Leading yoga retreats is my primary focus as a yoga guide, and while I always have “a plan,” the sequences and teachings don’t completely come to life until I meet the attendees. It is a beautiful and necessary practice to be prepared, but we must try and allow ourselves to show up without expectations and let the magic unfold – on and off the mat.
After meeting the beautifully diverse group that made up our recent Palm Springs retreat, I was deeply inspired to create and hold space for these women to explore their innermost layers. This wave is from a sequence I taught one morning, during which time I felt particularly connected to the women before me. This wave is meant to open and expand while also drawing the energy and love inward. I hope it serves you well and that you will join us on our next adventure.
With love and gratitude,
I like to start and close each class with meditation. For some of us, this is a comfortable seat with a long spine and deeply rooted seat; for others, a supported bridge or legs up the wall. Allow yourself to drop in, in any way that feels good. Bring your attention to your breath or a mantra, for example: Inhale strength, exhale fear. Sit for as long as you like.
Bring your big toes to touch and your knees as wide as the mat here. On your next exhale settle your seat toward your heels and allow your outer hips to release while dropping your heart and forehead down to earth. (10-20 breaths)
These very common poses are meant to lubricate the spine and start to wake the body. First, come to a table top position. For Cat, wrists are directly below shoulders and hips above your knees. On your exhale spread your fingers wide and root your palms down as you round the spine and bring your gaze softly toward your navel. Keep pressing your hands and tops of the feet into the earth. (You can also opt to curl the toes here.)
For Cow, on your inhale, press into the hands as you arch the back and reach your heart toward the sky while broadening across your collarbones. Lifting your gaze here elongates the neck, but be careful not to throw the head back. (Take Cat/Cow on fingertips if you have wrist sensitivity.) Repeat 10-15 cycles. Inhale/exhale.
Downward Facing Dog
With close attention on your hands, start to press into the palms and knuckles of each finger as you inhale, lift your hips up and back to the sky. I like to keep my knees bent in DD and allow my pelvis to move closer to the earth as I draw my sits bones to the sky. You can also straighten the legs here and encourage the heels toward the ground. They may not reach, and that’s OK! Start to hollow the armpits here and draw them towards your heart, widening and opening the upper back. Hold here for 1 minute and see what comes up and through as you set your foundation.
Open Heart High Lunge
Lift the right leg to the sky and step the right foot between the hands, bend deeply into the right knee and light the left thigh toward the sky as you press the left heel back in space. Inhale, reach your arms to the sky and bend the elbows as you open your heart. Interlace your fingers and clasp your palms to touch as you exhale. Draw your hands gently down to the earth as you lift your heart. Hold steady here, stay soft, open and receptive. (Hold 1 minute.)
Warrior 1 with Eagle Arms
Spin the left heel down. You may have to adjust your footing here in order to square the hips. As you exhale root into the outer edge of the left foot and energetically draw your inner thighs toward one another as you keep a deep bend (front knee over ankle.) Extend your arms and wrap the left under your right, allowing the palms to meet. As you exhale draw your elbows gently away from you and your shoulder blades together and down the back. Find a soft, steady gaze as you bring the energy in, stay close to yourself here. Hold for 1 minute.
Come back to Downward Dog – repeat left side (optional vinyasa between sides).
Walk your feet slowly to the front of the mat from DD. Take a very deep bend in the knees and let your belly and heart rest on your thighs. Release the head and neck here. Let the arms hang if you wish or take hold of opposite elbows behind the knees and hug everything in tight to hold yourself here. Hold 1 minute and breathe.
From your forward fold, come to the balls of the feet and let the knees splay out to the sides as you sit toward your heels and round your spine, allowing your head and neck to release here. If available, reach your palms behind and hold heels – curl in and breathe. Hold 1 minute.
Supta Baddha Konasana
Come to sit and make your way down to your back. Bring the souls of your feet to touch as you release the hips and let the knees fall out to the sides. If you have blocks or blankets, you can use them to support your knees here. Place one hand on your heart and one on your belly. Rest for 10 minutes.
Photos by Emily Sellers.