by ArielleRose: I’ve had a tougher transition than usual this year and needed to give my body time to adjust and re-center itself…
Sometimes slowing down my mind and body manifests as Childs Pose for 15 minutes at home; sometimes it means I take a Restorative, Yin or Yoga Nidra class. I love teaching my Restorative class in Cambridge, MA and lately I’ve had more students come in to try it out. To them I say – perfect timing!
In my Vinyasa classes I encourage students to be grounded even in standing postures. Slow down and maybe skip a vinyasas between sides. Shift your focus from lifting to rooting down. Really feel your feet connect to the mat, and use that connection to allow yourself to “sink” into the poses. Feel your feet solidly on the mat, through the mat feel the floor, and through the floor connect to the earth. It’s all about feeling; don’t worry about alignment. Allow the lower half of the body to feel heavy. Then lengthen the spine and expand the upper body. When you delve deep and sink in, the poses feel more stable and your body reaps the benefits of connecting to the earth as a stabilizing force during this time of change.
Inspired by the crisp sunny weather and a need to move while feeling grounded, I filmed this autumn yoga sequence in between classes right outside my Graduate Department building. Try out my autumn yoga sequence with these principles in mind and let me know how it goes for you!
In this standing vinyasa sequence, take 3-5 ujjayi breaths in each standing pose. Make any and all adjustments that your body needs. As I say to my students, “I am a guide, but it is your yoga journey.”
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II): Really focus on your feet – root down through the entirety of the front foot and the outside edge of your back foot especially. Let your front knee soften and the hips melt down. Then lengthen your spine and expand across the chest, finger-tips to finger-tips. Drishti (gaze) can be forward and down, adding to the grounding sensation. Or close your eyes and focus on connecting to the earth with your feet.
Reverse Warrior: Keep rooting down through the feet and keep the lower half of your body heavy. Reach up and back from the front hip crease, through your side body, through the finger-tips.
Extended Side Angle (Parsvakonasana): Feel really heavy in the front foot, keep contact with the entire back foot. Again, let your hips sink down. Don’t worry about the angle of your chest and arm. Feel for length from the outside edge of your back foot all the way up to the finger tips.
Variation: Use a block to support the bottom hand and feel that connection to the earth really strongly as well. Another option is to (lightly) rest the forearm on the thigh.
Reverse Triangle: Even though you’re stretching up and back, feel the front foot especially grounded. Don’t let that big toe peel up!
Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana): Take this transition slowly, pouring weight into your front foot. Use the firm connection between foot and mat to draw energy up from the earth: draw it up your standing leg, use it to help stack your hips and then expand in all directions. Think of a tree reaching in all directions for the fall sunlight before winter.\
Variation: Use a block under your front shoulder for support and draw energy up the arm the same way as the leg, stacking shoulders too. Don’t worry about lifting your bottom hand off the floor or block. Keeping the top hand on your hip can also help with balance. Look down for more grounding or side/up to challenge your balance. Maintain awareness of your standing foot’s connection to the earth.
Land as controlled as possible back in Warrior II. Then pivot all 10 toes to face the side of your mat, outside edges of your feet parallel to the front and back of the mat.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana): Press down through the balls of the feet and allow your heels to be light as you find the forward fold. Take an arm variation that works best for you (hands reaching to the floor or blocks, hands clasped for a shoulder stretch as I do on the first side, holding big toes in a yogi toe lock as I do on the second side, or any other arm position that works for you.) A micro-bend of your knees is also a great option.
Repeat entire autumn yoga sequence on the second side.
Complete your sequence with an inversion of your choice. In my headstand, I am focusing on the points of contact between my forearms/hands/head and the mat. If you watch closely, you’ll see my shoulders engage as I focus on pressing down and connecting to the earth. Maybe it’s enough for you to find these points of contact, be really aware of them, and stay there for 5 full breaths without lifting the feet off the mat. Finish in Child’s Pose or another counter pose of your choice.
For the video, I did not take Savasana, but I strongly recommend you allow your whole body time to melt into the mat and relax. Soak up the grounding, calm energy from the earth and just breath.
You might notice the wind blowing while I practice. As you move through the sequence, imagine yourself so firmly rooted that you withstand the winds of change. You are centered and grounded. Like a tree, your foundation is deep. From your roots, you grow tall and expand.