Mandala Yoga Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 4

Preparing the Ground

35 min - Practice
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Root to blossom like a flower. Jennifer guides us through the essential standing postures to build strength, stability, stamina, and character. Moving with our breath, we find a steady rhythm to promote inner heat and focus. You will feel strong and supported from the earth to the sky.
What You'll Need: Mat

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(waves crashing) Namaste. So this series of standing postures, there are 14 of them and I have sequenced them in a way that I believe based on what we've learned about the way the body opens to provide a lot of opening and a lot of strength-building and probably some character-building as well. I have found in my years of practice that it's very tempting to avoid some of these standing postures but they're so necessary to really prepare the ground as it were. The legs, the lower torso, all of that's gotta be strong and stable in order for growth to happen up above. So essentially that's what we're gonna be doing and I hope you enjoy the series.

So let's come to a standing position. We'll begin in Surya Namaskar. Let's warm the body just a little bit before we move into the big standing postures. So inhaling, extend the arms all the way up and exhale, let's fold forward out and down right here and inhale, lengthen the spine. Exhale, palms down then step back.

Take a breath and plank, inhaling. Exhale either knees, chest, chin or slowly lower. Good, you can lay your whole body down, inhaling cobra or upward dog if you wish. Strong, straight legs, inhale. Exhaling back, use your navel to get there.

Downward-facing dog. We'll take three breaths here and really focusing on the strength of the legs, the rooting of the outside of the heels, of lengthening of the spine in both directions. Inhale here, exhale, bend your knees. Look past your hands and step or float forward between your hands. Inhale, lengthen.

Exhale, folding forward. Inhale, let's rise all the way up, palms touch. Exhale, bring your palms together at your heart. Good inhale, extend all the way up. Exhale, fold forward, out and down.

Inhale, lengthen the front spine. Exhale, step or float back lower through or knees, chest, chin, inhale cobra or upward dog and exhaling back, downward-facing dog. So we'll take the right leg up and back behind us. Now we're gonna go ahead and stack the right hip on top of the left hip. You can see your left kneecap, it's lifted.

Reach with the ball of the foot, strong, straight arms. Inhale here. Exhale, bring your right foot forward not quite between your hands. Turn, pivot your left heel to the floor. Slowly rise up.

Good, it's nice to bring the hands to the hips for a moment just to feel that the pelvic bowl is steady. Take a look at your right kneecap, it's forward. Inhale, extend the arms up. Exhale, reaching forward, out and down. The hand will come to the shin, the ankle, maybe the foot.

Left arm goes up, send your left hip back behind you. Release your shoulders. Lengthen the spine and generally five breaths. Just opening the left hip here. We'll inhale, exhale, bend your right knee.

Take your right hand to the floor. I'm gonna gradually take the left leg back, the left arm forward until we arrive in half-moon pose. Steady breath, steady gaze. Reach up through the left arm, stack the left hip. Good, long angles here, we inhale.

Exhale, now bend your right knee. I'm gonna reach, reach way, way back with the left foot, go slow. Slowly find your way up to Warrior Two. You want to move slow enough that we don't miss a moment. Root through the back heel.

Look back at your left arm just so you know where it is, it's parallel with the floor. Good and then that left leg bone, the thighbone is externally rotating. So a big external rotation of the thighbones in these first postures just to open the pelvis. We'll inhale here, exhale. Either elbow down on top, thigh or hand to inside of foot.

Sweep the left arm under and up, reach up, push back through your left heel. Draw your rib cage in just a little bit toward the hips and then roll open, strong legs, lengthening the spine. Good, every inhale there is room for more length and inhaling, exhale, let's release the hands to the floor and sweep the right leg up and back behind. Let's stack the hips, inhale. Exhale, draw your right foot forward.

Place it between your hands, turn, pivot. Now come down deep here, let's pause for a moment. Padottanasana, we want to really roll the thighs out, out and down. Good, palms come to prayer position. Good, send the arms out and release downward.

You can feel that the container of the belly is still kinda lifted upward even though you are dropping down. Good, let's bring the palms together. Slowly rise up. Bend down again, take the hands to the floor. You may want to start with the hands on the floor.

Now draw the right hipbone to the right heel. We're attempting to keep the feet down here. Slowly, slowly come to the other side. If the heels come off a little bit, that's okay. Just move back and forth.

These side lunges are also very important for the body each and every day. You might bring the palms together in prayer position if you wish and one more. Now take the hands to the mat, return to downward-facing dog. Take several breaths here, just notice how you feel. Well done.

So take your left leg up and back behind you stack. Good, hips are stacking, inhale. Exhale, left foot forward nearly between the hands. Turn, pivot your right heel at this point. Let's rise up, check your hips.

Extend the arms, inhale, exhale. Push the right hip back and forward, out and down. Hand to ankle, shin or foot. Good. Looking up at the hand or down at the floor if it's a bit much on the neck.

