Reach for the stars.

Con­nect to higher con­scious­ness and reach your full po­ten­tial with this heart- and mind-open­ing asana and pranayama prac­tice.

Yoga Journal - - Contents - By Sarah Platt-Fin­ger

A heart- and mind-open­ing se­quence from Cho­pra’s yoga teacher.

TAP INTO YOUR CON­NEC­TION with the uni­verse to dis­cover end­less pos­si­bil­ity with this prac­tice de­signed by Sarah Platt-Fin­ger, co-founder of ISHTA Yoga in New York City and Deepak Cho­pra’s yoga teacher. The phys­i­cal poses and pu­ri­fy­ing breath­ing tech­nique can dis­solve stress and align you phys­i­cally and men­tally, leav­ing you open to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing higher con­scious­ness, or a sense of in­spi­ra­tion, awe, pure joy, peace, lib­er­a­tion, love, and hope. As you prac­tice, vi­su­al­ize elec­tro­mag­netic en­ergy mov­ing through you with each breath. Be mind­ful of your mind­body con­nec­tion and how it al­lows you to feel open, ex­pan­sive, and at one with ev­ery­thing around you. Re­mind your­self: “I am That, You are That, and All This is That.” In each pose, re­flect on how you, at your root, are con­scious­ness.

SO HUM BREATH

Use this breath to pu­rify your body and mind and find in­spi­ra­tion. Take a com­fort­able seat—one that al­lows you to lengthen your spine. On your in­hala­tions, ei­ther softly say out loud or in­ter­nally re­cite the mantra so, also pro­nounced sah (the sound of pure en­ergy and aware­ness, and of in­spi­ra­tion). Feel your spine grow long, the top of your head lift, and your side ribs ex­pand. Vi­su­al­ize a line of en­ergy run­ning from the top of your head to the base of your spine; this is the in­ter­nal cos­mic su­per­high­way (also called the brahma nadi) that con­nects your higher con­scious­ness and higher chakras, or en­ergy cen­ters, to your lower con­scious­ness and lower chakras. On your ex­ha­la­tions, res­onate the mantra hum (the sound of trans­for­ma­tion). Pull the low belly in and dis­trib­ute that aware­ness into each cell of your body. You can use this tech­nique any time you need in­spi­ra­tion—at the gro­cery store, sit­ting in traf­fic—or on its own as a med­i­ta­tion. For now, take 3–5 min­utes to fo­cus on so hum breath, then prac­tice it in each of the fol­low­ing poses, clear­ing the pri­mary en­ergy chan­nel along your spine and mak­ing room for aware­ness.

ANJANEYASANA

Low Lunge

This pose opens your front body and up­lifts you. Our front bod­ies re­late to our vo­li­tion, move­ment into the fu­ture, and con­nec­tion to the out­side world. Open­ing the heart helps us ac­knowl­edge our con­nec­tion to all things.

From seated, come to all fours and step your right foot be­tween your hands. In­hale to lift your torso and stack your shoul­ders over your hips, ex­tend­ing your arms along­side your ears. Make sure your right knee doesn’t move past your right an­kle. Sup­port your lower back and main­tain that clear line of en­ergy along your spine by en­gag­ing your ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles. You can think of brahma nadi as a straw. As soon as you add a kink, the flow of wa­ter, or prana (life force), is blocked. Stay mind­ful of your back ribs, too, keep­ing them lifted. Your back body rep­re­sents the past and in­ter­nal aware­ness. So as you open your heart, find bal­ance be­tween front and back, fu­ture and past. Stay here for 5–8 so hum breaths, then switch sides.

ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA

Down­ward-Fac­ing Dog Pose Come back to all fours and spread your fin­gers wide, root­ing thumbs and fore­fin­gers into the earth. Press your hips up and back, find­ing space in your torso and re­con­nect­ing to the line of en­ergy along your spine. Lower your heels, with­out los­ing length in your spine. This pose opens the backs of your legs, which rep­re­sent your un­con­scious mind and stuck feel­ings and pat­terns. When we har­bor stuck emo­tions, it’s hard to feel con­nected. Poses that stretch the backs of the legs help us re­lease things to which we may not be in­her­ently aware we’re cling­ing. Once they’re re­leased, we ex­pe­ri­ence our­selves in a more holis­tic way and con­nect to univer­sal in­tel­li­gence and aware­ness. Hold for 8–10 so hum breaths.

