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Person in Goddess Pose

Weekly Class Theme: Kindness

By Yoga Classes, Yoga TeachersNo Comments

We’ve all heard the saying: “kindness goes a long way.” To be completely honest with you, I am not sure where that quote comes from but I do believe that I ascribe to it in my daily life. Any normal situation automatically becomes better when kindness is involved IMO. Buying a coffee and the barista is kind? Great coffee experience. Getting on public transit and the bus driver is kind? Normally nightmarish commute experiences are elevated. Receiving help from a kind retail associate? I’m way more likely to enjoy my time and buy something.

If you ask me, there are few reasons to not be kind. Some might say that we don’t owe a stranger anything, but personally I believe that one act of kindness can create a ripple effect. This begs the question, where does kindness come from? How can we cultivate kindness?

Kindness, like most other “positive” emotions, comes from the place where they all come from. Your own inner well of self-love. Yup, it always comes back to YOU. As a little experiment, this past month I focused on increasing this well of self-love and self-worth. And what do you know, I felt kinder not only to others, but to myself. This created a sort of feedback loop of kindness coming in and going out. I took time to notice my inner self talk. I reflected on the areas in which I was tolerating less than what I truly want. I enjoyed activities that make my heart feel free and aligned (lots of snuggling on the couch with my dog).

As I reflect on this work, I really do feel like a kinder human being and like that kindness is contributing to an overall better place for everyone.

Peak Pose: Goddess (Utkata Konasana)

Although maybe not a traditional Iyengar posture, Goddess pose is typically seen in Vinyasa style classes. While seemingly simple, the pose is quite vulnerable with the front body wide open. It requires a spreading of the chest and inner hip groins, which is quite opposite of the patterns normal life asks of us (generally speaking). The shape itself also symbolizes openness, receptivity, and surrender.

Supporting Pose 1: Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana)

Person in Bound Angle Pose

This is a great starting position to begin to get into the inner groin muscles. Coming from a seated position can be relatively accessible for participants and anyone can moderate how much they are folding, thereby moderating how intense the stretch is. Although it’s not pictured, a blanket under the bum might be comfortable and help to make the fold a bit more accessible.

How to:

  1. Sit on the ground with the soles of your feet together and knees wide.
  2. Take your hands to the bottom of your shins and fold forward. If possible, you can press your elbows into the inner thighs to widen the legs.
  3. Keep your spine long as you reach your heart over your feet.
  4. Once you’re at your edge for folding, allow your head to relax.

Supporting Pose 2: Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Warrior II

What’s easier than opening both inner hip groins? Opening one inner hip groin! Warrior II is not only great for generally preparing the body for Goddess, but it also helps to teach the actions of the open hip and open leg necessary for the peak pose. The spreading of the chest is also similar here as in our peak.

How to:

  1. Face the side wall and hop or step your feet about 3 feet wide.
  2. Turn the back toes in slightly and rotate the front toes, leg, and hip out to 90 degrees.
  3. Bend the front leg to 90 degrees so the thigh is parallel to the floor.
  4. Keep widening the inner thigh so the knee is going in the same direction as the second and third toe.
  5. Widen your arms towards the front and back of the room and take your gaze over your front hand.

Supporting Pose 3: Tree (Vrksasana)

Tree is another great hip opener (hip external rotation) which helps prepare the practitioner for Goddess pose.

How to:

  1. From mountain pose, stand on the left leg.
  2. Come to the ball of the right foot and externally rotate the right toes, leg, and hip out to face the side wall.
  3. Lift the right foot to the inner left groin.
  4. Press the right knee back in space to lengthen the inner thigh while remaining mindful that the right hip is in line with the left hip.
  5. Take the arms wide and up to the ceiling.

Peak Pose: Goddess (Utkata Konasana)

Person in Goddess Pose

How to:

  1. Face the side wall and hop or step the feet about 3 feet wide.
  2. Externally rotate both sets of toes, legs, and hips.
  3. Bend both legs to about 90 degrees. If you cannot fully bend to 90 degrees, or if you notice your knees are uncontrollably caving in, narrow your stance.
  4. Widen the knees to lengthen the inner thighs and bring the knees in line with the second and third toes. Be mindful that the pelvis remains under the chest.
  5. Take your arms out to sides and bend them to 90 degrees with the fingers facing upward.
  6. Breathe and welcome the moment. 🙂

Weekly Class Theme: Vata

By Yoga Asana, Yoga Classes, Yoga TeachersNo Comments

Ayurveda is a science that helps you understand your own rhythms and the rhythms of the world around you. It’s often called the sister science to yoga because Ayurveda and yoga are meant tobe practiced together.

Yoga helps you tune into your soul and to the divine. It helps you understand the nature of your mind and access your heart so you can remember who you really are. The elements earth, fire, water, air, and ether are the building blocks that make up everything you experience here on earth through your senses. These elements are what combine to form The Doshas (governing forces that permeate everything in nature).

Just as a reminder about The Doshas…

  • Kapha Dosha is made up of earth and water and can be recognized as the part of you that’s caring and nurturing.
  • Pitta Dosha is made up of fire and water and can be recognized as the part of you that’s passionate and driven.
  • Vata dosha is made up of air and ether and can be recognized as the part of you that’s creative, imaginative, and social.

A deeper look into Vata Dosha

Vata Dosha is made of the elements air and ether and some of the qualities of Vata are cold, light, dry, mobile, subtle. Air is literally all around you and is always moving. When you’re in total stillness, you can still feel the air around your skin, eyes, nose, and ears. Ether is sometimes understood as space or this “stillness” I’m talking about here. It’s what can “contain” or “hold”. When air and ether come together to create Vata Dosha, there is potential for creation and also a container to just be.

You can see Vata in you whenever you come up with a new idea or a different plan. Vata manifests as your ability to express, craft, and share. On the other end of that, Vata is also the only Dosha that moves, so this may lead to feelings of emptiness or lack. Excess Vata can also cause restlessness, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness.

One of the main principles of Ayurveda is:


For example, if it’s cold outside and you’re shivering, you will get colder if you drink ice cold water. If you drink hot tea, you will warm up because the tea is hot and that’s the opposite of cold. Sometimes, we experience an overload of certain qualities and that Dosha will come out of balance.

When you come on to your yoga mat, you can balance out Vata Dosha by favoring a slower, more grounded practice that doesn’t involve too much uncertainty. A Vata-balancing practice can involve longer holds, deeper breaths, connecting to the foundations, and avoiding too many variations.

Peak Pose: Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Pose)

Janu Sirsasana is a great pose to work towards in a class that is focused on balancing excess vata. It’s a perfect one for anytime you’re feeling frenetic, anxious, empty, like you can’t make a clear decision, or during the time of year when it’s more windy and dry. Janu Sirsasana is incredibly grounding, lengthening, and also a perfect pose to allow more focus on the breathing. It’s also a pose that can he held for a longer time and a pose that provides the space to focus on how the breath can help lengthen your body and release what isn’t serving you anymore.

