Energise + Reset
9 postures to energise body and mind with Bhavisha Pankhania of The Yoga Class. Words by Laura Dodd
Summer is when we hit the peak of Yang, with its high and expansive energy. The following series of back bending postures is aligned with this energy. It will create a feeling of spaciousness in the front body, help to improve posture and will bring body and mind a big summer energy boost.
As well as being energising, backbends stimulate the nervous system, aid digestion and constipation, ease stress, tension, anxiety, fatigue and depression, and boost the immune system.
We finish this series with a Yin pose to gently open the heart and relax the nervous system, balancing out the heat, activity and excitement of summer. You will need one yoga block and always listen carefully to your body throughout this practice to do what is right for you. Let’s get started!
Watch the mini session with Bhavisha Pankhania on the OM website or app, brought to you in partnership with The Yoga Class. Visit theyogaclass.co for the full-length class, plus 250+ more on-demand classes.
1. Urdva Hastasana — Raised Hands Pose
Stand at the top of the mat with the big toes together and the heels slightly apart. Root firmly down through all points of the feet whilst drawing up through the inner arches. Draw the tailbone gently down, the lower ribs in and the shoulders back and down as you grow taller through the crown of the head. Inhale, reach the arms overhead, palms facing each other, arms in line with the ears and allowing the shoulder blades to move out and up away from the spine. Take your gaze up. Find your variation, keep the palms shoulder distance or draw them to touch. Find a deep, connected and conscious breath and hold for five breaths.
2. Anjaneyasana – Low Lunge Pose
From Tadasana (mountain pose) step the right foot back and lower the back knee to the mat. Untuck the toes, keeping your back foot pointed and back leg straight. Check your front knee is tracking over the front ankle, as you squeeze your back hip forward in space to square the hips. On the inhale, reach up with the hands, palms facing each other and lifting the sternum. Gently draw the tailbone down and keep the glutes active. Externally rotate the shoulders as you lift the chest and sink lower into the hips, squeezing the inner thighs together. Hold for five deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
3. Phalakasana II — Forearm Plank Pose
Bring the forearms down and step the feet to the back of the mat, keeping the shoulders directly over the elbows. Push firmly into the forearms, keeping the forearms parallel with each other and shoulder distance apart. Protract the shoulder blades and draw in through the lower ribs and core, keeping the glutes engaged and the hips level with your shoulders. To modify, drop the knees. Hold for five deep breaths.
4. Salabhasana – Locust Pose
Come to lie on your front, palms facing down, next to the hips. Draw the shoulder blades together and engage the glutes, as the feet point and the legs draw into the midline. Inhale, lift the chest, the feet and the hands away from the mat, keeping the back of the neck long and keeping length in the lower back. Variations are to either keep the hands by the hips or clasp the hands together behind the back. Hold for five deep breaths.
5. Ustrasana – Camel Pose
Kneel on the mat and bring the knees under the hips. Gently draw the inner thighs together, engaging the glutes, with the tailbone drawing down. Bringing the hands to the sacrum at the lower back. On the inhale start to lift the sternum, drawing the shoulder blades together and keeping length in the lower back. Either hold here or bring the hands to the heels. Variations are to keep the head up or let it drop back. Gently draw the hips forward as the sternum lifts. Hold for five conscious breaths.
6. Viparita Virabhadrasana – Reverse Warrior Pose
From standing, facing the left-hand side of your mat, take a wide step out so your feet are roughly 4 feet apart. Turn the right toes to face the front of the mat and bring the left foot to around 45-90º, making sure the heel of the front foot is in line with the middle arch of the back foot and the back foot is grounded. Bend the front knee, checking the front knee is tracking over the front ankle. Bring your arms parallel to the earth, keeping your torso and hips facing the left side of your mat. Take an inhale, flip the front palm, reaching forward and then back, to find length in the front side body. Knit in through the lower ribs and reach though the top fingertips, as the shoulders drop away from the ears. Hold for five deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
8. Natarajasana — Dancer Pose
Come to a standing position, bringing the weight evenly into your right foot and keeping a steady gaze point, your drishti. Bending into the left knee, draw the left foot towards the seat, taking hold of the inside edge of the left foot or ankle. Find external rotation in the left shoulder as the left hip draws down to square it with the right. On an inhale, start to gently find resistance between the hand and foot as the left leg lifts, leading with the inner thigh. The sternum simultaneously lifts forward and up and the right arm rises. Keep the left knee hugging in towards the midline. Hold for five deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
7. Ardha Chandra Chapasana – Sugarcane Pose
From standing at the top of the mat, start to bring the weight evenly into the right foot, dropping the right hand under the right shoulder, top corner of the mat. Keeping the left hand on the hip, draw the left leg up in line with the torso, parallel with the mat and rotate the chest to the sky. Keep balance by finding your gaze point, your drishti. When steady, start to bend into the left knee taking hold of the foot with the left hand. Inhale, gently push the foot into the hand as the left shoulder blade draws back in space, the chest rotates towards the sky a little more and the left leg lifts a little higher. Modify by bringing a block under the front fingertips. Hold for five conscious breaths. Repeat on the other side.
9. Salamba Bhujangasana — Sphinx Pose
Come to lie on your front, bringing the elbows directly under the shoulders and keeping the forearms parallel with each other, shoulder distance apart. Let the tailbone gently lengthen and the tops of the feet gently firm to the mat. Keeping length in the back of the neck, gently draw the shoulder blades back and down, as the sternum lifts. Modifications are to let the elbows slide a little further away from the chest, let the chest rest on a bolster, or to bring the hands to the corners of the mat finding extension in the arms and further left of the chest. Hold for three to five minutes, breathing calmly.