10 Poses to Embrace Your Creative Freedom
One of the things I love most about a great yoga practice is that feeling of having more freedom in my body afterwards. I love that soft spacious feeling that I sense in my joints and my muscles and sometimes even, my emotions.
I think that exploring the freedom that exists right here in this body is one of the most exciting opportunities yoga offers us. It's an especially interesting inquiry to find freedom and spaciousness in the body when don't feel free, when the body feels tight or sick.
Yoga invites us to send our breath to the locked places in our bodies and to ease us into them from a place of gentle awareness.
Svatantrya: Ultimate Freedom
There is a concept in yoga called Svatantrya. According to the Tantras, there are six aspects to the nature of our being. One of them is called Svatantrya, which means unlimited freedom.
Svatantrya is the freedom we have to exist, to know and to create.
It is the idea that you are already free. Your creative energy is boundless. However, because we experience life through embodiment, through being in the body, sometimes it doesn't feel very free. The confines of the body, the aches, the discomfort and pain of the physcial experience of being in the body are very real. But by limiting us, these confines give us reference points in which to understand and experience freedom from.
The body is a container in which you experience your expansiveness and the freedom to creatively express who you are.
This sequence is designed to help you explore the freedom that exists in your body.
The poses in this sequence will help you to physically remove the tension and tightness in your hips and upper back that can sometimes restrict movement and your sense of freedom. As you move through the sequence, notice where you feel blocked up. Send your breath to those places. If you find yourself pushing into a pose, back up and begin again from a place of soft acceptance of your limitations.
Your boundaries help shape who you are.
Even if you don't feel physical freedom in the pose, see if you can find some freedom in the acceptance of your boundaries.
Before you begin this sequence, warm up your body cat/cow and 3 rounds of sun salutations, ending your warm up in downward facing dog.
Anjaneyasana (with garudasana arms) | Low Lunge
From downward facing dog, inhale and bring your right leg forward and place your right foot between your hands. Exhale and lower your left knee to the floor. Reach your arms out in front of you and bring your left arm underneath your right.
Cross the elbows and bring your palms together, extending the fingertips towards the sky. Inhale and draw from the elbows back into the shoulders, as you lift the heart upwards. Root down through your feet, as you extend freely upward through the torso and heart.
Cycle through five deep inhalation and exhalation.
Allow each breath to lift you up as each exhale grounds you to the earth. In this way, you are supported in the boundary of the body to experience your unbounded freedom.
Utkata Konasana | Goddess Pose
Release the arms and come back to your center by bending both knees and turning the feet out toward the corners of your mat in Goddess pose. From your feet, draw energy up through your legs into the core of your pelvis and at the same time, from your pelvis press back down into your feet. Inhale and extend both sides of your torso, lengthening from your hip bones all the way to your armpits and drawing your shoulders towards one another.
Bring your palms together at your heart and draw your belly button back towards your spine. Breathe into the space of your kidneys. In each breath, find more space in the torso. If there is any place in your body that feels stuck or limited, send the breath there. Soften and free your face as you breath into the burning sensation in your legs.
Allow this heat to fuel your remembrance of yourself as you really are: free to choose in this moment how you will react towards the discomfort.
Stay here for 5 cycles of the breath.
Trikonasana | Triangle Pose
On the next inhalation, extend both legs and turn your turn your left foot parallel to the back of your mat and turn your right foot to point towards the front of the mat. Line up your feet so that the middle of the left arch is in line with the heel of the right foot. Exhale and root from your pelvis down into your feet.
On the inhale, bring your arms out to the side and draw your shoulder blades onto your back. Exhale, bend halfway over the right leg, extending out through the right fingertips. Inhale, lengthen through the sides of your torso. Exhale, bring the right hand to the floor or to a block beside the right foot.
Energetically pull the legs towards one another, strengthening the container of the body.
At the same time, extend outwards from the core of the pelvis into the feet and out through the torso, head and fingertips, expanding with unbounded freedom.
Continue here for 5 inhalations and exhalations.
Ardha Chandrasana | Half Moon Pose
From triangle pose, look down at your foot right foot and begin to bend into the right knee. Take your right fingertips out in front of your right foot as you begin to shift your weight into the right foot. Lift your left leg up off the floor into halfmoon pose.
Lift and spread your toes on both feet as you lift your shins and thighs towards your pelvis. Draw your shoulder blades onto your back, so that your heart remains free. Inhale and expand the breath into the kidneys and the back of the body. Exhale and root your tailbone towards your left foot.
Feel yourself floating in the unlimited space between balance and falling.
Try to stay here for 5 breaths. If you fall out, no worries, just hop back in and try again.
