Yoga for Depression Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 5

Inner Calm Flow

30 min - Practice


Denise leads us through a flow sequence to promote a sense of inner calm and peace. We move through a series of postures to stretches to open and warm the body, standing postures to build strength, and build toward Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulder Stand). You will feel calm and inspired.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket (2), Strap, Block

About This Video


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Welcome back. Today we've got a practice that will center around focusing on inner calm and inspiration. And so the props that I think will be helpful, for you to have a block to sit as we begin and then also a strap and perhaps a couple of blankets as we progress into shoulder stand. Have a seat on your block. Taking it wide back between your feet so that both sitting bones rest comfortably on the block.

And then grab ahold of your strap and unroll it so that we can place it right at the hip and thigh crease as we begin. Hands to your hips. Inhale taking a big breath and open your mouth to release. As you breathe in, notice the slight rise of the chest and as you exhale, notice how it drops down. And if we exaggerate this, let's breathe in and tilt the hips slightly forward, creating a little bit of a back bend.

And then as you exhale, think about reaching the tailbone down towards the block. So that we flatten out the curve of your low back slightly. Inhale. If you imagine the hips as a bowl or the pelvis as a bowl that we tip forward and then exhale, take that the other way. Noticing the point where we pass through center.

So that there's a space right between the back bend and the flattened low back. Where we come into alignment. Find that center grounding into your feet pressing down into the sitting bones rising up through the crown of the head and then bring your hands to the strap, inhale lift up and exhale fold forward over your legs, turning your attention inward. Breathe in, make your way up and exhale fold forward. So that whole idea of lifting to fold over your legs.

Your sense of soothing and calm that comes from folding forward. Reach your hands back behind you, hook the thumbs together and as we breathe in here, draw your shoulders back. Find spaces just across the collarbones and exhale fold forward. Inhale reach up and then rehook the thumbs the other way, the way that feels a little odd, the non-dominant way. Draw the shoulders back, collarbones get wide and exhale fold forward.

Breathe your way back up and set your props off to the side. Finding your way to all fours. Stack hands right underneath your shoulders, knees right underneath your hips and we'll play with that pelvic tilt again so that we inhale draw your shoulders back, tip the bowl of the pelvis forward and then with the exhale, we take that the other way, and your tailbone reaches down towards your mat. Inhale we tilt the bowl forward, and exhale. Drive the bellybutton up towards your spine as the tailbone reaches down.

Inhale shoulders draw back, hips tip. Exhale and round through your spine. And come back and find the center in between the back bend and the flat low back, where you feel strong in the center of your body, curl your toes under, pick your knees up off your mat and take your hips way back into a bent knee version of downward facing dog. And here, we can also play with the pelvic tilt so that we're lifting to fold over the legs tipping the hips forward and then reaching the tailbone back. Starting to straighten out through the legs as much as feels okay.

Tipping the hips forward. Feeling what it feels like to take the tailbone down towards the floor. Where center, where it feels like we're strong, drawing the ribs in towards your body and folding over your legs. Walk your hands back in towards your feet, coming into a standing forward fold and let your head hang heavy. Bring your hands to your hamstrings and then press your calves slightly forward until you feel your hamstrings turn on.

And that's where we want to be with the muscles active stretching deep in the center of the muscle as opposed to where the muscles attach themselves. Bring your hands to your hips and then inhale, come up all the way. Walk forward to the front of your mat. And choosing either toes together or the heels apart, whatever feels more comfortable for you, inhale reach your arms up, and exhale, we lift to fold over your legs, pressing the calves forward so you find that engagement in the hamstrings. Backs of the legs are working.

Breathe in, lift halfway, hands to your outer shins. And exhale, fold back down. With the breath, inhale all the way back up. And exhale, hands to your heart. We'll do that again.

Inhale, reach up. And exhale, fold forward. Rise up with a breath halfway. Exhale, fold. Strong through the legs come all the way up, and then breathe out, hands come to your heart.

