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Season 2 - Episode 4

Head to Toe with Chair

20 min - Practice
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Description

Alana guides us in a chair sequence designed to invite awareness and movement from the feet to the head. Practice prepares us to sit upright and stand up for ourselves and closes with some breathwork to calm, center, and quiet the mind.
What You'll Need: Mat, Chair, Block

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(waves crashing) Welcome, thank you for joining us today, thank Klela and Elaine for being with us. So today we'll do a chair practice, and we'll start seated in a chair, so you might pull up your chair at home, and then we're gonna start with some shoulder opening, some neck opening and stretches, and then we'll do some spinal work, some work through the spine, the tailbone, the pelvis, and then eventually making our way up toward standing, and we'll play with that, we'll practice getting up and down off the chair, which is essential for everyday life. Sound good? Mhmm. Okay.

So the first step is to make your way towards the edge of your chair so that your feet are touching the floor. Yeah, and that your knees are, your feet are underneath your knees, so at about a 90 degree angle, and then spreading your toes, and just bring some attention down into your feet and your legs. Good, and then lengthening up through your spine, and then drawing the shoulder blades down the back, so away from the ears, and for support, can you begin to draw your shoulder blades towards your spine a bit, so feeling that support in the back of the heart, shoulder blades squeezing towards each other, towards the spine, and then lengthening through the neck. Beautiful. And just bring some attention towards your breath.

A few full breaths to begin. Okay, start by feeling your feet connected, grounded. Good. And then releasing your arms along your side, and we'll take what I call angel arms. So we'll inhale and we'll reach the arms up.

You'll lengthen through the fingers, and then exhale palms out, and releasing the arms. And we'll do this a few more times. Inhale and lift the chest, reaching through the fingers, and then exhale, release. Let's do this three more times together. Remember being a child in the snow, the arms.

And bring some attention, as you do this, towards your core. So towards the abdominals, the belly. So you're moving from the center out. And one more time, breathing in, full, and then exhale, and release. Good.

And then as you inhale, bring your shoulders up, and exhale, drop, and then roll the shoulders back and up towards the ears, and drop them one more time. Good, and then release. And then reach your arms out to the side. Good, and then begin to find the internal rotation, so rolling the shoulders forward, and then the external rotation, and a few times like this, just continue, so you're moving from the shoulder joint and allowing the arms and the hands to follow. And I call this flossing the shoulders.

(laughs) Good. Now the next time you find that external rotation, reach from the heart into your pinky fingers. Lengthen up through the spine. Good, heart into the hands, inhale, lift, and then exhale, release the arms. And then take a few shoulder rolls, so you're rolling the shoulders back.

Good, and then rolling the shoulders forward. Good, and then relaxing the arms along your side, and we'll do some neck stretching. So take a look down towards the floor, let the chin come in towards the chest, stretching the back of the neck, and then begin to let the right ear come towards your right shoulder. And just very gently, towards being the word. Good, take a look down towards the floor, towards that right foot.

And then begin to, as you look down towards the right, begin to lengthen and reach through the left arm, so you're reaching down through the fingers. Good, and then take a few breaths here, breathing into where you feel the stretch. So for me, it's really strong through the back of the neck, and right up through right at the base of the skull there. Good. And relaxing the face and the jaw.

Good, and then as you're ready, let the chin come back towards the chest, and then look up. Okay? Good, and let's squeeze the shoulders up, and then release. Lovely, and then look down again towards the chest, and then bring the left ear towards the left shoulder. So opposite ear towards the shoulder, and then reaching through that right arm.

So you're really feeling that stretch down through the back of the neck. And now remember your posture here, so if you have to kind of collapse through the spine, remember, connect down through the feet, lengthen up through the spine, breathe. Good, and then when you're ready, take a look down, and then come all the way back up. And again, inhale, squeeze the shoulders up, and exhale and release. Good, and then let's interlace our fingers right through the, interlace the hands right at the base of the skull, and then begin to lift up through the chest, the heart.

Good, we'll inhale here, and then exhale, gently begin to let the chin come towards the chest, without rounding through the spine, just drawing the chin down gently, stretching the back of the neck. So gazing towards the heart, stretching the back of the neck. Good. And then to come up, you're gonna gently press the back of the head into the hands to come up. Come all the way back up, and then releasing the arms down.

