Editor’s note: Yoga Bites will appear every four weeks.
Here we are again, cycling into the season when crunchy leaves fall and you can feel the crispness of the earthy air at earlier and earlier sunsets.
We are entering the time of year when practicing heat-building yoga postures can help us stoke up a bonfire at center to increase warmth and circulation throughout the body, as well as burn “the trash,” whatever we do not want or need any more.
Remember as a child how being fully present was all you knew? Around this time back then you were usually planning your next greatest costume. Let your childlike nature emerge as you pretend to be a valiant Warrior-Sage.
Stretch your arms out wide to your sides, and step your feet out about as wide as your hands into a five-pointed Sea Star. Starting with feet parallel, turn your right foot out 90 degrees and your left foot in 45 degrees. Rooting down through all four corners of each foot, exhale as you bend your right knee deeply, pressing the left leg toward straight.
Arms keep extending to the sides as your head turns to gaze over the right middle finger. Roll your shoulders back, and activate your shoulder blades firmly onto your back. Keep the right knee centered over the right ankle, and keep that knee tracking over the pinky-toe side of that foot, using your thigh muscles to externally rotate the bent thigh. This is Warrior 2, Virabhadrasana II. Hold here for five full breath cycles.
On an inhale find center again, 5-pointed Sea Star with arms overhead now. Switch and find Warrior II on the other side. Hold again. Let your arms rotate as you press the palms toward each other up at center, and turn them to press earthward as you find Warrior II. Flow fluidly and powerfully from posture to posture, initiating each movement from center with the breath.
Move like a ninja, tai chi master or dancer. Feel your aliveness and vibrancy with each breath. Soften your skin, drop your mask. Allow your outer body to drape over your skeleton. Feel the strength of your bones. Can you find the suppleness and serenity in the midst of power, the dynamic ease?
Take a break in between cycles when needed by pouring the torso long over wide legs, straight or bent. What do you need to shed right now in preparation for the seasons of thankfulness, hibernation, death and rebirth?
After resting in Wide-Leg Forward Fold, or Fan, bend your knees and slowly roll your spine up to standing. Get adventurous and flow faster, switching sides with each breath. Exhale into a Warrior, inhale back to center, and exhale into Warrior on the next side.
Breathe slowly through the nose to warm and harness the breath. As you play and dance, create your own variations of poses, or new postures that suit you spontaneously. Allow your arms to be creative and expressive. Use the breath wind as a billow, continuing to stoke the bonfire at center, burning away what no longer serves the highest vision you have for yourself, and transform by moving through your inner fire.
By activating and holding these muscles while pumping fresh oxygen through our system, we can heat and light ourselves up from the inside out. Tapas is the Sanskrit word for the heat or glow that arises from a vigorous yoga practice, and the burning desire to live life more fully.