LEVITYoga Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 3

Opening Sequence

30 min - Practice
56 likes
Loading...

Description

Peter leads us in an opening practice to help prepare the joints, stimulate marma points, and explore seed postures in preparation for more advanced practices. You can use this as a preparation for other sequences or use it on its own to enliven and awaken the body.
What You'll Need: Mat

Transcript

Read Full Transcript

Hi, for those of you here for the first time, welcome, and those of you returning, welcome back. This is an opening sequence. The opening sequence is practice preparation, basically, and it's designed to prepare us for more dynamic practice. One of the first things that we do is joint preparation, and we do this by creating certain shapes with our body, certain poses that move gravity through these joints, and especially if there's an imitation, we want to touch these places in our body as softly as we can and work with the breath and allow the body to naturally unfold. Another idea in the opening sequence is the idea of Marma stimulation, and Marma are these points in the body that really go beyond stretching.

They're actually these, like Chinese medicine, points that stimulate certain energies in preparation for practice, and this sequence allows us to access those, and it's powerful. The other thing is within these shapes are the seeds for more complex poses, and so in these simple poses that are done mostly on the mat and on the ground, we're actually accessing these places that we need for more dynamic, more advanced, or complex poses, so that's basically what we're going to do now for about the next 20 minutes, and let's do it. If you can come up onto your hands and knees with your legs together, sit back on your heels and fold forward into child's pose, letting your ribcage rest on your thighs, arms resting at your sides, and let your head sink down. Really slow your breath down. Follow the fullness of your breath through the back, and as you feel the breath into the back body, the skin spreads.

Each exhale, soften through the belly, soften through the ribs, and feel gravity pressing you deeper onto your thighs. Each breath, three to four second inhale, three to four second exhale. Each exhale, as you create that softness through the front body, occasionally slide your head forward on your mat as the spine naturally lengthens. And now taking the arms straight out to the sides, in line with your shoulders, walking the hands as wide apart as you can. When you feel the arms fully extended, you're going to pause here and gently press the palms into the floor.

As you press the palms into the floor, simultaneously release your shoulders. Feel the weight of your upper arms drop a little, and if you can, inch the fingers a little wider. With an inhale, come halfway up, keep your arms straight. Slowly drop your right hip to the floor beside you, bending the right arm like a push-up. Turn your head and rest your ribcage on the thigh.

Breathe through the back body, following the sensation of your breath into the right hip and buttock. And on the exhale, soften through the belly, turn through the shoulders, right shoulder lifting higher, left shoulder pressing lower. Keep the breathing slow, keep the sound of your breath soft, and the texture of your breath smooth. With an inhale, come back to the center. And again, to the left, drop the hip to the floor, bend your left arm like a push-up.

Drop the ribcage onto the thigh, following the fullness of your breath into the left hip and buttock. On the exhale, diaphragm softens, feel the internal organs recede a little, and simultaneously turn through the shoulders, turn through the waist. Again, inhale to the center. We'll go to the right one more time. Each inhale following the breath into the pelvic floor.

Each exhale, soften through the front body, turn through the shoulders, feel the ribcage resting on the thigh. Inhale back to the center, and last one to the left. Hip on the floor, left arm bending, right arm straight, ribcage resting, heavy on the thigh. Then inhale back to the center, sit up, and then gently clench your fists over your thumbs lightly, and placing the back of the fist on the top of the thigh, right near the hip crease, and gently fold over your fists. Release your arms fully, elbows drop, release your head.

Breathe into the back of the heart, feel the skin spread across your shoulder blades. On the exhale, soften where the fists and ribs meet, and again feel gravity pressing you deeper onto your legs. Each exhale, re-release your arms, feel the elbows sink a little, and now gently press the knuckles up into the navel, holding that pressure up, slide the knuckles towards your pubic bone, and then circle the knuckles back to the navel, and keep circling, churning the fists into the belly, then change direction, circle the other way, go slow, and now alternately pump your knuckles up and down rapidly, pumping the navel with your fists. Using your fists, take the arms forward. Walk the hands as far forward as you can, arms straight.

Breathe into the front side and back of the lungs. You'll notice when the fists are removed how you have more space to breathe in the compression of the ribs and belly, there's just a little more space. Each exhale, release the collarbones away from the ears, feel your armpits drop a little, see if you can inch your hands forward more. Arms engage, shoulders passive. And now take the arms behind your back, interlock your fingers, keep your palms apart, and slowly take the hands over the head.

