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Season 3 - Episode 10

Flowing with Integrity

55 min - Practice
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Integrity is when we align what we think, feel, say, and do with our actions in the world. Melody guides us in a practice where she invites us to investigate our relationship with our truth. We move mindfully from the ground up into a Vinyasa sequence that targets the hamstrings and hips, closing with Ustrasana (Camel Pose). You will feel more centered, clear, and honest.
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(waves crashing) Welcome to your yoga mat and this practice of integrity. When we think about yoga off the mat, integrity to me means lining up what we think, say, and feel with what we do, so that we're not creating conflict within ourselves. And the yoga practice always is a beautiful metaphor and symbol of our lives and our actions off the mat. So in this practice, we're gonna be concentrating on alignment. On alignment of our head and our heart and our gut and our groin, as a way of looking at and reflecting on how are we off the mat?

How we do anything is how we do everything, so this practice always is an opportunity to investigate the ways in which we're responding, and one of the things I love about the practice of yoga is that the mat doesn't care. The mat is not participating in how you're doing or not doing, or how you're performing or not performing, or how you're hurting or not hurting. It has no investment. It's flat. (laughs) So everything that comes up for you during the practice is really yours, and you have to own it, you have to be with it.

And so this practice is going to be one where the call is going to be to be investigative of your integrity. To see how much you can align your breath with your movement, that's what vinyasa flow really is all about, one breath per movement, allowing our breath to be the guide of our movement. And so if at any point in the practice your breath feels not deep, or not available to you, honor yourself, honor your body, by coming back to Child's Pose and giving yourself an opportunity to reclaim your presence through the breath, and then join in as you're ready, always honoring where you are and appreciating your body for what it's able to do in this moment. Please join me by lying on your back in Supta Baddha Konasana. So we're gonna come onto our backs here, take the soles of your feet together, and allow your knees to fall open.

If this feels too vulnerable for you, an alternative could be to place the soles of your feet on the floor, and bring your knees together. If you're comfortable in Supta Baddha Konasana though, go ahead and take one hand to your belly and your other hand to your heart, and allow yourself to close down your eyes as you land. Take a very deep inhale into your nose, allowing the breath to fill up your lungs, your side body, deep into your lower diaphragm. Notice every part of your body that's touching the mat beneath you. Allow yourself to ground into this now.

As you exhale, pulling your lungs together like elevator doors closing, allow all the breath to come up and out of you. Inhaling, bringing yourself into the right now. Exhaling, allowing yourself to let go of what came before you arrived to your mat today. As you breathe in and out, going to set an intention for this practice. May the words that we speak be truthful.

May our thoughts be kind and loving. May our actions be guided by the wisdom that comes from within. May we not cause harm. May we be committed to integrity, so that we can know our dharma, and be purposeful in the ways in which we show up for ourselves and others in service. May we use this practice and these movements as a prayer, as a gratitude.

May we recognize always the privilege that we have to be able to move our bodies and to breathe in unison with one another, to connect into our own truth. And so it is. With that, go ahead and take your right foot forward. Removing your hand from your heart and from your belly, bring your left knee into your chest and draw it in tight. And then take your left foot, left ankle, over your right knee.

Hang out here for just a moment, allowing yourself to feel the sensations that might be present for you in your left hip. That might be enough for you. If not, you can lift your right foot off the floor, both feet are flexed, toes are spread, and then wrap your hands around either your thigh, or if you have a lot of flexibility, in front of your shin. I'm gonna hang out here at my thigh. Feel for any tension in your shoulders and try to release that tension or strain in your neck.

Here you're simply opening up through your left hip, giving yourself a few breaths to feel out what sensations are here for you in this moment. Always different. Sending your exhale into the sensations, finding any amount of opening. Take one more inhale here. And then as you exhale, lower your right knee down, right foot down, rather, and then take the outside of your left hand to the outside of your left foot, finding a Half Happy Baby.