PARSVA TADASANA

Sidebend­ing Moun­tain Pose Come to stand­ing. Feel rooted to the earth through your feet. In­hale to ex­tend your arms up and bring your palms to­gether over­head. En­gage your low­er­ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles to sup­port your low back, and keep your shoul­ders re­laxed. As you in­hale, lift through the top of your head. Stay grounded as you lift, so that you can ex­pand with­out mov­ing out­side your phys­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence. Ex­hale to sidebend to your right. Take 5 so hum breaths here be­fore in­hal­ing back to cen­ter and ex­hal­ing to the other side. Take 5 more so hum breaths.

This stand­ing pose frees your breath by open­ing the in­ter­costal mus­cles be­tween your ribs that ex­pand and con­tract with your lungs as you breathe. The breath is the ve­hi­cle for prana, which en­livens us and con­nects the mind and body.

UT­THITA TRIKONASANA

Ex­tended Tri­an­gle Pose Tri­an­gle Pose is an­other pos­ture that helps you stay grounded while con­nect­ing to the sky and be­yond—to what is vast and un­bound. Step your legs 2–3 feet apart; turn your right foot out 90 de­grees and your left foot in slightly. In­hale to ex­tend your arms out to your sides. Ex­hale and reach to the right, length­en­ing your spine be­fore plac­ing your right hand on the floor or a block under your right shoul­der. Reach your left hand sky­ward. Re­main mind­ful of that sub­tle line of en­ergy from the top of your head to the base of your spine. Take 8–10 so hum breaths here. In­hale to come up, pivot your feet, and prac­tice the pose on the other side for the same num­ber of breaths. When you’re done, find Tadasana (Moun­tain Pose).

DHANURASANA

Bow Pose Bow Pose al­lows you to fur­ther open your front body and heart. Lie prone on your mat, bend your knees, and reach for your feet or an­kles. On an in­hala­tion, lift your torso and head and press your feet up to­ward the sky, help­ing you to lift your chest higher. Open­ing your chest en­er­get­i­cally re­lates to un­block­ing your heart charkra—a bridge that con­nects mat­ter and spirit. When we bal­ance the heart chakra, we un­der­stand the in­her­ent con­nec­tion be­tween peo­ple and all things. We can see our­selves in oth­ers. Hold here for 5 so hum breaths.

BAD­DHA KONASANA

Bound An­gle Pose This pose em­pha­sizes con­nect­ing to your back body, which also rep­re­sents your abil­ity to be in­tro­spec­tive. Prac­tic­ing Bad­dha Konasana will bring a sense of quiet and calm, pre­par­ing you for your fi­nal rest­ing pose or med­i­ta­tion. Now is when trans­for­ma­tion truly hap­pens—when we start to con­nect to a subtler realm. Help­ing you fuel those feel­ings of tran­quil­ity is the hip-open­ing el­e­ment of this pose. The hips are the seat of the sec­ond chakra, which en­er­get­i­cally re­lates to wa­ter, cre­ativ­ity, and emo­tions. Take a com­fort­able seat and bring the soles of your feet to­gether as close to your groins as pos­si­ble. In­hale to lengthen your spine; ex­hale to slowly fold for­ward over your feet. Be mind­ful of main­tain­ing the line of en­ergy that runs from the top of your head to the base of your spine. Take 8–10 so hum breaths, length­en­ing with each in­hale and try­ing to re­lax with each ex­hale.

SUPTA BAD­DHA KONASANA

Re­clin­ing Bound An­gle Pose From Bound An­gle, lie back on a bol­ster or rolled blan­ket. Add ex­tra sup­port under your head and knees if it helps you re­lax. You want to feel your joints as soft and spa­cious. Turn your palms up and close your eyes. Con­nect­ing with the uni­verse is ul­ti­mately about deep sur­ren­der. As you lie here, no­tice the thoughts that drift through your head. If we are bound by thoughts of where we think we should be or how we should have been, we won’t be able to feel our au­then­tic selves. To ac­cess pure aware­ness, or our true essence, we have to let go of all of these thoughts. Stay in this pose for as long as you need to feel calm.

OUR PRO Sarah Platt-Fin­ger is the co-founder of ISHTA Yoga and the pri­vate yoga teacher of Deepak Cho­pra. She teaches train­ings, work­shops, and re­treats in­ter­na­tion­ally with her hus­band, ISHTA Yoga co-founder Alan Fin­ger. Platt-Fin­ger is also on the board of di­rec­tors for Ex­hale to In­hale, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that teaches yoga to sur­vivors of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. Her daugh­ter, Satya, in­spires her ev­ery day to live a life based on love and un­bound po­ten­tial.

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