Good. And then from here, actually we'll bring our hands onto our thighs, and before we bring a block in between the thighs, we'll do some spinal work. So bring your attention down towards the tailbone, inhale, and just like in bridge, you're gonna exhale and begin to curl and get round, so you draw the naval towards the spine, curl the tailbone under, and get round through the back. So letting the shoulder blades roll forward, letting the head release, and then as you inhale, you're rolling the pelvis forward, leading with the heart, arching through the back, and then lengthening up through the collarbones and the throat, and then continue as you exhale, get round, so this might be a familiar shape as you get round. And then as you inhale, you're rolling the pelvis forward, coming onto the front of the sit bones, lengthening up through the spine, and the throat might open, and then continue to get round, let the head release, rolling onto the back of your sit bones, and then inhale, rolling the pelvis forward, arching and lifting.

Two more times. So you're moving from the tailbone up through the spine, lift the breaths. Yes, arching and opening, and then last time together, get round, and this is like a familiar shape for most of us, and then rolling the pelvis forward, leading with the heart, shoulder blades draw down, opening through the chest. Good, and then coming into a neutral place in the spine. Good, and then let's bring the block between the inner thighs.

So have a block handy at home. And then draw the inner thighs into the block. Then you might look down at the feet, spread the toes, and as you draw the inner thighs into the block, begin to lengthen up through your spine. And the hands might rest on the thighs or alongside. Good.

And begin to feel the core engaged. So feel the low belly begin to work here, and lifting up through the heart and the shoulder blades, softening down the back and towards each other. Yes. You remember that feeling in the shoulder blades hugging towards the spine. Inner thighs drawing towards each other, and the block helps to activate the legs a bit.

Good. One more time, drawing the inner thighs in, lengthening up through the spine. Good. And then as you're ready, you'll release the block, bring the block off to the side, and then release the hands onto the thighs. And now from here, as we make our way up towards standing, we'll begin to tap into the pelvic floor muscles.

Okay? So just get a sense at home, just get a sense of engaging the floor of the pelvis, as if you're drawing the floor of your pelvis up and in, engaging, and it's as if you're holding in the need to urinate. So you're contracting, good, and then let it release. And just try that a few times in your chair, relaxing the jaw, relaxing the shoulders, again, just tapping the pelvic floor muscles, just this initial connection here. And just by bringing some attention to this region, things will magically fall into place.

Good. Okay, and then relax the effort. Good. And then bring your hands towards the front of the thighs, and we're gonna lean forward in our chair. And come towards the edge, the front edge of your sit bones.

Okay? And then from here, bring some attention towards the belly and the core. Good, and then you're gonna draw the shoulder blades towards each other. Draw the shoulder blades towards each other, good. Now bring some attention towards the pelvic floor muscles.

Yeah, without like, engaging too much, just some attention here, this is gonna help us as we make our way toward standing. And then as you're ready at home, you'll lean forward in your chair, awareness on the pelvic floor, attention down through the feet. Lean forward, press down through the feet, and then stand up. Good. And then as you're ready, you'll bend the knees, hands on the thighs, reach out through the sit bones, shoulder blades squeeze towards each other, and then take a seat.

You might have one hand on the chair and look behind you as you come down, we're gonna practice this a few times. Okay? This is important to practice continually at home. As you get up and down, just being aware of coming to standing and seated position. Okay?

So as you're ready, lean forward in the chair, engage the pelvic floor, good, press down through the feet, and come up. Good, hover here, bend the knees, reach out through the sit bones, one hand might find the chair, and then come down. How did that go? Good. You really feel that work in the thighs, and then really bringing some attention here to the belly and the core.

We're gonna play with that some more. As you're ready, lean forward in your chair, and press down, come up, hover, and then bend the knees, and release. Good, two more times, lean forward, press down, hover. Good, bend the knees, and release. And one more time.

This time, we'll come up to standing again. Lean forward, bend the knees, and press down through the feet, come all the way up to standing. Good. And then hands on the thighs, bend the knees, and come back down. Good, and then release.

Inhale, and exhale. Good. And then let's make our way towards the spinal twist. So facing forward, you're gonna turn and face one side of your chair, so you can swing your knees over. Good, and then bring your feet underneath your hips.