Supporting Pose 1: Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose)

Variation: Reclined with a Strap

When prepping for a forward fold, it’s really nice to start to come into shapes that have the elements of the forward fold you’re working towards. For Janu Sirsasana, it’s helpful to begin opening up the hamstrings and becoming aware of the back of the leg. It’s also important to understand how your leg straightens. It can be a little difficult to understand that the leg muscles need to engage in order to straighten the leg. There should also be an awareness and connection to your toes, which is something you can discover while on your back.

How to:

  1. Lie down on your back with a strap. If you don’t have a strap, you can always use a hand towel, scarf, or anything that’s long enough to loop around your foot while keeping your leg long and your shoulders on the ground.
  2. Bend your knees and step your feet to the ground. From there, notice how your hips are hopefully pretty even and then bend one knee in towards your chest so you can loop your strap around the ball of your foot. As you extend your leg towards the sky, keep your foot slightly flexed and try your best to keep your shoulders on the ground. Engage your thigh to fully lengthen your leg.
  3. Lengthen your other leg out in front of you, keeping your heel on the ground. Slightly flex your foot and think about your pinky toe moving towards your ear. If you feel like extended this leg created an imbalance in your hips, just rebend your knee and step your foot back to the floor.
  4. Stay for a few cycles of breathing. You may engage your thighs with each inhale and then see what you can release through the backs of the legs with each exhale.

Supporting Pose 2: Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

This pose is a great teacher because it’ll ask you to begin to quiet your mind while also resisting any urge to move around and look around. When you’re in this pose, especially if you fold forward, it can be a very reflective time to focus on your breathing and to notice what parts of your body feel tight or open. You may even notice that as you stay in the pose, your breathing may slow down and in turn, your thoughts will slow down too.

How to: 

  1. Begin seated and bring the soles of your feet together, like you’re putting your feet in a “prayer” shape. If you need to sit up on a blanket or any kind of padding, please do so.
  2. Bring your heels as close to your torso as you can, without compromising your long spine and your ability to sit tall while breathing deeply.
  3. Press the pinky edge of your feet together (this the part of your feet that you feel on your yoga mat) and peel the inner edges of your feet apart. Imagine your feet are like a little book that you’re opening up slowly and gently. This will allow the inner thighs to soften.
  4. If you’d like to fold forward, softly extend forward of your feet. You may bring your hands to some blocks or walk them forward in front of you. Stay for a few cycles of breathing.

Supporting Pose 3: Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold)

Paschimottanasana is another pose that will help you quiet your mind and prepare for Janu Sirsasana. It’s a pose that asks you to reach forward into new space, while exposing your back body. This is often a metaphor for moving forward into the unknown while acknowledging that your past is behind you and you’re moving onward knowing you can’t change it.

How to:

  1. From a seated position, extend both legs out in front of you. If you need to sit up on something, elevate your seat so you can sit well and breathe deeply.
  2. Do your best to keep your legs straight, but it’s okay if you need to have a slight bend in your knees. Take a peek at your toes and imagine your little pinky toes can slightly reach back towards your ears. This will help activate your feet.
  3. Inhale to lengthen your spine and exhale to extend over your legs. Try to lengthen your spine with each inhale and release over your legs with each exhale. Your hands may be beside your legs or at your feet.

Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Pose)

How to:

  1. Sit tall and take padding beneath your seat if you need.
  2. Extend your right leg forward and bring the sole of your left food to your inner, upper right thigh. Try your best to keep your extended leg in front of you, as opposed to out to the side.
  3. As you breathe in, lengthen your spine and turn towards your extended leg. As you breathe out, turn a bit more while sitting tall.
  4. As you fold over your extended leg, continue to lengthen your spine with every breath in and revolve towards that extended leg with every breath out. You may place your hands around your extended leg or keep them closer to your hips.
  5. Try to focus on your breathing as you remain for a few cycles of breath. Perhaps think of something you’d like to focus on more with every inhale and something that you’d like to release with every exhale.

Whether it’s Vata season or you feel you or your students are working with excess Vata, focusing on grounding poses like forward folds can be transformational. Adding breathing cues into your practice can also help balance out the franticness that often comes with excess Vata.

Human in Camel Pose on a green yoga mat

Weekly Class Theme: Pitta Dosha

By Yoga Asana

According to Ayurveda, there are three major life-forces in your body that correspond to certain elements. These are called the doshas. The doshas oversee the way you process and experience all things in this lifetime, here on planet Earth.

The Doshas are:

  • Kapha (earth + water)
  • Pitta (water + fire)
  • Vata (air + ether)

When you are in balance, you naturally have a balanced amount of pitta. Balanced pitta may manifest as ambition, leadership, passion, motivation, and organization. When pitta is out of balance, it may manifest as fiery and fast digestion issues, anger, irritation, judgemental tendencies, and irritability.

Pitta dosha is made of the elements fire ad water and some of the qualities are oily, hot, sharp, light, and spreading. When fire and water come together, it can create steam. When you think of steam, you probably imagine there being some sort of flame or heat to cause transformation. This is an example of how you need pitta to digest and transform your food, your thoughts, and your emotions.

Pitta can be recognized within you whenever you are passionate about something and whenever you’re motivated. Those times when you feel unstoppable and incredibly driven are how you can recognize pitta within you.

When there is excess pitta, which can happen during the hotter times of year and also if you naturally have more pitta within you, you can find balance by cultivating the opposite qualities of pitta. This could mean slowing down, cooling down, and also having fun and laughing.

In a pitta-balancing yoga class, it’s helpful to have a purpose. These classes work best when there is a clear peak pose and also when there is a bit of playfulness. Any class that focuses on opening the heart and cultivating more love, gratitude, and compassion is helpful to balance excess pitta.

Supporting Pose 1: Lizard Pose

The low lunge, and forms of it, is such an underestimated pose in yoga classes! I know it’s not necessarily a traditional asana, but you probably noticed that we do a lot of lunges and they can be altered to work for whatever pose we are working towards. In this variation, you will keep your knee down and also play around with lowering to your arms. It’s an interesting variation that can keep high pitta qualities intrigued, while also offering a little bit of a cooling quality.

