe. Peel your left hip open toward the ceiling and extend your left arm skyward to come into half moon pose. Keep your left foot flexed and …….. Hold and breathe for five breaths, then slowly square your hips to the mat and come back into a standing posture. Transition through a Vinyasa, back to downward facing dog to come into Warrior III and repeat the same cycle on the left.

Child’s pose (Balasana)

From Downward facing dog, lower your knees to the ground and press back into child’s pose. Spread your knees mat-width, sitting your hips onto your heels and extend your arms out long in front of you. Let your chest melt toward the mat as you root your forehead down. Deepen your inhales, filling up the belly and lengthen your exhales, relaxing deeper with every breath out.

Savasana

Transition to lie down on your back. Spread your arms and legs out wide, taking up space on your mat. Allow your practice to settle. Let go of any breath control and attempt and allow your body to be heavy. Feel your body heavy, deeply relaxing your muscles head to toe. Stay here up to 10 minutes, slowly coming out and resuming your day when you’re finished.


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