Too Tight to Stretch Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 6

Defy the Desk

40 min - Practice
25 likes
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Description

Emily guides us in an accessible practice designed to stretch and open the chest, hip flexors, and hamstrings. We create length in the side body and shoulders, before moving through basic sun salutations. This practice results in greater freedom, relief, and ease in the entire body.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Strap, Block (2)

Transcript

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(waves crashing) Hi, everyone, welcome back. This practice is a practice to help you if you've been sitting at your desk a lot today, so we'll be doing a lot to reverse the keyboard position and opening up the hip flexors and strengthening the back body a little bit. So I hope that you enjoy this practice, and I hope it helps to give a little relief into your body. So I'm going to have you start standing in Mountain pose. So you'll just stand with your feet parallel, your toes pointing forward, feet hip width apart, and try to bring your weight slightly back into your heels and stack your knees over your ankles, and your hips over your knees, and your rib cage over your hips, and you shoulders over your ribs, and then just slide your skull back a little bit so that your ears are the top of that tower.

And then just feel your feet on the earth, and take a few breaths, and just close your eyes as you do this, just to tune in and feel the breath moving through your body. (breathing) And notice any sensations that you may be experiencing in your body in this moment, anywhere that needs a little bit of extra attention from you. Allow your eyes to open. Gaze out just across the horizon, and then on your next in breath, spin your palms out, and sweep your arms up. Bring them shoulder width apart alongside the ears, and as you breathe out, spin your palms down and lower your arms all the way back down to your sides, and just do that a few more times.

Inhale, spinning the palms out, sweeping the arms out and up, and exhale, sweeping the arms out and down. Inhale, spin the palms out. As you sweep your arms up, just notice the ease in your shoulders. It may be there, and it may not be there. (laughing) And just pay attention as you move how each movement affects your body. Let's do one more round after the one that you're on now.

Exhale everything out as you sweep your arms down, and then one more time. Spin the palms out, inhale. Sweep the arms out and up. Arms come shoulder width apart, and exhale, spin the palms down and sweep your arms out and down. And I'll have you find a block, and you'll take your block in your hands and have your palms facing one another, and then just shrug your shoulders up towards your ears, and slide your shoulders back and down, and then see if you can find Mountain pose again.

So feet are parallel, hip width apart, weight slightly back into the heels, and as you take your next inhale, you'll stretch your arms up as far as you can, without your rib cage thrusting forward and coming into a back bend. So you're going to try to maintain Mountain pose with your rib cage and your pelvis and your low back as you press your palms into your block, weight slightly back into the heels, and you're extending between the heels and the fingertips. And then see if you can find your breath again as you maintain this pose, and what you may find is that because of tightness in the shoulders, you may need to have your arms a little bit further forwards so that you can keep your low ribs down, and that's just absolutely fine. Let's take one more breath where you are, and then on your next exhale, lower the arms all the way down, and then just set your block off to the side. From here, bring your right hand to your hip.

Stretch your left arms up alongside your ear, and on your next exhale, just start to shift your hips to the left and side bend to the right. Breathing here and getting a nice stretch through the side body and the low back, even through the outer left hip. If your neck is feeling tight, you're welcome to just turn the head and look down towards the floor. As you take your next inhale, slowly make your way all the way back up through center, and exhale. Sweep your left arm down, and bring your left hand to your hip, and inhale.

Sweep your right arm out and up. Again, just finding Mountain pose through the legs, and as you exhale, start to side bend to your left and shift your hips to the right, and finding your breath and feeling that nice stretch through the right side of the body, dropping the left shoulder down away from the ear, and again, you can turn your head to look down towards the floor to relax your neck. As you inhale, come all the way back through to center. Release your right arm down. So now we'll take two blocks to use for our sun salutations.

So you'll bring your blocks to the top of your mat, and you'll place them just a little bit wider than your feet are in mountain pose on the tallest side. So feet are hip width apart and parallel, toes pointing forward, weight slightly back towards the heels, and hands to a prayer in front of the heart. And then as you inhale, spin your palms out. Sweep the arms out and up, and as you exhale, bend the knees. Hinge at your hips, and fold forward, bringing your hands to your blocks.