Human in Lizard Pose on a green yoga mat

How to:

  1. From a Downward Dog, reach your leg up and step your foot forward between your hands. If your foot doesn’t make it all the way up to the front of your mat, use your hands to help it up along the way. You can also place blocks beneath your hands in Downward Dog and that elevation can help you get your foot forward.
  2. Move your foot over to the edge of your mat so you can bring both of your arms inside of your front foot. Your shoulder should be inside of your front leg. If you feel like your heel is lifting off the ground, you may need to step your foot a bit more forward. You can also try to bring your foot onto a low block.
  3. Lower your back knee down to the mat and do your best to reach your chest forward. You are trying to bring your hips in front of your knee, as opposed to stacked on top of your knee.
  4. Bring your attention to your back foot and untuck your toes. Imagine your toenails have wet nail polish on them and you’re trying to make toenail prints on your yoga mat. You may also bring your attention to the big toe. This will help you find some length through your ankle and your foot.
  5. Stay up on your palms or lower down to your forearms. If the floor feels far away from you, bring some blocks beneath your hands or your forearms. There is often a tendency to reach downwards with the chest, which makes sense because it is such a grounding place to be. However, for this lunge, try to reach your chest forward of your mat.

Supporting Pose 2: Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana will help you tap into the length of your front legs while also helping you to find space through your lower back and opening through your chest. This pose will also bring in a sense of openness along with self empowerment that may help balance pitta.

Human in Upward Facing Dog on a green yoga mat

How to:

  1. Begin in a plank pose and lower all the way down to your yoga mat.
  2. Bring your palms beneath your shoulders and lift just your chest, With only your chest lifted, start to engage your thighs and press the tops of your feet into your mat. You may feel your knees lift as your thighs engage, but remember to keep your feet on your mat.
  3. As you lengthen your arms, reach your chest forward and also engage your abdominals. Imagine your tailbone can move towards your heels (you can’t physically do this, but the thought of it may help create some length through your lower back).
  4. Draw your shoulder blades together and spread through your collarbones. Make lots of space between your fingers.

Supporting Pose 3: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)

Bridge pose is an excellent way to find the alignment of your legs and feet while keeping your chest open and finding that upper backbend. It’s a nice one to help balance pitta dosha because it’s not over stimulating and it’s also sometimes satisfying to actually be able to see your heart and hips move and align.

Human in bridge pose on a yoga mat

How to:

  1. Come to your back and bring the soles of your feet to your yoga mat. Make sure your feet and legs are about hips-width apart and your toes are facing forward.
  2. Lift your hips towards the sky and reach your hands towards your heels. If you feel like your knees are way behind your feet, move your feet closer to you. If you feel like your knees are moving way over your toes, move your feet away from you.
  3. Try to use the strength of your upper back to lift your chest higher. Remember, the strength you cultivate is what helps you open your heart.
  4. If it’s available to you, clasp your hands and reach your knuckles towards your feet.

Finally, our Peak Pose: Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

You’ll probably find that a lot of people have a love/hate relationship with back-bending. I always thought that heart-opening was a better name for backbending because backbends require so much trust, openness, and strength. In order to feel like you can trust yourself, you have to cultivate a lot of love and also a lot of humor. They can be playful and fun if you allow them to be and they’re also soft reminders that life shouldn’t be so serious,

Human in Camel Pose on a green yoga mat

How to:

  1. Begin on your hands and knees and take a look back at your knees and feet. Make sure they’re about hips-width apart and not too close together.
  2. Take your hands to your hips and come up to stand on your shins. Once again, make sure your knees and feet aren’t too close together as this will make the backbend a bit more intense (and not in the good way that pitta may want intense).
  3. Take your hands to your hips and just notice how your hips are right above your knees. Remember you’re going to try your best to keep your hips over your knees as you come into the pose.
  4. Now bring your hands to your lower back. It may be helpful here to imagine your abdominals moving towards your hands. For some people, this serves as a reminder to activate their abdominals and to avoid collapsing into their low back.
  5. Lengthen through the sides of your waist. Picture another inch of space coming between your hips and your armpits.
  6. Now, picture a big beach ball behind your heart and between your shoulder blades. With that intention to lift up and over that beach ball, reach your chest towards the sky and then towards the space behind you.
  7. If it’s available to you, take your hands to your heels while maintaining that lift in your chest and that length in your lower back. You may even feel the urge to release your head back and see the space behind you. If this feels natural, go for it!

Remember, excess Pitta can cause you to lose sight of your own self care because you may feel like you need to do more than you need to. You may also feel like you’re not doing enough, and then eventually do too much. Remind yourself, or your students, to take breaks and to also laugh whenever there’s a mixup between left and right sides or any time there seems to be tension through the face.


Child's Pose on a yoga mat

8 Yoga Poses to Help Ease Period Pain

By Wellness, Yoga Asana

Yoga can help ease the discomfort of period pain if you take a strategic approach to the poses you practice. The next time you’re on your period, try these eight poses to alleviate pain, bloating, heavy bleeding, cramping, and PMS. Since the lower part of your body can feel super heavy during menstruation, these asanas are mostly seated and focused on opening up your hips and pelvic floor. Depending on how your body is feeling, you can stay in these poses for several minutes for a restorative practice. 

Supta Baddha Konasana

Up first, we have Supta Baddha Konasana. This asana is all about opening up your hips and relaxing — making it the perfect pose to do while you’re menstruating. To come into this pose, start in a reclined position with your knees bent. Release your knees out to the sides of the mat and let them fall to the earth. Bring the soles of your feet together. If you like to use props, a bolster under your spine would feel great in this pose. If you have extra time, you can stay in this pose for up to 10 minutes, bringing your body into a meditative state. 

Baddha Konasana

Baddha Konasana, also known as bound angle pose is a great asana to open up the pelvic region and stimulate your ovaries. This reproductive health power pose not only soothes your digestive system, and provides relief from menstrual cramps, it also gives you energy. For this pose, you begin by bending your knees and bringing the soles of your feet together as you let your knees fall out to either side. Draw your feet in as close as you can while still feeling comfortable. Sit up tall, with a long spine, and keep your shoulder blades away from your ears. 

Janu Sirsasana

Person in Head to Knee Pose

Head to knee pose, or Janu Sirsasana, is a simple forward bend that allows you to extend and lengthen your hip and groin area, while also stretching your hamstrings. This asana will aid your reproductive and digestive system, relieve anxiety, fatigue, headaches, menstrual cramps, and can also help depression. Begin this pose by extending your right leg and moving the sole of your left foot on your inner thigh. Center your torso over your right leg and fold forward. Come back through bound angle pose to set up for the same thing on the other side. 


Person in bow pose

Bow pose has many benefits, including stimulating the organs found in the abdomen, stretching the entire front of the body, thighs, and hip flexors, and relieves constipation, mild backaches, fatigue, anxiety, and general menstrual discomfort. This asana will bring you into a backbend that’s in the shape of, you guessed it, an archer’s bow. Start by lying down on your belly and place your hands along your hips. Keep your palms facing up as you stretch your hands backwards to your feet. Grab your ankles. Breathe in and gradually raise your body so your chest and thighs come off the ground. Stable yourself in this position and hold your breath. 


