11 Yoga Poses To Calm Your Mind & Invigorate Your Body
Editor's note: When Miami-based yoga teacher Rina Jakubowicz stopped by mindbodygreen before the start of Yoga Journal LIVE! in NYC, she showed us a few dynamic poses to help us New Yorkers find a bit of bliss amidst the hustle and bustle of the big city.
I designed this energizing "Serenity in the City Sequence" to help you find some peace and calm, even though your body is constantly moving for the duration. We're so accustomed to being on-the-go all day long, but if we can find a way to keep our mind centered throughout these fluctuating actions, then we have conquered a most difficult task!
The trick to not being influenced by the craziness of outside distractions is to keep your focus inward. Fix your attention on something higher, whatever that might mean for you.
My daily affirmation is, “I am the Self,” meaning I am pure consciousness. And so are you! So park your mind there and let your body do the driving. This is how you live a life of serenity!
These yoga poses are about finding peace within the chaotic sequence of life. If you keep your attention turned inward, then your mind will stay serene and stable even when the body becomes challenged.
Warm up with a few rounds of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar A) and perform the sequence twice, so that both sides of the body are balanced.
High Lunge (Anjaneyasana) Crescent Variation
From Downward Dog, step your foot forward between your hands and make sure to stack the front knee above the ankle, with the thigh as parallel to the floor as your body can handle.
Energetically press through the back heel in order to keep the back leg engaged. Keep your hips square and spiral your thighs in toward each other. Engage your core and draw your ribs down and in.
Breathe deeply for 5 inhales and exhales.
Eagle Pose (Garundasana)
Look at one spot in front of you that’s not moving to help with your balance, and shift the weight into the right foot and with grace and control. Cross the right leg over the left once or twice. Sink your hips low.
Then, wrap your left elbow over your right elbow and wrap your forearms around as well. Press the palms into each other. Pull your fingertips up toward the ceiling, as your elbows press forward and your hips sink a little lower.
Engage your core and hold for 5 deep breaths.
Dancer's Pose (Natarajasana)
Maintain your focus on that spot and keep your weight grounded on your standing foot. Unwind your legs and extend the top leg long behind you, grabbing the inside of the foot with your hand, palm facing outward.
Extend the opposite arm forward and start to tilt the body slowly, maintaining even balance. Keep pressing the lifted foot into your hand in order to create a deeper backbend for your spine. Breathe deeply for 3-5 breaths.
Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
Keep that gaze focused as you release the lifted leg in Dancer’s Pose, extending the leg long behind you, with toes flexed downward. As you come into Warrior III, think about creating the letter “T” with your body.
Try to keep the lifted leg parallel to the floor with your standing leg engaged. As you extend your lifted leg while pushing the floor away from you, be careful not to lock the knee of the standing leg.
Square your hips and draw the belly in. Hold for 5 deep breaths.
Standing Split (Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana)
I know your standing leg is probably burning by now, but stay with it as you lower both your hands toward the floor. Keeping lifting the floating foot up toward the sky, trying to maintain a squaring of the hips.
Hold here for 5 breaths, gently pulsing through the standing leg if it's throbbing.
L-Shape Handstand Hops
You can choose to stay in your Standing Split for longer, or you can plant your palms to the floor.
Shift your weight forward onto your hands and keeping the same foot lifted and extended, take small hops off the ball of the standing foot. Keep your arms straight and look in front of you.
Try about 4-5 little hops to bring yourself into an L-shape.
Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)
Once you feel that you've really stacked your hips over your shoulders, and shoulders over your wrists, try coming all the way up to a handstand. If you're new to a handstand practice, it's always a good idea to start by using a wall to catch your heels. Hold for up to 5 breaths.
Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Gently place the right leg behind you into a low lunge and lower your knee to the ground. Sink into your hips and make sure that your left knee is stacked above your left ankle. Lift your arms up over your head and lean back.
Make sure your back foot is pointing straight back and you are pressing the top of your foot and even your pinky toe on the floor. Take 5 deep breaths.
Modified One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Heel-toe your front foot over to the opposite hip, bringing the foot just behind the opposite wrist to come to One-Legged Pigeon Pose. Slide the back knee behind you to intensify the stretch.
For less of a stretch bring your front foot in closer to your body. For a deeper hip stretch bring the front foot further away from your body.
Then, bend your back leg and grab hold of the foot, palm facing out like in Dancer's Pose. Choose any hand grip that your body can handle today.
You can choose to continue to keep the leg extended behind you as well. Take 5 deep breaths.
Half Lord Of The Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Release the back foot and swing it around and in front of you, to come to seated. Plant your right foot outside of your left knee. Both sitbones are on the floor. Place your right hand behind your back on the floor close to your spine and hook your right elbow to the outside of your left knee.
As you inhale, lift the chest and spine and as you exhale, press your elbow into your knee more and twist deeper. Hold for 5 deep breaths.
Boat Pose (Navasana)
Release your twist and extend both your legs out in front of you. Balance on your sit-bones and lift your legs up so that your body is in a V-shape, as much as possible for you. If it’s too intense, then bend your knees.
Keep your sternum lifted and your arms extended in front of you. Take 5 deep breaths.
Do a vinyasa and return to Downward Dog, to repeat the sequence on the other side of your body.
Gallery Credit: Nicholas Oscoff/mindbodygreen