Sequence #6 (calming/ settling)

Re-watching Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech this weekend I was once again inspired and deeply impressed by the eloquent power of his words and his immense skill as a public speaker. Speaking to large crowds, and particularly speaking out about an issue as important and politically inflammatory as racism, takes a tremendous amount of courage and an immense capacity to stay focused and calm. In honor of Dr. King and the vital social practice of having the difficult conversation (on any scale, personal to national) this sequence has a centering, calming and steadying focus. In order for our words and actions of opposition to be clear and meaningful, we have to find ways to cope with the stress of upsetting those we disagree with.

“The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


To increase the settling effects of this sequence, hold each pose for five to ten breaths or more. (This practice will likely take longer than 30 minutes, if you hold the poses as suggested it is likely more of a 60 minute practice)

1. Cat / Cow (moving the spine with the breath)

2. Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog) bend one knee at a time and stretch the opposite calf, then walk forward to

3. Uttanasana (standing forward bend), inhale to a stright back, exhale to fold and bow over legs, repeat 4 or 5 times, exhale to

4. Anjaneyasana (lunge) right leg back

5. Virhabdrasana II (warrior II) to

6. Parsvotanasana step forward to

7. Uttanasana

repeat 4 through 7 on second side, then inhale to

8. Urdhva Hastasana (arms overhead) exhale back to

9. Uttanasana, inhale to straight back, exhale to

10. Anjaneyasana (lunge) right leg back

11. Trikonasana to

12. Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (standing split) to

13. Anjaneyasana (lunge) variation with the back knee down and elbows on the floor (or a block) inside the front leg

14. Adho Mukha Svanasana

repeat 10 through 14 on second side

15. Balasana (child’s pose)

16. Come to sitting on a block or cushion (or in a chair) and practice 5 minutes of Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) then sit for a minute or two quietly observing the breath

17. Janu Sirsarana (both sides)

18. Gomukasana (cow face pose) both sides (if this pose is hard on your knees lie on your back and do Succirandrasana {eye of the needle} instead)

19. Jathara Parivartansana (supine twist, knees together)

20. Savasana or seated meditation