Next up is another hip opener. Pigeon pose has many benefits, including stretching your thighs, groin, and pack — all of which are helpful for period pains. For pigeon pose, start in Downward Dog and bring your right leg high towards the sky, coming into a three-legged dog. Bend your right knee and bring it forward to the top of your mat, resting it on the outside of your right hand. Release your left knee to the floor and lay your leg flat on the mat. Keep your toes pointed behind you or tucked under you. Keep your hips square and fold forward over your right leg. Breathe out any tightness that may come up and continue to breathe, deepening the stretch. Return to Downward Dog and repeat on your left side. 


Person in camel pose

This full-body stretch relieves backaches, and menstrual pain, and gives the hip flexors a deep stretch. To begin, kneel on your yoga mat and put your hands on your hips. As you inhale, draw your tail bone in as if you’re being pulled from your belly button. Arch your back and slide your palms over your feet until your arms are straight. Keep your neck in a neutral position, and make sure you don’t strain it. Keep this pose for a couple of breaths before slowly coming back to the initial pose. 

Setu Bandha Sarvāṅgāsana

Person in Supported Bridge Pose

Supported bridge pose relieves headaches, promotes deep relaxation, and reduces heaviness in the abdomen and reproductive system. Begin on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep both your feet firmly planted on the floor and push down into the floor with your feet. Imagine as if your hops were being drawn up toward the ceiling. Keep your knees in line without allowing them to waver from side to side. For added support, you can place a block under your tailbone area — especially if you have intense back pain.


Child's Pose on a yoga mat

Finally, we have child’s pose. This pose will flex your reproductive organs, all while releasing tension in your back, neck, and shoulders. And the best part is, this pose has just as many calming effects for your mind as it does for your body. 

There’s absolutely no pressure to do physical activity while you’re menstruating — sometimes curling up next to a heating pad with a bag of chocolate can be just as healing. However, if you’re in the mood to move your body, we hope the above asanas help.

Let us know in the comments if you try any of these!


Person in Crow Pose or Bakasana

Weekly Class Theme: Kapha Dosha

By Yoga Classes, Yoga Teachers

Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing rooted in the ancient culture of India. Ayurveda is translated to mean the science of life: (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). The purpose of Ayurveda is to help you to live in harmony with nature at all times in your life so you can connect deeper to your purpose.

When you begin studying Ayurveda, you will begin to look deeper into nature and see different qualities. During the springtime, for example, the snow is melting and you may notice more mud. The qualities of mud are soft and wet.

The elements: earth, fire, water, air, and ether are the building blocks that make up everything you experience here on earth, through your senses. They make up the Doshas, which are the forces that permeate everything in nature. These are Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. It’s important to remember that you actually are made up of all three Doshas, but the qualities of one or more may dominate the way you digest your food or even the way you learn!

Ideally, when you are in balance, you have a balanced amount of Kapha. Balanced Kapha manifests as maintaining nurturing relationships, having lots of self love, having love towards the people around you, and stability at work. When Kapha is out of balance, it may show up as swelling, excess mucus, weight gain, depression, a sense of stagnation, and inability to fully digest food or process emotions.

One of the main principles of Ayurveda is:


If you’re sad about something and it’s raining outside and you’re covered in blankets and already feel heavy and slow, you will probably feel even heavier if you order a cheese pizza and eat more than you know you should. If you increase the qualities of a certain dosha, you will feel out of balance.

When you come to your yoga asana practice, you can balance out excess Kapha by moving a little more, committing to a practice that builds more heat, and also stepping out of your comfort zone.

Peak Pose: Crow Pose (Bakasana)

Crow pose is a great pose to work on to balance out Kapha Dosha. A class that has this pose as its peak pose will also involve a lot of core work, strength-building exercises, and the invitation to perhaps step out of a place of too much comfort. If there is excess Kapha, you might find that you only want to practice yin or restorative, but you really need to get moving!

Supporting Pose 1: Cat/Cow with Knees Lifted (Bitilasana Marjaryasana Janu)

Lots of people don’t realize that crow pose requires a strong core and a connection to the stomach muscles. You may have heard that when you begin to understand arm balances, your core gets a little bit more of a workout than your arms. When you practice cat/cow with your knees lifted, it will automatically fire up your core and activate muscles you may have never really felt before while in cat/cow. It’s a great move to practice when preparing for crow because it won’t tire you out and it’s a bit subtle. When there’s excess Kapha, it’s nice to ease into a more intense practice.

Person in cat cow with knees lifted off the ground

How to:

Come on your hands and knees. Try to keep your wrists beneath your shoulders, or a bit more forward of your shoulders if there is any tension in the wrists. Do your best to have your knees right beneath your hips.

For this variation, tuck your toes and lift your knees about an inch off the ground. Pause here for a breath or two and notice if you are feeling any sensation in your lower back. Remember, your low back is one of the more mobile areas of your spine and it often wants to do the work when it’s not supposed to. If you do feel this a lot in your lower back, imagine someone is gently poking at your belly button. Move your abdominals away from that gentle poke and see if that can help you engage your core more. If that doesn’t help, imagine you can bring your front hip points together. You can’t physically do that, but for some people, that idea can help activate their core a bit more.

As you breathe in, slightly lift your sitting bones, open your chest towards your mat, and look upwards with your eyes. As you breathe out, scoop your belly up, round your back, and look back towards your knees or thighs. Keep these cat/cows going for a few cycles and then lower your knees back down.

If you have any problems with your wrists, you can try this on blocks or you can make fists with your hands.

Supporting Pose 2: Garland Pose (Malasana)

This pose will help you understand the connection that needs to happen between your arms and your legs in crow pose. It’ll also help your body get used to having your feet together while also having the knees apart. There is a sense of balance between your head and your sitting bones in this pose as well. Please note that some schools of yoga will refer to Malasana as a squat with the feet apart and that’s not the pose we’re working with here.

How to:

Begin standing and take your inner feet to touch.

As you open your knees, reach your arms forward and begin to lower yourself to the ground.

Walk your arms forward, but take a look at your feet. Do your best to keep the inner edges of your feet together. It’s okay if your heels lift up, and they probably will.

Try to keep your head in the same line as your tailbone and then either reach your arms forward or bring your arms back behind you, kind of like a garland.

Supporting Pose 3: Boat Pose (Navasana)

Boat pose is a great way to bring attention to your core and also tap into some muscles you probably didn’t know you had. It’s one of the poses that definitely gets better as you practice it, but not really easier – and that’s what makes it so interesting to keep coming back to!

Person in boat pose

Begin seated and then take your feet out in front of you and bend your knees, keeping both feet on the ground.

Bring your hands behind your thighs and lift your feet off the mat. From here, try to find the front of your sitting bones and reach your chest a little forward. Imagine you can also lift the crown of your head up higher to touch the sky.

You can stay right there, or you can extend your legs. You can stay right there, or you can reach your arms forward towards whatever is in front of you. If you feel like you’re rounding your back or falling backwards, it may be helpful to bend your knees again.

