In honor of National Yoga Month (September), we’re bringing you a yoga flow that’ll help keep you balanced and grounded. Yogi Cheryl Feinberg guides us through some classic poses, giving you the play-by-play on how to approach them correctly, and stay in them with confidence.
Before we get into the practice, we’d like to share a little more about the woman behind the flow. Cheryl is a true yogi, but in an effort to stay active, she also goes to the gym regularly (when they’re open), and takes her dog hiking (her fave). Cheryl is also an inspired and inspiring woman. Her dad is one of the most influential people in her life. He is so diverse in his interests and talents that he always inspires her to learn and do more. When she was a kid, she used to think there wasn't anything her dad couldn't do, and she aspires to be like him. If she could impart a message to the world, it would be, “Don't be afraid to speak up and speak out. It's important to use our voices for change.” It’s no wonder her favorite quote is “Head high, heart forward.” She explains, “It's my personal motto. I believe in walking through life with your chin up and your heart open.” Not only do we love Cheryl’s outlook on life, we believe she’s going to go places, and lead. When we asked her if she could have dinner with any one person, her answer was the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “She inspired my (former) legal career and I look up to her for all she did during her time on the Supreme Court. I would love to ask her about her time on the SCOTUS, and what it was like to be one of two women ever to hold such an esteemed position.” We’d love to be at the table with you, Cheryl!
Here, Cheryl shares one of her favorite yoga flows:
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Mountain Pose is the foundation of all standing poses. It grounds you and sets the tone for balancing and grounding poses, helps improve posture and body awareness, strengthens your legs, and establishes good alignment.
Stand with your feet together and arms at your sides, palms facing forward. You can spread your heels slightly if your ankles are knocking together. Root down through the feet, spreading toes wide to create a solid base. Engage the front of your thighs, drawing them upward. Roll your shoulders back, slightly, to release your shoulder blades down your back. Energetically lengthen your spine upward by lengthening your neck and crown toward the ceiling, keeping your head in a neutral position.
Warrior 1 helps strengthen your shoulders, arms, legs, and back, and opens your hips, chest, and lungs. It energizes the entire body and improves balance and stability.
From Tadasana (mountain pose), step your right leg forward, toes pointing forward, bending the right leg at a 90-degree angle in a lunge position. The back foot rotates towards the long edge of the mat about 45 degrees. Your heel on the front leg should be in alignment with the arch of your back foot, or about 45 degrees rotated. Raise your arms straight above your head, palms facing, and lower your shoulders away from your ears by squeezing shoulder blades together and downward. Lift your chin to gaze towards your hands.
Warrior 3 improves balance and stability, strengthens your legs, shoulders and back, and engages the core. Balancing also helps calm the mind and improve focus.
Shift your weight forward onto your bent leg while hinging forward at the waist, arms now parallel to the floor. Ground down through your standing foot and lift your back leg to form a straight line from your fingertips to your foot. Send your energy back through your lifted leg and forward through your fingertips. Arms, torso, and raised leg should be parallel to the floor.
One-Legged Chair Pose
One-Legged Chair Pose improves core strength and balance, while opening the hips and strengthening the legs. It requires good focus to balance, which can help clear your mind.
From Warrior 3, come back to Tadasana (Mountain Pose), or simply move straight through from Warrior 3 into One-Legged Chair Pose. Lift your left leg and bring your left ankle to rest on your right knee. Flex your left foot and bend your right leg into chair pose. Hands come to the heart center in prayer position. For a deeper stretch, fold forward and rest your forearms on your left shin. Make sure the weight stays evenly distributed in your standing foot.
Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe helps maintain a feeling of grounding through the standing foot, strengthens the legs, stretches the back of the extended leg, and improves balance.
From One-Legged Chair Pose, wrap your first two fingers around the big toe on your left foot and straighten your standing leg. Extend your left leg straight out in front and then open to the side. Check in with your hips and lower the left one, if it is extended. To aid with balance, really send your energy out through the extended leg, pushing out against your fingers. Right arm extends out to the side and gaze shifts to over right fingertips.
In Dancer’s Pose, you stretch your shoulders, chest, thighs, and stomach, while strengthening your legs, and improving your balance and concentration.
From Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe, come back to Mountain Pose, or move straight through into Dancer. Bend your left leg so your knee is parallel to the floor and shift your grip to the outer edge of your left foot. Lift your right arm straight up toward the ceiling. Lift your left leg up and behind you, kicking into your left hand. As you do this, bring your torso forward to counterbalance. Reverse these movements to come back to Mountain Pose and complete the flow on one side. Repeat on the other side.
This balancing and grounding yoga flow was contributed exclusively to Ellie by yogi Cheryl Feinberg. Instagram: @CherylFYoga