by Lena Schmidt: Move through this asana sequence to prepare your body, mind, breath, and emotions for the upcoming year…
Start by finding a comfortable seat and close your eyes. Position yourself on a bolster, blanket, or block for optimal comfort and center yourself with three to five deep, full breaths.
Keeping your eyes closed, set an intention for your practice. Call to mind an inspiring word or mantra for your year ahead. Think about how you want to feel this year, what characteristics you would like to cultivate daily, and all that you wish to manifest in your life. Once you feel centered and connected to your breath and your intention, move through the sequence…
Warm Up Your Muscles
With your legs crossed or the bottoms of your feet touching, begin to circle your torso around and around. Allow your movement to be free and organic. Your shoulders can move and your head and neck can join in. Feel your hips warming and your low back relaxing.
New Year’s Note: This free form movement gets the creative juices flowing, frees up emotions, and is a gentle reminder to go with the flow this year.
Come to your hands and knees. Begin to round and arch your back with the rhythm of your breath. Move through five to six rounds of Cow and Cat stretches, pausing wherever you need a few extra breaths.
New Year’s Note: These smooth movements ready the spine to be strong for the work ahead, alternatively reminding you to be open-hearted and self-reflective.
Open Your Hips
Low Lunge Pose
Step your right foot forward, lower your left knee down, and shift your hips forward into a deep, low lunge. Reach your arms out to the sides or upwards for Anjaneyasana, Low Lunge. Stay for three to five breaths.
New Year’s Note: This pose is a reminder to stay stable and connected to the earth while you express receptivity to new beginnings with open, up-turned palms.
Back out of your lunge, straighten your front leg, and swivel on your back knee so you’re facing the long side of your yoga mat. Keep your right leg extended and turn your toes to face the long edge of your mat. Slide your right hand lightly down your extended right leg and rest your fingers on your thigh. Stretch your left arm over and across your ear to your right get a deep stretch on the whole left side of your body. Stay for three to five breaths.
New Year’s Note: Stretch into Parighasana, Gate Pose, to symbolically open the door for all of the possibilities this year may bring.
Thread the Needle
Keep your right leg outstretched, hinge at your waist, and lower to your hands. Keep your right palm down and stretch your left arm out to the side for a twist. Thread your left arm all the way under your right for Thread the Needle. Allow your left shoulder and head to come to rest on a blanket or the ground. Keep your right hand down for support or stretch it up and wrap it around your back. Unwind after three to five breaths.
New Year’s Note: As you twist and stretch your upper back, honor the past, where you’ve been, and all the experiences that have guided you to this moment, this day, and made you who you are now.
Rest in Child’s Pose
Unwind from your twist and bring your big toes together behind you. Widen your knees and send your hips back toward your heels. Stretch your arms forward as you rest your torso on or between your thighs. Rest your head on your mat or a block. Rest in Balasana, Child’s Pose, for three to five breaths.
New Year’s Note: As you bow forward, reconnect with the intention you set at the start of your practice to stay focused on your inspiring year ahead.
*Repeat sequence on opposite side, from Low Lunge to Child’s Pose.
Stand Tall and Strong
From Child’s Pose, press up to hands and knees, tuck your toes under, and lift your hips for Adho Mukha Svanasana, Downward-Facing Dog.
Walk your hands backwards towards your feet to come to Uttanasana, Standing Forward Fold. Bend your knees deeply and roll yourself up to standing.
Warrior II Pose
Step your right foot forward. Bend your front knee over your toes and straighten your back leg. Turn your body toward the long end of your mat and gaze over your front fingers. Lengthen your spine and bend deeper into Virabhadrasana 2, Warrior 2. Hold for 5 breaths and repeat on the other side.
New Year’s Note: As you reach equally with your arms in each direction, claim your power and feel both stable and flexible as you move into the New Year.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold
Straighten your front leg and turn your toes forward towards the long edge of your mat. Fold forward from your waist and let your head hang in Prasarita Padottanasana, Wide-Legged Forward Fold. Stay for three to five breaths.
New Year’s Note: Allow this partial inversion to bring you mental clarity and a change of perspective.
Reclined Spinal Twist Pose
Make your way onto your back and hug your knees into your chest. Stretch your arms open like wings and bring both knees over to the right side. Stay for three to five breaths in the spinal twist before transitioning to the other side.
Unroll and extend your arms and legs for Savasana, final resting pose. Allow this pose to be a sweet release of your effort, knowing that all is happening exactly as it is supposed to.
Trust in yourself, trust in the universe, and allow yourself to surrender to all that is, all that ever was, and all that ever will be.
About the Author…
Whether it’s exploring the local trails, playing pretzel on the yoga mat, or diving into a book on inner peace, Lena loves an adventure. You can find her teaching yoga in San Diego, leading retreats near and far, and empowering others to be the change they wish to see in the world. Learn more about Lena at www.yoginilena.com The spiritual aspects of yoga have aided Lena in the never-ending search for peace, calm, and positivity within, and she’s passionate about sharing these tools with others. She is intentional about taking yoga off the mat and loves finding the bridges between the heart and mind, the individual and community, and mindfulness and expression…