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Weekly Class Theme: Centering

By September 28th, 2023Yoga Teachers
Girl in revolved triangle pose

I start every single yoga class by giving time for students to center themselves. It’s during this time that students have the opportunity to explore what’s going on in their bodies and minds and to notice where and perhaps by how much one may be off center.

This brings up the question, what exactly is one’s center? How do we define that? How can we locate it?

One of my teachers consistently speaks about one’s center being found by first defining one’s boundaries. Think of it this way,

“The center of a circle can only be found by first establishing the diameter of the circle, which can only be found by observing the perimeter of a circle. Knowing the outer edges of a circle, or any shape for that matter, is the only possible way to define the center of that shape or object.”

When it comes to asana, our center is best found by first expanding ourselves wide. When we explore the edges of our being and feel safe doing so, we might discover we have an easier time exploring what really lies within.

Where are the boundaries of our bodies and where are the boundaries of our minds? The mind part is maybe something for you to journal on, but with our physical practice, it’s best to open ourselves up before we decide to dive in deep.

This sequence will build towards the pose revolved triangle. All twisting poses require us to twist the spine, which of course means we must be aware of where the spine lies. The only way we can really get there is to first expand the body and then work our way inward.

Broken Wing Pose

Open wing or Broken wing pose yin yoga

How to:

  1. Lie on your stomach and stretch your right arm out to the right side of the room with your palm facing the floor.
  2. Place your left palm flat onto the ground next to your ribcage and roll over onto the right side of your body while crawling your right fingertips out so that the soft tissue in the right side of your chest can really stretch out.
  3. Stay for ~ 1-2 minutes, slowly roll to your belly, and repeat on the other side.

*Variations: Take your left arm into a half bind; bend both knees and stack them on top of one another; bend both knees with the bottom knee on the floor and the top knee facing the sky; bend the top leg and place the foot to the floor in front or behind the bottom leg.

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

Triangle Pose Trikonasana Melanie

How to:

  1. Face a long edge of your yoga mat and widen your feet about 3 feet and bring your arms out to a T-shape.
  2. Externally rotate your right leg from your hip to your toes so your toes face the front of your mat.
  3. Hinge at your right hip and bring your right hand to your shin, a block, or the ground.
  4. Lengthen the right side of your torso while rotating your right rib cage towards the ceiling.
  5. Stay for ~5 breaths, rise up, and go to the other side.

*Pro tip: Even the open hip poses have a twisting element which can be accentuated here since we’re working towards a twisted peak pose!

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana)

Warrior 1 Pose Virabhadrasana Melanie

How to:

  1. Start downward facing dog.
  2. Step your right foot forward next to your thumb and spin the back foot down at an angle.
  3. With the right leg bent at 90 degrees and the back leg straight, rise to stand on both legs with the feet firmly rooted.
  4. Draw your right hip back with external rotation of the leg while drawing the left hip forward with internal rotation of the leg.
  5. Take your hands up to the sky with your arms fully extended and your palms together.
  6. Look up to your hands and imagine someone was pulling your hands to the sky to stretch the sides of the torso long.
  7. In this position, it is nearly impossible to get your hips totally squared off to the front of the room but do the best you can with the essence of that cue in mind.

Peak Pose: Revolved Triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana)

Revolved Triangle Pose Melanie

How to:

  1. Face a long edge of your yoga mat and widen your feet about 3 feet and T-out your arms.
  2. Externally rotate your right leg from your hip to your toes so your toes face the front of your mat.
  3. Lift the ball of your left foot and spin the left leg in from your hip to your toes, as if you were setting up for a warrior I, and replant your left heel so both sides of the pelvis face the front of the room.
  4. Stretch the left arm to the sky so the whole left side of the body is stretched long and then hinge forward halfway.
  5. Keeping your torso parallel to the floor, rotate to the right and bring your left hand to a block on the outside of your right leg (outside = towards the pinky toe side edge).
  6. Stretch your right arm to the ceiling so the collarbones are spread.

*Variations: Your left hand could be on the shin or on the inside of the right foot if you cannot reach to the outside of the foot.

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