And then without strain through your shoulder, bend your elbow on your left side and pull your knee toward your shoulder, maybe your ribs. If this isn't enough sensation for you, you can take your right foot and straighten it out. If you do that, feel for taking the top of your right quadricep toward the mat. That's a little too much for me, I can't stay in integrity here, so I'm gonna take my right foot back down to the floor and just allow this left hip some opening. Take a deep inhale.

Exhale it out, appreciative of the opportunity to open and to feel these sensations. And then as you inhale, extend your left leg to your degree. You might take a strap here around your foot, you might take your hand to your calf or even your thigh. Some of you might take your peace fingers around your big toe, and take an inhale. Allow some opening here in your hamstring.

Depending on the time of day or whether or not you've had any other activity, there might be a lot of tightness here in your hamstring. If this isn't enough sensation for you, again, you can straighten through your bottom leg, taking your quadricep down to the mat. And just recognize now your thought pattern. Are you criticizing or wishing to be different the amount of flexibility and length you have in any part of your body, and if so, just notice that, what's it about? Can you just be with where you are?

Take an inhale breath. As you exhale, extend your right hand out, and allow your left leg to open out to the side to any degree, and then pull your right thigh into your pelvis, mmhm, engaging your core by taking your hip points together and up. Just allow your breath to slowly open, your left leg out to the side. And again you might have a strap here. You might support your calf by taking your left elbow to the ground and holding onto your calf.

Some of you are gonna have a lot of flexibility and that leg is gonna extend all the way down. If that's the case, make sure you're not giving up the integrity here by keeping your right thighbone pressing down, right quadricep down. Take one more inhale. Exhale it out. And as you inhale, bring that left leg back in front of you, and then release it, drawing knee to chest so that you can switch sides, this time taking your left foot down and your right knee in.

Giving your right knee a squeeze, my hip's popping, yours might be too, and then taking your right ankle over left knee. At first just maybe using right hand to press right thigh open to any degree. If that's not enough sensation for you, and only you know what you're feeling internally, you might take your left foot off the floor and use your hands to wrap around your left thigh. You may be feeling a lot here as you continue to press your right knee forward, flexing through both feet, spreading both sets of toes. If that's not enough, take your hands around your shin.

But if you do so, feel for any strain you might be creating in your shoulders or in your neck, and release that strain. What can you drop? How can you be with the sensations without trying to change them? But feeling them fully. Recognizing that the inner teacher is you.

You are the expert on what you're feeling. In fact, no one else even has access to knowing how it feels internally for you. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale it out, lower your left foot down and reach up with your right hand to grab the outside of your right foot. Half Happy Baby here.

Trying to take any strain out of your shoulder or neck so that you can send your breath to find the opening in your right hip. If this is not enough sensation for you in this moment, you can see what it feels like to straighten through your left leg. If you straighten through your left leg, you're trying to ground down your left thigh to the mat. You'll know if that's too much for you if, like me, your foot's floating, you're not able to ground down. Then simply take your foot back.

Sometimes in yoga, we get seduced into being led by our ego. Our ego really is in the way, but it's the part of us that drives us to do more, and then to the illusion that more is better. It's just more. And sometimes more is harmful. So allowing yourself to be where you are with acceptance versus striving to be any different or any more than you are right now.

Take an inhale here. Exhale it out. And then as you inhale, go ahead and straighten your right leg to your degree, and know that this might be your degree. That's pretty straight. (laughs) Straight's relative, right? You may be able to straighten your right leg all the way out and you might be able also to take your left foot forward.

Some of you are gonna grab onto your calf, maybe your ankle you might wrap a strap around your foot, or you could grab your big toe with your peace fingers. These aren't levels, there's no beginner and there's no expert, just finding where you are in the moment and being in integrity with the sensations that you feel, letting your breath guide your movement. If your leg is extended on the left side, pull your leg into you. Yeah. Take an inhale here.

As you exhale, straighten your left arm out and then allow your right leg to open out to the side. Again, you could be using a strap here. You can lower your right elbow down to support your right leg through its opening. Imagine that you're standing on the floor here, that the crown of your head is lifted up. You're pulling your left leg in toward your core, and your right leg too, your pelvis is even.