As you inhale, lift a bit more and as your exhale, try to relax your face.

Bakasana (Crow Pose)

Begin with your feet together, your knees bent, and your hands in front of your feet.

Try your best to get your knees high up onto your upper arms and as far up towards your armpits as possible. This will help you feet move away from the ground and also help you activate your abdominals to create a bit more of a lift for crow pose.

Spread through your fingers and remember how strong your hands are! They are going to take the place of your feet and support you in this strong pose.

Shift your weight forward, look forward, and perhaps you only lift one foot off the ground, bringing your heel towards your seat. Then switch feet.

If you’d like to play with lifting both feet off the ground, remember to keep your gaze forward as you press the floor away from you with your hands and try to bring both heels up to your sitting bones.

You may begin to lengthen your arms because you’re pressing the floor away. Think more about resisting the floor as opposed to reaching to it. Birds take flight, they don’t usually fall down.

Imagine someone is softly poking at your abdominals and you want to move away from that soft poke. This may help create lift through your core and also help you maintain the pose without relying too much on your arm strength.

Take a break if you’re practicing this a few times. For a Kapha balancing class, sit up instead of coming to child’s pose.

Kapha Season Class Theme

If it’s Kapha season or if you’re feeling sluggish and unmotivated (or your students are), this class is helpful to bring in a more fiery quality to that stagnant energy. The heat will help balance out the heavy quality of Kapha. Think about what happens to mud when the sun comes out. You probably won’t get your care stuck in it and you can move forward without any obstacles. Our bodies work just like that!

Everything You Need to Know About Leading Your First Yoga Retreat

By Business of Yoga, Yoga Asana

It’s happening… with a hunger for adventure and passion for the practice, you’ve decided to host your first ever yoga retreat! Ok… the idea is great… now what?

There are a ton of ways to lead a retreat, but some vital things to consider along the way. While you may have an initial idea for where and how you want to host, ironing out these simple details will help make your planning go that much smoother.

You are your own unique person with your own unique teaching and leadership style — This can be reflected in the retreat and will probably act as the foundation for the people who end up signing up!

Alright… let’s dive in. 😎

*These are a series of helpful topics that, as a retreat leader, you may not always discuss with a yoga retreat center or even a travel company that helps you put together a retreat. Leading a transformative and successful retreat requires lots of research and planning. You also want to make sure you and your participants are safe and well-informed. We designed this article to help in that process, but as always, feel free to take away only what you need! 

Table of Contents:
  1. Important Things To Know About Traveling Internationally
  2. Licensing, Certifications, Permits
  3. Safety, Precautions, and Staying Ahead of Injury
  4. Partnering vs Leading Your Retreat Solo
  5. Deciding Your Cost
  6. Can I Lead a Yoga Retreat?
  7. Learn From My Mistakes

1. Important Things To Know About Traveling Internationally

If you are traveling outside of your country, you need to work with your point of contact or the retreat center you’re working with to discuss important things like visa, vaccination, and any entry requirements for the country you’re visiting. You’ll also need to discuss weather, local currency, ethical or cultural sensitivities, and guidelines for being a respectful tourist. When you’re leading a yoga retreat, you’re also responsible for educating yourself and your participants on ways to behave respectfully in a new culture and environment.

It’s important to remember that you’re a guest in someone else’s “home.” You’re there to learn and experience the culture. You need to remind your participants that many of their usual comforts from home may not be available while they’re on an international retreat. This can be frustrating for some people, but it’s your job as a retreat leader to diffuse any interactions that may be disruptive to other participants and to the people in the country you’re visiting.

It may be helpful to create a things to know list for yourself and for your participants. This will alleviate the stressors for those participating in the retreat who are maybe experiencing their first ever retreat or even those who tend to need a little bit more guidance. It will also help to keep everyone on the same page.

2. Licensing, Certifications, Permits

As a yoga teacher, you may already be familiar with things like liability insurance, waivers, and contracts. We go a bit more in-depth with things like that in our Yoga Retreats Training, but for now, make sure that all of your credentials are up to date and. You don’t need a certain certification or license to lead a yoga retreat, but you do need to make sure documents like your passport or driver’s license are up to date.

If you’re leading a more local retreat and you’re serving as a guide, check the expiration dates for all of your own licenses. For example, if your retreat involves a hike, you most likely need a guiding license. If your retreat involves a yoga class at a park or on a beach, you may need to obtain a permit to be there and to have people moving through a physical activity.

3. Safety, Precautions, and Staying Ahead of Injury

It all keeps coming back to communication. You need to make sure that you know the terrain of your retreat destination, the climate, and also where all local pharmacies and doctors are. If you’re leading a retreat with an adventure element to it like mountain biking or surfing, make sure you know how far away help is in case of emergencies.

All of your participants should get travelers insurance if your destination is outside of your own country. In your participant intake form, you should also ask them to include allergies, medical concerns, or anything else that you should know about their health.

4. Partnering vs Leading Your Retreat Solo

You need to ask yourself if you want to lead your retreat alone or if you want to partner with another yoga teacher or professional. If you’re leading your retreat solo, you will make more money from the experience, you’ll have more control over the itinerary, and you won’t have to check in with someone else whenever a decision needs to be made.

If you partner with someone, whether it’s another yoga teacher or someone like a climbing or surf instructor, you will be splitting your final payout. However, you’ll also have someone else to facilitate and hold space for the group, you’ll have a bit more alone time for yourself, and you can also take part in someone else’s yoga classes or whatever activity your retreat partner provides.

5. Deciding Your Cost

Who are your participants? Where are they from? What are they willing to spend on a yoga retreat? Be mindful that what you choose to include will also inform these questions. You may choose to stay at a place that’s rated at 5 stars vs 4 stars if you want it to be more affordable for your participants.

It’s important to make sure at the bare minimum that your costs are covered for leading the retreat. Things to factor in would be your flight, your accommodation, food, transport to and from your departing airport, and also how much money you would like to make from this. No one likes to talk about money, but in order to help create a sense of fulfillment, be honest about what you need personally to make your retreat happen. We provide a much more in-depth example and worksheet on how to properly figure this out in our Retreats Training.

6. Can I Lead a Yoga Retreat?

If you’re inspired to do something or if you feel a strong call to make something happen, then go for it. If you don’t, you’ll regret it or think about it for the rest of your life. When you’re called to lead a yoga retreat, you also are being called to step into the role of a leader. As yoga teachers, we are all leaders in some way.

Being in the role of a leader means to really think about what it means to be balanced, to be available to others, and to also teach by example. If I’m constantly fighting with my retreat partner, for example, how can I talk about impactful communication to my group?

7. Learn From My Mistakes

I made a lot of mistakes. There are a lot of things that happened (or didn’t happen) that could have been avoided if I’d done my own research or talked to people who had more experience than me.

