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Season 5 - Episode 7

Maintain the Breath

35 min - Practice
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In this well-rounded vinyasa flow sequence, Ricky focuses our attention toward ujjayi breath with his clear and straightforward cueing. We move through Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations), as well as a series of standing and balancing postures, followed by some forward folds, hip openers, seated twists, and backbends. You will feel refreshed.
What You'll Need: Mat, Strap, Block (2)

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Hi, let's go ahead and get started with our beginner level practice, vinyasa practice. Remember to maintain your ujjayi breathing as much as you can. Don't hold your breath. Nothing should hurt. If it hurts, back off.

If it's uncomfortable, breathe. We will be using some props. So if you have a couple of bricks, grab them now, a strap, and a blanket. Okay, let's get started. So we're going to grab our blocks and place them at the top of the mat if you need them.

The ground seems a little too far away. We'll start with our feet together or apart. If you can, bring them together and just notice your balance. This will help to improve your balance by stepping with your feet together. But again, if you want to practice or you like to practice with your feet apart, that's completely fine as well.

We'll go through some basic movements for the sun salutation. We'll hold these poses and I'll explain as we go through the sequence and then the second round will flow through the sequence. So bring the hands to prayer. Let's take five breaths together, the first breath in through the nose, out through the mouth or the throat, and then the second breath in through the nose, halfway through your mouth, you're going to close your lips and create your ujjayi breath. Now maintain that breath for three more rounds.

So inhale here and raise the arms overhead. Arms can be apart, the hands can be together. You can interlace and point the index, cross your thumbs. Keep pulling up. If it feels okay, you may look up, pass your thumbs, and you could even bend backwards a little bit if it's okay with you to your personal degree.

And on the exhalation, bend forward, reach, bend the knees if you need it. You can place the hands on blocks or all the way to the floor. Let's take a few breaths here and just notice how it feels in the back of your legs. Notice how it feels in your glutes, the low back, up your spine, and then you can be here. Knees can be bent, neck relaxed.

On the inhalation, we'll step the right foot back into a lunge. You may lower the knee. If your knee, if there's any pain, you may flip your mat. And we'll inhale. Again, if the ground's too far away, you may use the blocks.

And get a nice stretch in the hips, the top of the right leg. If it feels all right, you may even drop your hips and look up. Just notice how it feels for a moment. Notice your breath. Are you still breathing?

And then on the exhalation, we'll take downward facing dog, place your hands on the floor. You could even do it on the blocks. Sometimes it feels nice to do it on the blocks. Step your feet back, lift your hips up. Bring the feet together.

Press through the arms and lift your hips up. Allow your heels to sink towards the floor. You'll get a nice stretch in the back of the legs. Really tight. I suggest bending the knees, maybe keeping the feet apart, hips distance, and getting a stretch in your spine.

On inhale, we'll shift forward, the shoulders above the wrists. You can lower the knees to modify. Hold the breath in. And then as you exhale, gaze forward and lower either knees first or not. Inhale, cobra, you'll lift your chest up.

You can take the blocks out of the way. Come onto the fingertips. Come up to your personal degree. Let's hold this for a couple of breaths. This is cobra, bhujangasana.

Pull the shoulders back. Engage through the legs. Lift the heart. Engage your back muscles. Then as you exhale, we'll move back into downward facing dog.

Lift the hips up, press through the hands, relax your neck, and notice your breath. Next we'll step the right foot between the hands, closer to the right hand. You can lower your left knee again, with padding or without, with a block or not. And feel a good stretch in the left hip, the top of the left leg. And if it feels okay, you may bend back, look up, like we did on the other side.

Again, to your personal degree. As you exhale, we'll step the left foot forward. Bend to knee, you can bend the knees if you like. Then as you inhale, we'll come all the way up. Reach, press through your feet.

And maybe bend back if it feels okay, to your degree. And exhale, hands to your heart. Remember nothing should hurt. Inhale and stretch the arms up. Maybe bend back.

Exhale and fold. Knees can bend, head to knee. Inhale step the right foot back. You look up. Exhale downward facing dog, press your hands, step the left foot back.

