I Did A Yoga Sequence For Productivity Every Day For A Month. Here's What Happened
Last year, I started to pick up on a strange phenomenon with my yoga students. I began observing people's level of self-confidence before and after they took class. What I found is that after class people were not only more outgoing socially, but their body language also reflected one of confidence, power, and ease.
Realizing this energetic shift made me wonder how I could use yoga at work for productivity or before a meeting, party, or presentation to decrease my anxiety and increase my confidence. So I hit the mat and created a flow that uses specific poses to enhance my sense of empowerment, boost my energy, and give me more focus. For one month I did this flow whenever I felt it could benefit me, and the results were amazing.
I found that after only 10 minutes of repeating this routine, I would feel a complete transformation in my self-esteem. I started speaking up more in my team meetings, I had more problem-solving ideas, and my creativity and energy skyrocketed.
Seeing how much of a game-changer this has been for me, I wanted to share the flow with all of you. This sequence can be done with or without a mat. It can be a solo practice or perhaps one you invite your friends or co-workers join in on. As you move through the poses, simply become an observer of how your body feels and what thoughts arise in your mind without judgment. This mindfulness practice uses movement, breath, and awareness to reconnect you with you.
Try it out when you hit an afternoon slump, need inspiration, or before your next big date, meeting, or presentation. It's a great tool for helping you show up as your best self in any situation.
1. Mountain pose.
Stand up tall with your feet together and heels touching. Allow your palms to face forward, your chest to open, spreading your collarbones wide as your shoulders relax down your back. Create a long spine, head stacking right above your neck and the crown of your head; reach up, away from your feet as they root down into the ground. Take a few mindful breaths in and out of your nose, scanning your body, becoming aware of any tension or sensations and just noticing them without judgment.
2. Chair pose.
On an inhale, bend your knees and sink your hips down and back as if you are about to sit in an imaginary chair behind you. Reach your arms up in line with your ears, open your chest, and soften your shoulders. Shift your weight into your heels so your knees are more supported and stabilized. Pull your navel in and up, and bring your awareness to your core strength. In this pose, focus on your abdomen (also known as your third chakra), where you keep all of the perceptions of who you are. This area re-connects you with your personal power and helps to turn inertia into action and movement.
3. Forward fold with shoulder stretch.
On an exhale, sweep your arms down and clasp your hands behind your low back as you fold your torso over your legs. Let your head and neck hang heavy, and feel free to put a soft bend in your knees, allowing your body to feel strong and relaxed at the same time. Think about reaching your tailbone up and a bit forward as your belly button pulls in toward your spine. This is a pose of surrender, a chance to go inward and reconnect with the deep trust you have for yourself and your abilities.
4. Preparing pose.
On an inhale, slide your fingertips down, outside, and in line with your toes. Allow your palms to face back and your wrists to be long. Bend your knees deeply, broaden your chest, and look forward. This is a great pose to think about where you want to be in the future. Whether that's a work project you want to finish, a presentation you want to nail, or any other goals you want to achieve. Visualize yourself getting there, successfully getting to that point where this goal is completed and in the past.
5. Warrior 2.
On an exhale, step your left foot back into a low lunge, spin your left heel down, and cartwheel your arms up and open, right toes facing directly forward, left foot turned slightly in toward the center of your body. Stack your right knee over your right ankle and point the knee toward your second and third toe. Stack your shoulders over your hips, elongate your spine, and relax your shoulders. Have your arms nice and long, feeling free to slightly bend your elbows to relieve any tension. Let your head effortlessly float over your neck and gaze forward. This pose, as the name suggests, helps you to connect with the warrior within you. Finding strength as well as ease and flexibility in this pose can remind you to bring those characteristics into your everyday life.
6. Power pose.
On an inhale, lengthen your right leg and turn both of your feet to face the left, heels behind your toes. Keeping your arms wide, lift them up about 6 inches, turn your palms to face forward, and spread your fingers. Standing tall with equal weight in the balls and heels of your feet, allow your chest to expand open, thinking of your heart being completely unrestricted. This pose is one of vulnerability. You are completely exposed, putting yourself out there and standing in confidence, ready for anything.
7. Wide-legged forward fold with shoulder stretch.
On an exhale, sweep your arms behind you, interlace your fingers, and fold on the inside of your legs. Allow your head and neck to hang heavy, and feel free to bend your knees as much as you would like. Lift your tailbone up and slightly forward but keep your weight in the heels of your feet. To increase the shoulder stretch, press your palms together. This pose is about letting go and allowing things to unfold as they will without resistance.
8. Long-arm low-lunge twist.
On an inhale, crawl your hands toward your right foot and turn your right foot forward into a low lunge with your right knee over your ankle. Plant your left hand down and reach your right arm up and forward in line with your right ear. As you press your left heel back, think about the crown of your head reaching forward, creating space along your spine. This lengthening of the spine helps energy to flow through you with more ease, allowing you to feel rejuvenated throughout the day.
9. Standing forward fold.
On an exhale, step your left foot up to meet your right and fold your torso over your legs. Allow your arms, head, and neck to be weightless, and bend your knees deeply enough that your belly can rest on your thighs. This pose brings your awareness back inward and reactivates your relaxation response, bringing calm and ease into your mind and body.
10. Standing backbend with arms raised.
On an inhale, sweep your arms out and up, standing up tall as you press your palms together overhead. Creating a slight backbend, lean back as far as feels supported and comfortable on your body. Root down into all four corners of your feet as you stretch your arms back, opening your chest up, and lengthening both sides of your waist. This pose reminds you of how much space you have in and around you as it stretches the front, back, and sides of your entire body.
11. Mountain pose with palms pressed.
On an exhale, press your palms at your heart center and connect your thumbs to your heartbeat. Allow your shoulders to rest away from your ears, your legs to be sturdy, your spine long, and your feet to ground down into the earth. Re-connect here with your body, mind, and breath. Realize everything you need is already within you. When you're ready, simply repeat these moves with the left foot stepping back.Roll through this sequence as many times as you would like, and feel free to sit in meditation when you are done to increase your awareness and focus for the rest of the day.
Anna Gannon is a writer and yoga & meditation teacher. She is the community and social media lead at Expectful, a groundbreaking meditation program for pregnancy and parenthood, where she also hosts the Expectful Podcast. She has a bachelor's in physical education and coaching from Queens College. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, Yoga Today, The Expectful Blog, and more.