The key to building your Power yoga practice is creating a solid foundation. You have to stabilize before you mobilize. As you create your strong foundation with these poses, you will start to build your strength and boost your overall power in your practice.
As you feel stronger and more stable on the mat, you can start to tap into these strengths off the mat.
1. Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog is your home base in your power practice. It’s both dynamic and restful at the same time. It engages the whole body as it tones the arm muscles, firms and lengthens the leg muscles, releases the spine and opens the shoulders.
Each time you come back to Down Dog you have the opportunity to reset and recenter.
With your feet at the back of your mat and your hands at the front, lift your hips to create an inverted V-shape. Plug into your foundation through your feet and hands, which are touching the ground. Root down through all four corners of your feet and hands, and from these anchors, lift up into your core.
From your core, press down through your foundation. Hug your leg muscles to the bones and press your thighbones back. Lift your tail high, lengthen your spine and drop your head. Set your gaze at one point, between your ankles, at your knees or navel every time you come back to this pose.
Work your foundation every time your come to Down Dog, and through repetition you will build power.
2. High Plank
High Plank builds strength and total body integration. It engages your arms and legs, as well as your abdominal muscles. This can be challenging, especially when you are getting started in your Power practice, so know that you can always drop your knees to the ground to modify and build strength.
Stack your shoulders over your wrists, plug your knuckles into the mat, and energetically squeeze your hands toward the center of your mat. Press your heels back and reach the crown of your head in the opposite direction.
Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels, lift your low belly up to in to stabilize your core and build your inner fire. Firm all of your muscles to the bones and power up your entire body.
3. Chair Twist
Twists in yoga are designed to wring and rinse you from the inside out. When you twist, you are essentially compressing your digestive organs. When you release the twist, you flood these organs with new blood and energy, which helps your vital organs and digestive system function more efficiently.
When your organs are clear of excess and toxins, you free up your energy to focus on building health and strength.
Bring your feet together and ground down through all four corners of your feet. Sit your hips down toward knee level, and bring your hands to your heart center. On your inhale, elongate your spine, and with your exhale, twist and hook your tricep to the outside of your opposite thigh.
Stay low in your seat with your weight back in your heels. Ride your breath deeper into your twist, lengthening on each inhale and drawing your navel toward your spine with each exhale. Work your prayer hands toward the center of your chest, and lift your gaze over your top shoulder if that feels good.
Stay for ten breaths or more, release into a Forward Fold, and then repeat on the other side. Feel the rush of new energy as you rinse and renew.
4. Crow Pose
Crow requires arm and core strength, as well as a lot of fire and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. Crow can bring up a lot of emotion up for students with the fear of falling forward. The good news is that you’ll only fall a few inches.
As you practice confronting your fears on the mat, you start to build confidence that you can carry with you into other poses, and off the mat.
Plant both palms onto the mat at shoulder-width, and ground down through your knuckles. Walk into a short Down Dog, bring your feet together at the center of your mat, and stack your shoulders over your wrists. Bend your elbows into Chaturanga arms, and work your knees onto the backs of your arm bones, as close as you can to your armpits.
Hug your low belly up and in. Look forward past your finger tips, and start to lift one foot, then the other. When you have both feet lifted, press your inner arches together and hug your heels toward your glutes. Play with the sensation of taking flight!
5. Child’s Pose
There is power in the pause. It’s often said that the most advanced yogis take Child’s Pose the most. Balasana, Child’s Pose, is an opportunity to reset, re-align, and re-center.
When you feel the urge to force past your edge, or your mind starts to telling you that you “should” do something, can you instead take that as a cue to touch your forehead to the mat, take a pause, and focus on creating space within your body through the power of your breath. With the pause you can re-enter your practice with your full power.
Bring your big toes to touch, and spread your knees out wide. Extend your arms forward toward the front of your mat and drop your forehead to the earth. Generate your steady breath, and let the waves of your balanced, powerful energy wash over you.
You can use these poses on their own or add them in throughout your practice to cultivate more structure and power. From your strong base you can add in expansion and expression as you build strength, confidence, and power.
When you tap into your personal power on the mat, you can carry that inner strength with your off the mat, and start to use your Power yoga practice to fuel your life.