Inhale plank pose, shoulders above the wrist. Keep the belly strong, you can lower the knees if you need it. Lower down as you exhale. Cobra pose, inhale, peel your chest off the floor. Raise your legs, pull the shoulders back, lift the chest.

Exhale downward facing dog, lift the hips and exhale. Step the right foot between the hands, closer to the right hand. Inhale and maybe drop the knee, maybe look up. Hands can be on blocks. Inhale step the left foot forward, forward bending, knees can stay bent, head to knee.

Inhale come all the way up, reach. Maybe bend back to your degree and exhale, hands to heart. Do that one more time, inhale. Stretch upward. Exhale fold, head to knee.

Inhale right leg back. Exhale downward facing dog, step the left foot back, lift your hips. Inhale shift forward, shoulders right above the wrist. Hold the breath in and exhale lower down. Inhale cobra to your degree.

Exhale downward facing dog. Step the right foot forward, inhale and lower your left knee. Inhale step the left foot forward, head to knee, inhale come all the way up, reach. Maybe bend back, exhale hands to heart. Pause and watch your breath.

Keep your eyes on one spot in front of you and as you breathe in know that you're breathing in and as you breathe out know that you're breathing out. Inhale stretch the arms up, exhale and fold. And step back into downward facing dog. Inhale lift the right leg up and step the right foot between the hands. Spin your back foot flat, inhale, straighten the right leg and open the arms.

Prepare for triangle pose, exhale, slide down your right leg to your degree. You can place the hand on a block and raise your left arm up. You can gaze past the left thumb and take a few breaths. Look down and bend your right knee, come back up, open the arms and then exhale, place the right elbow on the right forearm to thigh and raise your left arm overhead either past your ear or straight up towards the ceiling of the sky. Take a few breaths, get a nice stretch from your left foot to your left hand.

You can look up if your neck bothers you here, you can look down, completely fine. And we'll meet back in downward facing dog. Place the hands on the floor and step the right foot back. Inhale lift your left leg up and on the exhale step your left foot between the hands, spin your back foot flat, come on up, straighten the left leg, open the arms, prepare for triangle pose. And then exhale slide down your left leg, keep the left leg strong, you may place your left hand on a block and raise the right arm up, you may gaze up or gaze down and let's take a few breaths.

Keep your gaze on one spot. Come on up, bend your left knee, open the arms and exhale, place the left elbow, left forearm on your left knee or thigh and raise the right arm, stretching the right side body or raising it towards the ceiling. Take a few breaths and also place your hand on a block. Inhale, come back up and we'll meet back in downward facing dog. Stepping the left foot back and lifting your hips.

From the downward facing dog pose, look between the hands and we'll step the right and the left foot up, come halfway up and exhale lower down, you can bend the knees, inhale come all the way up, reach and stretch, pull your belly in and exhale, release the arms. We're going to do a standing side bend, I'm going to turn the face camera here, inhale and raise your arms up. You may interlace the fingers, point the index and cross the thumbs or interlace and press the palms up. On the exhalation, we'll bend to the right to your degree and then inhale, come back up and exhale, bend to the left to your degree. Inhale come back up, exhale and release, release the arms.

Let's take tree pose, Vrkshasana, starting with the feet together, we'll lift the right heel, you can balance on the right toes, hands can be in prayer or you may open the arms. Pick a spot in front of you and stare at it for balance, if your balance is alright you may take the right foot up above or below the knee but not on the knee and press the right foot against the left leg. Let's take five breaths with any arm variation. And release. Let's take the left side, come onto the toes, lift your left heel, place it against the right ankle, again hands can be in prayer or any arm variation, or you may lift the left foot up higher than knee or below the knee but not on the knee, again with any arm variation, one, two, remember to keep your eyes in one spot in front of you, three, four, pull your belly in, stand taller and exhale to release.

