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Season 2 - Episode 6

Loving Kindness: Standing Series

40 min - Practice
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Description

Take up the space you deserve and let it expand out from your heart. Julie guides us in a flowing loving kindness practice. We begin standing to establish our grounded center. With intention, we move to find greater freedom, mobility, and courage in Virabhadrasana 1 and 2 (Warrior 1 and 2).
See the attached .pdf for a journaling exercise that goes along with this practice.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket

Transcript

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(ocean waves) Jai, and welcome. This series, is a sequence based on loving kindness. And showing that to ourselves, through movement, through postures, through asana. So to begin I'd love for us to start in tadasana standing pose. And I like to say with tadasana there's no need to have feet touching, you can have your feet wider apart, whatever is more comfortable in your body and that supports you in standing.

So when you have found the position that works best for you, I'd like for you to spread out your toes. Find the bottoms of your feet. Close your eyes. And take a few breaths. Just connect to standing.

Connect to your relationship, with gravity and the earth. Notice that even in stillness, there might be a little bit of movement happening. Find brifua. Breathe. Relax.

Feel. Watch. And allow. Taking a deep scan of your body, of your breath, of your mind. Then gently taking your hands to your heart in a prayer like position.

And we're going to start off in a hand mudra. A lotus hand mudra and I absolutely love this hand mudra, and you're going to keep your thumb and pinky fingers together, and you're going to take apart the three middle fingers, keeping the base of the hands still in contact with one another. And if you'll look down you'll notice that there is a little flower that has formed from your hands. And you might choose to keep your thumbs touching your heart as you do this. Or you can keep the hands adrift.

A little bit farther forward. Depending on the size of your chest. And then close your eyes and connect back within. Once again coming back to that deep scan of your body. And inviting yourself in the here and the now.

As you drop in, ask yourself what is it that I need? Do I have any longings? Do I have any wants? Is there something that my body might need in this practice? And just listen for a few moments.

Listening to your heart. Listening to your gut, your intuition. And from that listening, an intention might arise. If you don't like the word intention you can just think of a thought or an idea. That you can set for yourself during this practice.

And then we're going to send that intention into the lotus flower, into our hands, through our breath. So just think about that intention in your mind and with every exhale let the breath guide that intention down into your hands. Let it take root, let it grow in that flower. And with every inhale, perhaps drawing that intention back into your heart. Letting it thrive in all the cellular levels of your body.

So every exhale lets the intention move outward into the flower, into its roots. Into the earth. And with every inhale, taking it in. Into the systems of your body. Letting it permeate.

Letting it move through all of you. And just a couple more breaths just like that. And then with your next exhale, very slowly you can watch it if you want, let the flower close. Let it encompass itself in the palms of your hands. And then from there let's have a little fun with it.

Let's build some heat around it by just rubbing the palms together. You might change your stance to feel a little bit more comfortable as you just rub the palms. Feel the heat, feel the prana. And then maybe go a little faster. And a little bit faster.

And then once you've rubbed so much that there's so much heat that it feels like it's going to explode, I want you to take your hands about an inch apart and just hold it. And you might just pause there or you might just take a little bit of a micromovement of just feeling the hands reverberate forward and back. That's the heat. That's the energy, that's the intention that you created. Remember this energy, because we're going to take it and we're going to allow it, to fold and move all over ourself.

And you're going to take that intention to every part of the body that could use a little bit more compassion that could use a little bit of that need and support. You can follow me. You can do whatever it is that moves you. It might culminate in a dance, it might culminate in you coming down, around, and forward. But can you create this shield, of energy that you have created that's going to guide you through your practice?

We're going to come back to this raining, of energy down our bodies. Then take it back. Bring it into your hands, turn your palms upright and just feel. Feel that connection in the root of your palms let it move to the root of your feet. And then let it expand, let it rise up and let it rain down.

So that you come towards uttanasana. Forward fold. And now let it rain back up. Then let it rain back down. Twice more like that, raining up.

From the roots of your feet, to the ground and the earth. From the sky, down the body, back towards the earth. And one more time just like that. And then let's take that tadasana to the front of our mats. Find the tadasana that is right for you.

