Taking a Stand for 2015 Resolutions

By Charlotte Dodson

It’s almost here, the joy of a new year – we’re flowing into 2015, and each day sees us taking another step closer towards fulfilling our hearts’ promised goal. This goal could be something you’ve decided that you need to either release from your life, or it could be a vision you wish to embrace. Either way, hold your resolution within the strengthened corridors of your heart, and watch your distant-horizon goals become an ever-present, living reality.

Breath is the key – it’s the bridge that allows you to anchor yourself within the present moment. Yoga builds strength in your body while simultaneously creating the same power and determination in your mind – its successful application all depends upon your breath as the ‘living go between’ between consciousnes and form. It’s time to get empowered with this next routine, so please follow the step-by-step instructions carefully in order to maximize the derived benefits.

Standing poses are very strengthening, and give you the necessary stability to tackle the rest of your practice. They’re the stabilizing foundation, teaching you to keep your base firm and active. Remember that whenever a pose or life situation is a challenge, come back to the power of your breathing to keep you in the moment, staying focussed and determined with each inhale and exhale. We’re going to hold the next sequence of poses for longer periods of time, to test your strength and build stamina at the same time.

Lets begin.

Mountain pose (Tadasana)

Like a mountain, this pose teaches you to stand erect and firm. It helps to improve your body posture, self awareness and balance. Begin with your feet together (or hip distant apart if your balance is still developing). Spread your toes widely and begin to rock forward onto the balls of your feet, and then back onto your heels. Find your balance between the front and backs of your feet. Now rock from side to side. Then find balance between left to right, front and back. Ground your feet, active your legs, keep your tailbone tucked under and belly strong. Keep your spine upright, chest open and shoulders rolling back. Arms can actively lengthen down by your side. With your head held high, keep your chin slightly tucked into your throat. Actively works your muscles in every area – stand tall for 20-30 seconds. Relax and repeat again before moving to the next posture.

Mighty or chair pose (Utkatasana)

This challenging posture is great for building strength and toning your lower body. Also helps to create flexibility into your ankles and toes. This ‘chair pose’ helps to aid your digestion and immune system. It creates patience and perseverance, thereby enabling you to follow your dreams. Start in Tadasana, and inhale deeply and raise both your hands over your head (palms together with your shoulders down – otherwise, keep them shoulder distant apart), keeping your arms straight. Feel the stretch along your chest and spine, and exhale and lower your knees so that your upper body is at 45 degrees to the ground. Keep your spine long and elongating (try not collapse you chest). When you bend, lower from thighs, knees, and hips alone and sit back into your heels. Try to remain in this posture for 20 to 30 seconds. Then slowly return to the starting position.

Divers pose

Simply dive deep within yourself. This pose allows you to turn inwardly, to find inner balance, strength and harmony.

From ‘Utkatasana’, lift up onto the balls of your feet, and pivet from your hips to lengthen your spine forward. Keep your spine elongated and chest open. Roll your shoulders outward, and lengthen your arms towards the back of your mat. Keep your belly actively tucked-in to protect your lower back, and keep your chin tucked into your throat. Your eyes remain soft and tongue relaxed. Hold for 20-30 seconds, before placing your heels back down onto the floor, and lift up to standing. Keep the balls of your big toes pressing down firmly to keep your inner legs muscles active. Look to one point ahead of you to help keep focused and balanced.

Power of a warrior

Like any life decision or challenge, chase your dreams with purposeful power and compassion. Holding this pose for longer periods increases the strengthening phase, while moving in and out of this pose creates more openness and flexibility.

From ‘Tadasana’, lunge one leg back, one leg distant apart. Keep both feet facing forward and hip bones square to the top of your mat. Bend your front knee at 90 degrees (keep your knee stacked on top of your ankle bone, not further forward) and keep your back leg straight. Activate your thigh muscles, belly and keep your tailbones tucking under. You can keep your fingers tips lightly placed each side of your front foot, otherwise, inhale your hands onto your front thigh (not your knee); another option is to raise your arms up and over your head. Hands can be together or shoulder distant apart (keep apart if you feel your shoulders are hunching). Either take your gaze forward to one point directly ahead of you to help with your balance, or alternatively, you can look up to your thumbs for more of a challenge. Hold for 20-30 seconds before releasing both hands gently to each side of your front foot, bring both feet together at the top of your mat, and repeat to the other side.

Horse stance pose

The power and determination of your horse stance pose strongly builds the inner and outer strength of your lower body. Allow your breath to be the main focus, to guide you from moment to moment. Time yourself for 20-30 seconds, and be present in every moment so as to help you reach the end of your set time.

Start at the long edge of your mat, feet one leg distant apart. Turn your toes out and heels inwardly. On your inhale, bend both knees (ensure they are aligned with your ankle bones), roll your inner thighs outward, spine upright with shoulders rolling back and belly active. Look at one point directly ahead, and breathe deeply, try not to hurry your breath. To release, inhale up to standing (notice your thighs and kneecaps lifting) and repeat another two times. Shake your legs out before finishing your sequence with savasana.

Active rest (Savasana)

This relaxing pose is well deserved, especially when you’ve dynamically worked your body with the routine described above. Lay flat into savasana, with an option to place a cushion under your knees if your lower back feels tender. Mindfully move your body so as to find a comfortable position, place a eye pillow over your eyes and rest for at least 5-10 minutes. Allow your whole being to surrender into the ground and rest peacefully before rolling out to the side, and coming into a meditational cross-legged sitting posture. Join your hands together, bow your head down and give yourself moments of appreciation for the strength you possess to follow your dreams and live out your New Years Resolutions, before continuing on with your day.