Too Tight to Stretch Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 5

Lunge for Life

30 min - Practice


Alana encourages us to pay attention to inner sensation as she leads us through the sequence of plank poses and lunges to stretch the hips and build strength in the core. You will feel stable and expansive.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Strap, Block (2)

About This Video


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(water rushing) Welcome back. So, in this short practice, we're gonna work with plank and lunges. We'll also explore the question of, often times, what may come up in yoga practice is the question of is this pain good for me? Generally, what I have found in my own practice is that if the pain is sharp, hot, and specific, I tend to back away. If it's sort of dull, achy, and wide, it's more that sensation in a stretch, I tend to breathe into it.

So in this practice, I'll invite us to explore a sensation and breathe into it and ask ourselves those questions. Okay, so join me in child's pose and for this practice, you'll need a blanket, two blocks, and a strap. And let's set ourselves up with a blanket for child's pose. So, at any point, when you're approaching child's pose, especially if you have any kind of mischief in your knees it can feel really, more supportive, to have a blanket under the knees. And then making your way towards child's pose and for you, child's pose might be like this, right, depending on what you're working with in your knees.

You might, if it feels all right on your hips and your back you might release your forehead towards the floor. Just take a few breaths here, dropping into your practice. As you're ready, inhale, come back onto all fours, spreading the fingers and a few rounds of cat cow, just moving with the breathe and the spine, exhale, get round. Inhale, roll the pelvis forward, arching, nice and wide for the collar bones. Shoulder blades draw down and towards each other and then on an exhale, get round.

Releasing the head. On your inhale rolling your pelvis forward and arching. And then on your exhale get round. A few more times like this. Moving with your breath, it's just a really, it's a nice way to warm up the body and the spine.

And then moving into plank pose, spreading the fingers wide apart and press the floor away from you so really press down, draw the shoulder blades down, and then tuck your toes under, come into plank and we'll hold this for a few breaths. Drawing the belly up towards the spine, reaching through your heels, the legs are active, the neck is soft. Inhale and then exhale, press back into your downward facing dog. Nice and easy, walking it off, letting one knee bend, and then the other. Just kind of waking up your hamstrings.

Breathing. And then find a place in the center, take a few breaths here, soft, through the back of the neck. (deep breathing) And then lower the knees and then press back into child's pose. Your knees might be together or slightly wide. And then release the forehead.

And arms might rest alongside the body. Softening the jaw. (deep breath) As you're ready, come back onto all fours. Now, from here, with your two blocks, bring them on either side of you. Okay, and from here we're gonna step forward into a lunge.

So step your right foot forward between your hands. And now your blocks, you might set them up at the highest setting, this might feel perfect. Second, or the lowest side. This just helps to raise the floor a bit. Now, take a few moments here in your lunge.

You might tuck your back toes under, that might feel nice and supportive, or you might just release the top of the foot down. Notice where you can soften the body, so relaxing through the face, relaxing through the jaw. Now, for me this is quite intense. Right here I start to feel slightly irritated, I feel the heat build. Essentially, this is like a counter-pose to our daily lives, like driving or working on a computer.

Going from zero to 100. So breathe into where you feel the sensation. Breathe into where you feel the stretch. Allow for a full exhale. Good, as you inhale from the belly, draw your hips back, keep the top of the foot on the floor.

You'll feel that stretch through the top of the foot, which can feel quite curious, and peel the toes up onto your heel, find a stretch through the hamstrings. Relax the jaw, relax the face. Good, bend the front knee, sink into your lunge, we'll do that a few times. Inhale, draw your hips back. Come onto your heel, exhale, bend the front knee, sink in.

Two more times, inhale. Exhale, sink in. Last time, inhale, draw your hips back. Exhale, sink in and pause. Now, your hands might stay on the blocks.

You might play with lifting your gaze, hands might balance on that front thigh. Again, tuning the back foot so it feels supportive for you. Relax what you can here, and feel that support from your legs. Ooh, inhale, exhale and release. Draw your hips back and then release your right leg back to meet your left.

And then press your hips back for a moment, nice and easy, child's pose. Softening the forehead. (deep breathing) Okay, and then second side, stepping the left foot forward, you just kind of help it along there. Draw the right knee back, and then again, you might tuck your toes under, or press the top of the foot down just to feel that connection there. And we'll hang here for a little bit, just to begin to settle in and acclimate.