Inhale here, exhale, look down, now go slow. Left hands comes just at a diagonal to your left foot. Right leg comes off, reach through the barbie extension of the right foot. The right arm moves up. Make lots of space between the hands.

Steadiness and rooted-ness in the left leg. Inhale here. Exhale, slowly, slowly, slowly come down. Land your back foot, open the arms out. Settle in.

Just check the right hand, looking out through the left arm right down the middle finger. Feel the feet, they push away but they also can pull in to center. Just building, building stability. Inhale here, exhale. Lightly land with the left hand or the left elbow.

Stay out of the shoulders, we're doing this with the torso. The right arm extends out and up, push deeply back through your back leg. Reaching, reaching through the right arm. Rolling the rib cage. Inhaling, exhaling, bringing the hands back to the floor.

Left leg back, let's lower through. Inhale, cobra or upward dog then exhale back over the toes, downward dog. So those are the postures where there's big external rotation of the thighbones. It gives us more opening through the hips. Now when we take the right leg up and back, we're gonna square the hips.

So you look at your hips and you can see that the headlights turn directly down, if you had headlights at your hips. We'll inhale here, exhale, sweep the right foot forward. Pivot your left heel and rise up. Now both legs are strong and straight. We want to bring our hands to our hips because this posture's tricky.

You really want to shift this left hip forward, right hip back. Take your right hand to your sacrum, feel your feet root. Left arm sends up, inhale, lengthen. Exhale, reaching, reaching forward. Those hip bones draw back, left hip forward, right hip back.

Left hand can come to the inside of your foot. If you have a block, that's nice or the outside if you've been practicing for awhile. Check to see what's going on back here. Send your hips back behind you, keep your hips square then begin to revolve, revolve, revolve the rib cage. The right arm might go up if the shoulders stack.

Those hip bones draw together just a little bit. We'll inhale here, exhale, look down. Bend your right knee slightly, bring your left hand at a diagonal to your right foot. Take your left leg off. Check what's happening at your hips again.

Reach back through the ball of your foot. Begin to revolve, revolve the rib cage. This left hip's gonna want to give way, so keep everything square here. Do your work at your upper torso. Send the right arm up, long lines.

You can look up if you wish and inhale here, exhale. We'll land the foot way back behind us and we'll be in a lunge position here, you're on the ball of the foot. Good, bring the palms together in prayer position. Now it's very common here to sort of over-arch. You want to keep this connection from the ribs to the hips.

Fold forward, inhale, exhale, cross. Elbow just lightly touches, reinforce your back leg. Might come down a little deeper, draw those hipbones together. Left arm could come to the inside, right arm could extend over the ear. Inhaling, exhale, we'll bring both hands to the floor.

Take your left leg up and back behind you. Up and back, just let your heart and your head release downward. Now inhale here, exhale, land your left foot way back behind you. Send you right leg up and back, inhale. Exhale, right foot forward between your hands, turn and pivot.

Good, so let's start all the way up. Bring your hands to your hips, inhale. Lengthen the front spine, exhale folding forward, out and down. Let's bring the hands between the feet, walk them back. Take a look at your arms, they're parallel.

Inhale, lengthen. Exhale, fold in. We want to let the upper body relax here. All of the skin surrounding your leg bones lifts up. This is a fantastic posture after doing big standing work to just allow the body to soften a little bit while keeping the stability in your legs.

Good, inhale, lengthen. Exhale, hands to the front of the mat. Sweep the right leg back behind you, lower through. Inhale, cobra or upward dog. Exhaling back over the toes, pause here, three breaths.

Just find your lines. I like to notice what parts of my body I can feel a lot and what parts not so much and then take my attention to those parts. Now sweep your left leg up and back. Check your headlights, inhale. Exhale, left foot nearly to the hands.

Pivot the right heel, slowly rise. Bring your hands to your hips, square off. Okay left hand to sacrum, right arm goes up. Inhale, reach up. Exhale forward, forward, forward.

Push those hip bones back. Hand comes to the inside or the outside. Check the hips, begin your revolution. Lengthen those hip bones through the top of the head. Left arm might go up.

Keep your attention on your right hip, drawing up and back. Inhale here. Exhale, hand to hip again. Right hand forward at a diagonal, navel to spine, back leg off, square off and then begin to revolve. It's really interesting how we're creating stability.

Once we've got the stability, we can move right? The plant grows, it roots first and then it begins to open. And inhale, exhale, lightly land your back foot. Take it way back behind you, good. Come up, palms in prayer position.

Check to be sure that you've still got access to your lower body. Ribs draw into our hips, inhale. Exhale, navel to spine as we cross, keep it light here. Good, it's very tempting to want to just crank with the arms, don't go there. Maybe the hand comes to the outside of the foot.

Left arm sweeps up and over, wake up the back leg. To the extent that we move up is the same extent to which we deeply root. Inhale here, exhale, release the hands to the ground. Back leg comes off all the way up, searches for the sky. Four corners of the left foot stay pressing but the heart and the head release.

