With a name like Yoga For Bad People, yogis Heather Lilleston and Katelin Sisson had us at hello. Their name comes from a yoga text that points out that "adhering too strictly to rules" can be an obstacle to yoga, a kind of reverse-badness in which you are, essentially, "too good". The upbeat, accessible yoga retreats that YFBP are known for take place in idllyic locales, with insanely fun people, and feature tons of yoga but also other stuff. As they say, they're normal people who like yoga — but they also want to have fun. With an NYC residency at Bandier's Studio B, the YFBP mission is to get people moving without the fear of unattainable perfection, which is something we can totally get behind. 

Since we're in back-to-school mode over here, we tapped Lilleston and Sisson for a few poses that can be done deskside, (or poolside, or next to your bed after you wake up), that would instantly relax and simultaneously awaken the autumnal mindset and help quickly shake out the cowbwebs. Once we gave them a try, we were jonesing for more—preferably in the form of a beachside retreat with the two yogis in the flesh. Namaste! 

 

 VRKSASANA - TREE POSE

tree pose

Begin standing. Deeply fold the leg, placing the heel of the foot as high up the inner thigh as possible (never on the knee). Level the hips. You can also place hands in prayer in front of the chest. Focus on pressing down through the standing foot and lifting up through the chest and crown of head. This pose is great for opening the hips, enhancing balance and concentration, lifting the chest and lengthening the waist, and re-establishing a feeling of being present in the body. Good to enhance steadiness during times of transition. Use a wall nearby to support you if you have a hard time balancing. Practice on both sides, 10-20 breaths. 

 

PARIVRITTA PARSVOKANASANA (LUNGE TWIST) 

parivritta

 

From standing position, step one foot back and lower the knee to the ground. Raise the arms overhead to lengthen the waist and twist towards the front leg, hooking elbow outside of the thigh and knee. This pose holds all of the stabilizing qualities of the standing poses with the benefit of the deep twist to massage and stimulate the digestive organs. With the variation of the back knee on the ground you can approach the twist with more confidence and stability to focus on the twist. The option to extend the back leg also exists if you want to add in extra balancing practice. Great for wringing out toxins and enhancing the exhalation (through the broadness in the back body) which support the “letting go” quality of autumn in the body, in preparation for winter. Sometimes this one can bring up moody emotions too, so focus on the exhalation to continue clearing out whatever arises. Make sure to do both sides, preferably twisting to the right side then the left side first. Breathing 5-10 breaths on each side. 

GOMUKASANA (SEATED COW FACE POSE) 

cowpose

 

Starting from Downward Facing Dog, draw your right knee forward and in-between your two hands. Then draw the left knee forward and pull it in tightly behind the right knee. Sit down between your two flexed feet, heels outside of hips. If your seat does not touch the ground, you should place a block or blanket underneath you. It's very important that you are sitting directly on something and feel supported. 

The grounding aspect of this pose offers great relief to a potentially hectic time. It opens the hips and creates space in the low back. Excellent for digestion as well as calming the nervous system. The weight of the top leg over the bottom and the effort to sit up out of that strongly weighted lower body reestablishes our sense of lifting up out of chaos in our lives instead of sinking down with it. Makes sure to do both sides. Breathing 5-10 breaths on each side. 

BHARAVADRASANA TWIST AND KROUNCHASANA (HERON POSE)

heron pose

We're suggesting two poses here.  From a seated position with extended legs, fold one leg deeply, (lets say the right leg), so that the heel is outside the hip and the knees are together. If it is uncomfortable, sit up on a blanket or block. 

Bend the other knee in,(the left leg for the first round), hold onto the foot or behind the thigh, and extend the leg, drawing the leg towards your face and your face towards your leg. Remember to keep breathing the whole time. 

This is Krounchasana, heron pose. An excellent pose for quieting the mind, opening the hamstrings and hips, and having plenty of physical distraction to focus you back into the body. The folded leg is also great for digestion and removal of toxins. From here, fold the extended leg (left leg) into a half lotus position or half baddhakonasana (with the sole of the foot on the inside of the right leg). If you can easily grab the big toe in the lotus position (as shown) go ahead. Otherwise, place the left hand on the right leg and swing the right leg behind, twisting to the right. Optional, gaze to the left to stretch the neck and throat. This is Bharavadrasana twist. It is an excellent pose for digestion, concentration, and grounding. The folds in the legs and the twist stimulate circulation and digestion, the press of the heel (for those in lotus) also stimulates the digestive organs. Seated poses can be really helpful when there is anxiety or too much overall busy-ness. Engaging the legs in seated poses helps to support the back and re-establish a good relationship between the legs and the torso. Repeat other side and breath 5-10 breaths each side.