Yoga helps build strength and flexibility, but it also helps cultivate a sound and healthy mind. With Thanksgiving coming up, try building your practice around feelings of joy and thankfulness. Below is a yoga flow to inspire gratitude in your everyday life.
1. Devotional Warrior
From Downward Facing Dog, step the right foot forward in between your hands. Ground the left foot down towards the mat, and shorten the stance just enough to square your hips. Steer your right hip back and your left hip forward. Then, press your feet down, squeeze your inner thighs, then reach your hands up towards the sky. Come into Warrior 1.
From Warrior 1, interlace your fingers behind your low back. Straighten the arms and gently pull the knuckles away from you. Open up the chest. Inhale, broaden the collarbones. Exhale, lengthen the spine and fold forward.
Try to get your right shoulder on top of your right thigh, or snuggle it next to your inner thigh. Keep your feet grounded, and keep pulling your shoulders away from your ears as you try to get the fists overhead.
Stay here for a few breaths, before bringing your hands down.
Once you bring your hands down, widen the stance of your legs so that you feel more spacious across the hips. Press the left foot down, and feel the knife edge of your left foot press onto the mat.
Then, straighten out your right leg. Place your right hand on your right shin, or on a block. Reach your left arm up to the sky. Squeeze the inner thighs, as you lengthen your spine forward. Open the chest, as if you were leaning your upper back against an imaginary wall behind you.
Keep the neck long, as you continue to energize your fingertips up towards the sky. Breathe in fully and deeply, activating ujjayi pranayama if it suits you.
3. Revolved Half Moon
From Triangle Pose, shorten your stance once again (similar to your stance in Devotional Warrior). This time, straighten both legs. Revolved Half Moon is a challenging pose, so try to have a yoga block with you.
Place your yoga block underneath your left hand, at the instep of your left foot. Step the left foot forward. As you firmly press the right foot down onto the mat, lift your left foot up until it comes in line with your right hip.
Flex the left foot, then keep the hips square. Afterwards, twist your ribcage to the right side. Reach your right arm up, and open up your right shoulder. Keep your neck long. Engage your abdominals. Breathe.
Keep your gaze focused at one point, either looking down, to the side, or up to your fingertips.
This backbend helps stretch out the quadriceps and frontal hips, release the abdominals, and open your chest. It also helps reduce tension in the frontal body, allowing you to breathe better.
From Revolved Half Moon, lower your left leg to meet the right and fold forward in Uttanasana. Then, take a vinyasa.
From Downward Facing Dog, lower the knees down to the mat. Come up onto your knees. Tuck your toes onto the mat, before gently pushing your hips forward and reaching your hands to your heels.
Once you come into the shape, press your hips forward, broaden your chest and look up towards to the sky to keep your neck long. Squeeze your glutes to protect your low back.
You can modify this pose by taking blocks onto your hands, instead of holding onto your heels or ankles.
5. Reclined Bound Angle Pose
After Camel, take Child’s Pose or a vinyasa. Then, don’t forget to do the previous postures on your opposite side, with your left leg forward. To finish off, you may also do Camel a second time.
After you’re done with that challenging (but revitalizing) sequence, cap off your practice with this lovely hip opener. Lie down on your mat, bend your knees, and then open your knees out to the side.
You may support your knees with blocks. If you feel discomfort in your tailbone or low back, feel free to take a blanket or bolster underneath it for support. Relax your hands across either side of your hips, with the palms turned up. Close your eyes, and focus on the breath.
Stay here for a few minutes, perhaps practicing a meditation for gratitude while you’re in this shape. Then, come into constructive rest and savasana. This yoga flow to inspire gratitude will help ground you as the holidays roll in.