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Season 2 - Episode 7

Joyful Movement

35 min - Practice


Get your juices flowing. Julie shares a practice that invites us to find freedom and joy in our bodies. We begin with a full body shake-out to release any tension or self-criticism, before moving into standing and balancing postures to help us ground and embody the energy.
See the attached .pdf for a journaling exercise that goes along with this practice.
What You'll Need: Mat, Wall, Block

About This Video

Apr 21, 2016
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(crashing waves) Hi and welcome. This is one of my favorite practices because it involves enjoying your body and enjoying freedom in your body. I know for so many of us it can be difficult to love and find freedom and connection within our own bodies and this practice is asking the question, what if we could find peace in our bodies? What if we could find joy? For a lot of us we look at exercise as this thing that we should be doing, that we have to do but I'm encouraging us to think about joyful movement.

Movement that feeds our soul. Movement that gives back to us on a daily basis. This practice that I've created hopefully will do that for you. Even in joyful movement, you can find yourself getting stronger. You can find support, you can find balance.

You can accomplish crazy poses that you never thought possible. And that truly is a yoga practice. So, you can go as slow, as fast, as dynamic, as toned as you want in this practice or you can take it soft and supple, slow. Whatever it is that you are inviting into your practice today. Listen to that, know your needs, your desires.

If you wanna lay in Shavasana the whole time, feel free to lay in Shavasana the whole time. So, let's begin. We'll come to a standing Tadasana, putting all props aside. Alright, finding a comfortable stance. I just want to remind you that this is about releasing the inner critic.

Letting go of any judgement that you might have about yourself, about your body because we're going to find ourselves in some, what I would call, hilarious positions. You might wanna close your door, you might want to close your blinds, whatever it is that would make you feel comfortable and totally letting go and releasing. So, finding a comfortable stance I'm gonna go a little bit wider here because we're going to do a complete body shake out. I'm just going to being with my right hand, my right wrist, just letting it go. Feeling some of the freedom in my joints, in my ligaments and then letting that move up into the forearm.

I notice my body is swaying a little bit here, it already wants to get involved. Then, my elbow, up into the bicep and tricep. Again, notice if there is any of that inner critic that's already starting to come up. All the way up into the shoulder and if you have any shoulder injuries, take it slow, maybe don't go all the way around and just finding that shake out here. And then, release the right arm, coming into the left.

See already my arm wants to do it but let's just start with the hand and the fingertips, into the wrist. (loud inhaling) My body already knows what it's getting into and it's really excited. Then, into the forearm, into the elbow, bicep and tricep, can you really let it go? Can it have that freedom? This is also really fantastic for the lymphatic system.

Going into the shoulder, there's no right or wrong way of doing this, just feeling it out. How can you let go, where is there movement, where is there freedom? Then, letting go of the left arm, come to right foot and if you're feeling like you need a little bit of an extra support, feel free to go to the wall, as we shake out the foot. (loud inhaling) This one might be a little bit harder to find freedom in. Then, into the calf and the shin, into the knee, up towards the thigh, letting the flesh just move and if you feel like falling, just fall.

Up into the hip, good and then letting go of the right side. Finding the balance on the right side and going into the left foot, left toes, feeling that shake out there, bottoms of the feet, ankle. Into the calf and the shin, maybe that energy radiates up into the knee, getting into the knee and that's gonna move up towards the thigh, inner thigh, outer thigh, maybe up to the glute. Feeling it all just shaking out. (loud breathing) Is there something that's preventing you from going to the shake out?

Good and then letting that go. Maybe just pause for a minute, just notice how it's starting to feed all of that energy into the body and then getting into the hips a little bit. Knees will go, shaking it out, getting into the booty and you might bend your knees to get there. (loud exhaling) Notice if the upper body wants to go tense, let it go and then maybe into the belly. How do you get into the belly?

Finding it's extension, it's drawing in, it's movements of the organs, still finding that breath. Finding the little belly dancer inside of you. (loud breathing) Can you get into the chest, the heart? Could you just find the movement there? Could it just flow through you?

Let go of any preconceived judgements or ideas of what it should be and then, letting that go coming into the neck and the skull. Perhaps it's just a rotation from side to side or back and a forward movement. Just letting go, finding freedom there. Maybe it's a deep rotation, maybe it's a small rotation. (loud exhale) Finding the face a little bit, having that shake out and then let's see if we can combine all of it.