As you inhale, slide your hands up to your knees and arch up halfway, and then as you exhale, fold forward again, and you can straighten your legs until you feel a comfortable stretch here. On your next inhale, bend your knees, lift your chest, and sweep your arms out and up, and come all the way back up to stand. And then with your exhale, sweep the arms out and down, and join your hands back to a prayer in front of the heart. Inhale, sweep the arms out and up, and you may find here that you'd like to bring your hands a little bit closer together, maybe even your palms touch, and then with your exhale, bend your knees, hinge at your hips, and fold forward. Hands come to your blocks.

Drop your head. Inhale, slide your hands to your knees. Arch up halfway. Exhale, fold, and this time, maybe straighten your legs a little bit more as you fold. Slight bend the knees.

Lift your chest. Inhale, sweep the arms out and up. Rise all the way back up to stand, and exhale, release your hands down. Hands join together in front of the heart. Last one like this.

Inhale, sweep the arms out and up. Exhale, bend the knees, hinge at the hips, fold forward. Inhale, halfway. Exhale, fold. Press through your feet.

Lift the chest, inhale. Sweep the arms out and up. Rise all the way back up to stand, and then as you exhale, release your arms down, and the hands can join back to the heart center. Next time you inhale, sweep the arms out, and as you exhale, bend your knees. Hinge at your hips, and fold forward, and then from here, on your inhale, bend your knees a little bit deeper.

Reach your hips back, and let your hands come down between the blocks with your palms facing one another. On your next breath out, draw the shoulder blades towards one another, and bend your elbows, keeping the back of the neck nice and long, and I just call this pose Grasshopper pose. And the next time you exhale, you'll fold all the way forward, and then we'll go into that again. We'll inhale. We'll bend the knees.

We'll lift the chest. We'll turn the palms to face one another. Draw the shoulder blades together. Bend the elbows, back of the neck long, Grasshopper. Exhale, fold forward.

Let's do that one more time. Inhale, bend your knees, lift your chest, Grasshopper pose. Really draw those shoulder blades together, and then with your exhale, fold all the way forward. Drop your head completely, and then as you inhale, bend your knees again. Lift the chest, sweep the arms out and up.

Rise all the way back up to stand, and then exhale. Release the arms down to your sides. Good, and then we're going to be making our way down onto the floor, and I'll take a blanket and place my blanket across my mat for just a little bit of extra padding. So you can do this as well if you know that your knees like a little cushioning, and then we'll make our way back to the front of the mat, and we'll keep our blocks as well. And then as you breathe in, sweep the arms up, and then as you breathe out, bend your knees, hinge at your hips, and bring your hands back to your blocks.

Step your left foot back, and set your knee down, coming into a low lunge. Slide your blocks back so that your wrists are just underneath your shoulders, and then as you breathe in, start to shift your hips forward. Keep lifting through the low belly here, and then as you breathe out, walk your hands back, and begin to straighten that front leg as much as you can until you find a comfortable stretch in a half split. And we'll just do that a few more times. We'll inhale, come forward, deepening the low lunge, and then with the exhale, walk the hands back, straightening the front leg until you find a comfortable stretch and half split.

Inhaling low lunge, exhale, half split. Good, and then the next time that you inhale, come into your low lunge, and just slide your front heel back just a little bit more so that you're shortening up your stance. It's almost like you're creating two 90 degree angles in your legs, and you can always stay right here if this feels like a pretty big stretch for you, and just breathe and begin to shift your hips forward, or else, bring your hands to your front thigh. And then lift slightly up through your low belly and think about scissoring your legs a little bit. So it's like you're pulling your front heel back and your back knee forward.

Bring your right hand to your hip. Stretch your left arm up alongside your ear. Take a big breath here. This may be enough stretch for you, or else on your exhale, begin to come into just a very slight side bend, and breathe. Good, with your inhale, come all the way back up to center.

Set your hands down onto your blocks, and then slide your right knee back alongside your left, and then step your left foot forward, and then again, as you inhale, you'll shift your hips forward, deepening your low lunge. And with your exhale, walk your blocks back, and begin to straighten that front leg. Inhale, walk the blocks forward, begin to deepen that lunge, and exhale. Walk the blocks back, coming into that half split position, and then we'll just do one more just like that. Inhaling your way forward, deepening the lunge, and then exhale, shifting back, finding that half split one last time, and then the next time that you inhale, walk forward into your low lunge.

