Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals; cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow delightful conditions, all heavenly environment; of these if you but remain true to them your world will at last be built. – Allen, James
At the beginning of your yoga practice, cup your hands in front of your chest with palms facing upward. Imagine you’re holding a small pile of sand. The grains of sand you’re caressing represent your visions, your ideals, the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, and the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts. Take a couple breaths to allow these individual grains to coalesce together to form an intention for your practice. It doesn’t have to be something that can be put into words. Exhale all the air from your lungs, and then inhale through the mouth, breathing in the contents of your hands so that your lungs, your body, and your soul are bathed in your intention.
At the end of your practice, take the same position with your hands and re-visualize the grains of sand that represent your visions, your ideals, the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, and the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts. This time, allow the grains of sand to coalesce to form an intention for your practice off the mat, after class for the rest of your day or week. How can the benefits you were gifted on the mat allow you to be in more graceful, caring, and compassionate relationships with others? Take a full inhale through the nose, and then blow out through the mouth, visualizing your intention permeating beyond yourself, beyond the wall of the yoga room, and out into the world.
Begin in half supine hero. If you cannot get onto your back comfortably in reclined half hero, keep working with other comfortable modifications on half hero rather than going on to the variation described below.
Bend your extended leg so the sole of the foot in on the floor and the heel is underneath the knee (most people can graze the heel with the hand in this position).
Half Hero with Bent Knee
Place the hands palms-down above the shoulders on the mat, fingertips pointed toward the shoulders. Breathe.
Half Hero Preparing to Life to Upward Facing Bow
On an inhale use the strength of you arms and legs to lift up and place the crown of your head on the mat. The sole of one foot should be on the floor, and the top of the other should be on the floor. Take your exhale to readjust the hands and feet so that the thighs are hips-width apart with the knees and feet pointed straight toward the front (or back) of your mat, and so that the hands are shoulder width apart with fingers pointed toward the front of your mat.
On your next inhale push into the hands and feet to lift all the way up into upward facing bow. Keep the thighs parallel, pressing into the big toe of the foot. To avoid letting the elbows wing out to the sides, draw them toward one another. As you lengthen into your arms and legs, send the tail bone toward the front of your mat and the chest toward the back of your mat to maintain length in your low back. Breathe.
Upward Facing Bow Half Hero Variation
To release, on an exhale, tuck the chin and bend into the knees and elbow to lower back into reclined half hero under control. Then, repeat on the second side.