Just freedom of motion wherever it feels right. You can move up and down on your mat, you can come down, you can just find whatever it is that moves your body, shaking into the parts that feel they need movement or connection and how do you just find that dance of shaking, of movement, of dance, of embodiment? (loud breathing) Letting go of your day, anything that's holding you. (loud breathing) Being to slow it down. (loud breathing) Slowly, slowly, slowly coming back to your standing.

(loud exhaling) Notice the heat, notice your heart, if their freedom is their movement that is still occurring even though you're in stillness. Does the internal system speak to you? How does it speak to you? Let's continue to build off of that heat. We're gonna really build into this energy here.

So, we're going to find ourselves in breath of joy. And, I do wanna give a little warning for people who experience high blood pressure that going and dropping the head below the heart is not the best. So, if you would, just keep the head above the heart and I'll just give you a variation. So, I'll give the first variation where the head goes below the heart and then I'll give a variation where the head stays above the heart. So, finding you Tadasana stance, whatever that looks like for you, you may need a wider stance, you may need the feet closer together but something that's going to support you in some movement.

So, the inhales bring the arms forward and then another inhale brings the arms out towards the side and the third inhale brings the arms up towards the sky and the exhale is what brings the body forward and down. So, if you are working with a variation where your head does not go below your heart, I would like for you to bring your hands to your thighs and come here, just kind of like Ardha Uttanasana, half lift. So, I'll show you this breath of joy before we get started just so you get a better idea of what it looks like. (loud breathing) That's it. You may need a kleenex, blowing your nose as there's a lot of Pranayama work that goes on in the nostrils.

So, take a moment, check out your nostrils, make sure you don't need to blow your nose. Find your stance, arms by your side and let's begin. Inhale arms up, inhale arms to the side, inhale arms all the way up and exhale release. Inhale arms up front, inhale arms out to the side, inhale arms all the way up and exhale release. Inhale arms lift, inhale to the side, inhale all the way up and exhale release.

Again, inhale arms forward, inhale arms out to the side, inhale arms all the way up, and exhale release. Twice more just like that, inhale, inhale, inhale and release. Inhale, inhale, inhale and release, let it all out just dangle in Uttanasana. (loud breathing) Just feel into the body here. There might be a sway with that movement, with that energy.

(loud breathing) Then, very slowly, begin to walk your way back up your body, coming back to Tadasana, maybe there's a little bit of a micro-movement through that Pranayam. (loud breathing) Then let's build into that energy by opening our legs out wide. We're gonna come to horse stance, I like to call it goddess pose, your choice. You're gonna turn your toes out towards the corners of your mat. Opening your feet as wide as is right for you and I like to begin by bending into my knees and noticing my knees moving towards my toes.

If my knees are locking in, it's gonna put a lot of pressure into the kneecaps so keep the knees opening wide towards the toes. Bring your hands to your thighs and take some movements from side to side. Feeling the stretch in the inner aducters, into the hips, just feeding into that energy that you've built in the shake out and breath of joy. See if it can move into your legs, if it can move into your heart, maybe there's some movement in the upper body as well as you go from side to side. If you have some issues with your knees, maybe it's a soft movement from side to side.

If you want more, take a wider stance and go for the deeper lunges from side to side. Then, let's pause, going deeper into the goddess stance. Go deep into your feet, go deep into those strong thighs and just imagine that goddess. Imagine that you are taking up space. If you need that support in your hand, of your hands on your sides, stay there.

If you'd like to, open the arms out wide, turn the palms up towards the sky and bend your elbows, finding that full goddess stance. Your legs might begin to shake, that's okay. If you need to come out, come out, listen to your body. Feel that Parana building, feeling it in waves, in cycles through your body, feel that sensation. How does the mind interpret it, how does the inner critic interpret it and can you just feel it?

Allow it to be neutral, sense into it. If you'd like to join me in releasing some of this heat, we'll do a lions breath, deep inhale through your nose, open your mouth, stick out your tongue. (loud exhale) Twice more, inhale. (loud exhale) Inhale, exhale. (loud exhale) Ah, let it go, hold just a little bit longer, feed into that heat.

Maybe there's the micro-movement from side to side. Take another inhale, exhale bring the hands to the thighs, press yourself up to stand, turn your feet in, come to your Tadasana. Alright, just a nice sway from side to side. This next practice that we're moving into is what I call our joyful movement. It's about a minute or two of just your own practice.

I've helped you build some of that heat. I'm just a guide in this practice, you get to figure out what is good for you. So, this movement, this practice coming up, I'm going to be silent and we're just gonna take some time for you to explore what movements would feel best on your body. You can stay standing upright, you can come to your knees, you could do supine, laying on your back, whatever would feel best for you. There's no right or wrong way.

