Category Archives: Intermediate Yoga

6 Poses to Calibrate Your Inner Compass

This sequence will help you access your truth during decision-making and learn how to set healthy limits.

Through quieting practices like asana, pranayama, and meditation, we are able to turn down the volume on the worrying mind and tune into the heart’s guidance.

There is a place inside each of us that always know the way – a place guiding us toward our personal truth. Some call it gut sense, others intuition, gently letting us know when we are on the right track and when we are not (sometimes not so gently). This is our inner compass, and it points us in the right direction when have lost ourselves. It keeps us on course, so that when we are presented with decisions both big and small, we can navigate from our heart instead of fear.

Following our inner compass is not an easy task! In fact, it takes great skill and a whole lot of courage. Sometimes we will need to forge our own path and go against the herds and tide. In order for compasses to work efficiently, the needle must be able to turn without obstruction. This means we have a responsibility to take care of our compass and not let internal debris in the form of thoughts or self-doubt sully its mechanism. 

We also need beware of external forces that may misdirect the compass. These can come in the form of other people’s opinions. The more we learn to use our compass well, the more quickly we will arrive where we are meant to be.

See also Start Practicing Satya (Truth) On and Off Your Mat

How many times do we say ‘yes’ to things out of guilt or obligation? Only to suddenly feel dread and resentment. If you are like me, you say ‘yes’ because you …

Start Your Day With This Energizing Morning Practice

This dynamic sequence will help you wake up in the morning and face the day.

The majority of us sleep in a curled-up position and have a tendency to remain in one spot for most of the night. This dynamic morning practice is meant to unravel all the stiffness that sleep delivers. It includes thigh stretches and side stretches, shoulder openers, and backbends—which will help give you an added energy boost. 

See also Why Sun Salutations Are So Much More Than Just a Warm-Up

You’ll begin with Sun Salutations. These moving meditations are a perfect way to welcome the day, follow your breath, and stretch your body. Sun Salutes help me open my shoulders and stretch my hamstrings, while also building my core, arm, and back muscles each morning. 

Use this practice to wake up and enter the rest of your day with your best foot forward. Keep a strap or towel handy in case you feel stiff in your shoulders and could use a prop.

A Sequence for Building Resilience in This Political Climate

Use this practice to find strength and empowerment in your own political path, especially when things get overwhelming.

“Yoga functions as a powerful ally when running headlong into the struggle to affect positive change.” —Michael J. Hall

As a yoga teacher living in Washington, DC, I see a lot of people attempting to change the world for the better. With a two-party system, it’s hard to see eye-to-eye with the other side and it’s easy to feel like we’re heading into conflict each and every day. It’s important for yoga practitioners to focus on the one thing that we know for sure that we can change: ourselves.

The feeling of dealing with things as they are—even when we don’t like how they are—is a skill I call distress tolerance. In this political climate, yoga functions as a powerful ally when running headlong into the struggle to affect positive change. 

See also Dig Deep to Heal and Change Your Life

This sequence focuses on strong holds to harness calm in your nervous system and build strength and flexibility. By approaching these postures consistently, you’ll build acceptance of your body as it is, and become appreciative of incremental changes as you become both stronger and more flexible. 

See also This Power Sequence is Better Than Most Weight Lifting Programs

A consistent practice of yoga has a tendency to highlight both the beautiful and the humbling aspect of the human condition. By going about a daily practice, we begin to develop a radical acceptance of things as they are—not how we want them to be. And by accepting things as they are, we can then begin to use the tools in our toolkit to help curate change in the direction we envision.

Michael Joel Hall is an Ashtanga Yoga teacher based in Washington, DC.