You might lean a bit from side to side. Again, breathe into where you feel the sensation. And notice what you can soften. So for me, it's the eyes, the jaw, the shoulders. Back of the neck.

(deep breath) You can relax a bit more through the belly. Again, this is quite intense, this is quite heating. And what is the quality of the sensation? Is it achy, is it dull, is it sharp, does it burn? At any point if you feel pain, back out.

Good, slow, keep the top of the foot on the floor, draw your hips back, peel your toes up, come onto the heel, find the hamstrings, take a moment here, breathe. Relax the gaze, relax the neck. And your hamstrings might be singing to you right now or screaming. Okay, exhale, then the front knee sink in. Aah.

Inhale, draw your hips back, come onto your heel. Exhale, bend the front knee and sink in. Two more times, inhale, draw the hips back. Exhale, sink in just nice and easy. Inhale, draw the hips back, exhale, bend the front knee, sink in to your back foot.

Sink low. (deep breathing) You might stay right here. You might bring your hands onto your thigh as you lift up, find a spot to focus on, a little softer, kinder through the eyes. And then let's get out of there. Bring your hands to your blocks, and then slow, oh.

Draw your hips back, come onto your heel again, find the hamstrings and then just do whatever you can to bring that left leg back. And then take a moment here in child's pose and you might just bring your blocks off to the side here. (deep breathing) And then as you're ready, we'll come onto all fours. Spread the fingers wide, draw the shoulders down the back. Tuck the toes, come into plank.

Take a moment to pause in plank. Suddenly, plank can feel quite accessible and easy after lunging. All relative, okay. Inhale, exhale, press back downward facing dog and just walk it off. Nice and easy.

Breathing. Good, and then walk your feet towards your hands or your hands towards your feet. If your block's there or your blanket's there, just kind of work with it, and then just take a few moments here in standing forward fold, releasing the back, the spine, the neck. (deep breathing) Soften the knees. We're gonna slowly roll up.

Keep the chin into the chest. Nice and easy. Rolling up, chin in. Feel your heart lift, keep the chin in, shoulders roll up, back, and down. And bring the feet slightly wider, just a few shoulder shrugs.

Inhale, bring the shoulders up, exhale, drop. Feel that, inhale draw the shoulders back and up. Exhale, drop. One more time, up. Exhale, and drop.

From here, interlace your fingers. Go down through your feet, feel that. As you ground and then go up through your spine. And lean a little bit from side to side so find some length through the sky body. Don't it feel nice?

Aah. It'll eventually come into what feels like the center for you. And then letting your rib cage soften a bit. Especially if your lower back is arching. Softening the ribs, dropping the tailbone a bit.

Take a few breaths wide into your rib cage. Keeping it relaxed through the shoulders and the neck. (deep breath) And then slow, releasing the arms. For here, this part, the strap is really nice. So you'll open your strap, you'll fold it in half.

Bring the strap behind your back. And then you'll inhale and lengthen the front of the body so the shoulders are drawing down the back, the front is lengthening. Okay, nice and easy up through your neck, spread the toes, inhale, and then exhale, bend your knees, draw your chest towards your thighs, let your head drop and then reach your arms up, out and over. Again, the knees will probably be bent here. Take a few breaths here.

At any point if you feel like pinching in your shoulders, it's irritating, you'll wanna back it out. You wanna release. Then take one more breath here, and then as you're ready, bend the knees, drop your strap by your heels, free your arms, free your head, and then chin into your chest while you roll up towards standing, keeping the chin in, again, as you feel your heart, your shoulders, your head, let's do that one more time. Inhale, draw the shoulders up and then exhale, drop the shoulders down the back. Nice.

And then let's set up for a few lunge salutations. So bringing your blocks on either side of your feet, and then bring your strap off to the side so it's nice and tidy and out of the way. You can keep your blanket where it is if you like. So spreading the toes, feet might be hip distance, just to give your hips a bit more room, if you feel stable to have a slightly wider stance. And then join the hands together at the heart.

Take a breath here. Exhale. Release. Three quarter sun salutations as you're ready, breathe in. Exhale and press the hands down towards the floor moving with our breath.

Inhale, circle the arms up. And exhale, hands together at the heart. Again, breathing in. Easy breath out. Inhale, arms up.