It doesn't have to be a yoga pose, it can be whatever. So, moving in silence. (loud breathing) Wherever you are, take your time but we are going to find ourselves back in our Tadasana stance at the top of our mat. (loud breathing) No rush. (loud breathing) And, I will wait for you there.

(loud breathing) Once you have arrived in your Tadasana, take about five breaths to just notice. What did it feel like to move on your own from your own energy, from your own body and your own experience? (loud breathing) This is a great opportunity to use brufwa, breath, relax, feel, watch and allow. (loud breathing) Letting that go and this is a great opportunity for us to use that heat to move ourselves into a balancing position. So, you can either find two blocks or no blocks at all, depending on what you have at home.

I'm gonna use two blocks. Depending on the size of your feet, you may need two. If you have smaller feet, you may only require one. I'm stacking the blocks in front of one another to support my feet. I'm gonna take my right foot up towards the block, right hand up against the wall.

Our legs should be pretty warmed up but I love this variation of tree pose because it helps in lengthening the left hip joint. So, stepping up onto your blocks. Again, you can use the safety of the wall. Depending on your body, you may need to be closer to the wall of farther away from the wall, you can bring the hand down, the hand up, whatever is best for you. So, as you're here, just letting the left leg drop off of the block.

You can just sway here and there could be that shake that we've been working on, releasing the hip joint. So, here we have the left leg at it's length and then we have the right leg as the standing, as the support. So, how could the right leg support you even more in this stance? (loud breathing) Then, go ahead and pause, let the left leg settle. Should have grown about an inch by now.

Then, you're going to bring tree pose into play, bringing the left foot either to the calf or to the inner thigh. You might also try what I call sappling pose where the toes touch down onto the block towards the floor the heal places itself on the ankle. Whatever would feel best for you in terms of balance. So, in whichever one that you choose, enjoy and find comfort in it. So, you might choose to bring your hands to your heart.

You might choose to bring your arms up above. Whichever one works best for you. Just pause here, you can lean into the wall, you can lean away from the wall. See if you can find the support of your right leg moving up into your heart, let the shoulders relax, let the crown of the head rise up. A couple of breaths here and if you come out of the pose, that's okay too.

Come right on back in. I like to think that the ego really likes to get involved in this posture and see if you can let that ego, the inner judger, the critic, see if it can just let go and have some play, some joyful movement here. (loud breathing) Take another inhale and then exhale release. Just notice the two sides. Okay, so, I'm gonna turn around now and do tree pose on the other side.

So, bringing your left foot up onto the block, finding that support on the wall for your left hand, however that looks for you. Then letting the right leg swing, giving it some movement, giving it some joy. This side might feel totally different than the other side, that's okay. Just notice, what makes it feel different? Could be a shake out, could be the swing, whatever feels right.

Then, choose your stance, tree pose. Bringing the foot to the calf, sappling pose, inner thigh. I'll stick with sappling pose today. Find that support, choosing to stay with the wall, arms could come up overhead or hands to the heart. How could you be gentle with yourself in this pose?

Can you find support but can you also find release, softening? That might be just softening the brain and the skull. Might be softening the heart. Take another full breath and then let it go. If you need to shake it out, just let it go.

Alright, put one block away and keep one. We're gonna come to one of my favorite poses, Ardha Chandrasana, half moon. We're gonna play around with it with the support of the wall. So, bringing your block forward to the right about a foot from your mat and we're going to come into a balance by leaning up against the wall with your right side. Still gazing down at that block, that's what we're going to be aiming for as we lift our left leg to touch against the wall.

I like to start off with a little bit of a bend into my right knee, a softening of the shin just to help support that lift but it's really up to you. So, I'm going to begin by finding that right foot. I can drag my right shoulder, my ride side of my body against the wall toe reach down for that block. I have mine at medium level, if you need a little bit extra, you can go up to the higher level, left hand to the hip and open that hip towards the wall. You can find your left heel pressing against the wall.

Press down into the block, find the length of that right arm and you might just stay here. Or, you can choose to open the left arm out and up, find that opening of the heart. Extend up towards the sky, imagine drawing up and away from the earth and breath. Take up space even more, lengthen through the flesh, through the skin, take another inhale and exhale, I'm just gonna release into an Uttanasana. (loud breathing) Then on your next inhale, bend the knees, roll yourself up to stand.