  1. Don’t over-plan — This causes participants to become too attached to the schedule and potentially get upset when things don’t go as planned.
  2. Avoid too much yoga — Your participants may get overwhelmed or too tired if you include too many classes. You also might get too tired to teach a scheduled class and need to skip it, which may cause some people to be upset that something was taken off of their itinerary.
  3. Keep your retreat on your website — People still like to have access to it from their computers, tablets, and phones while they’re with you. Your participants may also be sharing pictures to their social media accounts and keeping your retreat listed will give them something to link to and also help promote you or upcoming retreats.
  4. Provide a basic language guide — It’s so important to make an effort when speaking with locals. Learning a few phrases like “Hello” and “Thank you’ can go a long way in showing respect. No effort is too little. Assuming you have no access to certain toiletries and personal products. Some products may be harder to find when abroad, so be sure to pack necessities for both you and your participants.
  5. Inform participants about currency — Research where and when to change money or pull money from an ATM. Educate yourself on ATM locations and also currency exchange in the country or along your journey.
  6. You can’t make everyone happy all the time — On a yoga retreat, people may be out of their comfort zone and a lot of different personalities are together for a long period of time. It’s important to be sympathetic, nurturing, and also in the role of a leader, but it’s also important to remember that making one person happy may make another person upset. Remember why you’re there and what it is that brought all of these people together. Stay connected to that and perhaps hold space for a gratitude-share or a meditation on gratitude.
  7. Remember… it’s a vacation! — As leaders, it’s important to step out of the center. You should hand over the more comfortable rooms, the massages, and also switch dinners around if that means creating a better experience for your participants.
  8. Have clear boundaries  — Sometimes, friends will want to join you once they hear you’re hosting a retreat. Your friends may think you’re ‘just on vacation’ with them. It’s important to give your attention to the whole group and not just to the people you know and are familiar with. Change who you sit next to at every meal.

There are so many moving parts when it comes to leading a retreat and there is so much to learn. The team at YogaRenew have created a yoga retreats training for this exact reason. Inside that training, we’ll cover all the bases discussed in this article & more to guide you towards creating your dream retreat. ✨ You’ll learn how to figure out your destination, learn how to piece it together, and also learn what to do and what not to do while on the retreat. We’re so excited to share this with you… stay tuned!

Half Moon Bow Pose

Weekly Class Theme: Joy

By Yoga Classes, Yoga Teachers

Typically, when I think of something I wish to cultivate within my life the word “happiness” comes to mind. Now, happiness is absolutely wonderful! However, happiness is also an external feeling based on outer circumstances. So we could say “it’s sunny outside and it’s making me happy,” or “this yummy food makes me happy.” These are phrases I have literally said myself and I am sure some of you can relate. There’s nothing wrong with these phrases. However, I believe when we reflect on the types of emotions and feelings we wish to cultivate in our lives, we often mistake happiness for joy.

Joy is an internal feeling that is independent of outer circumstances. Joy does not fluctuate with the weather nor does it get swayed when we don’t like our meal. Joy is consistent and is part of the foundation which sets the lens for which we view the world. We can be unhappy and joyful at the same time. We can feel less than satisfied with our external situation while still feeling joyful and secure at our core. In fact, this principle is what allows us to take risks and make changes in our lives when we feel unhappy and know we are worthy of what we truly desire.

So, the next time someone asks you what you wish to cultivate or manifest in your life…don’t go after happiness. Go after joy and trust that happiness will come. Do keep in mind that happiness will come and go, joy is a force which when established has a hard time being rocked.

Peak Pose: Ardha Chandra Chapasana (Half Moon Bow)

If you ask me, Ardha Chapasana emanates a feeling of joy. It does require that you get comfortable on one leg and steady in Ardha Chandrasana before heading towards this variation, but once finding freedom you might feel inclined to go after this back bending posture.

Supporting Pose 1: Open Wing

Open wing or Broken wing pose yin yoga

Open wing does an amazing job at opening the chest and the front of the hip which is of course necessary for Ardha Chapasana.

  1. Lie on your belly with the right arm stretched out to the side about in line with your shoulder.
  2. Roll over onto the right side of your body while crawling the right fingertips out so it feels like you’re lengthening the arm while you roll.
  3. Take your left arm behind your back and allow the left shoulder blade to roll towards the spine.
  4. Take your left leg behind the right leg with the sole of the foot on the floor. Allow the weight to roll back slightly onto the left foot to widen the front of the left hip.

*Points 3 and 4 are variations which are geared towards Ardha Chapasana. If those are too much, the left hand can stay on the ground in front of the torso and the left leg can stay stacked on top of the right. The legs could stay straight or they could bend.

Supporting Pose 2: Reverse Triangle (Viparita Trikonasana)


Reverse triangle gets the integrity of the legs going while lengthening the sides of the body.

  1. From Warrior II, straighten the legs.
  2. Tip the torso towards the back leg while firming the sacrum slightly forward to keep the front of the pelvis broad.
  3. Sweep the arms back so the back arm rests on the back leg and the front arm stretches alongside the ear.
  4. Press through the ball of the front foot while reaching through the front arm.

Supporting Pose 3: Crescent Lunge with Bound Hands to Foot (Anjaneyasana)

Any chance to connect the hands to the foot before the peak pose is a good option in my opinion! This shape sort of mimics the shape of Ardha Chapasana and can really teach the importance of back bending to grab the foot as opposed to just bending the knee like a quad stretch to catch the foot. After all, the peak pose is a backbend!

  1. From low lunge, place the back knee to the floor. Fold the mat or place blankets under the knee for added support.
  2. Press the sacrum forward and draw the shoulder blades back and down as you swim the arms towards the back of the room.
  3. Bend your back leg and catch the foot with your hands.
  4. Gently kick the foot into your hands to further firm the upper back in and allow the pelvis to move forward away from the anchor of your hands/foot.

Peak Pose: Ardha Chandra Chapasana (Half Moon Bow)

How to:

Half Moon Bow Pose

  1. From Triangle Pose, come onto one leg and enter into Half Moon with the top arm straight to the sky and the top leg aiming towards the back of the room.
  2. Press the sacrum forward and start to move the top leg back in space, already entering into the beginning stages of a backbend.
  3. Swim the top arm behind your back and firm the shoulder blade IN to broaden the corner of the chest.
  4. Bend your leg at the knee and connect your hand to your foot.
  5. Gently kick the foot into the hand to further firm the upper back in and allow the pelvis to move forward in space bowing your torso away from the anchor of your hand and foot.
  6. The gaze can stay at the wall in front of you or the gaze can turn up towards the sky.

A Yoga Sequence For Inspiring Gratitude

By Yoga Asana, Yoga Classes, Yoga Teachers

It can be easy to forget all the blessings we have in our lives when we face challenges or obstacles. Gratitude is a simple and easy practice that anyone can start today to begin leading a more positive life. The simplest way to cultivate more gratitude is to take a few minutes each day to sit in meditation, or to simply think of things you are grateful for throughout the day.

