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Embodying Animal and Nature Energies Yoga Practice

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This practice offers a selection of animal and nature oriented practices along with suggested qualities to explore embodying or meditating. Use your inner guidance to choose a quality that is meaningful to you within each pose.

Notice that there is an emphasis in this practice on movement within some of the poses and stillness within others. This is purposeful, as the energies of nature are in a continual state of flux. Bringing a mixture of fluidity and stillness into practice creates a harmony within the body, mind and spirit. Whether you are moving in a pose or holding it, use the power of intention to open up to connect to the power of the nature that already resides within!

Below is a slide show of 10 poses to explore. You can click on the dots under the images to go to the next pose or return one that you would like to explore further.

Cat: Independence, Protection, Magic, Mystery, Guardianship, Detachment, Sensuality, Balance, Wisdom, Recuperation, Reincarnation, Protection, Self-Confidence

Practice: Lion’s Pose
Note: Straddle a block or bolster or tuck a blanket behind the thighs to alleviate pressure on the knees.
From a table position, bring the buttocks back to meet the heels. Bring the hands to rest on the thighs and spread out the fingers. Take a deep inhalation through the nose. For the exhalation, simultaneously open the mouth wide and stretch the tongue out and down towards the chin, cross the eyes and look up at the center of the forehead while making an exaggerated “Ha!” sound. Repeat 5-15 times. If you feel like exploring sound, try roaring or other power sounds that connect you with the energy of the pose.

Lizard: Detachment from Ego, Regeneration, Facing Fear, Controlling Dreams, Moving in the Otherworld, Conservation, Adaptability, Agility

Practice: Lizard Lunge
From a table position, step the right foot forward into a lunge. Walk the foot over to the right a couple of inches and bring the hands inside of the foot. With an exhalation, move the pelvis toward the feet. Arms can stay long or the forearms can come down to the ground. Breathe and hold 1-3 minutes. Come out on an exhalation by taking the pelvis back and gently bringing the right knee back underneath the hip into table pose. Take a break in Child’s Pose and repeat on the left side.

Elephant: Memory, Strength, Ancient Wisdom, Power, Connection to Earth, Prosperity, Steadiness, Slow Time, Patience

Practice: Elephant Tracks the Ants

Start from a standing position, with the feet about 2-3 ft distance apart. Inhale into a long back and exhale fold forward, hinging from the hips. Take a few breaths, and bend the knees if necessary to alleviate pressure in the low back or legs. Let the head get heavy, the neck grow long and the arms dangle. When ready, start making figure eight or pendulum-like swaying movements with the torso. Allow the arms to come along for the ride, dragging the fingers on the earth if they are able to touch. Take the movements for 15-45 seconds before coming back to center and rounding up to standing. Repeat as desired.

Tree: Nourishment, Transformation, Generosity, Reciprocity, Transmutation, Liberation, Fertility, Cycles of Nature, Interconnected Living, Rooted Flexibility

Practice: Palm Tree Pose
Start in Mountain pose, with the feet hips distance apart. On an inhalation, lift the arms by the ears and relax the shoulders. When ready, lift the heels up off the ground. Balance on the balls of the feet with a special emphasis on strength coming through the arch of the foot, inner leg and pelvic floor muscles. Hold for 5 breaths and lower the arms and heels back to the earth on an exhalation. Repeat 3–5x.

Tree: Nourishment, Transformation, Generosity, Reciprocity, Transmutation, Liberation, Fertility, Cycles of Nature, Interconnected Living, Rooted Flexibility

Practice: Tree Pose
From Mountain pose, spread the triangle of the left foot firmly into the floor. Draw up on the kneecap with the thigh muscle and engage the left glute. Bring the opposite foot to the calf or thigh. Firmly press leg into foot and the foot back into the leg. Bring the hands to heart center or challenge the balance by extending the arms overhead. Hold for 5-10 breaths and repeat on the other side.

Crane: Solitude, Independence, Purity, Fluidity, Grace, Detachment

Practice: Flying Crane
From a standing position, bring the arms by the sides and the feet hips distance apart. With an inhalation lift the arms above the head, relax the hands. At the same time, bend the knee and lift the right foot off the ground as far as is comfortable and steady (note: some will barely lift the foot, others will bring the knee all the way up to hip height). With the exhalation, bring the arms down and right foot down, transferring the body weight over the left foot, lifting the right leg and the arms overhead. Continue moving side to side with the breath rhythm. Repeat 5-15 times, and notice how the movements mimic the silhouette of the crane in flight.

Eagle: Connection to Spirit, Beauty, Bravery, Courage, Honor, Grace, Vision, Freedom, Independence, Liberation

Practice: Eagle Pose
From Mountain pose, bring a block lengthwise to the outer edge of the left foot, so that the toes line up about the midpoint of the block. Cross the right leg on top of the left, bend the left knee and sit down into a partial squat. Place the ball of the right foot onto the block for support. Bend the left elbow and bring it to the centerline of the chest. Bend the right elbow and crook in on top of the left. If the body allows, reach the left hand around for the right thumb. Lift the arm complex slightly skyward. Sit back into an imaginary chair and squeeze the inner thighs together. Stay upright with the spine and the right foot on the block for a couple of breaths. If the body feels steady, lift the foot off the block and try balancing without the support. For more challenge take a slight lean forward from the hips with the torso, keeping mountain pose in the spine. Hold either position for 5-10 breaths and repeat on the other side.

Butterfly: Metamorphosis, Transformation, Cycles of Life

Practice: Floating Butterfly into Cocooning Butterfly, from a seated position, bring the soles of the feet together and draw them in towards the groin. Bring some length into the spine and energy up through to the crown of the head. With the inhalation float the knees up. With the exhalation float the knees down. Repeat 5-10 times. When the movement is complete, with the knees down, fold forward with a long back on an exhalation. Find a natural stopping point in the fold and relax around it. Let the neck get long and the head get heavy. Give the body over to gravity and breathe. Hold for 1-3 minutes.

Frog: Luck, Purity, Renewal, Fertility, Healing, Emotional Clearing, Metamorphosis, Transitions, Dreaming

Practice: Wall Frog: Bring the narrow end of a yoga mat to a clutter free piece of wall space. With the arms behind the torso for support and the knees bent to the side, bring the buttocks about 12 inches away from the wall. Swing the legs around to face the wall and lower the torso into a reclined position. Bring the feet to the wall and rotate the hips, knees and feet out into a wide squat-like stance. If the position is too intense, hands can support the stretch by coming underneath the thighs. For more intensity, bring the hands to the inner thighs and encourage the rotation into the groin stretch, explore widening out the stance of the feet or bringing the buttocks closer to the wall. Hold for 1-3 minutes.

Bee: Reincarnation, Communication, Concentration, Prosperity, Community, Celebration, Organization, Sweetness of Truth, Hive Mind

Practice: Bee Breath
Sit in a comfortable meditative seat. Bring some lift into the spine, relax the shoulders, soften the muscles of the face and bring the teeth slightly apart so that the jaw relaxes. Keep the lips together. Cover the ears with the thumbs and the eyes with the fingers, taking the elbows out to the sides. With an inhalation, slightly narrow the throat and listen to the sound of the breath as it enters the body. With the exhalation, breathe out slowly while making a long, low humming sound. With practice, both the inhalation and exhalation become long and smooth. Repeat 5-15 times. Then sit in silence for a couple of minutes to notice the effects of practice.