Giving yourself the time required to allow your body to open on its own. These things can't be forced. They have to be allowed. Take a deep breath in. Exhale it all the way out.

With gratitude for whatever opening you found in your body. As you inhale, lift your right leg back up and then squeeze knee into chest, followed by the left. From here, you're gonna use your breath to let yourself rock and roll forward onto your entire vertebrae, and you're gonna rock all the way up into a Forward Fold with your knees hips-width distance and your feet hips-width distance underneath you. So from Uttanasana bending through your knees you're slowly gonna roll all the way up, one vertebrae at a time stacks on top of each other. The last thing that comes up is your head.

Shoulders up, back, and down, finding Tadasana. I'm gonna step to the very front of my mat. If you'll join me with your toes together, outside edges of the feet aligned with the outside edges of the mat. This pose is not benign. This is full of integrity.

Your inner arches are lifting, your ankles are lifting off of your feet, your quadriceps are lifting off of your knees, your lower rips are lifting off of your pelvis. Your shoulder blades are coming together and down your spine. As you inhale reach your arms up. As you exhale find Prayer and Chair. Inhale here.

As you exhale, fold all the way down to the ground, let something go. As you inhale, halfway lift and lengthen your spine, crown of head forward. As you exhale, plant your hands, step your left foot followed by your right foot, find High Plank. In High Plank, your heels press back. Your thighs roll in toward one another, tailbone comes in.

Shoulder blades spread wide, protracting. Your forearms are pressed forward, your triceps are pressed backward, and there's no tension in your neck. Take a deep inhale in High Plank. As you exhale, lower your knees, your chest, and your chin. Inhale, come up to Low Cobra, tops of feet pressed.

As you exhale, lower down and press your hips back to heels for Child's Pose, same exhale. Take an inhale here, and as you exhale, tuck your toes under you, press your hips back, finding Downward-Facing Dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana. Take a deep inhale in your Down Dog. Exhale it out. Take one more inhale.

This time as you exhale, step your right foot forward, finding Warrior I, grounding through your back foot, and then with that ground, reaching up through your arms. Your back heel is anchored down. Your right hip is pulling back, as you take your hip points forward and up. Allow yourself to inhale, look up, touch palms, and as you exhale, find your vinyasa, your hands come outside of your front foot, back heel lifts, step your foot backward, finding High Plank. Take an inhale here.

If you'd like, join me by lowering your knees as you bend your elbows, Chaturanga. As you inhale, go back to that Low Cobra, or, if you feel ready, tops of feet to floor, Upward-Facing Dog. As you exhale, roll over your toes, find your Downward-Facing Dog. Two deep breaths here in Down Dog. Inhaling, pressing your heels down.

Exhaling, protracting your shoulder blades wide around your heart. One more inhale, hips are high. As you exhale, using your core to step your left foot through, lowered down through your back edge of right foot, and then inhale up, finding your Warrior I. In Warrior I, you're squeezing your feet together toward one another in the center of you. Your left hip's coming back.

It's a direction to even out your hips. To your degree, take your hip points forward. Inhale, look up, touch your palms. As you exhale, find your vinyasa, take your hands to the outside of your foot as you step it back, inhale in your High Plank. Exhale, bend your elbows and lower, lowering your knees or not.

Inhale to your Up Dog or Low Cobra. Exhale, find your Downward-Facing Dog, using your core to lift through your hips. Take an inhale in Down Dog, and then exhale it out. Inhale, press down through your hands to lift your hips high. Exhale, step or jump your feet through your hands.

Inhale halfway lift lengthen your spine crown of head forward. Exhale drop what you know, fold it down. Bend your knees, inhale, reach up, Chair Pose. Exhale, fold all the way back down, lower to the floor. Inhale, halfway lift.

Exhale, find your vinyasa, plant your hands, step or jump your feet behind you, and lower, same exhale. Inhale, heart spreads wide, shoulder blades kiss. Exhale, find your Downward-Facing Dog. Beautiful, take a deep breath in. Notice the gift you've already given by beginning to move your body with your breath.

