Yoga can be a great way to soothe yourself when the world hurts, disappoints, or destroys part of you. The movement can channel healing qualities such as strength, fluidity and calmness, power, and resiliency. You can find inner peace by turning inward. This six-pose series is my refuge during chaotic times. It not only lifts my mood but also my heart.
Before you start a practice, you may take a moment to center yourself by taking a few moments of silence or focusing on your breathing. My experience is that my mind is still stuck on repeat and preoccupied with whatever chaos has engulfed my day. For this sequence, jump straight into the action. The idea is to start as soon as possible.
You must use a blanket, block, bolster, or substitute.
THROWING DOWN CHAOS
Imagine smashing the feelings out of your body. This also warms up my body and gets my blood pumping.
Start in Mountain pose, with your feet approximately hip-width apart. As you inhale, your arms will be raised overhead. Your arms will be released quickly on your exhale as your knees are gently bent. Pitch your torso forward. Repeat the movements by inhaling while you lift your arms into tadasana and then releasing them with your knees bending on an exhale. Inhaling and lifting your arms, lift onto your balls or feet after a few repetitions. Exhale and lower your body into a chair pose. Then extend your arms in front of your body. This movement should be organic.
WARRIOR II DIAGONAL THROWS
These Warrior I diagonal throws add to the theme of eliminating overwhelming feelings in the body by keeping your arms pumping and instilling steadiness, strength, and focus into your lower body. You can use your arms to mimic the swirling thoughts in your mind while your lower body regains the feeling of being solid and ready for connection.
Standing with your feet about one leg apart, face the long side. Your right leg should be turned 90 degrees outward, with your toes pointing toward your mat. Turn your left foot inwards about 45 degrees more than normal. You can bend your right leg as far as you like. Lift your arms overhead while your torso still faces your mat’s long edge.
Exhaling quickly, reach for your left foot (you don’t need to touch it), and sweep your arms across. On an inhale, sweep your arms back overhead.
ABSORBING Your Power
Now is the time for you to stand up tall with a lifted heart after shaking out all the chaos.
After you have completed the Warrior II diagonal throws:
Turn your feet parallel so that they are facing the long edge.
Turn your legs 45 degrees so that your toes point toward the corners of your mat.
Firm your thighs.
As you raise your heart, lift your arms at a 45-degree arc overhead.
The Ebb and Flow of Your Heart
In turbulent times, keeping your heart open and standing firmly in place is difficult. But sometimes, this can be beneficial. The next part of this sequence explores rising to a place where your heart can be at ease.
You can start on all fours with any padding. As you exhale, reach your hips forward as if going into the child’s pose. Keep your spine long and your arms out in front.
On an inhale, press your shins and drag your hands up the floor towards you while you raise your torso. Press your hips into the floor as you raise your chest and arms. As you bend your elbows at shoulder level, create cactus-like arms. Lift your heart to the ceiling in a version of the camel pose. Feel your heart open for as long as you feel comfortable. Then, return to hands and knees.
Alternating nostril breathing is a great way to center yourself in a seated position
According to some, alternate nostril breathing balances the left and right hemispheres in the brain and induces a relaxed and harmonious state.
Sit comfortably in a seated position. Use any kind of support you can to make the experience more enjoyable. Place your left hand on a blanket, bolster, or other support. Raise your hand to your nose, and curl the index and third finger into your palm. Your pinky should rest naturally. Place the tip of the thumb on the right nostril and the tip of the fourth finger on the left. As you breathe in, notice how your fingers gently press on your nostrils. Close your right nostril using your thumb, then breathe in through the left nostril. Close the left nostril, and then open the right. Exhale from your right nostril. Inhale by using your right nostril. Close your right nostril and open your left. Exhale from the left. This is one round.
It may be helpful to choose a number for the duration of each breath so that it is relatively even. Also, make sure your breathing is smooth and consistent.
SETTLING INTO SUPTA BADDHA KONASANA
Supta Baddha Konasana is the final pose in this sequence. In it, your body can let go of all tension.
Although you can do this pose with or without any props, I have included an elaborate set of props to help lift your heart. You can improvise with what you already have.
Place a bolster horizontally on top of a block in its medium setting towards the upper portion of your mat. Roll your blanket lengthwise after opening it all the way. Sit with your sacrum in contact with the bolster. Bring your soles together and bend your knees. Wrap the blanket around the tops of your feet, and tuck in the sides as close as possible to your buttocks. Lean back against the bolster. Your neck will be lengthened if you move your chin closer to your chest. Place your hands on your chest and breathe in deeply. You can either leave your hands in the same position or move them into another comfortable position. Stay here for 5 to 20 minutes.
Use your hands to gently guide your knees to each other while placing your soles on the floor. Roll slowly to one side. After a few deep breaths, slowly move to your side and claim your seat of authority.