Slide that front heel back a little bit so you're creating more of a 90 degree angle in the legs, and then slowly come on up. Lift up through the low belly. Think about drawing your left heel back, your right knee slightly forward, and then bring your left hand to your hip. Stretch your right arm up alongside your ear. Take a big breath in here, and as you exhale, if it feels comfortable, you'll just start to find a little bit of a side bend.

You should feel this deepen the stretch in your hip flexors on that right leg, and maybe even up a little bit into your abdomen, and the low back. On your next inhale, come all the way back through to center, bring your hands back down, and this time slide your left knee back alongside your right knee, and then let's just set one of our blocks off to the side, and we'll take our other block and bring it down to the lowest setting on our map. And then from here, we'll bring the knees back a little bit so that the knees are lined up directly under the hips. Tuck the toes under, and then bring the elbows down to the floor, and take your block, and bring your block right between your palms so that your thumbs are turning up. Let's try to have the elbows and the wrists the same distance apart.

Now if this is just too much on your shoulders, you'll move the block out of the way, and you'll interlace your fingers. Take an inhale. Exhale, lower your forehead down towards your mat. It may or may not touch, and wiggle your elbows forward just a little bit more. Press your palms into your block, and then bend your elbows and point your fingers up towards the ceiling.

So you should feel this start to open underneath your arms, your side body, the back of your arms. You're getting your triceps and your lats here, a little bit of the chest. See if you can start to really deepen your breath. Press the palms into the block and notice how that begins to actively open up the back of your shoulders. Take one more breath here, and as you exhale, lower your forearms back down to the floor.

Slide your hands back, and make your way back to your hands and knees. We'll set up for Downward Facing Dog, and you always have the option to work with half Downward Facing Dog, which is to keep your knees down, the toes tucked, and walk your hands forward as you stretch your hips back. This is always a great place to start if Down Dog isn't comfortable for you. Or else, you can join me in Downward Facing Dog, starting with your wrists beneath your shoulders, spread your fingers wide, roll the upper arms away from one another and drop your head. Press the floor away from you with your hands, and then step one foot straight back, and then the other hip width apart, and then start to lift your hips and bend your knees.

And let's be sure we start off our first Down Dog of this practice with the knees bent so that we give our hamstrings and our calves a lot of space. After a few breaths, if you decide that you'd like to begin to straighten your legs, feel free to start to send your heels down, but if that causes you to feel any discomfort, then just come back to that nice bent knee position. Let's take one more big breath in here, and then as you exhale, set your knees back down on your mat. Now set yourself up so that you have your knees right under your hips and your wrists right under your shoulders, and then one more time, let's establish that press of the hands into the ground. Roll the upper arms away from one another.

Step your right foot back, and place the ball of your right foot on the floor, and then crawl your left fingertips forward and just make a little cup shape with your hands so that you're just very lightly cupping the floor with your fingertips. Try to keep your pelvis nice and level, back of the neck long. You can stay right here. This is a nice core strengthening place to be, or else if you want a little bit more, start to lift your right foot up off the floor until it's at level. Imagine you have like a glass of water balancing on your sacrum, and you don't wanna spill it, so you're trying to keep your pelvis really level here.

You can stay here if you'd like to for this last couple of breaths. Stretch your left arm alongside your ear, turning your thumb up towards the sky. The next time that you exhale, set your hand down, and set your knee down. Then we'll move on to the other side, so you'll step your left foot back. Try to feel for your pelvis being nice and level here.

Crawl the right fingertips forward, gently cupping the floor with your fingertips, back of the neck long. You can stay right here, or else lift that back foot up off the floor. And if you want a little bit more challenge, you'll reach that right arm alongside the ear, sending your thumb towards the sky. Keep pressing the floor away from you with your left hand, and then as you're ready, slowly lower down your hand and your knee, and then just lay all the way down onto your belly. You can move your blanket just off to the side, and just slide that all the way out of the way, and then we'll just lay all the way down.

Once you're on your belly, bring your elbows just beneath your shoulders, coming into Sphinx pose. We'll have our feet just a little bit wider than our hips. We'll lift through the low belly, and try to keep the back of the neck nice and long here. Draw the navel back towards the spine, and then find your breath. Really allow the breath to move in through the open lungs.