Take a deep inhale here. As you exhale, step your right foot forward, lower your back heel, and then windmill up, finding Warrior II. In Warrior II, your hips are squared to the long edge of the mat. Your right knee is opening toward your right pinky toe. Energetically, you're drawing your heels together, lifting up.

Your shoulder blades are coming together while your fingers are spread wide, and away from each other. Take a deep inhale in your Warrior II. As you exhale, find your vinyasa. You can always skip the vinyasa by pressing back to Down Dog. Your vinyasa might include (laughs) knees chest and chin, it might include lowering your knees for Chaturanga.

Trusting in the integrity of your breath to find your way. Take a deep inhale here. As you exhale, step your left foot forward between your hands, ground through your back foot, and then inhale up, Warrior II second side. Same direction in this Warrior II, you're grounding through the back edge of your back heel, lifting out of your pelvis, lifting your ribs off of your pelvis, spreading through your collarbones. Your gaze is soft, and it's over your front middle finger.

The crown of your head lifts. What if you took the tension out of your face? Take an inhale in your Warrior II. As you exhale, you're finding your vinyasa. Same exhale, breath lowers you down as you bend your elbows.

As you inhale Upward Dog. As you exhale, find your Down Dog, and breathe. In Down Dog, without moving anything, think about your shins coming together and your thighs coming apart. Does that create any more space in your lungs? Your entire body is connected to one another, so when you make a micro movement shift, everything changes.

Take a deep inhale. Exhale it out. As you inhale, slowly lift your right heel up. Careful not to open through your right hip. Spread your right toes.

As you exhale, step right through your hands, inhale up, finding Warrior II. On this exhale, straighten through your right leg. You might walk the back foot in a little bit. Inhale, reach long. Exhale, find Trikonasana, Triangle Pose.

In Triangle Pose, same thing, your heels are moving toward one another, your hips are coming away from your shoulders, your spine's extending long, crown of head forward, right hand down, might be on a block, perhaps the floor, left hand reaches up. If your neck will allow, you can look up at your thumb. One thing I like to do is close my left eye and check for alignment by looking through my right eye at my right thumb, what's there. This is a heart opener, how much can you extend your heart? Inhale here.

Exhale. And then as you inhale, like someone's pulling you up, find center. From here you're gonna pivot your right toes in, and then take your right hand up, bend through your elbow, take your left hand down, bend through your elbow, and clasp hold. Like me, your hands may not touch. You could grab a strap or just hold onto your shirt.

Everybody take an inhale here, and as you exhale, you're slowly going to fold with a straight spine down through the middle. Your weight's coming forward onto your toes. Your legs are ignited. You're allowing this opening in your left shoulder blade. If your head's all the way down on the floor, walk your feet together to give yourself more space.

Take a deep inhale here. Exhale it out. As you inhale, beginning of breath is the beginning of the movement, slowly, with a straight spine, come all the way back up to center. And here's where you're gonna feel this. Release your arms out wide.

You should feel an opening, especially in that left shoulder. From here, pivot your right toes back to the front, and then step forward to the front of your mat. Inhale, reach your arms up, lengthen, look up. Exhale, fold all the way down. Inhale, reach long.

Exhale, plant your hands, step or jump back, and lower. As you inhale, your heart leads. As you exhale, finding your Downward-Facing Dog. Beautiful work. Take a deep inhale.

Exhale it out, all the breath leaves your body. Inhale here. Exhale it out, maybe making a sound, hah, hah. As you inhale, lift your left heel to the high. Your hips are square, pulling your left leg into your core.

On your next exhale, bend through your left knee, step it forward, ground through your right foot, windmill up. Warrior II, second side. Take your left knee out and over your left pinky finger, here, to your degree. Mmhm. Feel for taking your hip points forward in this position.

Using your breath to lift your lower ribs off of your pelvis. Good, and then, you're doing two directions at once, you're both squeezing your shoulder blades together and spreading your hands apart. Consider the energy is flowing through the outside of your fingertips, the pose doesn't stop at the mat. It goes beyond the walls of the room that you're in. Take an inhale in your Warrior II.