(loud breathing) Let's go to the other side. Bring the block over to the left about a foot or so from your mat. Take your left side towards the wall, lean in. Let the wall support you here. Find your left foot, let it be your support as you slowly drift the left side down towards the block, right leg lifts up, right hand to the hip and square off.

Let the right heel touch the wall, open through the heart, a little bit of a twist here. If you'd like to, right arm could extend up towards the sky and lengthen through the heart all the way up to the fingertips. Extend through the top right leg, feel the reach into the heel, into the foot. Use the support of the wall, it's there, let it guide you. (loud breathing) One more deep breath.

Then, exhale, let it go back into that Uttanasana, right foot touches the floor, hands down towards the earth. On the inhale, bend the knees, roll up, come to stand. Pause for a moment. (loud breathing) You can set the blocks aside, grab your blanket. We're gonna come to a seat for a seated twist.

Beginning to invite the energy down. We've built a lot of heat in this practice. So, beginning to settle back. We're gonna bring more of it down through a twist. So, I'm going to take my right hand over towards my left thigh and my left fingertips back behind for this twist.

If you need a little bit more space and the right hand doesn't down towards the thigh, you're more than welcome to just hug the body. Whatever works best for you. You could lean back into the spine, lean back into the left hand and in your awareness, you might visual a waterfall and imagining in all of the Paranya, all of that energy that you've built cascading down towards your seat. Back down towards the floor, towards mother earth. Let the breath surround the spine.

Is there a place in the spine that could let go or work just a little bit more? Then on your exhale, just a slow release back to center and we'll go to the other side. Right hand back behind you, left arm across the body or hugging. Begin your subtle twist into the spine, leaning back into the vertebra. Back into the hand behind you.

A lot of times, there is a habitual place that we move and twist. Is there an unknown place that you could explore and invite in to this twist. Allowing the breath to guide you here. You might take the gaze behind you or in front depending on flexibility of your neck. Take another inhale and your exhale, slow release back to center.

We're finally there for our resting pose and you could choose to go straight into Shavasana if you would like or you could do legs up the wall. That's what I'm going to choose. For legs up the wall, you can choose to have a blanket underneath your body as support but you don't have to. So, I am not going to use a blanket, I'm going to set it aside. There's no elegant way of getting your legs up the wall so if you feel like you're just falling, you're probably doing it right.

So, you're going make your way, bringing your right side over towards the wall. I like to have a couple of inches between my hip and the wall but it's really up to you. For my own practice, I would like to have the fingertips pointing forward towards my heels and then from there lowering myself down towards my forearms and then swinging my legs up and around. If you have a better way, feel free to do that. That's what works best for me.

Once you're here, I know some of my clients like to scooch themselves towards the wall. Again, not very graceful, not very elegant but it does the job. Keep your hands resting on your thighs, you can have your hands resting on your belly or your heart or down by your side. If you're in Shavasana, just make sure you're comfortable. Might require a blanket over the body.

Once you have found your position, just notice your relationship to gravity and let gravity drop upon you like a heavy blanket. Feeling the weightedness of your bones, the release of your flesh and the dropping back of the mind. Please stay in your resting pose for as long as you would like. If you'd like to allow a liveness to return to your body. Just begin to deepen your breath.

Let the awareness return to both the internal and external spaces. Finding any movement and then if you have the legs up the wall, you can just bend the knees and let the feet fall towards the floor and then rolling over to one side into a fetal position. From your fetal position using a hand to press yourself upright to come to your seat. (loud breathing) Once you are in your seat, draw your hands up towards your heart in Anjali mudra bowing the brain to the heart, the heart to the body. Sending gratitude, sending loving kindness, sending joy into our bodies.

Thank you so much for joining me, Namaste.


Jennifer L
1 person likes this.
Thanks! The theme of self compassion resonated with me. The shake-out was liberating & I even was successful getting into half moon with your tips about using the wall and the block. Also loved your mellow vibe.
Katherine F
Hi Julie......loved this creative presentation to really feeling our body....going "out of the box" a bit from traditional yoga postures to feel in authentic way how we are feeling and what our body really wants to do beyond restraints. Thank you.
Leah K
1 person likes this.
Thank you for the reminder to use the wall in half moon pose! I found much more ease letting myself be supported by the wall instead of trying to get into the full expression and being disappointed when I fall out of it. Namaste
Julie Westlin-Naigus
I am glad that you found that helpful Leah! I use it all the time in my practice :)
Ella K
1 person likes this.
Loved it, thank you. Will do the course now. And love your voice so much.
Julie Westlin-Naigus
Thank you Ella! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.
Bridgid M
I this practice! 

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