I do yoga at least once or twice a week, but I've never tried a class specifically based on an affirmation, or even really considered it, until I found this affirmation-based, hips-focused flow from instructor Abiola Akanni, E-RYT 200. I took a class from Akanni on the Alo Moves app and loved it; she has a uniquely gentle way of teaching that helped me feel calm and grounded in the flow. My hips are always tight (lots of sitting, running, and neglecting to stretch as much as I should), so I knew I had to give this practice a try.
The best part about Akanni's hip-opening, affirmation-based flow is how completely, immersively relaxing it is. Eventually you ease your way down into Pigeon Pose and other deep hip openers, but Akanni lets you take your time getting there, starting with higher and more widespread postures like Pyramid Pose, Runner's Lunge, and Goddess Squat. And she mixes her affirmation — "ease is always available" — throughout the flow, encouraging you to modify a pose or go deeper as is comfortable.
Akanni explains her choice of affirmation at the beginning of the practice, saying, "As a Nigerian-American woman and a Black woman, society puts pressure on me to push myself." She says she puts herself in a box of "always trying to over-perform," and as a result, she doesn't take ease or comfort when it's available and sometimes creates barriers where there are none. To know that ease is always an option, Akanni said, "is truly transformational for me."
This affirmation infused the flow with a soft, tender feel, so I never felt like I had to pressure myself to hit a certain depth on any pose or force my body to look a certain way. By the end of the tension-releasing practice, I felt grounded in my body and comfortable with my boundaries and needs, both on my mat and off. You don't need any equipment for this practice, though I used a couple of blocks (thick books will also work) because my hips and hamstrings tend to be tighter. Watch the full video above and sink into this gentle flow!