As you exhale, straighten through your front knee. You might toe-heel your back foot in a little bit. And then you're gonna inhale, reach forward, hips go back. As you exhale, lower your left hand down, reach your right arm up. You're getting length in the side body.

Your shoulder blades are coming together, and your shoulders are coming down away from you as you extend your right arm high. You might place a block underneath your bottom foot. Your hips are going back, right thigh rolls down, left thigh rolls in. Take an inhale. As you exhale, you might look up, if there's any tension in your neck, drop that, (laughs) look forward.

Take a deep inhale here. As you exhale, turn your right hand this way and like someone's pulling you up, inhale back up to stand. This time you're gonna pivot your toes in. I'm gonna turn around and show you from the front. Back to where we started, this time it's your left hand that comes up, your elbow bends, your right thumb turns down, elbow bends, find the wrap on the opposite side.

Outside of your feet, press down, and our arches lift up. Inhale, look up. As you exhale, slowly lower with a straight spine all the way down. Recognizing here, you know, my hands are probably a foot apart from each other. (laughs) Letting yourself be where you are, it's part of the practice of integrity, not cranking, not striving, not always being so far beyond your edge that you're not able to enjoy and feel the sensations of your body gently opening. This practice is not a performance, it's a practice.

So you're not posing here, you're not perfecting, you're feeling, being with the sensations. This is a heart opening pose, that's opening through your right shoulder, and your left. Take one more inhale here. Exhale all the breath out. And then pressing down to go up, your spine is long as you inhale all the way up to stand.

And then as you exhale, release your hands. Allow that to settle into your shoulders. And then pivoting this time your right foot forward, you're gonna step again to the top of your mat. Hands are in Prayer. From here we're gonna find the Tree Pose.

So I'm gonna turn and face you. Together, we're gonna stamp down through our right foot, like it is solid. Maybe even feel for the roots from the bottom of your heel dipping into the earth beneath you, and then when you've got that ground, slowly reach your left foot up and in. Your left foot might come into your calf, and potentially it's gonna come into your thigh. Where you place that foot has to do with the alignment in your body.

Consider the integrity in this posture. Your left knee is coming out to the side to your degree, your hip points are coming forward, and again your ribs are coming off of your pelvis, which allows for space in your collarbone. Take your hands now to your heart. Feel for the outside edge of your left foot and the outside edge of your pinky pressing into your thigh. If it's available for you, you can release your hands on an inhale, reach them high.

Finding your tree. Tailbone comes in and up. Deep breath. One thing that helps balance is to look at one thing that's not moving, using your breath to find stability. Take an inhale here.

As you exhale, bring your hands back through heart center, and then release. Notice any thoughts that arise around how you were able to do or not do that pose, let them go. (laughs) This time it's your left foot that's gonna stamp down into the ground, imagining the roots coming down through that heel and then spreading out. Once you've got your left foot rooted, lift your right foot up, maybe to your calf, just avoiding the knee, and perhaps into your right thigh. From here, your right knee is pressing back and out away from you. Remember this pose on the ground?

We're doing it again. Taking your hip points in and up. Take your thumbs to heart center. Using your breath to stay rooted, finding the integrity in this posture. If it's available for you and you'd like to challenge your balance here, release your hands on an inhale and lift them up.

Your pinky fingers are coming in. Shoulder blades kissing in the back. Take an inhale. As you exhale, get rooted. As you inhale, the crown of your head lifts.

On your next exhale, take your hands back together, palms to heart center, and then release. From here you're gonna do a foreword fold, taking your peace fingers to the outside of your big toes. As you inhale, reach your bum back and the crown of your head forward, bend your knees 90 degrees, and as you exhale, slowly straighten your legs, gluing your chest to your thighs, take the tension out of your neck. To your degree, your legs may come all the way to straight, but what's important is that you keep your chest glued to your thighs, so if that requires a big bend in your knee, bend your knee. (laughs) What you're doing here is opening up your sacrum. It's not really a hamstring stretch so much as a sacrum opening.