Inhale here, exhale, now the right foot moves back. The left leg, send it back, inhale. Exhale lower through, inhale open. Exhaling back, downward-facing dog. Let's take three breaths here.

Close the eyes and find yourself in the posture and what is alive and what is not so conscious. Good, so we'll take the right leg back once again. Now the hips are square. Inhale, exhale, sweep your right foot forward. Pivot your back heel to the floor, now let's slowly come up.

So what we've done is we've gone one way, triangle, the other way, revolved triangle. Now we're coming to the middle. So often in life we go out one way, way out another and then we arrive at balance. So here we are, hands to hips. Rib cage moves downward just a little bit.

Let's bring the palms back, inhale. Lengthen the whole front spine. Exhaling, at the hip crease we fold forward, remembering left hip forward, right hip back. Just go ahead and release the torso forward. You can watch the feet, ask them to get very quiet as you lengthen the spine.

Draw your shoulders up and back. Take your breath to your collarbone area, widening that space. Inhale here, exhale, come up just a little bit. Bend your right knee. Inhale, straighten the right leg, send your left leg back.

Good, you might be grasping your elbows 'cause it can be a lot for prayer position. Inhale here, exhale. Back foot lands way back behind you. Send your arms up and interlace your fingers and remember, lifting the rib cage way up to make room for the organs. That can help you bring your left hip forward, your right hip back.

Settle in. Good inhale, exhale. We'll sweep the arms around, this is really good for the shoulders and then inhale, take it all the way back and exhaling. Inhaling. Exhaling, bring your hands to the floor, left leg up and back behind you.

Inhale, exhale, slowly, slowly draw the foot to the floor, knee to the floor and again interlacing, sinking into a deep lunge. Feel the root through your legs and your pelvis and notice that root creates this buoyancy and this lightness at the heart. Inhale, exhale, hands down. Tuck your left toes under, right leg back, lower through. Inhale.

Exhale back. Three breaths. Just looking for equanimity again as if we were in mountain pose. Good, send your left leg up and back behind you. Hips are square, inhale.

Exhale, left foot forward, right heel pivots, slowly rise. You may have found on that other side, best to grasp elbows, palms in prayer position if you wish. Inhale, open the front. Lift the heart, keep your roots. Exhale, fold at the hip crease.

Watch your hips with your inner attention. Left hip back, right hip forward. Attempt to relax your toes on your front foot. Inhale, rise up, bend your left knee a little bit. Take your back leg off, send it back, open across the arms, open across the chest.

Inhaling, exhale, land your back foot way back behind you. Take your arms up, come right into Warrior One. Lift the rib cage, draw the right hip forward, left hip back. Good inhale. Exhale, sweep.

Inhale, come back up. Exhaling. Inhaling. Exhaling. Hands to floor, right leg up and back.

Draw your heart to the floor. Reach up to the sky with the right foot. Inhale, exhale, land your back foot, knee down, top of the foot down. Slowly rise up, interlace. Let the lower body get heavy.

Inhale here, exhale, release the hands, tuck your right toes under, send your left leg back. Lower through, inhale, open. Exhaling back over the toes. Inhaling here, exhale, let's bring the knees to the floor. Good, slowly sit down.

We're gonna actually lie back right here and notice the effects of what we just did. So releasing back, turn the palms up, slide the shoulder blades under and allow the bones of the body to release downward. So fascinating, those big standing postures, how they ask so much of us. Just notice in your body if there are any places that don't feel as though they've been engaged. They call on our strength and our stamina, our patience, steadiness and consistency and remaining deeply tethered to our insides.

And for me what I find is that if I've come into my practice with any issues I'm dealing with, I often forget them for a time because I'm so so attentive to fully engaging the body. Now we just notice what comes out of that, fully addressing the body and the mind and the breath in a simultaneous way. Just take a few deeper breaths right here. And we'll slowly draw the navel in toward the spine as we bring one knee back up and in, just giving ourselves a hug. And send your right arm up over your head, roll to the right, pause here, just feeling the weight of your body and its support.

And the left hand brings us up to a comfortable seat. So once again now rooted like a mountain is rooted, this is a seated mountain posture. Find vertical, find equanimity. So I've found in my own life that I can't create anything really unless I remain rooted and steady and stable. I gotta know who I am, especially as I'm challenged with circumstances that can be, require a lot of me and this kind of grounding and steadiness helps so much with day-to-day challenges.

Grounded, steady. Always knowing where we are internally. Let's draw the palms together at the heart and we'll close our practice bringing our hands to our forehead, right thought. May we be steady and present and joyful. We bring our hands to our mouth, right speech.

May our words improve upon the silence and our hands come to our heart, right action. May we be the change that we wish to see, Namaste.

Comments

Very nice. I feel we missed the goddess sequence on thevleft side at the beginning.
Thanks for this wonderful flow Jennifer. I love how you weave the practices together, each building on the previous ones!
Perfect practice, Perfect timing! xo
So glad, Gigi! I hope it all makes sense. Jennifer

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