Cultivating the daily practice of gratitude in our lives can:

  • Improve our relationships
  • Make us more compassionate
  • Cultivate a happier disposition
  • Create space for positive and transformative growth
  • Improve our health by boosting our immunity, improving our sleep, and lowering blood pressure

To sequence a home gratitude yoga flow, focus on calming and grounding poses that help you get in touch with the energy of gratitude. Some poses you could consider are poses where your arms are stretched outwards to symbolize the outreaching of giving to someone else.

Some calming poses:

  1. Tadasana (Mountain) with arms reaching upwards
  2. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
  3. Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I)
  4. Dandyamana brahmanasana (Balancing Table Pose)
  5. Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III)

Some grounding poses:

    1. Balasana (Child’s Pose)
    2. Halasana (Plow Pose)
    3. Standing Forward Fold
    4. Uttanasana (Happy Baby)
    5. Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Twist)

Gratitude Mini Sequence

Start your gratitude flow by coming into a simple seated, easy pose. Begin to take in deep slow breaths in and out, focusing on elongating your exhalations and inhalations. Next bring your hands to your heart center and bring your awareness to the movement of breath around your heart center or heart chakra area. Continue to breath deeply here. Bring to mind 5-10 things or people you are grateful for. Allow that energy of love and appreciation to fill your body, heart, and soul. Stay here for several moments and allow yourself to bask in this beautiful feeling of gratitude in your heart. ❤️

1. Balasana (Child’s Pose)

women demonstrating pose with her forehead resting on floorAllow yourself to release and let go in Child’s Pose. As you ground down and surrender towards the mat, imagine as though your hands are outreaching out to receive more things to be grateful for in your life.

To do this pose, begin on your hands and knees. Sink your hips back towards your heels as you reach your arms forward. Relax your belly onto your thighs and rest your head towards the mat. Take several long deep breaths here.

2. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold)

women showing how to pose touching your toesSeated Forward Fold helps us to relax our mind and bodies. As you do this pose, focus on surrendering into gratitude for the things in your life that you appreciate. Feel the grounding of the earth beneath your sit bones as you root them into the ground and feel appreciation for the earth supporting you.

How to:

  1. Begin in staff pose
  2. Root down evenly through your sit bones
  3. Begin to slowly hinge forward at the your hips, working to keep your spine lengthened
  4. Reach your hands towards your ankles, shins, feet, or toes

Allow your neck to be relaxed here and feel yourself melt into this stretch.

3. Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I)

women in green top showing how to do lunge poseAs you come into Warrior I Pose, allow your arms to reach up towards the sky as if you are receiving more things to be grateful for in your life. You can also imagine as if your arms are outreaching to give to someone else.

How to:

  1. Begin in Mountain Pose
  2. Step your feet apart several feet and pivot your back foot in about 45 degrees and bend your front knee to 90 degrees with your toes pointing forward
  3. Keep your front knee stacked over your front ankle
  4. Lengthen up through your ribs and point your tailbone down towards the mat as your lengthen your arms up towards the sky
  5. Hold for several breaths and switch sides

4. Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III)

women in green top explaining how to properly do poseWarrior III is a grounding and energizing pose. When in this pose, again imagine the outreaching of your arms forward are reaching to give to another person. Allow the feeling of giving to fill your heart. Feel the earth beneath your grounded foot, supporting you.

How to:

  1. Begin in Mountain Pose
  2. Root down into one foot and leg as you reach the opposite leg behind you
  3. Engage your core and reach your arms out in front of you
  4. Imagine as if you are creating a straight line with your extended leg, torso, and arms
  5. Relax your head as you gaze down or towards your fingers
  6. Hold for several breaths and switch sides

5. Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

women holding tree pose with strait armsGround down through your standing foot and reach your arms upwards. Imagine the opening of your arms as if they are tree branches opening up to the sky and earth around you, ready to receive all the good and blessings in your life.

How to:

  1. Ground down through one foot and engage your standing leg
  2. Lift the opposite foot and allow it to rest on your ankle, shin, or upper thigh
  3. Engage your core and keep your gaze soft and focused in front of you
  4. Option to bring your hands to heart center in prayer here or come into a full Tree expression with your arms reaching up towards the sky

6. Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Twist)

demonstration of yoga pose on women laying on the groundStretch and detoxify your body and mind with this deep twist. As you melt into supine twist pose, allow yourself to linger here for a few breaths longer than usual. Allow your mind to relax and your heart area to fully open as you express your gratitude for your life.

How to:

  1. Begin by lying down on your back and draw your knees into your chest
  2. Allow your knees to softly fall over to your left side and extend your arms out to a T-shape
  3. Option to bring your head to gaze in the opposite direction of your knees
  4. Hold for several breaths and switch sides

How to End Your Gratitude Practice

End your practice by sitting in easy pose with your hands on your heart. Ground down through your sit bones and elongate the spine up towards the sky. Relax the muscles in your body and face. As in you inhale, breathe in thankfulness and as you exhale, imagine breathing out the word joy. Feel that joy radiating out into the world. Repeat for several minutes.


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Patrick Franco - YogaRenew Director

Why I Fell in Love with Yoga – Patrick Franco

By Yoga Lifestyle, Yoga Teachers

I was in college, and like most students at that age I was searching for more meaning in my life besides what I was going to major in…

I was confused and felt the pressure of trying to figure out my entire life at 18 years old. Fortunately, I was required to take a physical education class as part of my undergraduate requirements. Yoga was one of the options and the rest is history… Well, not really…

I decided to take yoga, not necessarily to reach spiritual enlightenment, but because I thought the class would be filled with people in a similar mindset as mine. This class turned out to be one of the moments that changed the trajectory of my life.

Over the course of the semester we learned about yoga philosophy, meditation, pranayama, and asana. I was introduced to the depth of yoga and I knew instantly that this was something that I was interested in and could see myself doing the rest of my life — More-so than my history and economics major. Turned out I was right, too (but more on that later).

After the semester ended, I searched around trying to find a yoga class I could attend. Being the poor college student I was, I couldn’t afford the $15 a class price that many of the studios were charging at the time. So instead of diving head first into yoga classes I started reading a lot more about not only yoga but many eastern philosophies.

I dabbled in these philosophies for a few years but never took them to the next level. I was simply implementing these ideas practically into my life. I tried martial arts, which I loved, but felt the spiritual connection was missing. I tried Zen Buddhism, but growing up as an athlete, I was craving the physicality of movement.

At this point, I had graduated college and was still trying to figure things out. Turns out a history/economics major didn’t have fortune 500 companies begging me to come work for them. Many of my closest friends became stock brokers during the boom of the 90’s and started golfing as a hobby and complement to their lifestyle. They would tell me it would be something they could do the rest of their lives.