Take a deep breath in. Pull up with your fingers and press down with your toes, hah. One more breath in. As you exhale, release. Toe-heel your feet back together, and then roll yourself back up to stand.

Let's try one more standing balance. This is going to be the same position that we were in on the floor as we began. Take your right foot, stamp it into the ground. Feel for the roots underneath your heel. Lift the inner arch.

And then when you're ready, take your left knee into your chest. Remember this from the floor? Feel for evenness in your hips here. And then some of you are gonna take one hand to your hip and open up your left knee out to the side. It's a lot of opening.

Others may not feel sensation there, and you can take your left peace fingers around your left toe, straighten your left foot out forward, and then opening it out to the side. Either position, you might wanna take your right hand out to the right. Here you're feeling for taking your ankle off of your foot. You're evening out through your hips. You're taking your ribs off of your pelvis, and out, crown of your head lifts.

If you'd like to challenge your balance, you can look out over your right thumb. If you're me, you get to look out and see some waves outside and be so grateful for that opportunity. Everybody inhaling, come back to center with your gaze, and with your foot as well, and then squeeze that knee in before setting it down and switching sides. So now you're gonna stamp through your left foot, mmhm, and then bend your right knee, squeeze it in. Some of you are gonna take left hand to left hip and open up through right knee.

This is a lot of opening, (laughs) it requires a significant amount of balance. It's not better to do it extended, it's simply different. Find the integrity in your pose. If you have the flexibility in this moment, take your right peace fingers around right toe, and then on an inhale breath, slowly open that leg out to the right. You can take your left hand out to the left.

And if it feels like it would be beneficial to you in this moment, you can take your gaze out over your left thumb. If you're doing so, feel for evenness in your hips. Allow the breath to lift the crown of your head up. Exhale, root down. Inhale, gaze comes forward, right leg comes forward, squeezing right knee in, and exhaling, letting it all go.

Beautiful work. As you inhale, you're gonna reach your arms out and up. As you exhale, find Chair Pose. In Chair Pose, your weight's coming back onto your heels. Tail comes in, chest lifts up.

And then very slowly come up onto your heels. Where's your breath? Begin to lower your hips to your heels while keeping your spine as straight as you can to your degree. You're gonna find yourself in a toe stand here. Take an inhale.

As you exhale, go ahead and lower your knees, hopefully you're a little further back on your mat than I am, all the way down to the ground. Good. You might wanna take your mat and tuck it under, if your mat's thin or your knees need some extra support. Keep your toes tucked under, let your heels come up. And then take your hands behind you, pressing into your sacrum.

And imagine that there's a wall in front of you and that your hip points are touching against that wall, or the most forward part of your body is touching against that wall. So the idea is to keep the integrity in the lower part of your body, using your hands as support, as you inhale and lift your heart up. You're lifting your heart up through what I call the armpits. Mmhm. And so, first, in your inhale and exhale, continue to look forward.

Your hips are pressing forward, heart's lifting, and then if you feel more space, let your chin come up, and maybe let your gaze go back. Inhale, you're lifting up. Exhale, hold. Inhale, big heart opener. And as you exhale, slowly come all the way back up to center.

You're gonna release your hips back down to your heels. Take an inhale here, and on the exhale, we're gonna om together. Inhale. Om. Let's do that one more time.

Coming back up, hips over knees, spread your knees underneath your hips, tuck your toes underneath you, unless you know you have the space to reach down for your heels. Taking your hands behind you. Same thing. Inhale, reach your heart up. Keep your pelvis tilted forward.

And as you exhale, you might look up. Some of you might play with releasing your hands and grabbing onto your heels, keeping again that wall's in front of you, touching the wall with your thighs. Inhale, look up, you might drop your head back. As you exhale, slowly lift your chin, bringing hands maybe to heart center. And then lowering again your hips to your heels.