Feet together, feet apart. Whatever can connect you to the earth bring it there. Remember your intention. Feel it in the palm of your hands. Let it rain up.

And then let it rain down. And just pause in your uttanasana. Can you find a softness of your shins? Perhaps bringing blocks underneath your hands to support the hamstrings if you're really tight in the backside of your legs. As the shin soften forward let your hips come over your heels.

And if you need more space walk the feet apart. Let your belly dive through the thighs. Again feeling compression is this beautiful experience of embodiment. If you need to move any flesh, if you need to move the belly, if you need to correct your clothing, feel free. And then from here we're going to make our way either into a downward facing dog, or tabletop position.

But which of those poses would provide more love for you? I'm going to choose a downward facing dog shape. I'm going to walk my feet back. I'm going to take about three breaths here. Or you can be directly into tabletop position if downward facing dog just isn't what your body wants today.

So if you are in that downward dog like shape press the hands into the floor, lengthen through your arms, find those ribs that we played around with earlier. Feel the length of the tailbone, perhaps soften the shins, finding the bend into the knees. Maybe you need a little bit of a wider stance. That's fine too. And then bring the knees down towards the floor.

Tabletop position. So now that we've lowered down to tabletop position, you may need some extra support of the knees. So this is a great time to grab your blanket or your bolster and place it directly underneath your knees. And take your time setting yourself up, no rush. And once you're there, find your forelimbs.

Find your hands and your feet. Find your phalanges, which is one of my favorite words it's the toes and the fingertips. Such a good word. And just feel all of that support moving in towards your midline, towards your heart. And we're going to take cat and cow, and in the ribs portion of the asana in the last video we explored cat and cow through our ribs and now we're going to explore it through our heart.

So just pause here and find some awareness both in the front of your heart, the sides of your heart, the back of your heart. And if you're unfamiliar with where your heart is just sense into it. No right or wrong way. Just imagining where the heart could exist for you. And then on your next inhale let the belly drop, let the gaze lift.

Heart forward. And then exhale round into cat. And as you continue to move through these shapes connecting the breath and the movement. If you're feeling that your wrists are bothering you, you might choose to come up onto your fists with your thumbs pointing forward, little kickstands there. And if that doesn't work for you sometimes I invite coming down onto the forearms and doing cat and cow on the forearms.

And you might play around with all of it. You might try forearms. You might try fists. You might choose palms. And that might have a totally different relationship to your heart.

Pretty cool. And the next time that you come to cat, let that be the last. And then we're going to come to either child's pose or puppy dog stretch. And in either of these poses, one might be more comfortable for you. Child's pose, specifically if you're having any knee issues, could put a lot of strain on the knees so puppy dog stretch might be your option.

And I will show both. So if you just need a little extra support in child's pose for the knees, you can unfold the blanket, bring either the knees together or the knees apart and extend the arms forward, walking the spine out as long as it will go. And perhaps bringing the forehead to the floor or you could stack hands and create a little pillow. Fists or block. Your choice.

If child's pose does not work, we can try puppy dog stretch. Puppy dog stretch. Maintaining the hips over the knees, think of it as kind of a 90 degree angle. Holding there. And walking the hands forward.

Keeping the hips back, draw up into the belly and let the heart begin to melt down towards the floor. And breathe. Can the heart melt? Can the heart expand? And can the breath facilitate all the movement?

And then on your next inhale rise up. Walk your hands back. And we're going to put parasails for coming onto our front side. So I am going to move my blanket forward, to support my hips and pelvis. And you might as well or you might move the blanket aside to come down.

And I want you to, be aware of support as you lower yourself down. So I'm going to walk my hands forward. About a foot. Roll my shoulders over my wrists and then on the exhale bend the elbows, come down. Or however it is that you want to come down.

And let's just take a deep stretch to begin. Finding the length, reaching. Go through the front, sides, back of the body. Couple of breaths here. Reach through your toes, your fingertips.

And then on your next inhale you're going to walk your hands back. And you're going to place them by the rib cage. And we're going to prepare for cobra. We're going to go into some back bends here. And I will give another version of a backbend if this doesn't work for you.