Reach. Exhale, hands at the heart. Last one, together. Exhale and press, release the shoulders, inhale, circle the arms up, find length, reaching, exhale, hands together at the heart. From here, we'll add on, inhale circle the arms up.

Exhale, nice and easy, bend the knees, forward fold. Releasing your head, releasing your arms. Now, as you inhale, hands slide up the shins or you might bring the hands onto the blocks as you find a half arch, so lengthening the spine. These might be bent and then as you exhale, bend the knees, step your right foot back into a lunge, so we're approaching it from standing. Lower the right knee.

And you might stay with your blocks the highest setting or the second or the lowest. Here we meet the lunge again. Tucking the back toes, we're releasing the foot. Inhale, draw the hips back. Keep the foot on the floor, and then peel the toes up from under your heel.

Exhale, sink in, move slightly faster here. Inhale with your breath, draw your hips back, come onto your heel, exhale, sink in. Inhale, draw the hips back. Exhale, sink in. One more time, inhale coming back.

Exhale, sink in. Softening through the face, shoulders release down the back. You might stay right here low, breathing. You might let the gaze come up, the hands rest on that front thigh. You might stay here as you're inspired, you might begin to reach your arms up toward the sky.

If you do that reach from the heart into the hands with some enthusiasm. Soften through the back of the neck, strong, active legs. Then can you find a bit of ease within the effort? One more inhale, exhale, whew. Release, draw the hips back.

(groaning) Good flex afoot. Okay, come back into the shape of the lunge. Tuck the back toes, lift the back leg, and with some momentum, we're gonna rock and roll, stepping the right foot forward to meet the left. Bend the knees forward fold. Release the back of the neck.

(deep breath) Good, from here, spread the toes, feet about hip distance apart, bend the knees a lot for chair pose. Move to the tasana. From here, reach the arms up. Whew, draw the naval, the belly, towards the spine, strong legs, inhale, exhale, press down to come up. Exhale, release the arms.

How did that go? Just take a few moments here for your feet, again, spread your toes. You'll find the second side. Let's take a breath together. Inhale, exhale.

Grounding through the feet. As you're ready, inhale. Exhale, press the hands to the floor. Inhale, circle the arms up. Exhale, bend the knees forward fold, nice and easy, release the head and the arms.

On your inhale, create a half arch, lift up, lengthen your spine. Hands might come up on the shins, or your blocks, and then as you exhale, bend the knees, and step your left foot back into a lunge as the right knee bends. And then lower the left knee down. Tuck the back toes. Or release the top of the foot.

Inhale, draw your hips back. And then come up onto your right heel, flex the foot. Exhale, bend the front knee, sink in. A few times like this, inhale, draw your hips back. Find the hamstrings there.

Exhale, sink in. Let's do that three more times. Inhale and exhale. Inhale, draw the hips back, one more time, exhale, sink in. From here, you might stay low.

Spread the toes. Find some more space up through the front body, the heart, softening the shoulders down the back. (sighing) You might stay here, you might bring the hands on your front thigh and as you lift up, breathe, soft through the eyes. I know this is super intense. (giggling) You might stay here.

As you're inspired, the arms might reach up towards the sky. Go down through the feet, reach up, lengthen through your spine, breathe here. Keep the integrity of the shape as you find a bit more ease within. One more inhale. Exhale, release, and then draw the hips back.

Whew, come on to that right heel. Find the hamstrings, get some perspective. Breathing room, okay, then the front knee, we're gonna come back to the shape of the lunge. Tuck the back toe, strong back leg, we're gonna do that rock and roll thing. Step forward.

Bend the knees and we release the head, release the spine. (deep breathing) Bring the feet slightly wider, spread the toes last, chair pose. Bend the knees, strong legs, sink down. Sink down into your chair. Inhale, reach the arms up.

Lengthen through the spine, the fingers, draw the thighs toward each other. One more inhale wide, exhale press down, whew, strong legs reach up, lengthen. Ah, exhale and release. Take a moment here. Notice the effects.

Notice any sensation through the body. See how you feel. (deep breathing) Good. And then from here, bring the hands together. We're gonna make our way down to the floor with a sun salutation.

Hands at the heart, breathe in. Exhale, and press hands to the floor. Inhale, circle the arms up. And exhale, forward fold. This time bring your hands to the floor.