One more time, we're gonna inhale and exhale om. Inhale. Om. Love that feeling, just opens up the heart. From here, we're gonna just find a Forward Fold.

So taking your feet out in front of you, inhale, reach your arms up above you. Feet are flexed. As you exhale, leading with the heart, come forward to your degree. Taking any roundness out of your spine, the roundness in the spine generally comes from our striving. It's our ego wanting to get to our feet or get to the edge of our mat.

Letting your heart lead creates a different sensation, and an opening. You can take your hands down to the mat, and you may have the flexibility to keep your spine straight and come all the way down. Let yourself release, finding your Forward Fold. For some of you it might feel more comfortable to take your heels apart. Finding your release.

We come to this mat, and we come to this practice, and we come into our breath to release the tension that we build up in our bodies. When we release the tension, we have more access to sensation. The sensation gives us a clue about our emotion, about our well-being. The emotions that we hold are our teachers. Those teachers help navigate and guide us to live lives that are full of care and self-love and compassion.

Lives that are full of being and integrity, both on and off the mat. Your next inhale, use your hands pressing down to lift your spine up. You're gonna take your left knee, you bend it, place it underneath you, and then take your right knee into your chest, right foot on the floor. Pressing down through the toe mound of your right foot, locking down through your right hip, take your right fingertips behind you. You might wanna block here to support you.

Inhale, reach your left arm high. As you exhale, take your left elbow outside of your left knee, if that's available to you. It may not be, and if so, this is an alternative. Some of you might even wanna find a bind. The position you're in is not what's important, it's the breath that you're feeling within you.

Take an inhale here. Allow your left hip to come forward, to create more space in your thoracic spine. As you exhale, you might look over your shoulder, as long as your spine's what's guiding the twist. Inhale here. Exhale, find your deepest twist.

And then inhale back to center. From here, you're simply gonna take your fingertips down, switch your legs out. So this time it's your right knee that's on the floor, left foot that comes up and over. It's important that your left foot is glued to the mat, including that toe mound. And then this time take your left fingertips behind you, inhale, reach right arm up to the high, and as you exhale, take your right elbow, if it's available, outside of your right thigh.

Again, a great alternative is to wrap around that crease of your knee. As you inhale, create length in you spine. And as you exhale, twist even deeper. As you inhale, space through the vertebrae. As you exhale, you might even look over your left shoulder.

Inhale one more, lengthening. And exhale, release. From here, take both feet out in front of you. Might walk your hips forward. And you're gonna allow yourself to slowly lay back all the way down onto the mat.

I'm gonna give a couple of alternatives here. One is to press into your feet and lift your hips up, finding a Bridge Pose. In Bridge Pose, you might come to support your lower spine by taking your elbows in line with your shoulders and your hands around your sacrum, kind of like how we had in Camel Pose earlier. This is a beautiful, supported Bridge, and a wonderful place to stay. From here, some of you might wanna find Shoulder Stand, depending on the availability of your cervical vertebrae, and just any neck injury that might prevent it, or what you feel like you need in this moment.

If you're coming into Shoulder Stand, two options. One is to lower back down from Bridge and simply lift your feet up into Waterfall Pose. Beautiful, relaxing place to be as we close out the practice. Another alternative from Bridge is keeping your hands on your lower spine, and then slowly lifting one foot and then the other into Shoulder Stand. Taking your hands behind your spine, spreading through your toes.

Taking your elbows closer toward one another, (laughs) and lifting up with your feet. This pose is not benign, so your thighs are coming out away from each other in the back, and rolling in toward each other in the front. Toes are spread. Your breath is deep. Take a deep inhale.

If it would feel comfortable for you as you exhale you can lower your feet behind you, finding Plow Pose or Halasana. If you found Plow, continue supporting your spine. Or if you know it's available, you can take your hands into a bind and onto the floor. You can place the tops of your feet on the floor. It might feel yummy and delicious to bend your knees and find Deaf Man's Pose.