If it feels comfortable for you on this one, try closing your eyes. Inhale, reach up. And as you exhale, feel yourself folding forward through space. Imagine anything you've been worried about, rolling off your shoulders. Imaging pouring your head out and allowing everything to roll onto the mat.

Hands up overhead, and then bring them back down to the heart. Inhale reach your arms up, exhale fold forward. Breathe in, lift up half way. Breathe out, fold back down any heaviness rolling off. And step your left foot back into a lunge, drop your left knee and press forward into that lunge until you find an opening or sensation along the hip flexor.

And start to draw the right thigh back in towards it's hip until it feels like you're about to drag the heel in towards your body and then inhale, sweep your arms up. Exhale, sweep down. Inhale, make your way up. Exhale, sweep down. Press forward into your lunge, and draw that right thigh back in towards its hip until we get as straight as feels okay, flexing through your right foot, spreading out your toes.

And once again, we find that sensation of lifting to fold over that leg. Inhale, get long. Exhale, fold. Taking your attention to the sensation that you feel. Noticing how it changes.

And press back into your lunge. Hands to your mat, curl the toes under on that back leg, step the right foot back to meet the left, take it down onto your knees, bend your elbows, look forward as you lower. Inhale, we press away from the mat, shoulders draw back. And then exhale, curl your toes under, lift the hips way up and back, downward facing dog. Pressing back into the heels, straightening out the legs as much as feels alright.

And then we shift forward. Step the left foot up, in between your hands and drop your right knee. You flatten out the foot and then find the sensation on this side, lean in. Noticing which is your open hip or your cranky hip. And then we start to draw the thigh back, reach the arms up over head.

Dropping in. And reaching up. Opening the hip flexor, and strengthening the leg. Coming down and starting to draw the left thigh back in towards its hip. Finding as much extension on that front leg as feels okay, we flex through the foot.

Maybe spread out the toes as you draw your shoulders back, lift the heart, lift the hips, and fold forward over that extended leg. Inhale, lengthen. Exhale, allow your attention to turn inward. Inhale, we get long. And exhale, we fold.

Bend back in to that left knee. Curl the toes under on that back foot, step it forward. Inhale, lift halfway. Exhale, fold. Rise up with the breath all the way, and empty out your breath, hands to your heart.

Inhale, take your arms up. Exhale, fold forward. Breathe in, lift halfway. Exhale, hands down. Step the feet back into a high push up or plank pose.

Gaze out in front of you, hips drop so the body is in one straight line and then take the knees down, bend your elbows as you lower towards your mat. Inhale, draw your shoulders back. Engage the low belly as you press away. And exhale, curl your toes under, downward facing dog. Breathe in and take your right leg up into the air.

And breathe out, step the foot all the way up between your hands. Come up onto your finger tips, bend deeply into that front leg as your draw the thigh back in towards its hip, back leg presses straight back. Big inhale here and then start to reach your arms forward. Sweep the hands back. We hook the thumbs just like before as you lift the shoulders up over the hips.

And then soften into your back leg, allow the tailbone to drop down towards the floor, engage the low belly. Keep that, as you press that back leg straight back as much as feels alright, as you lift the heart and gaze over your cheeks. Release your hands down. Right leg goes up and back, downward facing dog. Inhale, bring the left leg up.

Exhale, step it all the way up between your hands. Come up onto your finger tips, stay on the ball of that back foot. Draw the left thigh strongly back in towards its hip socket. And we start to reach forward, lift the belly up off that thigh and then sweep the hands back behind you, hook the thumbs the way that feels funny and float the shoulders right over the hips. It's strong legs, but soften into that back leg.

Send the tailbone towards the floor, engage the lower abdominals and then press straight back through that back leg as you lift the heart. Exhale, hands down. Left leg goes up and back. Downward facing dog. Empty out all your breath, bend your knees, look forward, and you can hop, or step your way up to the front of your mat.

Inhale, lift halfway. Exhale, fold. Strong legs as you rise up all the way. And get empty, hands to your heart. Notice the energy in your body.

