Al-Kirmani writes that a major mark of fear is perpetual sadness. Have you ever thought about fear in this way? I hadn’t before coming across these words. But it feels so true! When I am sad, especially if the reason isn’t readily apparent, I often realize that what I am usually afraid of is that my future will never be good again.
When we feel an overwhelming sense of sadness woven into our days, it is helpful for us to explore any fear lying at the heart of this sadness. Al-Qushayri writes,
Fear is tied to the future. We fear that what we despise will come to be or that what we desire will pass us by.
So much of our lives are lived from a place of fear or aversion. So let’s dedicate this practice to grounding ourselves in love, reassuring our bodies and hearts that everything is just as it should be, and moving forward free of our fear. Spend the rest of today noticing whether you make your choices from a place of fear or love. Can we set the intention to choose love instead?
Let’s take a deep breath and come into easy pose.
- Seated (Easy) Pose (Sukhasana) – Let’s start with a pranayam practice (breathing practice).
- Play this meditative drum track
- Count out 4 seconds in a continuous loop to the track till you can establish a rhythm with the music
- Close your eyes
- Take a deep inhale in for 2 seconds, exhale for 2 seconds (2 beats on the track)
- Do this 5 more times, until you feel you are breathing in time with the music
- Now increase your inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds (4 beats on the track)
- Repeat this 5 more times, each time letting your tensions leave with the exhale
- Carry this rhythmic breath forward with you into the practice, use it to ground you in your practice
2. Hero Pose
- With your hands in prayer position above your heart, establish your breath with the music again
3. Lifted Arms, Hips Forward (on an inhale)
- Channel some strength from the universe
4. Child’s Pose (on an exhale)
5. Cat Pose (Inhale)
6. Downward Dog (Exhale)
- Bend your knees for better spinal extension here and root through your hands, creating a solid foundation
7. Cobra (Inhale)
- Bring your shoulder blades down your back
8. Child’s Pose (Exhale)
9. Lifted Arms, Hips Forward (Inhale)
10. Hero Pose (Exhale)
Repeat this flow four more times, in time with the music so that you are inhaling for two counts and exhaling for two counts. You should be moving with every inhale and exhale.
After this part of the practice, turn the music down or switch it off so it doesn’t throw you off.
11. Downward Dog
- Stay in this static downward dog for three full cycles of breath. Downward dog is our “home base” for this practice. Whenever you feel a surge of anxiety or fear, use your downward dog as a return to a place of peace and grounding
12. Raise Right Leg
- Stay here for two long breaths. Try not to turn out your hips.
13. Bend Right Leg and Twist to Right
- Stay here for two long breaths. Hips will naturally turn out here.
14. Swing leg down, bring your knee towards your nose and rest your lower leg on the ground
15. Pigeon Pose
- Try and get your hips on the same plane. Extend your spine and come down on to your forearms. Stay here for five cycles of breath.
16. King of the Pigeons Pose
- Fold the mat underneath your knee for this pose if you have knee issues. Five cycles of breath.
Repeat 11-16 on the other side
17. Downward Dog
- Two breaths here
18. Forward Fold
- Two breaths here
19. Mountain Pose
20. Tree Pose
- Foot can be on your shin or thigh, but not on the knee. With your arms open to the universe, open your heart further and gaze gently on a point in front of you. Root down through your standing leg and draw some much needed earth energy up all the way to your heart and throughout your body. Stay for three breaths.
21. Standing Crescent
- If you can’t balance on your foot, gently place the toe of the raised leg on the mat. This is a joyful pose. Soften here and allow your body to be as it is. Three breaths here.
22. Warrior III
- Keep your standing knee bent and use a wall for assistance if necessary. Gaze gently at a point on the ground in front of you and use it as the source for your strength, calmness and balance. Three breaths.
23. Pyramid Pose
- Bend your front knee if this is difficult for you and use blocks. Three breaths.
24. Triangle Pose
- Start with your hand on your hip and twist away from the ground before reaching your arm up. Use blocks or gently rest your lower hand on your shin if needed. Five breaths.
25. Wide Angle Forward Fold
- Rest here for three breaths
Repeat 20-25 on other side
26. Child’s Pose
- Put your weight into your forearms. This is a preparation pose for headstand. If you are able to get into headstand, use headstand instead of the upcoming handstand as your inversion. Stay here for five breaths and draw on the strength from your arms.
28. L-shaped handstand
- Start in downward dog with your feet up against a wall. Slowly walk your feet up the wall until your body forms a right angle. Make sure you are barefoot for this pose!
- This pose is scary for most adults to do. We are so used to being upside down as children, but the minute we invert this much in our adulthood, our brains start freaking out. This is a great pose to help you understand how you react to fear. Do you back off or do you push yourself further to try and prove something? Instead of either of these reactions, see if you can become aware of the work your arms are doing to keep you up and smile in gratitude. As you slowly step out of this pose, notice how you feel. Inversion like this are well-known to have a soothing effect on our minds. Stay here as long as you can!
29. Child’s Pose
- This is the time to reflect. Take a deep breath in and feel the vitality in your body. Experience gratitude in your heart for the strength and openness your body sourced to help you practice today.
30. Happy Baby Pose
- Make sure your ankles are directly above your knees. Move gently, side to side. Embrace yourself here. Show yourself some warmth and affection.
31. Supine Butterfly (option: against the wall)
32. Legs up the Wall
- Stay here for a nice while. At first, your legs may feel a little strange. They’re not used to having gravity work in the opposite way on them. Stay here until that nice tingly gravity feeling fades from your legs. Use this as a thank you to your legs for carrying you through. They deserve some rest. So does your heart.
33. Corpse Pose
- Return to your breath here and rest for 5 minutes or as long as you please.
Come back up to a seated pose. Close your eyes, take a deep breath in and let it out through the mouth. Rest in the full awareness that there is ultimate goodness in all things as they unfold through divine love. Take another deep breath in, imagining mercy and warmth flowing all the way through your body, and with your exhale release your fear, knowing you are supported in the best way. Courage, dear heart! You are perfect, you are whole, you are free. No matter what.
Namaste and peace be upon you,
Below is the visual guide for our practice today 🙂
Things still feel a bit wonky. Any suggestions on how to improve these Yoga Practice posts? Are the textual instructions helpful or should I just keep the visual guides? Should I attempt video practices? Let me know!