And you reach your maximum pause here. Each inhale following the breath into the pelvic floor, each exhale soften the collarbones, feel the head of the shoulder drop a little towards the floor, move your hands a little further. So those of you that are having some resistance in the neck, you can stay here, and when your arms are tired, you can let them drop to the floor. Those of you who want to go a little deeper into this pose, slowly lift your hips, roll onto the crown of your head, walk your knees apart a little for balance, let the arms drop, re-release your shoulders, keep your breathing slow. If you want to go further, release the hands to the floor, fingers pointing forward, tuck your toes forward and straighten your legs.

Pressing into the hands, lift your collarbones away from the floor. And those of you who want to go into the full pose, take your feet apart to the sides of the mat and roll up onto the tips of your big toes, balance it. If you're steady here, take your left arm vertical, palm facing the midline. And if you're going for the full pose, both arms up, palms face each other, balance it. Keep pulling the collarbones away from your ears.

With an inhale coming out, sit up, take your knees apart, sitting on your heels, take the back of your left wrist on the side waist, sweep the elbow inside the knee to the floor and slowly lean to your left. Turn your face, look down at the floor. Breathe into your left shoulder. On the exhale, release the left collarbone, lean a little further. Keep your breathing slow.

And again, for those who want more, right hand grabs the left elbow. As you lean to the left, pull the right shoulder down towards the floor. With an inhale, come out slowly and change sides. Back of the right wrist on the side waist, right elbow inside the knee to the floor. Lean to your right, turn your face, look down.

Breathe into your right shoulder. On the exhale, release the right collarbone, lean a little further. If you're going deeper, left hand grabs the right elbow. As you lean to the right, pull the left shoulder down towards the floor. And inhale, slowly coming out.

And now sitting cross legged, just a simple cross leg. If you're comfortable in full lotus, you can put your legs into lotus. Arms flat, arms straight. Keep your head in line with your neck. With each inhale, let the fullness of your breath move into the back body, spine rounding a little.

On the exhale, release the collarbones away from your ears, inch the fingers forward, and extend the spine from the back of the skull. Each inhale, it's like you're coming out of the pose slightly, the fullness of the breath rounding your spine. Each exhale softening through the shoulders, chest, and belly, feel the front body drop, extend the back body, inch the fingers forward. If you're flat with your rib cage resting on the legs, you can let your head drop to the floor. Keep walking the hands forward, shoulders passive, arms engaged, breathing slow.

With an inhale, sit up, change the crossing of your legs. So in these opening poses, a lot of times, because the work is mostly inner, you can keep your eyes closed. It allows you to feel the subtle sensation of your breath more complete. Each inhale coming out of the pose slightly, letting the fullness of your breath lift your each exhale, releasing through the shoulders, chest, and belly, feel the weight of your internal organs drop, and simultaneously extend the spine from the back of your skull, chin moving in slightly toward your throat without the forehead dropping. You can see how with each inhale, even though I can go flat, each inhale lifts me.

I allow that. Each exhale, I re-release through the front body, gravity pressing me lower, and I feel this support letting the head drop. And inhale slowly coming up, hands on your waist. So your hands are located just above the hip bones, right below the side ribs, and you're going to gently squeeze into the side ribs and let your head drop forward, release your collar bones, press your elbows forward, breathe into the back of the heart, spread the skin across your shoulder blades. On the exhale, soften the top of your lungs, feel the weight of your heart sink a little, let the head drop a little further.

With an inhale, lift your head upright. Pressing the right hand in strongly, exhale to the right, let your head fall to the side. Breathe into the left lung, left shoulder, and left side of the neck. On the exhale, soften the right ribs, sink lower. So if this is too intense, you can put a little block or blanket folded under your elbow to create less intensity.

So you feel the elbow supported on the prop or on the floor. When the elbow is supported, keep releasing your head, feel the weight of the right ear dropping towards the head of the shoulder. And now pull your forehead back an inch, release your left hand, extend the fingers strongly down towards the floor, pull the forehead back another inch. Slowly extend your chin forward, slowly turn your head, look up at the ceiling, slowly pull the chin in towards your throat, extend the back of the skull. And sweep your left arm up, reach for the ceiling.

Those who want more, continue taking the arm over next to the ear. Bending the arm, touch the back of the heart and pull the elbow back behind you. With the hand, cup the back of your skull, pull the head up, chin drops towards your throat and release the full weight of your head into your hand. Releasing the hand, clinch the fist strongly and extend the elbow over the crown of the head looking up. Then slowly turn your head, look down at the floor and extend the elbow more.

