Prepare yourself for deep, restful sleep with this 10-minute, relaxing sequence that stretches all the major muscles and quiets the monkey mind.
An evening practice is wonderful for calming the mind and preparing your body for deep rest. In this evening practice, you will focus on looking inward. Forward bends and hip openers help relax you and set the mood for sleep. This short practice can provide a really beautiful end to a busy day. Simply slow down and tune into your body and breath. Sweet dreams!
Even if you’d rather take a nap than get on the mat, this short practice can reenergize and refocus you – without caffeine.
If you’ve been sitting all day, this afternoon practice will feel wonderful! Featuring standing poses to open your hips, twists to help open your thoracic spine, some core work to strengthen your center, a thigh stretch to combat the effects of sitting, a pose to work all your joints, and, finally, an inversion to get your blood flowing and energize you for the rest of the day. This short practice will bring you some internal juice so you can skip the afternoon coffee break.
Senior teacher Erica Mather shares a backbending sequence designed to empower.
Ana Forrestisn’t one for heady explanations.Forrest Yoga is a feeling practice: Some answers are found only by doing; talk simply can’t accomplish what breath and experience can. This doesn’t mean that Ana eschews thinking; her style of yoga is a profoundly thoughtful system. That said, Ana’s spirit pledge is to mend the Hoop of the People—attributed to Black Elk, a holy man of the Oglala Sioux—to help heal people’s shattered but undeniable connection. This vital mission won’t manifest through pretty ideas, debates, or philosophies. Action brings our visions and dreams to life. Getting our breath going, blood moving, sweat flowing, and spirits lit are embodied steps for accessing wounded regions that dwell deep within our mortal coil. Breath goes places words never will.
When asked about her teachers, Ana cites lightning and thunder. She’s not being evasive. She’s being honest: To learn about the world, it helps to look beyond our human illusions, deceptions, and entrapments. That said, Forrest Yoga’s asana stems from the lineages that shaped Western yoga—Sivananda, Iyengar, Ashtanga—all of which Ana studied deeply around the world with their originators or primary disciples.
She applied these systems to her own life challenges—alcoholism, anorexia, bulimia, sexual abuse, and epilepsy—and found them lacking. In her years living off the grid on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington State, Ana trained in traditions that honestly confronted the root of her horrific challenges: disconnection from her spirit.
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.
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.
Use this practice to find strength and empowerment in your own political path, especially when things get overwhelming.
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.
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.
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.
Try this simple sequence the next time noises—external or in your head—feel overwhelming. Duck into a private space, put your phone on airplane mode, and practice moving with your breath.
About the author
Lizze Lasater translates her training in art history and architecture into carefully curated digital courses, global Restorative Yoga teacher-training workshops, and her heartfelt spirit jewelry collection. She sometimes jokes that yoga runs in the family—her Mama, Judith Hanson Lasater, co-founded Yoga Journal magazine and has been teaching yoga since 1971. Born in San Francisco, Lizzie lives in the Alps with her tall Austrian. Join the Restorative Revolution with her at www.savasana.life.
This 75-minute, heart-opening, back-bending Forrest Yoga sequence will keep your spine healthy and your heart open.
Forrest Yoga, developed by yoga teacher Ana Forrest, has predictable elements: It follows a blueprint and has at least one peak pose, or apex. It also has surprising elements, none of which are arbitrary; Forrest Yoga is true vinyasa—vinyasa krama, which means a step-by-step progression toward a goal.
This sequence from Iyengar Yoga teacher Kim Weeks will counteract the poor posture that comes from too much time hunching over devices.
These days we all feel the effects of leaning toward computers or scrolling on our phones. Technology use collapses your vertebrae, the body’s main support beam, into an unnatural C curve. This shape smushes your abdomen, impairs your back muscles, and tightens your neck. It drags you down and can lead to an array of problems, from headaches and leg cramping to carpal tunnel syndrome and chronic back pain.
Even as a yoga teacher typing this piece, I had to remember to roll my shoulders back, breathe steadily, lift my chest, and relax my eyes. Counteractive poses practiced weekly—or even one at a time, as needed, throughout the day—are the best way to smooth out the slump.
I’m a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher and founder of a wellness education and consulting company called Kim Weeks Well. My clients and students—who, like all of us, work, live, and socialize on their devices—use the poses on the following pages to stretch and straighten out their backs and bodies and to restore peace of mind.
In this 45- to 60-minute practice, you’ll confront device-hunching and the mental and emotional effects of screen use head on—which is exactly the goal! You’ll get your head back on top of your spine instead of staying slumped. You’ll do this by reestablishing circulation and integrity in your legs, toning your back and abdomen, and soothing and strengthening your upper back and neck. There are standing poses, abdominal work, twisting, and backbending, which together unwind the tension that develops from the mentally demanding yet physically stagnant use of technology. The beginning and …