Power Poses are a physical manifestation of personal power. Though the jury is out regarding whether or not the science behind this visualization practice has been proven, there’s no doubt that power poses help us feel our strongest and fiercest selves. The new beginning of spring is an apt time of year to get going—to harness the motivation of intention and to create the change you want to see. Here are our 4 favorite power poses to tap into that energy.
This piece was excerpted from various chapters of The Yoga Almanac: 52 Practices and Rituals to Stay Grounded Through the Astrological Seasons. Reprinted with permission. Lisette Cheresson is a Founding Circle Member and the content lead at Yoga Unify. To join the authors in the Founding Circle and help Yoga Unify steward the forward evolution of the yoga industry, click here.
by Andrea Rice and Lisette Cheresson
Spring is a phase of renewal, apt for planting the seeds of intention from winter that we want to nurture and blossom. As tree branches return to life and buds burst forth, the soil thaws and fields are sown. The lively energy of spring inspires us to seek new beginnings, launch new endeavors, and lay the foundation for what we seek or desire to cultivate in our lives. We find ourselves pulled to clear out the clutter and fling open windows. As the days become longer and, in the Northern Hemisphere, the Earth’s axis turns closer toward the sun, we integrate the introspective wisdom of winter’s contemplation. Spring marries that darkness with rays of light that illuminate the very landscape of the soul.
Tadasana — Ground into your intentions.
Mountain Pose, the foundation for all standing poses, increases bodily awareness to improve overall posture. The thighs, knees (Capricorn’s domain), and ankles are strengthened as the hamstrings release. The abdomen is subtly firmed and the glutes become engaged to support the health and integrity of the lumbar spine.
Like all poses, Tadasana is subjective to an individual body’s needs. There is no one way to teach Tadasana, and the shape invites the practitioner to explore their own body in space in a way that feels intuitively natural and anatomically wise to them. That might mean anything from changing the positioning of the feet by bringing them closer together or wider and slightly turned apart, to exploring the center of gravity in your midsection by drawing awareness to your pelvis.
By rooting into the soles of the feet and extending through the crown of the head, clarity is cultivated in the third eye (Ajna) chakra. Grounding into the feet provides the foundation to bring the root (Muladhara) chakra into balance.
Goddess — Gather your abundance.
Goddess energy, the creative energy of the universe, is discussed in tantric texts as Shakti energy, the feminine psycho-spiritual force that balances the masculine Shiva. It can manifest in myriad ways: A call to delve into personal discovery, to nurture a deep, honest relationship with the innermost self, and to always live in the pursuit of passion. “Utkata” roughly translates from the Sanskrit as “powerful” or “fierce.” Goddess Pose awakens the Shakti energy we all, regardless of gender, possess.
This empowering pose requires balance and stability, and provides a deep stretch to the inner thighs, hips, and groin, as well as core engagement. It’s a heat-building pose that stimulates and supports good circulation, and is also a pelvic floor strengthener that may be used in preparation for childbirth.
Goddess Pose stimulates the sacral (Svadhisthana) chakra, the center of creativity and sensuality. As the third (Manipura) chakra is engaged, the spine can lengthen to allow energy to flow freely. Engagement of this power center bolsters the foundation of our inner reserves as we pursue our personal passions.
Chair Pose — Fire it up.
Utkatasana comes from the Sanskrit word utkata, meaning fiercely proud, or difficult. Its English name is for its shape, sitting into an invisible chair. The chair, or throne, is a significant symbol in Hindu mythology, as it was customary for civilians to sit on the floor. In the Ramayana, Rama’s stepmother forces his exile for 14 years so that her son Bharta could ascend the throne. Knowing that it was not his dharma to be king, Bharta placed Rama’s sandals in the empty seat to hold the rightful leader’s place until he could return.
Chair Pose can be practiced with your feet hips-width apart, your big toes touching, or any other stance that feels natural and stable. The posture improves shoulder flexibility and mobility. Maintain a neutral spine as you reach your arms wide and overhead to either frame your ears or your face. Engage your glutes and hamstrings to activate your transverse abdominis (deep core) muscles to sustain this deceptively difficult posture.
Chair Pose fires up the solar plexus (Manipura) chakra, center of purpose and identity. As you sit back into your imaginary chair, take the seat of your personal power and call upon the blazing energy of Aries season.
Arrow Lunge — Get out there and go for it!
This adapted version of a Crescent Lunge activates the muscles of the back body (posterior chain). The dynamic shape can be explored either with the back knee lowered and lifted, with the arms overhead or stretched behind, or with palms interlaced. Arrow Lunge strengthens the the glutes, hamstrings, lats, shoulder girdle, and the lower back. You can explore movement from a low lunge to Arrow with your arms overhead and back knee down, and then lift your back knee, hinge forward, and reach your arms back by your sides.
As you focus your “aim” by extending through your head, you retain a strong and neutral spine and facilitate an opening of the crown (Sahasrara) chakra. Consider what it is you’re powerfully aiming toward.
What are your favorite power poses for spring? Reach out and let us know. To help Yoga Unify preserve the tradition and upleveling the profession of yoga, join us in the Founding Circle! Click here to learn more.