Just drop the left arm behind your back, reach for the right wrist. Doesn't matter if you grab. And as you look down at the floor, turn your heart up towards the ceiling. With an inhale coming out, readjust your hands on the waist, press the left hand in strongly, slowly exhale to the left, let your head fall to the side. Breathe into the right lung, right shoulder and right side of the neck.

On the exhale, soften the left rib, sink lower. If your elbow is supported on the block or on the floor, keep releasing your head. Then pull your forehead back an inch, release the right hand, extend the fingers strongly towards the floor. Pull the forehead back another inch, slowly extend the chin forward. Slowly turn the head, look up at the ceiling, slowly pull the chin in towards your throat.

Sweep the right arm up. If you're going further, take the arm next to the ear, bend in the arm, touch the back of the heart, pull the elbow back. With the hand, cup the back of your skull, pull the head up. Chin drops towards your throat. Releasing the hand, clench the fist strongly, extend the elbow over the crown, gaze up, and then slowly turn your head, gaze down, extend the elbow more.

And then dropping the arm behind your back, reach for the left wrist. Looking down, turn your heart up. With an inhale, come back to the center. Re-adjust your hands on the way, shoulders down, elbows forward, head upright, tiny circles with your head. So this first part isn't about stretching.

It's in a way lubricating the atlas sacral, in a way it's about lubricating the atlas occipital joint. And as you feel that softness into that joint, slow the head down, gradually make the circles bigger. And if you meet any resistance in the neck, go even slower. Shoulders down, elbows forward, hands on the waist, not the hips. One more.

Finish with your head falling forward. When your head is forward, re-release your collarbone, shoulders drop a little, press the elbows forward a little, squeezing the waist. Breathe into the back of the heart, spread the skin. When the exhale, lung softens, heart drops, head drops. See the head rolling off the shoulders and dropping into your lap, literally like a coconut falling out of the tree.

With an inhale, head upright, either direction, tiny circles. As you feel that softness coming into the atlas occipital joint, slow the head down, make the circles bigger. Go slow. One more. Finish with your head falling forward.

Re-release your collarbones, press the elbows forward. And now curl the tips of the fingers into the gut, right along the edge of the rectus abdominis muscles. With each inhale, hold the fingers in, with each exhale, soften the belly, press the fingers in a little deeper. One more. Slow inhale.

Slow exhale till you're empty. When you're empty, hold the breath out, press the fingers all the way to the spine and quickly release your hands. Placing the palms on the tops of the thighs, right near the hip crease, roll your shoulders. Inhale, shoulders up in the front, exhale, shoulders down in the back. Inhale up.

Exhale down. One more. Up and down. And turn the palms up. Curl your wrists.

On the top of the wrist, on the crease of the thigh. And roll the shoulders back to front. Inhale up in the back. Exhale down in the front. Inhale up.

Exhale down. One more. Up and down. And keeping your hands as they are, try to straighten your arms so the shoulders are up around your ears and then slowly roll your head. And change direction.

And release. Arms straight out to the side, shoulder height. Release your collar bones through your armpits, sink a little and extend out through the fingers. Straight into the front side and back of the lungs, the full length of your torso. On the exhale, re-release the collar bones, feel the shoulders sink a little and extend stronger out through the fingers.

Keep the top of your hip bones gently pressing forward without leaning forward. And slowly turn the palms to face up. Check your hands, make sure they're flat. Re-release your collar bones, extend out through the fingers. And slowly pull the fingers down, flexing the heel of the palms.

Slowly turn the fingers up and pull the tips in towards your ears, press out through the palms. And draw the hands back about a foot, spreading the skin across your chest. Slowly curl the wrists down, fingers trying to reach for the under forearm. And slowly bringing the arms forward until they're parallel, release your collar bones. Pull the chin in towards your throat, lift the spine from the back of the skull.

Breathe into the back of the heart, spread the skin. On the exhale, top of the lungs softens, heart drops. Lift your spine from the back of the skull. And slowly extend the fingers forward, turn the palms up. Bending the arms, touch your shoulders.

Slowly lift the elbows and walk your fingertips down your spine. Try to press the forearms together behind your head. And right hand grabs the left elbow, pull the left arm behind your head. Drop the right arm behind your back and if you can, hook the fingers, head upright. With an inhale, slowly release, forearms together again.

