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Weekly Class Theme: Unapologetically You

Person in Side Lunge facing the camera

This is a blog post to all my people pleasers, shape-shifters, potential minimizers… and anyone else who has ever felt like they’ve spent much of their time accommodating others. This goes out to anyone that has made themselves feel/play small, or shrunk themselves in any aspect because of other people’s energy (or crossed their own boundaries in service of making someone else (or a group of people) feel more comfortable).

As someone who has done all of the above, in a variety of aspects, I can say from personal experience that there is no benefit to doing any of these things. In fact, it is a major disservice as the only plausible result of crossing my own boundary is abandonment of myself.

As we are in the midst of pride month, highlighting the topic of being unapologetically you feels appropriate (although, it’s always appropriate to highlight this within our lives). Stepping into one’s power and owning who you truly are is one of the most freeing and loving things we can do for ourselves… but that doesn’t mean it is easy; it doesn’t mean that the journey is without effort. It also doesn’t mean that there is a destination or final result. Being yourself, and not apologizing for it, is an everyday act and overall embodiment.

It’s the choice to get out of bed and wear what you want to wear. It’s the choice to fiercely love who you love with no explanation or justification. It’s the choice to express yourself visually, vocally, and creatively in the ways that feel most aligned for you.

Here is the best part about showing up as your most authentic self: When we make the decision to love ourselves enough to be the fullest expression of who we are, regardless of how others feel about us, we give others permission to do exactly the same.

Peak Pose: Side Lunge (Skandasana)

In my humble opinion, I think Skandasana is a highly overlooked peak pose. Both legs have to externally rotate, while one leg folds in half and the other leg is fully straight. In addition, we’re in a squat position meaning we have to be able to access a widening across the front of the groin (amongst other physical prep work for the pose). While Skansasana might appear like a “small” posture, the prep work to get there requires we open ourselves up and take up space. The poses chosen for this particular journey (aka sequence) specifically focuses on widening across the front side of the body, which sometimes we choose to hide, and taking up space in order to do so.

Supporting Pose 1: Lizard Pose (Utthana Pristasana)

Lizard pose

Lizard is a relatively familiar and accessible pose to widen the across the front of the pelvic groins and inner thighs. It also has one bent leg (although not folded as in Skansasana) and one straight leg, lending some similarity between the two postures. There are also many ways in which one could adjust the pose in order to experience the actions necessary to prep for the peak pose, such as adjusting how wide the front foot steps or usage of props beneath the hands.

How to get into Lizard Pose:

  1. From downward facing dog, step the right foot to the outside of the right hand. Ensure the sole of the foot is firmly planted on the floor.
  2. Place the left knee on the ground keeping the front of the thigh long. Think about aiming the top of the kneecap towards the floor or blanket if you’re using one.
  3. Either keep your palms down on the ground or blocks, or lower your forearms down to the ground or blocks. Do whatever will lend the most sensation without overdoing it.

Supporting Pose 2: Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana)

Person in Goddess Pose

Goddess pose is not only the perfect pose for being unapologetically you and taking up the space around you, but it’s also the perfect prep pose for Skandasana. Both legs are externally rotated, the front of the pelvis and inner thighs are wide, and the chest is open and lifted.

How to get into Goddess Pose:

  1. Turn towards the side wall and widen your feet about 2-3 feet (.61-.91 m).
  2. Turn out your legs and feet, which will externally rotate the legs at the pelvis, so that your toes are more or less facing the corners of your mat.
  3. Bend your knees so the thighs are “ideally” parallel to the floor and the knees are above the ankles. If your knees cave in when you do this either focus on widening your knees using the strength of outer glute, or narrow your stance. If narrowing your stance forces the thighs out of a parallel position to the floor, that is OK.
  4. Take your arms out to shoulder height with palms forward and then bend your elbows into a goal-post shape. Try to relax the muscles of your neck while engaging the shoulder blades slightly towards one another to support the chest widening.

Supporting Pose 3: Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Person in Tree Pose

Tree Pose is yet another posture where we are working with the action of external rotation of the leg and in this posture we have one folded leg and one straight leg, just like we see in Skandasana.

How to get into Tree Pose:

  1. Begin in Mountain Pose. Draw your shoulders down away from your ears and stand tall.
  2. Ground down through all four corners of your feet and engage your leg muscles.
  3. Find a point of focus to help you stay balanced in front of you – on the floor, wall, or ceiling.
  4. Engage your abs and begin to lift one foot off the ground.
  5. Bring the sole of your foot on your ankle, shin, or upper thigh – avoiding the knee to prevent injury. To help bring your foot on your upper thigh, you can use your hand to guide it there.
  6. Bring your hands together in prayer position at your chest or bring your arms overhead with the palms facing each other. Another option is to interlace your fingers together, keeping your shoulders drawn away from the ears. You can also bring your hands on your hips to help with your balance.
  7. Hold for several breaths before releasing your leg back down.
  8. Repeat on the opposite side.

Peak Pose: Side Lunge (Skandasana)

Person in Side Lunge facing the camera

How to get into Side Lunge:

  1. Start in wide leg forward fold.
  2. Turn out your right foot and leg, which will externally rotate the leg at the pelvis.
  3. Fold your right leg while simultaneously externally rotating your left leg so the knees and toes face the sky.
  4. Sit your bum towards the floor as your chest lifts. Steps 3 and 4 more or less happen at the same time.
  5. Draw your hands together in front of your heart. Bring your thumbs to your sternum and your sternum to your thumbs.

*Other arm variations are available such as arms overhead or arms spread for a twist to name a couple.