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Season 2 - Episode 5

As Above, So Below

25 min - Practice
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Find steadiness, presence, and joy. Jennifer takes us through standing balancing postures to build strength and a steady focus. We move through this pattern once slowly, and then repeat by linking the postures together into a challenging, dynamic, and fluid sequence.
What You'll Need: Mat

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(waves crashing) Namaste. This series of postures, they're all balance postures and I... I personally titled this series As Above, So Below because what I've found is that as long as I stay rooted in my feet, then anything I do up here can happen. I've just got to keep this root and I love standing balance postures because they require me to be here now. And...

So shall we begin, shall we start? We're coming to mountain pose. Look down at your feet and spread your toes really wide, as wide as you can. You notice you can't help, I'll bet you, you can't help spread your fingers when you spread your toes. Spread the toes and then feel the four corners of the feet.

Root and set your pelvis over your legs so if the pelvis could tip, it wouldn't be tipping, it would be holding water and just drawing upward through the front of the body, feel the top of the head, lengthen upward and I like to employ the marionette factor here. So I pretend that I've got a string attached to the top of my head so that when I lift, I've got some length coming from above. Imagination plays a great role in this practice. So Vrikshasana Tree pose, we'll take the weight into the left foot and you might start here. Some of my friends are new to yoga and they definitely like to have the kick stand.

The foot could come to the ankle, not the knee or up into the inner thigh. Good, draw the navel in once again. Foot presses into inner thigh, inner thigh presses back, palms together in Anjali Mudra. Breath and steady your gaze. When you're ready the arms can extend up and again interlace your fingers to create a little bit of length here and just watch what your foot does.

We want to attempt to keep the connection from the big toe into the ground quite rooted. Inhale here, exhale, release the breath. Release your foot, come right back to mountain pose. Good equal standing, equal standing outside and inside. Other side.

Choose wisely. Set the hip girdle so it's steady, palms together and slowly rise up. Navel draws in, thigh bones externally rotate a little bit. Inhale here, exhale. Palms return, leg returns.

Mountain pose. It's like erasing what just happened, so now brand new. This one very simple, right toes press, navel draws in, draw the leg upward, interlace your fingers around your shin. You could drop the right sit bone a little bit. The shoulders, the blades draw in.

We're steady here and we watch. Inhaling. Exhale, releasing. Take a breath, you know that if you are having some issues with balance, obviously get to a wall. It's such a great practice to see how quiet we can be inside the body.

So let's come to the other side. And notice what on the outside of the body you can relax so that the inside almost seems to grow. Inhale here. Exhale, releasing. Okay I would say this is my personal favorite but that would be a lie.

I find this to be really challenging for my body, might be easy for yours. Inhale, send the arms all the way up then exhale, let's take the right arm under the left arm and sit down. Good now come onto the sole of the left foot so your right toe's just off the floor and we're gonna wrap the right leg around the left leg. Squeeze the legs in, maybe your foot comes back behind. Did you see that?

There you go, so maybe the foot comes back behind but maybe it doesn't. Good the arms, I like to take the arms up a little bit as I sit back down. Squeeze everything to mid-line. Good, do you see how I could just use my right foot like a kickstand, how useful that is? Now inhale, open out.

Exhale, release. Just pause. It's interesting to watch the residual effects of a posture. Just (moans) yes and then return to zero. Inhale all the way up, exhale other side.

Let's see what this side's like, okay? So left foot onto the toes, come in close. Mid-line hugs at the arms too, leg lifts, cross. Draw in. Sit down, lift the arms a little bit.

Kneecaps work to be forward. Then inhale, open out. Exhale, release and watch. So the best thing about balance postures, no time to think, be here now. So we move on.

The left hand comes to the hip. Take your weight to your left foot. We'll grasp the right big toe. Lengthen the spine. Feel how the inner contents of the torso, there's a little bit of a lift in the pelvic floor.

If you can take your leg forward, do. The right shoulder's gonna draw back. If you find that you're really far forward here, you want to bend the knee. So it could look like this and if it were to look like this, chances are it would also look like this and it might come around to look like this. And then return.

So we'll do the same thing on the other side and then we'll try the legs straight and see how that goes. So right foot roots, root. Lift up, grasp. Pause here, let your left sit bone settle and inhale. Exhale, leg out.

Come back, cross and return. Okay so we've presented an interesting challenge where we're sort of digging a hole, planting a seed from which our body grows. Once we've got this frame here, we can begin to play with moving the body around but we've gotta keep our attention here at the mid-line. So moving on, left hand to hip. Either big toe or extend and inhale, exhale looking out.

Open the leg out to the side and inhale, come back to center. Cross. Drop the right sit bone and... return. Pause, feel.

Pause, feel go together, pause, feel. And switch sides, right foot roots. Pelvic floor lifts a little bit, grasp big toe or grasp and straighten. Lengthen. Drop the left sit bone, inhale.

Exhale, out to the side we go. Inhale, come back to center. Cross or around the knee (chuckles) and turn. Inhaling, exhale, release. So allow everything just to settle.

This is an interesting thing, we don't do this a lot. We move, move, move from one thing to the next. Just pause and feel. Right hand. Find big toe and straighten if you wish.

