The wisdom of an ancient personality test known as the Enneagram categorizes the nine basic ego types into three categories or centers: the body center, heart center, and mind center. (Learn more about this ancient system here.) This sequence is meant to both balance and invigorate body-centered humans, who experience the world physically, with tangible and visceral sensitivity and immediacy. This series of standing and balancing poses are meant to enhance one’s connection to the earth and cultivate a sense of grounding. The sequence is built as a progression, where the alignment cues in the first posture apply to all subsequent postures.
When we are present in our body, we become more aware of our footprint on the earth, of our movement in space, and of our relationship to things and others.
Standing Side Bend
Ground down through the four corners of each foot. As you lean to one side, keep the inner hips over the ankles. Seamlessly work with both the terrestrial and celestial forces, as you simultaneously press down and lift up. Switch the clasp of the writ, and repeat to the other side. Keep the seat steady when leaning in one direction.
Bound Standing Tree
Lift the inner ankle bone of the standing leg towards the groin, as you pin the outer hip in toward the midline. Come to stand and repeat to the other side.
Draw the navel into the spine and the tailbone down toward the earth. Keep the hips aligned. As you press the palms up, draw the upper arm bones into the shoulder sockets. Come to stand evenly on both feet and repeat to the other side.
Lengthen both sides of the waist. Draw the front ribs in. Lift the chest bone up and square off the armpits forward. Repeat with the opposite leg forward and switch the clasp of the hands as you reach up.
Press equally through both feet. Activate the quads and the abdominal muscles. Keep the biceps alongside the ears, and focus on lengthening sideways, so as not to compress the lower back. Repeat to the other side.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Lift the inner and outer arches of the feet, draw the shins toward one another, while rolling the thighs outward. Hinge at the hip creases, draw the tailbone and the tip of the shoulder blades toward the sky, and keep the neck long.
Anchor through the back heel, squeeze the inner thighs. Press equally down through the lower palm as much as you reach upward with the opposite hand. Twist from above the navel, to open both sides of the chest equally. Repeat to the other side.
Press the standing thighbone back and up. Roll the inner thigh of the back leg up so as to level off the hips. Align the heel of the back leg with the sitz bone. Lift the outer corners of the shoulders up and move the chest bone forward, and gaze forward. Come to stand evenly on both feet and repeat to the other side.
Anchor through the inner palms and the elbows while lifting out of the shoulders. Press the armpits back, and align the pelvis over the shoulders. Reach forward with the sternum, and up through the balls of the feet. (This is an advanced posture and should be practiced with care and with the guidance of a teacher if it is new to you!)
Photos by Hailey Wist