Ardha Chandrachapasana | Half Moon Bow Pose
From ardha chandrasana, exhale and bring your left knee into your belly. Reach back with your left hand and grab onto your left foot. Inhale as you press your left foot into your left hand and open up through the front of the body by drawing the left shoulder back and rooting the tailbone down.
Stand firmly in your right leg, energetically hugging the thighs towards one another as you continue to press the left foot into your hand, opening up into the unlimited space of your heart.
Hold for 5 breaths, grounding down through the standing foot on each exhalation and expanding outward from the pelvis on every inhalation.
Hanumanasana Prep | Monkey Pose Prep
From ardha chandrachapasana, release the foot and exhale the leg gently back to a standing triangle. Bend into your right knee and bring your left knee down to the mat in a low lunge. Straighten your right knee, while pressing your right heel into the mat, toes lifted to the sky. Bring your fingertips to the floor or onto blocks on either side of your right leg. Keeping your toes of the right foot lifted and engaged, pull the muscles up from your right foot all the way into your right hip.
You can hook a thumb into the crease of your right hip and pull it backwards. Keep that as you inhale and lengthen from your hips up the sides of your body, all the way to the crown of your head. Exhale and begin to fold over your right leg. Send your breath into the back of your thigh as you root down through the heel of your right foot. On each exhale, hug in, engage the muscles that make up the container of your body. On each inhale, extend, length, expand back out.
Find the corners of your body that feel stuck and expand the free flowing energy of your breath into those places.
Continue for 5 breaths.
Camatkarasana | Wild Thing
Step back into downward dog. Begin to shift your weight onto the outside edge of your right foot and into your right hand, pressing down through the four corners of your right hand. Pull energy up from the floor and plug your right shoulder into it’s socket as you begin to lift your left foot off the floor, bending the left knee and then gently placing your left foot on the floor behind you.
The action of drawing energy up from your right hand into your shoulder socket will give you the strength and stability to then extend your left arm over your head and lift your heart to the sky. Root your tailbone down to protect your low back.
This pose can help you to feel into the expansive opening through the front of your body and your heart.
Hold this pose for 5 breath cycles and then come back to downward facing dog and repeat steps 1-9 on the left side.
Dhanurasana | Bow Pose
From Downward facing dog, come down to your hands and knees and then to your belly. Bend your knees, so that your feet are lifting towards the sky. Draw your shoulders onto your back and reach back with your hands to grab hold of the tops of your feet. Spread your toes apart to activate your shins. Draw your tailbone down so that your belly button lifts towards your spine.
Keep that as you inhale, then exhale and lift your upper body by pressing your feet into your hands. Continue to draw your shoulders into their sockets as your chin moves back and your heart, forward. Feel the deep opening across the chest and upper back as you inhale into and lift the kidneys towards the sky to become spacious, light and free in the upper body.
Release any work on the part of your neck and face. Let them be soft and free.
After 5 breaths, exhale and release down, bringing the head to one side and with knees still bent, rock the legs back and forth and wash your low back with your breath.
Gomukasana | Cow Face Pose
From your belly, lift onto your hands and knees. Cross your right knee over the left and then sit back, knees stacked and bringing your hands to either foot. Do your best to root through both sides of your pelvis evenly down through the sits bones. Keep the toes active, pressing the feet into your hands as you inhale and lengthen from the hip crease up into the arm pit, moving the head of your shoulders back.
Exhale and fold over your knees, pressing your inner thighs in towards one another and down towards the floor to find more freedom and spaciousness in the hips. Inhale in the low back, finding space in the kidneys, exhale, root the tailbone down.
Allow each breath to become the catalyst for a small micro movement that shift by tiny shift, opens up expanses in the container of your body.
Stay here for 5 cycles of breath. Release then cross the left knee over the right to do the other side.
Balasana | Child's Pose
Come back to the hands and knees. Open your knees wider than hip distance. Inhale, lengthen through the sides of body and exhale, bring the torso and head down to the floor, arms outstretched to the front edge of your mat. Allow the body and mind to rest.
Notice if you feel any part of your body feels more free than it did when you began. Notice if there is any difference in the spaciousness of your breath.
Continue to breath here for 5 cycles of breath and then lie down on your back for Savasana.
Savasana | Corpse Pose
As you settle into savasana, rest your arms beside you and allow your legs to fall open naturally. Take a deep inhalation and exhale through your mouth. Do this a few more times before gently releasing into the natural flow of your breath. As you let the gentle breath wash over you, feel in your body the places that feel more free.
Send love and acceptance to those parts of yourself that still feel bound and blocked.
Stay here for a few moments and allow your body to release into your mat.
Where did you find freedom in your body? Did you find your boundaries and limitations too?