You might have everything that you need by simply staying in your variation of Halasana, Plow Pose. Being in integrity is really honoring your body, and honoring its needs, not striving to be somewhere that you're not, or somewhere that someone else is in your perception. It's really trusting in your own wisdom and right where you are. If you're in Plow Pose, slowly, using your breath, one vertebrae at a time, you're gonna lower your legs all the way back down to the mat. Good.

And my suggestion would be, bend your knees and squeeze them in, giving yourself a thank you for this practice, for what showed up for you, for how you showed up to it, for this mat underneath you that held you safely while you practice being in self-investigation and self-reflection. And then when you're ready, release your legs, release your hands, you might press into your elbows and pull your shoulder blades in and underneath you. You might press into your heels and lift your pelvis in and underneath you, finding as much extension as you can in your limbs. And here's the time to let everything go, including the breath. If you've been using ujjayi breath throughout the practice, you can let it go.

Allow your breath to be natural, organic. Allow all the tension to release from your entire body. Every part of you that's touching the floor. Be grounded by that sensation. Your heels, your calves, your bum, shoulder blades, wrists, elbows, back of your head.

Let all the tension in your front body release and fall away. Allow the tension in your jaw to relax. Any tightness in your third eye center, let it go. Allow your eyeballs to fall back into their sockets. Allow your lips to gently part, and your tongue to fall away from the roof of your mouth.

Allowing yourself to just be and breathe. Staying with the stillness, allow your thumbs to touch your fingertips, your pointer fingers. And then allow your thumbs to touch your middle fingers. And now your ring finger. And your pinky finger.

And as you do so, notice that you're touching a one-of-a-kind piece of art. That that fingerprint that you're touching with your thumb is unique, there's not any like it. There are no replication even if you have an identical twin, you're the only person on Earth with this fingerprint. Let this be symbolic to you. Knowing that you're the only person on Earth with your specific gifts, with your history, with your personality, with your talents and your skills and your abilities.

You're the only one who's ever been though all of the moments in your life. You're the only one with your destiny to fulfill. You're the one that's responsible for being inside of and inhabiting your dharma. It's yours for the taking, and there's no substitute for you. That's powerful.

Allow now your feet to rotate around on the axis of your ankles. Take your thumbs away from your very beautiful fingertips and reach your hands above your head, giving yourself a long stretch, maybe pointing through your toes. And then finding your way onto your side, bringing your knees into your chest, maybe letting your head rest on your right arm, your left hand in front of you. Remembering that every time we come to our mat, we give ourselves the opportunity to be renewed. This is my favorite position in yoga, actually, this fetal position that's a reminder of the rebirth available, and the reawakening available to us when we give ourselves the chance to be inside of our body and in tune with our breath, moving with consciousness.

With that wisdom, take your left hand and press your body back up to seated, where we began, and join me in a comfortable cross-legged position for you. If you would take your hands to heart center. Dear spirit, we thank you for the opportunity and for the privilege of being inside of these bodies. We thank you for the opportunity and the privilege of being able to be inside of this breath. May we recognize the responsibility that comes with such great privilege.

May the words that we speak be truthful, may we be impeccable with our choices of words, those that we speak to ourselves about ourselves and to others. May our thoughts be loving. May they be pure. May they not provoke harm but prevent it. May our actions be guided by kindness.

May we be in integrity and in alignment in every moment. And may we be compassionate and forgiving when we can't find our way. May we always be in recognition of the love that is home to each of us. And so it is. Slowly open your eyes, honoring the light inside of you, the wisdom inside of you, and the integrity of you.

Namaste. Thank you for joining me in this practice.

Comments

1 person likes this.
Absolutely beautiful practice. Thank you.
1 person likes this.
I love every minute of this practice. A favorite for sure.
1 person likes this.
I enjoyed this practice and will repeat again.
hi
1 person likes this.
I love this practice!! Thank you Melody!! :)))
1 person likes this.
This was beautiful, thank you so much. x
Thank you Melody! I love practicing with you!!!
Thank you for the reminders to step back from 100% effort and striving, and to note the influence of the ego. Loved this practice and look forward to seeing more practices from you Melody! 

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