written by Lauren Ash, CYT
photos featuring Lauren Ash and Zakkiyyah of Black Girl In Om
photographer: Lawrence Agyei
stylist: Tee Johnson
We've all been there before. Slumped over our computers. Stressed over our circumstances. All cried out over some b.s. Why? No need for any of it. Try these yoga postures and get your mind right, and body tight, if you’re into that. No yoga mats required, no experience required. If you’re injury free and able-bodied, try all of these asanas (physical yoga postures) out! Remember: practice makes practice. Toss perfection out of the window. These are some of our favorite yoga poses that you can practice anywhere and we’re happy to share them with you!
Before practicing any pose, we encourage you to set an intention. This could be as deceptively simple as “I’m going to focus on breathing as deeply and intentionally as possible” or as beautifully abstract as “I’m going to focus on sending my energy to my friend who really needs love right now.” It’s your practice, so identify what you’d like to hone in on and notice what happens when you delve in with this intention in the forefront of your mind.
English: Child’s Pose
BGIO Translation: Surrender. Restore. Relax.
Kneel on the ground and bring your big toes together to touch.
Inhale. Widen your knees as much as comfortable.
Exhale. Sink your hips back, melting your torso in between your thighs.
Inhale. Reach your arms out long in front of you with palms spread wide. Relax your shoulders and release your elbows to the earth.
Exhale. Soften your forehead into the earth. Breathe deeply and meditate here for three minutes.
Have tight hips? Keep your knees together.
Release your arms alongside your torso, with fingers pointing toward your feet and palms facing up toward the sky.
Bonus: Have your ‘omie press one palm, with fingers pointing toward your tailbone) lightly on your sacrum and one hand (with fingers pointing toward your head) lightly on your mid back. Encourage them to push down a bit more with every exhale, according to your comfort level.
Sanskrit: Marjaryasana and Bitilasana
BGIO Translation: Self massage for the spine? Yes, please.
Come to your hands and knees for tabletop pose: plant your palms with fingers spread wide directly under your shoulders. Place your knees directly under your hips. Press the tops of your feet into the mat with toes pointing straight back. Gaze at the space in between your palms and lengthen through your spine. Roll your shoulders away from your ears. Pull your navel toward your spine.
Cat Pose: Inhale. Begin to round your spine and trace your gaze to your navel. Press the earth away with your palms. Gently press through the tops of your feet.
Cow Pose: Exhale. Begin to send your heart forward and trace your gaze to the sky. Point your tailbone up.
Continue to flow through this with one long, full breath to one movement. Move intentionally and find new expansion and depth each time you move into cat-cow.
Does gazing up strain your neck? Gaze straight forward instead.
Have wrist problems? Make fists and ground your knuckles into the earth with palms facing inward, rather than flexing your wrists.
Bonus: Flow through this with your eyes closed, focusing on how you feel rather than on how things appear. Listen to Willow Smith’s Female Energy and imagine yourself in a place where anything is imaginable.
Sanskrit: Ahdo Mukha Svanasana
English: Downward Facing Dog
BGIO Translation: Change your perspective.
From your tabletop pose, flip your toes so they kiss the mat and send your hips high while you press your chest toward your thighs. (You should look like an inverted “v” from the side.)
Check in: your hands should be shoulder-width distance apart with your middle finger pointing straight forward and all fingers spread wide. Your feet should be hips-width distance apart with toes pointing straight forward. Engage through your core.
Relax your head completely and gaze at the space in between your thighs or knees.
Find stillness and transition into your moving meditation: inhale to lengthen through the crown of your head. Exhale to melt your heels into your mat.
Tight hamstrings? Place a generous bend in your knees. Then, bend one knee generously toward the mat while pressing the heel of your other leg toward your mat. Take this motion on the other side.
Are you flexible? Deepen this posture! Have your ‘omie stand in front of you, with a wide and strong stance, and press forward on your sacrum, gently deepening your hamstring stretch. Encourage them to push gently with every exhale.
English: Standing Forward Fold
BGIO Translation: Let it go. Let it all go.
1. Stand firmly with your feet hips-width distance apart. Inhale.
2. Exhale. Bend slowly from your hips until your torso is as close to your legs as comfortable.
3. Place a slight bend in your knees and bring the weight of your body slightly forward to the balls of your feet.
4. Transition into a moving meditation: Inhale to lengthen through your spine. Exhale to release torso even more toward your thighs. Release in this way for three minutes.
1. Place a generous bend in your knees.
2. Do this horizontally (seated)
Bonus: listen to “Lullaby” (feat. Soft Glas) by Chargaux and Soft Glas while you gently sway from side to side and grab opposite elbows for Ragdoll Pose.
English: Tree Pose
BGIO Translation: B-A-L-A-N-C-E
Set your dristhi, or focused gaze, at a single unmoving object or spot somewhere in front of you. Bring the intention that you set for your practice into your mind.
Stand firmly and gently shift your body weight into your right leg.
Float your left foot to a kickstand position against your right ankle, to your calf, or your inner thigh. Avoid placing your foot on your knee.
Relax. Roll your shoulders away from your ears, breathe fully and deeply, and open your raised knee even more to the left.
Option: grow your branches (raise your arms) or close your eyes.
Repeat on your opposite side.
Practice while standing close to a wall to help you ease into the challenge of balancing without physical support.
Bonus: Before practicing this or any other balancing posture, calm your mind by rubbing lavender oil on your temples.
English: Easy Pose
BGIO Translation: Let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go...
Sit down. Remove your flesh from around your booty to root your sit-bones into the earth. Cross your legs inward.
Inhale. Balance your spine over your pelvis and lengthen through the crown of your head.
Exhale. Melt your shoulders toward the earth and slightly lower your chin toward your chest.
Continue to breathe. Engage your core and place your palms face down on your thighs to ground yourself or face up to receive energy.
Close your eyes and breathe deeply in and fully out, repeating for ten breaths; when complete, repeat on the other side with opposite legs crossed.
Bring your palms to prayer position and raise them to your third eye (as pictured). Gently rub them together while sending your gaze gently inward to awaken your intuition.
Fold a blanket and place it under your sit-bones so that you are a few inches off of the earth. This will help you open and release your hips even more.
Bonus: Erykah Badu’s timeless “Bag Lady” is all the way appropriate for this pose. Meditate on her words as you let go of whatever is holding you back with every exhale.
Always end with gratitude: for yourself and for your practice. We’re all busy and distracted, so giving ourselves the gift of intentional breath, movement, and meditation is special and should be honored as such.
While most of these poses are safe and suitable for those of us blessed with able-bodies, the risk of injury is always present. Be sure to check with your physician that you are in good health and ready to participate in these physical postures!
Practice in a space that inspires you: put up mantras personal to your intentions for self-growth, light candles or incense, surround yourself with crystals, and play music that uplifts your soul. Much love to Workshop Chicago who let us practice in their gorgeous space!