January is an ambitious month, the air is filled with hopes for new beginnings and new year resolutions. What do you wish for this year?
Here's my wish list: write a monthly blog, deepen my yoga practice with a trip to India, buy a new dining table, buy a new Lululemon jacket, learn to make all-natural sunscreen, renovate the backyard, eat dinner with parents at least once a week, practice holding handstand for more than 5 seconds, improve Chinese......
And this is just the beginning....my wishes are endless and desires change every day! I set very high expectations for myself that is often unrealistic. What I do know is that success can only come from focusing on one thing at a time. I'll be focusing my energy to do the best that I can do with the task I have on hand and not worry too much about the outcome.
If you are a hardcore perfectionist like I am, here are my favorite poses to practice everyday to stay present and grounded.
1. Warrior Pose
A solid and strong body translates to a determined mind. The warrior pose is a simple yet effective way to give us more courage to pursue whatever endeavor we choose to do without fear!
How: Begin standing, step your feet apart and position the back foot (left) to 90 degrees and right foot (right) pointed towards the front of the mat. Align the front heel with the back heel. Bend your front knee (right) ensuring the knee is stacked directly on top of the ankle. Extend your arms parallel to the floor and actively reach to opposite sides. Keeping shoulder blades wide and palms face down.
Tip: Keep your arms strong and lifted but shoulders relaxed. Squeeze your knee caps to protect the knee and engage the legs, make sure you are applying equal pressure to both feet.
2. Eagle Pose with Back Bending
A fun variation on the traditional standing eagle pose. This asana helps to lift and open up the heart to bring new inspirations while strengthening our hips and groin.
How: Start in warrior one then lower back knee (right) on the ground. Draw the back knee towards back of the mat, grounding through the hips. Bring one arm (left) to 90 degrees in front of the chest then the other arm (right) underneath, bring both palms to touch. Work on lifting the elbows and move into a gentle back bend.
Tips: Focus on lifting the elbow instead first before moving to back bending. Place a extra cushion underneath the knees if you have weak or sensitive knees.
3. Dragon Pose
Our base chakra governs our sense of security, therefore deep hip openers that stimulates the base chakra is the best position to practice whenever you wish to feel more present.
How: Begin in Downward Dog, step one foot (right) between the hands and walk the knee (right) forward until knee is above the heel. Slide the back knee (left) backward as far as you can. Place one hand (left) on the mat on inside of the knee and extend the opposite arm (right) towards back of the mat.
Tips: You may wish to use a block to elevate and rest your hand. Use your hand (right) to push your knee out, roll onto the outer edges of the feet before extending your arm (right) backwards. This is a challenging pose, take deep breaths and do not try to hold the breath.
4. Happy Baby Pose
Hardcore perfectionist tends to get a little too serious and critical when it comes to getting things done. I love the happy baby pose as a reminder to have a little fun and enjoy the simple moments in life just as we did when we were young!
How: Lie down on your back, bend the knees and pull towards the chest. Hold onto your feet from the outside and position the ankle directly over the knee so your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Flex through the heel up towards the ceiling, gently push your feet up into your hands.
Tips: Have fun! Try kicking up and down, rolling side to side, straightening one leg up at a time. Do whatever your body is calling you to do and smile! :)
5. Shavasana or Mindful Breathing
Everyone's favourite resting pose, to be done at the end of your yoga practice or anytime you feel overwhelmed. Completely relax and let your body and mind rest without any expectations. Give yourself the permission to completely surrender to gravity and do absolutely nothing for just a few minutes. Moments of stillness is key to help us let go of stress, fatigue, and tension. We rest so that we can go further!
How: Lie down and rest. I love to place my left right over the heart and left hand over the belly to help me feel the sensation of my breath.
Tip: Tuning into the movement of the breath will help with relaxing and focusing the mind in the present moment. You can try to add a count of one to five to each inhalation and exhalation and work on deepening and slowing down the breath with every round.