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 …
Reset in just five minutes with this sequence that features rejuvenating side bends, heart-openers, and twists.
Live Be Yoga ambassadors Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt are on a road trip across the country to sit down with master teachers, host free local classes, and so much more—all to illuminate the conversations pulsing through the yoga community today
This simple 5-minute sequence can be done anytime during the day and focuses on mindful movement and steady breath. Composed of a series side bends, heart-opening postures, and gentle twists, it will help you feel more connected to yourself, while clearing tension from the body and mind.
This flowing sequence invokes the water element – jala – which nourishes and purifies our being, just as water does in the rest of Nature.
Up to 60% of our bodies are water and it is present in all our tissues. And yet, it is incredibly easy to lose a sense of our fluid and buoyant selves in a world that is dominated by grids with straight lines and right angles. In Ayurveda, the water element is jala, it both nourishes and purifies our being, just as water does in all the rest of Nature.
In our asana practice, embracing the water element serves to transform stiffness of both our bodies AND our minds. In being physiologically rhythmic like water, we embrace impermanence as one pose dissolves seamlessly into the next. In focusing on the transitions between poses, our awareness embraces that tidal quality that equanimity requires.
To invoke the water element in your practice, embody shapes with curving, not straight lines, side bends, fluid twists and seamless transitions between poses, meaning, you don’t feel a hard stop between poses and very little holding of a single pose. We liquefy the solid qualities of held postures by staying in constant smooth and gentle motion in synch with breath.
It’s empowering though, that we have capabilities to reflect on our own purchasing habits (svadhyaya; self-study) and can choose companies that support global water needs. Some conscious companies, like LifeStraw, see the importance of not …
Making time for stillness during a stressful school day is an act of self-love and compassion that can fill you up when you’re feeling depleted.
Find a quiet and empty space where you can roll out your mat to practice this sequence. Coming to our mat during stressful times isn’t the easiest, but it’s definitely important. Making time to find stillness helps relieve the stress of our daily lives and allows us to feel more centered throughout the rest of our day.
This sequence is designed to get you out of your head and into the present moment. It features both restorative and grounding postures that will allow you to turn inward and connect with your breath, relieving tension in both the body and the mind.
Cultivate a deep and continuous breath throughout the entire practice. Take time to notice what sensations and thoughts arise throughout your practice, and, then, continue to return your attention to the breath and the here and now.