By Alexandra Wood, Contributing Wellness Blogger (@__alexandrawood)
Alexandra Wood is a certified yoga and meditation instructor; she lives a holistic lifestyle and shares her wellness journey on her blog. As an entrepreneur, Alexandra continues to pursue her passion of teaching yoga and creates content to help others on the side.
February, the month of love-- but it isn’t just about the romantic relationship you have with others anymore. It’s evolved into a month of celebrating the love and relationship we have with ourselves, the most important relationship of them all. There are many ways to practice self-love, including mindfully moving your body and directing love towards your sacred temple.
This sequence is designed to open your heart and build a stronger relationship with yourself. I encourage you to practice with an open perspective to how powerful, strong, and capable you are on and off your mat. But most importantly, be completely honest with yourself and honor your body and mind with its deepest desires.
Mountain Pose with Anjali Mudra
- Stand tall at the front of you mat with your feet together.
- Place both of your palms in a prayer position, Anjali Mudra, at your heart space while slightly bowing your head.
- Set your intention to cultivate self-love and to let go of any self-doubt. You are strong and vibrant.
- Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. Point your fingertips to the top of your mat. Place your shins and knees hip-width apart.
Begin by moving into cow pose: inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat, draw your shoulders back to broaden across your chest, and turn your gaze to the sky.
Next, move into cat pose: as you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling.
- Inhale, coming back into cow pose, and then exhale as you return to cat pose.
-Modifications: sit in an easy seat, bring hands to knees with palms facing down, as you inhale roll your shoulders down your back and open your chest, as you exhale tuck your chin to your chest then draw your belly in and round your spine.
Downward Facing Dog
- Begin in a tabletop position with your hands directly under your shoulders and fingers spread wide with your middle finger pointing forward.
- Pull your belly into your spine engaging your core then start to tuck your toes and with bent knees begin to lift your hips toward the sky.
- Keeping your arms straight but not locked begin to press your chest towards your thighs as you reach your hips higher extending your legs. Continue to lift through your tailbone to create more length in your spine.
- Now, check in with your feet and make sure they are hip with distance apart and heels are pressing towards the ground as you feel the stretch in the backs of your legs. The legs can be straight or if you’re tighter in your hamstrings or rounding in your spine keep a slight bend in your knees.
- Allow your neck to release and head to be heavy.
-Modifications: keep knees bent, place blocks under hands
- Kneel on the floor with your knees hip width and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Rotate your thighs inward slightly, narrow your hip points, and firm but don't harden your buttocks. Imagine that you're drawing your sitting bones up, into your torso. Keep your outer hips as soft as possible. Press your shins and the tops of your feet firmly into floor.
- Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, bases of the palms on the tops of the buttocks, fingers pointing down. Use your hands to spread the back pelvis and lengthen it down through your tail bone. Then lightly firm the tail forward, tilting the pelvis and at the same time press your front thighs back, countering the forward action of your tail and engaging muscles. Inhale and lift your heart by pressing the shoulder blades against your back ribs (beginners may keep their hands on their lower back).
- Now lean back against the firmness of the tail bone and shoulder blades. For the time being keep your head up, chin near the sternum, and your hands on the pelvis. Carefully reach hands back for heels continuing to lift through the ribs as you come into the back bend. If you're not able to touch your feet without compressing your lower back, turn your toes under and elevate your heels.
- Press your palms firmly against your soles (or heels), with the bases of the palms on the heels and the fingers pointing toward the toes. Turn your arms outwardly so the elbow creases face forward, without squeezing the shoulder blades together. You can keep your neck in a relatively neutral position, neither flexed nor extended, or drop your head back. But be careful not to strain your neck and harden your throat.
- To exit, bring your hands onto the front of your pelvis, at the hip points. Inhale and lift the head and torso up by pushing the hip points down, toward the floor. If your head is back, lead with your heart to come up, not by jutting the chin toward the ceiling and leading with your brain. Try to rest in child’s pose after this back bend.
-Modifications: keep hands placed on low back
- Step your feet wide (about one legs distance apart) and spin your heels in and turn your feet to face out.
- Bend your knees making sure that your knees stay stacked over your ankles (adjust your stance to be wider or shorter if needed). With your knees bent, keep your pelvis neutral and drop your hips no lower than your knees.
- Cactus your arms and bring your pointer finger and thumb together to meet in Gyana Mudra
-Modifications: place your hands on your thighs for support and bring feet closer together if needed
Reclined Bound Angle Pose
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet together.
- Place your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your belly. As you breath in fill up with love, as you breath out release self-doubt.
-Modifications: support your thighs with blocks