Five Poses for Inner Strength
1. Mountain Meditation:
Begin standing in Mountain pose (Tadasana) with your feet hip distance apart, and your weight near the front of your heels. Make sure you are not locking your knees (gently bring the tops of your shins forward, and then shift the top of your thighs back). Firm the muscles of your quadriceps (the front of your thighs) by lifting your knee caps and gently but evenly engaging/ squeezing your thigh muscles toward the support of your bones.
Close your eyes. Drop down into your pelvis with your awareness. As you exhale feel the weight of your pelvic bones releasing down, all the way through your legs and feet into the earth. Lengthen your tailbone toward the earth as well- this is grounding. Soften your belly even as it remains slightly toned.
Place a hand on your heart, a hand on your belly.
Take 5 half wave breaths like this:
Inhale strength from the earth up through the bottoms of your feet, through your legs, into your pelvic core. Exhale your breath back down through your pelvis and legs, out through your feet and into the earth. Nothing ignites our inner strength more than connecting our awareness, via our breath, through our physical body.
Now take 5 full wave breaths:
Repeat the in-breath rising from the earth and through your legs but keep going through your pelvis. Keep that breath rising all the way into your heart, lungs and out through the top of your head, connecting you to the vast expanse of the sky beyond you.
From your expanded self, draw your breath back down through your body as you exhale, all the way through your heart, belly and pelvis, releasing down through your legs and feet.
Feel the power of your own breath and your inner consciousness. Strength lies within you already. When we want to be truly free of something that is binding us, that inner strength uncoils its’ potential to become the will and courage we need to be strong, and our ability to attune to the support of the universe will crystalize our courage.
2. Fierce Pose (“Utkatasana”):
From Mountain pose, bring your feet together, big toes touching and keep a little space between your heels. Bend your knees deeply (for the deepest expression, touch the ground with your fingers and keep your thighs that flexed, then lift your arms!) With palms facing one another, inhale your arms forward and upward, pausing half way up to root your arms bones back into their sockets, aligning your shoulders. Palms can remain apart or come together. Arch your upper spine as you lift your arms toward vertical but keep your tailbone rooting down.
Take 5-10 deep breaths here before straightening your legs and releasing your arms to your sides to come out.
1. Keep the bend of your thighs more moderate.
2. Keep your hands on your hips if you experience strain in your shoulders.
3. For greater stability, start with your back against a wall and use the wall for support.
3. Warrior 1:
With your feet as wide apart as your wrists with your arms stretched wide, bring your hands to your waist. Turn your back foot in, your front foot out. Lift your back heel to pivot that back foot and then replace your heel down- never strain your knee while turning your back leg in.
From that deep strength you connected to from meditation and breathing, lift your arms up high. Bend your front thigh, 90 degrees or as deep as you can go today (if your knee is past your ankle lengthen your stance). Feel the strength of your muscles and the power of your breath, infused with your intention to connect to your inner strength. Stay for 5 breaths, then come out. Repeat on the second side.
Notice how strengthening the large muscles of your body can offer a correlating feeling of being strong on the inside, especially when you really connect to yourself via your breath and awareness.
To Modify: Try this with your back knee down on your mat (on a blanket if you like), or do the full pose but with your back heel lifted.
4. Warrior 2:
With your feet wide again, inhale your arms parallel to the floor. Turn your right foot out, keep your left foot straight forward, and bend your right knee 90 degrees (or as deep as you can today). Same as warrior 1- make your stance shorter or wider for maximum stability and freedom. Look past your right hand as you stay strong and connected through your back leg and foot. Breathe into the back of your left lung. Feel your inner body inflate and grow bright with each breath.
Stay 5 breaths, then come out. Repeat on the second side.
To Modify: Take a shorter stance for more stability and only bend the front thigh as much as you want to engage your strength without over-doing.
5. Plank Pose:
This pose will connect you to your core abdominal muscles as well as to the muscles of your back, legs and arms. An overall powerful way to engage your strength!
Start on hands and knees in table pose, stretch one leg back at a time with toes tucked under and lift up into a plank. Or, come forward from downward facing dog pose. Stay for 5 breaths- this will really fire you up!
Easier: Practice plank with knees on the ground, but shoulders directly over your wrists.
Harder: Come onto the tops of your feet, look in to your belly to lift your waistline more. Hold 5-10 breaths.
Rest in Child’s pose and feel how only 5 poses can increase the strength of your prana- your life force energy- and your feeling of inner strength. Take this strength into your day and act with kindness and courage, dear yogis.
From the heart, Sara Rose