So your knees are next to each other. Good, and then you're gonna reach one arm down, and then you're gonna twist towards your chair. So for Elaine, she's gonna reach her right arm towards the chair. Now, sit towards the edge of your chair, just come towards the edge a bit. Good, lengthening up through the spine, inhale, and as you exhale, you're gently twisting towards your chair.

Good, inhale, and then exhale, gently twisting, drawing the shoulders, softening down the back. Find some ease up through the neck. You might gaze over that shoulder. Good, and then breathing here. If you have a tendency to roll onto the back of your sit bones, try rolling towards the front of the sit bones, and softening the shoulders and gently twisting.

Good. Softening through the belly a bit here, and breathing. Good, notice where you can relax through the face. Okay, leaning forward just a little bit. There you go.

Soft through the fingers. Good, and then as you're ready, let the gaze come over the shoulder, and then slowly unwind. Good, and just take a moment here, before you make your way to the other side, to pause, notice how you feel, and then as you're ready, making your way over to the other side. So swinging your knees over. Okay, and taking a moment to come onto the edge of your chair.

Good, you'll inhale, lengthen, and as you exhale, you'll gently twist towards the chair. So letting one arm come down, and then the top arm twisting towards your chair. The other way you had it. So your left arm towards the chair. Good.

Yes, inhale, and then exhale and twist. Good, and find a place where the head feels connected and comfortable. So how would it feel to gently look this way, Klela? Good, and then breathing. Softening through the belly.

Good. Nice. Making that connection back down through the feet, so the feet are about hip distance apart. Make sure your knees are about parallel to each other. Good, and just a few more moments.

And notice if there's a temptation to like, use the arms, use your arms to really crank into the twist. Good, and then as you're ready, slowly unwind. Good, taking a moment to pause in neutral, and then you can swing your knees back into the center and bring the feet underneath the hips, and let the arms rest down on the thighs. So after our seated spinal twist, we're gonna close our practice with some nostril work and some breath awareness. So finding your posture, down through the feet, lengthening up through the spine, softening through the shoulders.

Good. You might keep your eyes gently closed here, softening the jaw. And begin to bring your attention towards your nostrils. And the most difficult part here is to really hold your attention here, because you might find the mind wanting to be somewhere else. Bring your attention towards the feeling of the breath in the nostrils.

Good, and then widen through the base of the skull. So it might look like drawing the chin slightly in, and let the shoulders release down. Yeah. Good. Now hold your attention in the nostrils, and just begin to feel the breath in the nostrils.

So the quality of the breath coming in through the nostrils, and then flowing out of the nostrils. Good. Once you have the hang of that, bring your attention towards the breath in your right nostril. And as you bring your attention here, just simply notice the breath coming in through the right nostril, and then flowing out of the right nostril. And you might find that just bringing your attention there, you'll notice the breath moving.

Good, and once you have the hang of that, bring your attention towards the breath in your left nostril. and just simply notice the breath in the left nostril. And this can require a bit of focus and attention, and it can be quite calming as well. Just a few more moments. Just simply noticing the breath in the left nostril, and then flowing out of the left nostril.

Good. And then noticing the breath now in both nostrils. Noticing the breath coming in through the nostrils and out. This is more subtle work. Good.

Now we'll experiment a bit more and add on. So go back to the breath in your right nostril. Notice the breath in the right nostril. And can you get a sense of breathing in through your right nostril, and then breathing out of your left nostril. And then breathing in through your left nostril, and out of your right nostril.

Okay, and inhaling through the right nostril, exhaling out of the left, inhaling through the left, and gently exhaling out of the right. One more time. Inhaling through the right nostril, exhaling out of the left, and inhaling through the left nostril, and exhale out of the right. Good. And then breathing in through both nostrils, and then exhale and release.

And let's take a clearing breath through the mouth. All right, so this is something to play with at home. The Sanskrit word for this is nadi sodhana, so we're breathing in through one and out of the other, in through one and out of the other. You can do this simply without using the hands, and just bringing your attention there, I find, is usually enough to get a feeling of kind of quiet in the mind. Okay?

How did that go? Very relaxing. And then we'll close our practice with a short seated meditation. So letting the hands rest comfortably, and finding that length up through your spine, and relaxing any effort around your breath. And then guiding your awareness towards your heart region.

And with your awareness here, let the hands join together, and namaste.

Comments

ready
Hi Catharine! So happy to practice together! And Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets too. xo Alana

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