It was that idea that brought me back to yoga. That feeling I had in college when I was introduced to yoga that it was all encompassing. It was both physical and spiritual and most importantly it made sense to me. It helped answer those questions I had about myself and my place in the universe and the insecurities I felt as a young man starting my journey through life.

I started by buying some Rodney Yee Yoga DVDs, which I was obsessed over for months. I would practice them when nobody was home, fearing that some of my friends would make fun of me if they knew. Taking his class in person years later in NYC was a highlight of my yoga journey.

When I finally went to my first yoga class in a suburb of New Jersey in 2001 all of my aspirations were embodied by my first yoga teacher, Liz Aitkin.

As much as I had my own drive and desire that got me to walk into my first class , it was her that solidified my love of yoga. Her energy, her compassion, her smile, her loving kindness and encouragement to not only me but all of her students encapsulated everything I wanted in my life. Her energy and passion was infectious and I did everything I could to learn and study with her. Even driving out from my city life into the suburbs to take class with her. Her encouragement to become a yoga teacher is one of the reasons I stand where I am today. I am forever grateful. 🙏

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Supported Shoulder Stand supported by a block on a yoga mat

Weekly Class Theme: Crown Chakra

By Yoga Classes, Yoga Teachers

As we make our final stop through our rainbow journey of the chakras, we land on the seventh chakra. In Sanskrit, the seventh chakra is called Sahasrara and is translated to: a thousand-petaled lotus. The physical location of seventh chakra is the crown of the head and actually extends beyond the confines of the physical skull to expand the energy up and out ✨.

The seventh chakra is where we deal with:

  • Consciousness
  • Awareness
  • Universal identity
  • Higher power
  • Transcendence
  • Divinity
  • Meaning
  • Unity. This the ultimate force towards transcending our physical selves and merging with the divine (or however you define a higher power).

The topics that are faced here, such as consciousness itself, are mysteries that cannot be accurately explained…only experienced. Think about it, how does one explain consciousness? How does one explain transcendence? How does one explain divinity? The fact that we cannot explain concretely these matters marks the very reason why many people do not complete the journey of the rainbow bridge in one lifetime…but that doesn’t stop us from trying, right?

To fully understand and experience the magic of Sahasrara, one would have to fully surrender to the fact that to be known means to let go of what is known. Sahasrara is about developing and expanding our capacity for universal intelligence, which is always present whether we are tuned into it or not.

As Anodea Judith stated, our operating system is located at seventh chakra. This means that we derive meaning from our experiences which develop our belief systems which ultimately govern the rest of our chakra system. As our consciousness evolves, our belief systems and operating systems continuously become updated thereby revealing the feedback process from chakra one through seven and vice versa. In order to allow change and upgrades in the direction of manifestation and transcendence, we have to be fully open to the fact that everything is subject to change.

Supporting Pose #1: Easy Seat with Arms Behind the Back (Sukhasana)

Girl in easy seat pose with her arms behind her back

When prepping for a more complex peak pose, I like to use other more familiar poses to teach the elements of the peak. In this case, you’ll sit in an easy seat with your arms behind the back. This will help to firm the upper back in, which is vital for shoulder stand.

How to:

  1. Sit on the floor or blankets with the legs crossed at the shins/ankles.
  2. Take your hands behind you to the floor or edge of the blankets. If you’re using blankets, you can literally grab the back edge of the blanket and press down.
  3. As you press your hands down, firm the upper back in by drawing the shoulder blades towards one another and widening your chest.
  4. Lift the chest up and throat slightly up to open the front side of the body.

Supporting Pose #2: Wide Leg Forward Fold with Hands Clasped (Prasarita Padottanasana)

Girl in wide leg forward fold with her hands clasped behind her back

Wide leg forward fold can practically teach ANYTHING. In this case, we’re going to use this pose to create integrity in the legs (huge for shoulder stand) and we’ll clasp the hands behind the back to firm the upper back in again (yes, this is a very important element as you can tell).

How to:

  1. From a low lunge, straighten your legs and walk your hands and pivot your feet to the right. Ensure the feet are parallel to one another.
  2. Inhale to lift your chest halfway and as you do this, lift your toes and kneecaps to create integrity within the legs.
  3. Bring the hands behind your lower back and clasp them together. Use the clasped hands to help draw the heads of the shoulders back and the shoulder blades towards one another.
  4. As you exhale, fold to bring the crown of the head towards the floor and clasped hands up and overhead.

Supporting Pose #3: High Lunge with Back Knee Bent

Girl in High Lunge with Back Knee Bent

High lunge with the back knee bent will help to teach an element we haven’t touched on yet that is important for shoulder stand…firming the sacrum forward. The bent back leg will create more space to move the pelvis in the direction of a posterior pelvic tilt so that the hips and shoulders create one line.

How to:

  1. From low lunge, bring the torso upright to reach the arms up and overhead and look straight ahead.
  2. Do your best to bring the arms alongside the ears by firming the upper back in to draw the arm bones back.
  3. Slightly bend the back knee and press the sacrum forward so that you can lift the frontal hip points towards the navel. You can keep the pelvis in this position, or you can try to straighten the leg while maintaining the alignment of the pelvis.

Peak Pose: Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)

Supported Shoulder Stand supported by a block on a yoga mat

Shoulder stand is a wonderful pose to sequence towards 7th chakra. Not only does it reverse blood flow from toes to head, but it’s also in the true inversion family meaning that it is meant to calm the nervous system and prepare the body for rest and surrender. It also seems quite easy to set up, but takes patience and a deep understanding of body and alignment.

How to:

  1. Place 2-3 blankets towards the middle of your mat.
  2. Fold the bottom edge of the mat over the blankets with a few inches from the edge of the mat to the edge of the blankets. The mat will create a more stable ground for your shoulders.
  3. Lie down with your upper back on the mat/blanket pile and your head on the flat mat.
  4. Measure a thumbs distance between the top of your shoulders and the edge of the blanket and adjust yourself accordingly. This will be your foundation for the pose.
  5. Enter plow pose from here by pressing your arms into the ground and taking the legs overhead and the feet towards the floor behind you.
  6. Take your hands to your upper back with the fingers facing the pelvis. Walk your elbows together behind the back and firm the upper back in. Think about getting your hands as high up as possible.
  7. One by one, take your legs to the sky. Firm the sacrum in, press the thighs away, straighten the legs, and spread your toes.
  8. Continue to firm the upper back in, walk your hands towards the shoulders, and reach the balls of the feet up.

*The blankets are necessary for proper alignment of the shoulders, neck, and head. Good thoracic mobility is also necessary for proper alignment of the pose. A belt around the upper arms can assist the firm in action of the upper back, but this pose deserves a lot of time and attention to enter safely and efficiently!