From the top of your mat inhale and raise your arms overhead, exhale and fold, you may bend the knees chest to thigh, inhale half lift, hands can come onto the shins and exhale step back and lower down, remember to engage your core, knees can come down if you like. Inhale cobra to your degree and exhale downward facing dog, lift your hips up, draw the navel back as you exhale, now you can either lower the knees, cross the legs and sit back, walk the hands back and lower down or jump through. We'll remove the blocks, you might grab your strap and your blanket for our next position which is Paschimottanasan or the extended forward bend, if your hamstrings are tight you may sit on a blanket and if you can't quite reach your toes you may use a strap, like so, knees can bend. So preparing for Paschimottanasana, inhale and raise your arms up, lift, stretch upward, draw the belly in, bend the knees exhale chest to thigh, you may use a strap, inhale and look up, lengthen your spine, draw your belly in, exhale fold, take five breaths, you can begin to straighten your legs as far as comfortable. Exhale to release, head up, exhale we will remove the strap, poor Vottanasana, poor Vottanasana as the next posture or bench pose or anterior stretch, stretch the hands back behind your hips, bend your knees, feet can be hips distance or together, the fingers can point back out to the side or forward, once you go up and you feel discomfort or pain in the wrist please come back down and readjust your hands, inhale and lift your hips up, keep the chin to your chest or you may drop the head back gently, if it hurts your neck please keep your chin to your chest, take a couple breaths, again if your neck hurts please keep your chin to your chest, on the exhalation lower down.