(deep breathing) The next time that you exhale, allow the elbows to come out to the side, and bring your forehead down to the back of your hands. We'll set up for locust pose next, which is a little bit of a stronger back bend, so you always have the option to go back to Sphinx, or else bring your forehead down, stretch your arms down alongside your body, and walk your feet so that your feet are hip width apart. Initiate this back bend by gently pressing the pubic bone down towards the floor and drawing your navel towards your spine, and then as your take your next inhale, lift your chest, your legs, and your hands. Try to keep the back of your neck nice and long. Chin's towards the throat.

Just let your head go along for the ride here. Take three giant breaths, and as you do, you can feel your breath floating you up a little bit higher on your inhale, and a little lower on the exhale. And on your next exhale, lower on down. Bring your hands beneath your shoulders, and then stretch your hips back towards your heels, coming to a Child's pose. So you may stretch your hips halfway back.

You may stretch your hips all the way back, just depending on what feels comfortable for you and your body. On your next inhale, make your way up to your hands and knees, and then we'll find our blocks one more time to bring underneath our hands, and we'll turn our blocks onto the highest level again, and then let's step the right foot up between the hands, and what you may find is that you might have to reach underneath that foot and help it along, and that's totally fine. Have your feet and knees hip width apart. Tuck your back toes under, and then just lift your back knee up. So you're gonna be in a high lunge position.

This is a little bit more powerful, and so if this feels like too much, you're always welcome to set your back knee down and come back to that low lunge, half split variation. From here, take a nice big breath in, and as you breathe out, walk your blocks back, and begin to straighten that front leg until you feel a comfortable stretch, sending your left heel back. We'll just do that a few more times. We'll inhale, walk forward, high lunge. Exhale, walk the blocks back, and straighten out the front leg.

Inhale, shifting forward. Front knee bends. Exhale, straightening the front leg, and shifting back. Let's just do one more like that. Big breath in, front knee bends, reach through that back heel.

Walk your hands a little bit more forward, and then exhale, walk the hands back, and straighten out that front leg. Next time you come forward, you'll bend your front knee. Walk your hands forward, and then walk your hands to the inside of your right foot. You can stay right here in this variation of Gecko, or you can take it a little bit deeper by walking your blocks a little bit further forward and slightly diagonal. So you're kind of reaching towards that top left corner of your mat, reaching the left foot back, breathing deeply here.

(deep breathing) Good, on your inhale, walk yourself all the way back through so that the hands are on either side of your front foot again. Then we'll step the back foot up to meet the front foot, and step your right foot back for high lunge. Feet are hip width apart. Inhale deep in your lunge, tracking your front knee with your ankle, and then exhale. Straighten that front leg, and send your right heel straight back.

Inhale to high lunge, and exhale, shifting back to Pyramid pose, straightening that front leg. Good, let's do two more just like that, nice big breath in on your high lunge, and then breathing out as you walk your blocks back and walk your leg towards straight. Last one here, inhaling, deepening the lunge, reaching through that back heel. Exhale, straightening out that front leg, walking your hands back. Next time you inhale, bend your front knee.

Walk your hands to the inside of that left foot, and you can stay right here, or you'll start to walk your hands across so that you're framing that top right corner of your mat. Drop your head. Breathe deep. (deep breathing) On your next inhale, walk your hands back either side of your front foot. Set your back knee down, and slide your left knee back alongside your right, and then just for a moment, shift your hips back towards your heels.

You can slide those blocks off to the side. On your next inhale, you'll come on up and just shift your hips off to the side, and you'll come down on your back, and I'm just going to turn around so you have a little bit of a better view of what we're doing next. Find your strap, and you can place your blanket underneath your head. Come onto your back with your knees bent and your feet hip width apart, and then take your strap, and we'll bring the strap around the arch of the right foot. Straighten the right leg as much as it feels comfortable, and try to keep your knee just above your hip here.

Flex your foot so that you're drawing the toes back towards the face, and walk your hands little bit high on the strap so that you can completely relax your arms here. You can walk your shoulder blades down toward your hips, and give yourself just a few nice, long breaths, opening up the hamstrings and the calves that get so short from sitting. (deep breathing) From here, you'll take the strap off of the foot. Bend your right knee, and place your strap off to the side and cross your right ankle just above your left knee, and you can stay right here, gently pressing your right thigh away from you, or else, if you have a little bit more space, you can draw the knees in towards your chest, reach your right arm through the legs, and interlace your fingers behind the left thigh. If you can't reach behind your thigh, you can always take your strap and use your strap to create a little bit more extension between the hands, and we'll just stay here for just a few breaths, opening up the outer right hip.