Notice where your attention is. If it's not on your mat or in your body, notice where it's gone, and invite it back. Back to your breath. Bring your hands to the thighs, drop them down towards your mat, and reach the arms forward and now coming into chair. Exhale, fold forward.

Inhale, lift halfway. Exhale, hands down, step the feet back. Option to take your knees or to bend at the elbows and lower to a hover. Inhale, we press away from the mat, maybe off the knees and thighs. And then exhale, all the way back, downward facing dog.

Taking a big breath, reach straight back through that right heel. Exhale, step it all the way through. This time, we drop that back heel flat, keep plugging the right thigh in, reach forward and up, sweep the hands back behind you, interlace the fingers or hook the thumbs, lift thought the heart. And we straighten out that front leg. Bring the hands back behind you, either with the fist together or you can bring the palms back together in reverse prayer.

Comfortable stance, right foot straight ahead, back foot is angled, as we lift up the heart and fold forward over that front leg. Keep drawing the right thigh back, keep drawing the shoulders back as we fold forward. Inhale, lift up. And exhale fold. Inhale, lengthen.

And exhale, fold. Notice the point where the back wants to round. Resist that by drawing the shoulders back, tipping the hips, bowl of the pelvis tipping forward. Bring your hands to the hips, quick release as you come up. Hands down to your mat.

Step the right foot back, downward facing dog. Breathe in and take the left leg straight up and back. Exhale, step it forward. Ground down into the back foot. Inhale, reach the arms forward and up.

Sweep the hands back behind you. We interlace, lift the heart. And then release your hands, straighten out that front leg, find that hand position that worked for you last time, fist together or palms together. We breathe in, draw your shoulders back, collarbone's wide. And as you exhale, strongly draw the left thigh back, folding forward.

Breathing and lifting up. Exhale fold. Pressing into that big toe. You may be activating the whole leg by drawing the calf slightly forward so all your muscles turn on. Folding and hands to your hips, come up all the way.

Release your hands down towards your mat and step it back, downward facing dog. Empty out all your breath, bend your knees, look forward and you can hop or step your way up. Inhale, lift half way. Exhale, fold. Then drop your thighs down towards your mat.

Reach your arms forward and now back into the chair where this all started. And then exhale, hands together in front of your heart. And step out to the side. So we come into a wide angle stance with your toes pointing straight ahead. Taking the stance about as wide as your wingspan and bring your hands to your hips.

We activate through the feet lifting up the toes and then imagine squeezing a beach ball in between the knee is to get the activation in the legs as you lift up, and guess what, fold forward over the legs. You can release the hands down to the mat, down to blocks. Inhale, coming up half way. Exhale, fold. Option to stay here, or reach your hands back behind you, we interlace and take your arms overhead.

Keep hugging in towards center with the legs, keeping them working and active. And remembering to breathe. Noticing where your attention is, calling it onto your mat, into your body. And you release your hands to your hips. Inhale, we come up all the way.

And step or hop the feet together. Inhale, take your arms up. And exhale, make your way down onto your mat. And now will be a good time to grab your blankets. So grab ahold of at least two blankets and place them on the center of your mat.

With the neat edge facing away from you. And then we'll turn around and lie back onto the blankets. So that your shoulders rest on the edge of the blanket but the back of your head actually rest off. And the reason we do this is so that there's plenty of space for your neck so that you're comfortable as we draw your heels in and reach for the heels with your fingertips and then breathe in, reach your knees away from you, and find your way into bridge pose. So here, hamstrings active, glutes are soft and relaxed.

And then exhale, slowly release down. Inhale here, press into the mat with the feet, reach the knees forward and then let's work the opening of the chest a bit by grabbing ahold of the edges of your mat and coming up onto the shoulders. So we lift through the chest a bit more. Option to stay here, or if you're breathing easy, you can interlace your fingers back behind you. Keeping the lift of the shoulders, neck is spacious.

