Saturday, September 12, 2015

My Favorite Warrior Sequence

Warrior poses create powerful legs.  They get your blood pumping.  They stimulate focus.  They subtly improve your balance.  They make you feel ready for anything. These four easy poses will stimulate your senses.

Breathe deeply and slowly for maximum effect.  Count 3 to 8 long breaths per pose.   This short sequence will take only 2 to 5 minutes per side, or a time commitment of 4 to 10 minutes to do the entire flow.  Begin the sequence with your dominant leg forward, then spend an equal amount of time on the other side going through the same flow.  

1.  Warrior 1.  (Virabhadrasana 1.)
Take a big step forward. Bend your front knee so you can see your toes. Stretch your back leg straight behind you and turn your back heel down while keeping your hips facing forward. Reach your hands high in the sky with your thumbs pointing backwards.  Pull your belly button in and stretch your arms high like goal posts. Score! 
When you breathe in stretch up higher and challenge yourself.  When you breathe out, sink deeper into the pose in a relaxed way.

2.  Warrior 2.  (Virabhadrasana 2.)

From Warrior 1, turn your hips and shoulders to the side.   Keep your knee over your ankle.  Stretch your arm forward over your bent knee and reach the other arm behind you in a straight line.  Your palms face down.  Look over your front hand. Flex your arms to lift your triceps.  Flex your legs to lift your hamstrings.  Flex your tummy and tuck your tail a little to protect your lower back.  Lift your chest to open your lungs.  Breathe deeply and surf the waves! 

When you inhale, extend your arms and expand your chest.  When you exhale, tuck your tummy and sink a little lower into your lunge.

3.  Peaceful Warrior.  (Parsva Virabhadrasana.)
From Warrior 2, turn your front palm up in a gesture of surrender.  Reach forward just a little to open up your back ribs. Gently see-saw your arms by lifting your front arm to the ceiling and sliding your back arm down your leg.  Make sure your front knee stays over your ankle!  Look up at your hand.  Open up the front side of your ribs with your breath.  Be patient and breathe.  Do you feel peaceful inside?  

When you breathe in, reach up toward the sky and behind you.  When you breathe out, bend just a little more.

4.  Extended Side Angle.  (Utthita Parsvakonasana.)
Briefly return to Warrior 2.  Lower your front arm and bend your elbow so your forearm rests on your front thigh.  Reach your other arm up and over your head like the long neck of a giraffe.  Your palm faces down but your arm reaches up.  Look up toward the sky and balance.  Try to twist your ribcage toward the sky while keeping your knee aligned over your ankle.  If you feel comfortable here, maybe challenge yourself by reaching your bent arm to the ground so you can twist your ribs toward the sky a little more.  

When you inhale, reach further. when you exhale, bend your body a little more.

From here, return to Warrior 2, take a few long deep breaths, then inhale and step your feet together.  Return to the beginning. This time, take a big step forward with your non-dominant foot in front and be sure to spend the same amount of time doing the sequence on the other side.  

It’s surprisingly important to try to do things on both sides of your body.   It not only balances your muscles, it balances your mind.   At first it can feel odd and be difficult, but with just a little practice, muscle tension will melt away.  If you’re pushing a mouse around all day with one hand, you will feel a lot of tension in your neck and back on that side.  When you switch sides, you give your body substantial relief and a chance to recover. Plus it's fun to try something new!

Today, may you be ready for anything, aware of your breath, living in the present, and practicing gratitude.  Most importantly, do your best.  Namaste.