Next position is Janusasana or head to knee pose, hug the right knee into your chest, make sure the knee is closed, you can close the calf all the way as much as you can, be mindful that your knee is in pain when you enter the pose, you are going to lower the knee to the right with the right foot against the left thigh, inhale raise the arms up, stretch your spine, lift your chest, pull the belly in and exhale reach forward, again you can use a strap, inhale get long in your spine and exhale the head down, let's take five breaths, keep the left leg strong, inhale lift your head come out and exhale stretch both legs out, we will take the other side, hug the left knee into your chest, close the knee, you might get a nice stretch on the top of your leg, keeping the knee closed as much as you can, lower the left knee towards the floor, the left foot against the inner right thigh, inhale raise your arms overhead, stretch your spine, stretch and exhale bend forward, can you play use a strap, if you do have any pain in the left knee let me show you modification you can always place a block underneath the knee, inhale and look up, lengthen your spine, draw the belly in and exhale gently fold over your right leg, breathing, inhale to release, lift your head up and exhale, the next position is bada konasana, bound angle pose, bring the soles of your feet together, your feet can be a comfortable distance from your hips but not too far out, not too close in, depending on your flexibility and may catch your feet and close them like a book or a sandwich or you may open it like a book depending on what feels best for you, if this is too much to open your feet keep your feet together, inhale lengthen your spine and exhale fold forward, it doesn't matter how far you think you need to go, make sure that you can still breathe and your hips aren't in and are not screaming at you and breathe, a nice stretch in the hip joints and that should be about five, inhale to come out and to counter pose you can stretch your hands back and lift your chest, then we'll take the legs, bring the knees together and open the feet about hips distance or so, turn the toes in, now take the right leg over the left, this is an internal rotation, if it's available you'll take eagle legs or take the right foot all the way around, if not it's no big deal, we're just stretching the left hip here, then release, open the knees and then we'll take the left leg over the right, the right foot's pointing inward and if it's available you'll take the left foot all the way around giving a nice stretch to the right hip, internal rotation in the hip joint and then we'll release, open the knees once again and then we'll take Marichyasana, a seated twist, so you may remove the blanket out of the way, we won't need the strap anymore, so we'll put this up, stretch your legs out and hug your right knee into your chest, look down there should be some space between the right foot and the left thigh, maybe two fists worth of space and draw the knee inward, internal rotation again in the thigh, inhale stretch the left arm overhead, the right hand's behind you supporting, exhale bend your left elbow outside of the right knee, lift your chest up as you twist to the right, keep the left leg flexing, awareness in the left foot, take a couple, two or three, four, five breaths, the breath is going to be a little shorter here but the breathing is really important because we're getting an internal stretch as well as an external stretch, you might feel tightness in your organs, the idea is to get more supple so the organs will work more efficiently and effectively, four, one more breath and five, now stretch your arms back, keep the right foot where it is or maybe stretch it forward just a little bit, inhale and lift up, again the hands can be in any position that feels good on your wrists, eventually both feet will come to the floor, again keep your head forward if your neck hurts, exhale lower, that's a nice counter pose, extend both legs out, take the left knee up, close the knee, bring the left knee to your chest, make sure there's about six to eight inches of space between your left foot and your right thigh, left hand back to support, inhale, raise the right arm up, get a nice stretch down the right side body, exhale bend the right elbow outside of the left knee and look over the left shoulder and twist, let's take five breaths, again the breath will be a little shorter here until your organs become supple, and release, place both hands back behind your back, point the toes, press down, inhale, lift your hips up, it's okay, look back and exhale to release, cross the ankles, lean forward and lay on your belly, extend the toes, extend the arms back and lift your legs, lift your chest and lift the arms, legs can be together or apart, just keep lifting and breathing, one more breath, lift up and exhale release, repeat that pose or you can catch your feet and take both, if you can catch your feet, do so if not repeat the previous position, inhale, peel your chest off the floor and your thighs, kick into the hands, pull the shoulders back, relax your chest and breathe, and then exhale release into child's pose, press your hands underneath your shoulders and sit back onto the heels, an active child's pose with the toes curled or with the toes pointing to the tops of the feet to the floor, open your thighs and allow your chest to drop down giving a nice stretch in the low back, forehead may rest on the ground or on your hands, make fists, let's relax into this pose for a moment and as you breathe in, know that you're breathing in, as you breathe out, know that you're breathing out, meet on our backs, cross the ankles, walk your hands back and extend your legs forward and lay down, we're going to take our legs up at this point, if you need to use the wall, go to the wall now and you'll just take both legs and support it against the wall, you may also take your blanket and support your hips underneath with legs up the wall, otherwise lift your legs and lift your hips, place the hands on the hips to support, if the shoulder stand is in your practice, you can bring the hands up a little more and just find a nice stable posture, we'll be here for about five breaths, watch your breath, if your legs are up the wall just stay there, if you're in the shoulder stand or halasana, start to push your hips back a little bit and lower your legs down at the same time above your head, plow pose, if your feet touch the ground, may interlace the fingers behind the back, if they don't touch the ground just keep supporting your hips, your back and don't over stretch your neck, if your feet touch the ground you may interlace your fingers, pull the shoulders back, maybe the pinkies touch the floor, do what feels best, another option that I like to do is if your shoulders were tight like mine when I started, you can grab the mat, it's a good option, now bend the knees next to the ears and just get a nice stretch on your middle, mid back or your spine, somewhere along your spine and then from here slowly lower your hips to the floor one vertebrae at a time, lower your legs down slowly using your abdominals, at this point roll over onto your belly, we'll take cobra bhujangasana as a counter pose, inhale peel your chest off the floor and exhale lower, inhale and lift up and exhale release, roll it over onto your back and we're ready for shavasana, the corpse pose, relaxation, feet are apart, hips distance or so, open the arms, if you have room, you may also open your arms all the way out, open the legs all the way out, if it feels good and you have the space for it, relax your jaw, shut your eyes, relax your legs, watch your breath and let everything go with each exhalation, relax a different part of your body with each exhalation, allow your entire body to be heavy, heavier with each exhalation, deep relaxation, stay with your breath, you may rest a little longer, you may stay here a little longer or if you're ready to come out, wiggle your fingers and your toes and stretch the arms overhead with an inhalation, legs together, long body, straight line stretch, exhale, hug your knees into your chest, maybe you catch your hands, wrists or elbows around your legs, give yourself a big hug and extend the left or the right arm overhead, roll to either side, if it's the left arm, it's the left side, if it's the right arm, it's the right side, pause for a moment, just allow everything to settle into the earth, to your mat and with your opposite arm, press yourself back into seated, keeping the eyes closed if you can, find a comfortable seat, just take a moment, head, neck and trunk in line, watch your breath, inhale, stretch the arms overhead, exhale, hands in prayer in front of your heart, the head slightly bowed, chin down, namaste.


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