You might bring your blocks off to the side. And then step back into your downward dog. It's nice and easy, taking a few breaths here as you spread your fingers, lengthen your spine. Again, in your downward dog, the heels might be lifted, you might be onto the balls of your feet. Then as you inhale, come forward into play pose, shoulders over the wrists.

You might walk back through or wiggle back through the balls in the feet. Take a moment here to pause, strong to the core, active through your legs, easy through your neck. Inhale, exhale, lower your knees. Keep your elbows in, come all the way onto your belly. You might keep your blanket there or remove it as you bring your forehead to the floor.

Moving towards locust. Spin the inner thighs up towards the sky. Get long. As you're ready, on the end he'll begin to lift. The sternum, the chest, and then lift your legs.

And then reach your fingers towards your toes so some enthusiasm goes a long way. Lift, reach. You might take a breath into the back and then exhale, release. Bring your elbows wide, forehead rests on the top of your hands, bend your knees. A reverse windshield wiper, side to side.

Okay, we'll take that one more time just for fun. Forehead on the floor, reach the fingers towards your toes. As you inhale, rise up and lift. And then let your legs lift. Draw the back body into the spine as you reach.

Stay active. Engaged, as you lift, breathe. One more inhale, rise up. Exhale and release. Bring your palms underneath your shoulders, tuck your toes under and then press your way up.

Your blanket's there, you might bring your knees onto your blanket and then press back into your version of child's pose. At any point, if child's pose is uncomfortable on your knees or your hips, you might just find it on your back with your knees into your chest. (deep breathing) Let the arms release. As you're ready, slowly roll up. From here we'll find our way onto our backs.

Then bringing your props off to the side. And then come onto your back. Draw your knees into your chest. And give yourself a hug. Let yourself rock from side to side.

Let's take a spinal twist over to our right, so rolling onto your right side, stacking your hips and your shoulders and then let the left arm open. Shoulder releasing towards the floor. You may find your shoulder is like, lifted or hovered. And then soften, relax your belly. Soften through the face.

When you feel ready, inhale, come back, and then roll it onto your left side. Stack the shoulders, your hips, and then reach your right arm up. And then let it open. Inhale, exhale, soften the belly. Let the space between your eyes divide in.

When you feel ready, inhale, come back up. Grab the knees into the chest again, let yourself rock. Making our way up towards a seat. So in your own way, you might rock and roll on your spine coming up or you might roll to your side. And then nice and easy, pressing yourself up.

And then just taking a moment here. And cross your legs. We find a comfortable position. (deep breathing) Take a few moments to settle. I'm offering a bit of gratitude or thanks for this amazing body that can bend and twist.

Very nice. Namaste.


Jean P
1 person likes this.
Wonderful practice today. Thank you so much.
Jo L
1 person likes this.
Im a yoga novice... just started this week, and I was really worried about trying this practice as I have a hip flexor strain (one of the reasons I decided to start yoga)... it helped so much and I feel relief from the hip/groin spasm already, thank you.
Alana Mitnick
Hi jean - Just seeing your comment! So happy to hear that this practice felt wonderful for your body. Wishing you a happy new year of Yoga! Warmly, Alana
Alana Mitnick
Hi Jo! Happy new year! How's your practicing going? I am so happy to hear that this practice offered you some relief in your hips/groins. Lunging is one of the best things we can keep doing for our body. Stay with it and keep us posted! Enjoy, Alana
Joy A
2 people like this.
I’ve been struggling with my practice of late due to injury and pain but I’ve started back to you and the slow pace was just what the doctor ordered thank you 🙏🏾
Alana Mitnick
Hi Joy, Thank you for sharing. You are in the right place! So glad to hear you're easing back into your practice. Moving slow give us the space to listen and feel. Take good care and keep me posted. Love, Alana
Anda Seale
1 person likes this.
This felt great on my hamstrings after my run! Thank you! Also, I was wondering, where is your location? Is it on Santa Claus lane in Carpenteria? It looks familiar. My cousins the Hodosys live there.
Alana Mitnick
Anda, So glad to hear! I bet this felt great after your run! Yes, that is exactly where we filmed this practice. The backdrop is real! XoA
Fabian H
1 person likes this.
lovely practice.  feeling so good the day after Christmas!  :))
Alana Mitnick
Wonderful to hear, Fabian H! So glad you enjoyed this lunge focused practice. Wishing you a healthy and inspired new year! Warmly, Alana 
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