Inhale. Exhale, the leg moves out. The gaze turns to the right and inhaling, come back to center. Grasp the foot, left arm back. Left sit bone down, gaze slowly turns.

Inhale, come back to center. Exhale, release. Pause and feel. Okay finally so we've taken the leg forward, side, twist, let's take the leg back behind us now. Left arm goes up, long line.

Right knee bends, knees touch. Grasp inside or outside. Inside if you've been practicing for awhile, outside if you're newer to the practice but knees touch first, inhale lengthen. Exhale, reach back with the right leg. Back, back, back.

Roll the right hip down. Inhaling, come back up. Exhaling, releasing, pause. You're getting the hang of this now, right? Pause and feel and what's there?

Right arm goes up, reach up. Left knee bends, knees touch. Grasp, inhale. Exhale, let the left leg lead the way. And inhale slowly, exhale, pause and feel.

So something to say about feel, it's very easy for us because we're so busy interpreting everything all the time that feel becomes an evaluation or a criticism or a judgement. What we're actually looking for is just the sensation that occurs in the body. Because if we're evaluating or judging or criticizing, we've actually stepped out of present moment awareness. We're busy somewhere else, so we're tracking as we go. So next we're gonna link all of those postures together and it's a game that I play every day to see if I can stay rooted and yet my body is moving around me.

This is useful because this is much how my life is, all this stuff going on all the time. I'm staying right here and I'm observing myself respond to whatever it is, like the eternal multitasking and yet I am right here in quiet presence. At least that's the idea, so let's see how this goes. So let me tell you, the chances of you falling out of this, they're very high 'cause I make this game challenging for all of us so that we've got an edge, an edge to be right up against. So if you fall out, just come right back in.

So we've found our mountain and remember, externally rotating the big thighbones first. Right foot comes in, could be at the calf or the ankle. Tree pose. Find your Tree, inhale here, exhale. Draw the leg in close.

Inhale. Exhale, We're comin' right into Eagle pose. Come in close, sit down, arms extend up. Okay then slowly rise, grasp big toe, extend out. Inhale, exhale.

Gaze to the left, leg to the right. Come right back in. Switch, your hand may come around your knee if the leg isn't straight. Slowly take the gaze back and then gradually draw the foot in. Take your left arm up, knees touch and extend back behind you.

Inhaling. Exhaling, releasing. Pause and feel. You know it's just like a stone hits the surface of a lake. Ripple, ripple, ripple and eventually quiet again.

Mountain pose. Good return to equanimity. It's different than finding equanimity, return to that state. Tree pose. Good inhale.

Exhale, cross the knee, draw it in. Shoulders down, inhale. Exhale, cross. Draw to mid-line everything. Slowly rise back up, extend.

Inhale. Exhale, open and inhale, come back. Cross, send it back. Inhale, return. Right arm up, knees touch.

Open. Inhale, slowly rise back up. Exhale, pause. Pause and feel. So I think that we all know returning and staying with one center, big work right?

Absolutely worth dedicating our practice to on a regular basis. So let's come down and rest. Now we just allow the body to relax. Most of the principles that we employ here in Shavasana are distinct from being upright in a vertical position. It's very easy to appreciate the ground now.

So even though we're allowing the body to release and the space around the brain to soften, we're still right here. In fact, balance postures train us to be here now. And sometimes when I'm out in my life, I like to imagine I'm in a balance pose and that kind of attention to each moment. I like to reduce the amount of time I'm spending creating stories in my head about the way things are. I want to meet the moment as it is, whatever it is.

And as we relax further, is it possible to still be fully here? Now draw your navel in toward your spine. Let's bring one knee at a time into the chest, give yourself a hug and send your right arm up, roll, pause. As you roll, the same principles apply now and now and now. And the left hand will bring us up, we'll come to a comfortable seat and remember the seated mountain and find that place forward, back, side, side.

Right there at center we bring all our attention. Feel how the lower body and the upper body draw away from one another. You relax the surface of the body. So this is really a practice of allowing ourselves to open and open and open to the way things are in this moment. Let one thing arise, let it pass, we're still right here.

Let's draw the palms together and bring the hands to the forehead, right thought. May we be steady and present and joyful. The hands come to the mouth, right speech. May our words improve upon the silence. Let our hands come to our heart, right action.

May we be the change that we wish to see, Namaste.

Comments

Thanks Jennifer. Definitely useful to keep in mind next time things get a bit hectic!
Balance. It's everything. You are welcome!
1 person likes this.
I am so enjoying the wonderful practices in both seasons of Mandala Yoga, and am so grateful to be practicing with you here! Thanks so much, Jennifer.
Hi Lori,
That's wonderful to hear. I'm glad you are enjoying the series. I very much enjoyed making them, and it's great to know that they are of benefit! All my best!
So much lOve, Namaste 🕉
Right backatcha!! Gigi.
Thank you for focusing on balancing postures; what a great way to start the day!
Thanks so much for your feedback Charla. I do this series nearly every day and I learn a great deal when I do it. Some days are so steady, some days not so much! :D I'm glad you enjoyed it. xoxo

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