And left hand grabs the right elbow, pull the right arm behind the head, left arm behind the back. And again, if you can, hook the fingers. If you can't hook, that's fine, keep the back of the wrist flat, fingers reaching. With an inhale, release, forearms together again. See if you can walk the fingers just a little lower, press the elbows a little closer.

And take the arms out to the sides and pull the elbows as far back as you can. Clench your fists strongly, pump your biceps. And if you have just a little desire, check them out. Not bad. Interlock the fingers, press the palms up.

As you press the palms up, relax your diaphragm. Feel the tailbone drop a little. As the tailbone drops, press your hands higher. Then slowly draw the hands back, arching the upper back. Each exhale, top of the lung softens, heart drops, simultaneously move the hands back a little further.

Then releasing the hands back to your shoulders, press the elbows together in front of the nose and squeeze your arms strongly. You'll feel the latissimus muscles engage, pectoralis muscles engage. And now sliding the fingers under your shirt and curling the tips into the trapezius. Pull the elbows down towards your navel, raking the trapezius forward. Lean your head back, chin moving in towards your throat, neck supported in the trapezius.

Then slowly extend the chin up. With an inhale, head upright, elbows up. Exhale the hands forward, palms up. Inhale the arms apart. Exhale right arm over the top, palm down, arms crossing.

Inhale arms apart. Exhale left arm over, palm down, arms cross. Inhale arms apart. Exhale right arm over, left arm bending. Hug the right arm into your chest.

Inhale release. Exhale left arm over, right arm bending. Inhale release. Exhale sweep the arms behind you, palms face each other. Lift your hands as high as you can, lift your chest as high as you can.

Then turn the palms up, lift your hands higher, curl the wrists. Releasing the arms, bring the hands forward, close your eyes and then with the setting at the beach you can use that, visualize holding a beach ball in your lap. Gently squeeze the sides of the ball until you feel a little resistance pressing in against the skin of your hands. If you don't feel it, just keep drawing the hands in closer until you feel something. But don't let the hands touch.

As you feel that pressure pushing back against your hands, pause there, re-release your shoulders. And then visualizing that beach ball inflating slowly, slowly separate the hands, containing that space, that feeling against the skin. When opening your eyes, hook your fingers strongly, clench your fists strongly, circle the wrists, change direction, and release. That completes the opening sequence. Thank you for your presence, namaste.

Comments

Pauline K
1 person likes this.
Good morning peter!great way to start the day.so glad to have these videos!
Peter Sterios
You're welcome. I am shooting Season 2 next week which will bring 10 more episodes on line in 3-4 months.
Peter
Sarah S
1 person likes this.
Peter, for those of us with cervical disc herniation, what modifications would you recommend? In particular, I'm concerned about the head rolls about 20 minutes in. I'd be nervous to roll toward the back of my neck. By the way, the shoulder stretches are great, even for my shoulder that sustained rotator cuff injury 3 years ago. One of my students with wrist issues had trouble with them, but we think we have devised a work-around for her.
Kira Sloane
1 person likes this.
Hi Sarah, great question and I also look forward to what Peter has to say. Also, his second season offers so many amazing openings and strengthening exercise for all around the shoulders. xok
Peter Sterios
Hi Sarah,
Working with neck issues requires exceptional sensitivity and patience, working even slower or softer where you meet resistance or stiffness in the neck, using gravity in lieu of muscular force to create movement. I have personally experienced working with many conditions of the neck (osteoarthritis, degenerative discs, numbness in the hands, and reverse cervical curvature). All of these conditions have inspired my approach to rehabilitating the neck. It's important to work slowly and patiently. Error on the side of doing too little instead of too much. If you are consistently gentle both physically and psychologically with the exercises, you will see results. That said, I am not a medical doctor, and would recommend you seek medical advice as needed.
North F
thanks!
Frederic M
Thanks Peter. I loved the shoulder stretches!
Caroline B
So perfect, thank you
Peter Sterios
Vahid Hi Vahid, glad to hear you found these videos helpful.
Peter Sterios
Vahid You're welcome... The Opening Sequence (and slight variations of it) has been a staple for the beginning of my practice for over 10 years, and it still amazes me how effortless it makes the dynamic practice which follows.
1-10 of 13

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Yoga Anytime Logo

Just Show Up

Over 2,900 yoga and meditation practices to bring you Home.

15-Day Free Trial