So bringing the forehead to the floor. And walking your hands as close to the body as possible. It may not be as close as my hands, it may be a little bit farther out and that's okay. And then draw the elbows in towards your side body let your collar bones roll back and long. And if already you're going, uh-uh, this isn't for me.

We'll come into sphinx pose that's a great option as well. And I'll show you that. You can just bring your forearms foreword. Bringing the elbows underneath the shoulders if there's space. If there isn't space you can always bring the elbows a little bit farther forward and the more forward that your elbows come, the less intensity you're going to feel in your lower back.

But if you're here same idea, rolling the collarbones back, making space, widening out the front side of your chest. Same idea and you'll just pause here as the rest of us explore cobra. So if you are practicing cobra with me, bring the forehead to the floor. Hands to the earth, elbows in, collarbones rolling back and wide. Plant the tops of the feet down towards the floor feel the length of the bottoms of your feet.

And on your next inhale, lift the back of the heart, lift the back of the head and feel the vibration and movement of the spine up to the crown of your head. And you might use the support of your hands to just pause here, you might lift the hands move a little bit more into the backbend. Whatever works best for you but see if you can continue to feel into the wholeness of your body. And then exhale, lower the forehead back down towards the floor. And let's just take a little cobra flow.

Inhale, shoulders roll up and back, head lifts. And exhale, forehead back to the floor. Inhale. Lift, rise. And exhale, lower down.

Twice more just like that. It can have any dance that comes to it. You might play around with your hands. You might try extending, floating, raining the hands down the body. Just sending that love and support to all of the fibers.

And then let's release. If you're in sphinx pose, join the rest of us with our hands stacked perhaps cheek to one side or forehead down. And you might shimmy out the hips a little bit here. And rest. Three full breaths.

And let's come up. Hands back towards the sides of the body, draw in towards your navel, find the backside of your heart. And lift yourself back and up. Coming back, table top position here. You might just find a little bit of support here.

And just noticing your choice. If you would like to you can move into downward facing dog. Or you could stay in tabletop, but we're all going to meet at uttanasana forward fold at the front of our mat. So just explore for yourself what is it that your body is seeking. Is it seeking a little bit more heat?

Is it asking to stay in one particular spot? And then with your next inhale find your way to uttanasana at the front of your mat. And getting there however you would like. Once arriving in your uttanasana, finding the softening of your shins. The rolling forward of your hips.

Release of your brain into the skull. And then from, here begin to gather up, the energy, the prana, the intention that you have created. Gather it from the earth and allow for it to begin to build to the point where it begins to move back up your body. Touching and feeling and expanding, moving up towards the sky. Finding length up through your heart towards your fingers.

Towards the universe. And then exhale, draw that energy down and bring it back to your heart. And from here we're going to move into the courage series. And I call it the courage series because the word courage has the word cour which means heart. And so we're going to expand and find our heart and our power in our warrior series.

So start off by clearing the mat. Setting any a thing aside that you may not need. And we're going to just start off in virabhadrasana one, warrior one. Right foot forward, left foot back. So if you are unfamiliar with warrior one, there's a couple of different ways that you could play around with it.

In some practices you have the heel on the floor. Has a little bit more stability, you can totally choose that. If you would like a little bit more of a balance, you can rise up onto the ball of the foot and feel the fullness of the left toes out onto the floor. I'm going to start there, choose what is best for you. Find the stability of your legs, and inhale, arms rise up.

Building a little heat here. Staying for as long as it's right for you. But just notice as the muscles and the prana begin to ignite. And if you can, can you utilize that energy and let it rise into the heart and let the heart expand, feeling up to your fingertips and if you feel yourself frowning, perhaps find a soft smile. Just feel the heart extending up into the face.

Into the edges of your lips. And from there invite in even more of an opening of your heart. Finding the support and power from your legs. One more full breath. And then exhale, opening it to warrior two.

Back heel drops. Opening the arms out towards the sides. I'm going to take a little bit of a longer stance. You can choose long, short, whatever works for you. One thing that I invite is that the knee stays over the ankle.