You can let that lower left leg just completely relax. (deep breathing) Next time you exhale, release your hands. Place your left foot back down onto the floor, and cross your right thigh all the way over your left thigh. Stretch your arms out so that they're a T shape, and then just lift your hips and shift your hips over towards the right side of your mat. Take a big breath in, and as you exhale, slowly begin to lower the knees to the left, and if it feels comfortable, you can turn your head to the right.

And you can let the knees drop as low as they feel comfortable. Inhale, unwind, bring your legs all the way back through to center. Uncross your legs, and then let's find our strap again, and we'll do those three poses on the left side. So you'll bring the strap around the arch of your left foot, and begin to straighten that leg. You may or may not straighten all the way.

Crawl the hands up a little bit towards the foot, and then draw the shoulder blades down, breathing deeply here. (deep breathing) Think about sending your heel up towards the ceiling as you draw the toes back towards your face. Just stay for just two more nice and long breaths. The next time that you exhale, just take the strap off of your foot. Set it off to the side, and cross your left ankle just above your right knee.

Again, you can stay right here, gently pressing the thigh away, or draw the knees into the chest, holding behind the thigh, either interlacing your fingers or using your strap. Gently draw the left knee away from you as you flex the foot and breath deeply. (deep breathing) Good, on your next exhale, release your leg. Let your right foot come back to the floor. Stretch your arms out to the side in a T shape, and cross your left thigh all the way over your right.

Lift your hips. Shift your hips over to the left side of your mat. Take a big breath in, and as you exhale, drop your knees over towards the right, and if it's comfortable, turn your head left. Nice full breaths here, try to get your breath moving all the way down, deep into the belly. (deep breathing) On your next inhale, slowly unwind, uncross the legs, bring your hips back to center.

Find your strap one more time, and bring the strap around the arch of your right foot again. This time, hold both sides of the strap in your right hand, and begin to move your right leg out to the right, and turn your toes out, and then bend your right knee and draw your knee down towards your under arm. Send your tailbone down towards the floor as you do this, and continue to take those nice deep breaths here in half Happy Baby pose, feeling a little bit of a different opening in the back of your hip and your inner thigh. (deep breathing) Good, and then slowly release. Take the strap off of the right foot.

Draw the left knee in. Bring the strap around the arch of your left foot. Hold close to the foot, and move your leg slightly out to the left, and then turn your toes out and bend that knee, and then see if you can feel for sending your tail bone back down towards the floor. A lot of the times when we're tight in the inner thighs and in the back of the hip, our tailbone will want to tuck, but we're trying to untuck the tail, reverse some of that tucked tail positioning that we often have when we sit. (deep breathing) Good, give yourself just another nice long breath here, and then slowly release.

Take the strap off the foot. Set your strap off to the side, and draw the knees in towards the chest for a moment just to release out the low back. Then from here, bringing your feet back down to the floor, hip width apart. You can stay right here for your final relaxation, or else you can straighten your legs, opening your feet a little bit wider than your hips. Splay your arms a foot or so away from your body, and just take a really nice big breath in.

Open your mouth, sigh your breath out. Just allow your body to relax completely. (slow breathing) You are welcome to stay here in final relaxation for as long as you would like, or you can join me in bending your knees and gently rolling over to one side, and then just making your way up to a comfortable seat. You can sit up onto a block or your blanket. Thank you for sharing your practice.

Namaste.

Comments

Thank you Emily - I loved that pace, this practice just met everything I needed this morning.
Thanks Chars! I am so happy you liked the practice and it met your needs! Thank you for practicing with me!
Great sequence after a day on the computer. Thanks!
Kendra! Thanks for your feedback and so happy it was helpful for you!
1 person likes this.
Started out with the Relief for Hands & Wrists and moved into this practice. Beautiful start to my day. Thank You!
So perfect for what my body wants after a long week of working from home.
I am so glad to hear this has been helpful for you while working from home, Diyana. Be safe and well 
Thanks, Emily, for this great practice! Kind regards!

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