A few breaths here. And then slow release, bringing the hips down. Hands right by your sides. Big inhale as we exhale, let's draw the knees in towards the chest and then take your feet all the way up overhead. Coming into halasana, or plow pose.

And same idea, where we want to keep on top of the shoulders. So we either grab ahold of the edges of the mat or you can even take your hands out. Find tops of the shoulders, keeping the chest broad and wide. Back body is wide. And we bring your hands to your low back and slowly start to reach up through the legs.

Coming to stack. And the knees right over the hips, the ankles right over the knees. Elbows are drawing in, fingers are pointing up towards the sky. And we're working the energy of the legs, spreading out your toes, getting the benefits of the inversion of shoulder stand, keeping the gaze straight up. And counting out your breaths.

Maybe five, maybe ten, maybe longer. Tailbone reaching up towards your heels. And once your ready to come out, especially if there's any discomfort, soften your knees, bring the feet back up overhead and slowly roll your way out. Noticing the effects of getting upside down. And press into your feet, slide off the blanket so that the shoulders and the shoulder blades come onto your mat.

Elbows are soft by your sides, into a soft fish. Shoulders down as an inversion is suppose to be soothing and centering. Helping to cultivate a sense of inner calm. And as you're ready, roll to one side. Use your arms and hands to make your way up and set your blankets off to the side.

You have the option of even sitting at the edge of your blankets if you like, as we come into staff pose, dandasana. Legs extended straight out in front of you, hands right by your sides. We inhale, lift the heart. And exhale, walk your hands out, fold forward over your legs. Breathing in, lengthening, and exhale, leaning in.

Feeling free to grab ahold of the ankles, the feet, the shins, the calves, whatever is accessible. Inhaling and exhaling. When we activate through the whole leg, press the calf slightly up towards you so we feel the opening and the engagement of the hamstrings. And then reach through the heels. And then go from this active stretch into a more passive stretch.

We allow the arms to go limp, you allow the head to hang heavy and the feet to relax. And notice the difference. Perhaps take a little sway here from side to side. Noticing the low back. And walk your hands in towards your body.

Roll your way up and make your way onto your back. Lie back. Hug your knees in. Take your feet to the floor and slowly allow your knees to drop over to your right. Inhale your way back to center and exhale over to the other side.

Find your way back to center, straighten out your legs and let all the efforts of your practice come together. Noticing how you can change your inner state. How you could create a sense of inner calm. How if you're able to imagine a state of well being. You're able to create it.

That you are that strong. And you have that inside of you. And linger here for as long as you like. And whenever you're ready, draw your knees back in towards your chest. Roll your way over to one side, soaking up the benefits of your practice.

Use your arms and hands to make your way up. Finding your way to a comfortable seat, closing your eyes and sensing the changes that you brought about. Knowing that through your practice, you're able to come home to who you really are. Bringing your hands together and folding forward with namaste. The light in me, honors the light in you.


1 person likes this.
Denise has the wonderful combination of a calm, soothing voice and clear, encouraging instructions that really helped me glide through each step of this practice.
Thank you Paula! I appreciate the feedback.
1 person likes this.
I found this really calming and grounding. Thank you so much!
Wonderful to hear you found your inner calm Nadia! Thank you for sharing your experience.
In gratitude,

This is the second day in a row where I just wanted to savor Savasana. Yesterday, my cat Cassidy snuggled into my side-body (with purrs), after climbing over me in the last poses before Savasana. She does this a lot! 

No such luck today, but there are two things I want to share: 

I have been struggling with Plow pose (how to get my feet to touch behind my head). Lots of fear. I tottered this morning, but after the shoulder stand, I relaxed and let my teetering toes down.  

Also, when we were in seated forward fold, I went really deep with the yang stretch, and then miraculously, I relaxed into the yin part just as suggested. I don't recall ever experiencing the juxtaposition with so much clarity and so quickly.   

Bravo David Goldstein ~ you describe examples of finding both effort and ease in your practice.  And by all means, savor savasana! Be well, Denise 

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