Can you deepen? Can you let go of the shoulders? And breathe. Lift up the heart. Find the edges of your lips and expand skyward out through your fingertips, find the courage.

Find the cour. And then inhale, lengthen, straighten that leg. Bring the feet parallel. Star pose. If you struggle with taking up space, I highly recommend this pose.

Widen. Take up the space that you deserve. Let it expand out from your heart. And then lower your hands to your hips. And let's get rid of some of that heat that we've built through a lion's breath.

Take a deep inhale through your nose. Open your mouth, stick out your tongue. I like to make weird faces, you can too. Inhale. Inhale, deeply.

Exhale, open the mouth, stick out the tongue. One more time. Let it go, shake it out. Let's move to warrior two on the left side. Turning your left toes to face the left side of the room, right toes moving at about 45 degree angle and opening the arms, bending that front left knee, coming into that warrior two, expanding out through the heart, lifting up.

Not just with your heart but with the edges of your lips. And sink. What is right for you, you can take little micro movements, figure out where your body sits. Let the heart move out to your fingertips. One more full breath.

And then exhale. Move it into warrior one again you can keep the back heel down or back heel lifted. Fingertips rise up. Find that stance that is right for you. And expand up.

Lengthen up through the backside of your heart. Perhaps deepen into your legs. Where does your courage come from? Can it come from your intention that you set at the beginning of class? And then on your next inhale rise up.

Step your feet together. And let's return to the front of our mat. Pause here. Find your tadasana. Just take in all of the courage that you used, to experience warrior pose.

To experience star shape, lion's breath. To finish up standing, I'd like to find a twist, I call it the hugging twist. It's really simple. All you have to do is just wrap the right arm in front of the body, left arm behind the body. Keep the feet planted, and slowly turn from behind the navel.

Hugging the arms against the body. Sending in that loving kindness. And breathe. Can you plant down a little bit more through your left leg as you turn the heart? Can you breathe up and down your spine?

Can your shoulders relax? Maybe the gaze turns over that left shoulder. One more breath. Let the bottom of your next exhale unwind. Just pause, let the arms drift down.

And then we'll hug ourselves to the other side, crossing the left arm in front of the body right arm behind the body. Turning from behind the navel. Turning from behind the heart. And then maybe the gaze, looking over the right shoulder. Pressing down into the right foot.

And from the support of the right foot turning the heart a little bit more. Take one more breath. And with your next exhale, let it unwind. Pause. And from here, let's meet supine on our back.

And you can get there however you would like. We're going to prep ourselves for savasana our final resting pose. And you can use whatever prop would feel welcoming and supportive in your savasana. Find the shoulders rolling back. Arms away from the body.

Feet can part as much as they would like to. Once you have set yourself up, close your eyes and dive in. Finding complete rest and letting go. You are more than welcome to stay in your savasana. But you are also more than welcome to begin to awaken.

Send out the awareness into your body. Take in some movement. In fingertips and toes and to wrists and to legs. Finding any stretch that might feel nice. And then at your own pace, you might choose to move over into a fetal position.

You can also go straight into a seated position. Whatever is more comfortable for you. If you're in fetal position take some time to pause. And then from fetal position perhaps keeping your eyes closed have a soft hand press into the floor and come upright to a seated position. And once you are upright allow yourself to be comfortable.

Return your hands to your heart. And once again we will find the lotus hand mudra. Keeping the pinky finger and the thumbs together and parting the three middle fingers. You can take your gaze down just to make sure. You might keep a soft gaze down into your hands you might also close your eyes.

But just notice the intention that was set in your palms. And as you're here, as you listen to it and feel it, perhaps what you need is to let it go. Or perhaps what you need, is to keep it nestled into your palms. So that you can use it when you step off of the mat into your world. Into your life.

Whichever you choose. Take three full breaths. And then slowly closing the palms, closing the fingers. Bowing the brain to the heart. The heart to the body.

Sending thanks to our bodies. To our heart, and to our mind. Thank you so much for sharing your practice. Namaste.

Comments

A Wonderful Practice and Beautiful Hand Mudra ~ NamasteĀ 

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