Monday, July 4, 2016

Yoga Poses for Expressing Joy

Step 1: Go put on the song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. Sing along and dance a little.

Step 2: Notice, does this resonate with you right now?

Step 3: Try this yoga sequence :)

These poses are great for days when you're feeling alive, excited and joyful.

Or maybe you're having a sh*t day and want to turn things around? Yeah, this yoga sequence can work well for that too ;)

Warm up your body with 3 rounds of sun salutations. Move as quickly or as slowly as you like, and begin concentrating on linking your movement with your breath. Steady, rhythmic movements to build some heat in the body.

Take tree pose. Shift your weight onto one foot and bring the other up to your inner thigh, or calf. Reach your arms overhead. Breathe. Notice stability in the body, and length in the spine.

Between sides, feel free to shake out your hands and feet, or do a little dancing!

Downward facing dog, five to eight breaths.

Triangle pose on each side, five to eight breaths. Widen through the chest. Think long lines of energy here, and the energy of the earth being brought upward through the arms. Beautiful!

Keep breathing.

Stand in Tadasana, mountain pose, for a few moments. Then come into extended hand-to-big toe pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)

Take your time finding the balance here: first bring your knee into your chest. Set your gaze (dristi) on a fixed point in front of you, preferably at eye level or a little higher. If you can take your big toe in your two peace fingers (thumb and index), do so. Then slowly extend your leg straight and bring it out to a diagonal.

Always the option here to just keep your knee into your chest and work on balancing on one foot. You can also play with twisting toward the leg that's into your chest. Use your core strength and focused determination to support you as you balance.

Repeat on the other side for the same length of time. Again, shaking out your hands and feet or dancing between the two sides is encouraged! 

Take downward dog for 8-10 breaths, or rest in child's pose.

Next step one foot forward and come into Warrior II. On your inhale, reach up to Reverse Warrior pose. Stay grounded and strong in the legs, as your arm floats up toward the sky.


Feel your chest open, side body expands, and invite a smile.

Do both sides and feel free to rest in downdog between sides.

If you want a little extra movement, feel free to add some cat / cow stretching here too.

Next, stand at the front of your mat in Mountain pose. Transition to Dancer pose (Natarajasana). Shift the weight into the right foot, bend your left knee and reach for the inside of the left ankle. Bring your knees together, stand up tall, and take a moment to steady your balance.

Reach your right arm up toward the ceiling.

Find your dristi. Take a big breath in, and then begin to kick your left foot back behind you. Reach forward as you kick back, keeping the shoulders and hips squared toward the front of your mat. Deep breaths here.

Keep a strong standing leg, engage your abdominal muscles, and keep your chest lifted. Let this backbend be an expression of your joy!

Wind down your practice with some seated stretching, maybe a gentle bridge pose, suppta baddha konasana, and some twists. And then, the sweet surrender of Shavasana.

Here's a summary of the YOGA FOR JOY practice:
  • 3 sun salutations to warm up
  • Tree pose (option to shake it and dance to "Happy" between sides!)
  • Downdog
  • Triangle pose on each side
  • Mountain pose
  • Extended big-toe-pose (balance)
  • Downdog
  • Reverse Warrior on each side
  • Cat/cow release
  • Dancer pose (balance)
  • Seated stretching
  • Twists
  • Shavasana 

May your yoga practice be an act of kindness toward your body, and a key to finding healing and peace. Namaste.

Photos in this post by Jobi Otso (1, 2, 5), Felipe Silva of The Uprise Collective (3), Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography (4, 6, 7). Graphic illustration created using Canva.

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