Too Tight to Stretch Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 8

Stress Less

30 min - Practice
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Emily guides us in a slow and active practice to help de-stress and unwind. With attention towards our breath, we find simple standing postures and nice long holds on the ground to relieve tension and quiet the mind.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Block (2)

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(waves splashing) Hi, everyone. Welcome back. This practice is to help you de-stress using breath, movement, and nice long holds in a restorative pose. For this practice you will need a blanket, two blocks, and have a wall space near you. Let's start out coming onto our backs, and you can use your blanket underneath your head as a little bit of support for your neck.

And just take a moment to get comfortable here with your knees bent, your feet hip width apart. Bring your hands onto your low belly and just start out taking some diaphragmatic breaths or belly breaths, so that as you breathe in you're expanding your belly on your inhale. You can use your hands as a tool to guide your breath down. And just let your abdomen drop back towards the floor as you exhale. And as you're breathing here, I'd like you to just take a moment and set an intention for yourself for your practice.

(inhaling and exhaling breath) And then lets move the blanket out from underneath the head and just set it off to the side for now. Bring your arms down alongside your body and come back to your diaphragmatic breath. We're going to try to stay with that breath as much as we can throughout our practice. Walk your heels in a little closer towards your hips so that you have your ankles underneath your knees. And you may just want to reach your arms down and just graze your heel with your middle fingertip.

On your next inhale, lift your hips into bridge and stretch your arms up over the head, bringing the arms alongside the ears. At the top of your inhale, lift your heels up off the floor. Keep your arms overhead and as you exhale, heels stay lifted. Roll all the way down the spine. Once the sacrum touches the earth, set your heels down.

Take an inhale here and as you exhale, lower your arms all the way down to your sides. And then let's do that again. Inhale, hips lift, arms stretch up overhead. Top of the inhale, lift your heels. Keep your heels lifted, your arms raised, and exhale slowly.

Roll down the spine. When your sacrum touches the ground, lower your heels and take a big breath in. Exhale, lower the arms all the way back down to your sides. Inhale, lift the hips, raise the arms up. Lift the heels at the top of that inhale.

Keep the arms raised, heels raised. Exhale, slowly roll on down. Once your sacrum's down, lower your heels. Take a big breath in. Exhale, lower the arms down.

Inhale, floating up into bridge. Arms overhead. Top of that inhale lift your heels up. Exhale, arms stay lifted, heels stay raised. Lower slowly down, rolling down vertebrae by vertebrae.

When the sacrum lands, the heels lower. Take a nice, full belly breath in. And as you exhale lower your arms all the way back down to your sides. Let's do one more like that. Inhaling, arms raised as you float up into bridge.

Top of the inhale lift your heels. Exhale, keep the arms raised. Roll slowly on down. Pausing when your sacrum lands, lower the heels. Take a big inhale.

And as you exhale lower your arms all the way down to your sides. Hug your knees in towards your chest. (inhaling and exhaling breath) And gently roll over onto your side. And come to your hands and your knees. And we'll set up for downward facing dog pose.

Walk your knees underneath your hips and your wrists underneath your shoulders, and spread your fingers nice and wide apart. Have your middle fingers pointing forward and roll your upper arms away from one another. Drop your head and press the ground away from you with your hands. Step one foot straight back and then the other, and once you're here lift your hips and bend your knees so that you're creating a little ease in the legs and your low back here. Drop your head and just breathe here.

Just allow yourself to feel this nice grounding energy of having your head below your heart, using your strong body here. And just finding your breath. (inhaling and exhaling breath) Next time you inhale, fill up. And as you exhale, open your mouth and just sigh. (sighing) Take one more breath in here, and with your next exhale, start to walk your feet forward towards your hands.

You can keep your knees pretty bent here. And find a standing forward fold with your feet parallel, hip width apart, the knees bent. Drape your torso out over your thighs and just let your head hang. (inhaling and exhaling breath) On your next inhale, slowly, with your knees bent, begin rolling up to stand. Stepping into Tadasana at the top of your mat, have your feet parallel, hip width apart, weight slightly back into the heels.

And on your next breath in, spin your palms out, sweep the arms out and up. With your exhale bend your knees, hinge at your hips and fold forward. Inhale, slide your hands to your shins, arch up halfway. Exhale, folding forward over the legs, straightening the legs as much as you'd like here. Inhale, lifting the chest, sweeping the arms out and uprising all the way back up to stand.

And exhale, release the arms down to your sides. And then again inhale, sweeping the arms out and up. Exhale, bend your knees, hinge at your hips, fold forward. Inhale, arch up halfway, lengthen. Exhale, fold.

Press through your feet. Inhale, sweep the arms out and uprise all the way up. Ground down through your feet. Exhale, release the arms down to the sides. And one last time.

Inhaling. Exhale, folding forward. Inhale, arching up halfway, lengthen. Exhale, fold. Press through your feet, lift the chest.

Inhale, sweep the arms out and uprise all the way up. Exhale, release the arms down to your sides. Just feel your feet grounding into the earth. Let's get our blocks so we have them nearby for our next sequence. Stand with your feet wide apart and turn your toes out.

And just pause here for a moment. Feel your weight in your heels and the length in your spine, and bring your hands together in a prayer in front of your heart. Take an inhale here and then as you exhale, press your palms away from your shoulders like you're trying to press two elevator doors open. And squat down, drawing your knees apart. As you inhale, straighten your legs.

Bring your hands back together in a prayer in front of the heart. Exhale, wide squat. Press the hands away from you. Inhale. Exhale, wide squat.

Press the palms away. Inhale, bring the palms back together. Again, exhale. Sort of just moving a little bit more energy here. One more just like that.

Exhale, press the palms away. This time just stay right here, but bring your hands down towards your inner thighs and just turn your fingers towards the floor and press your knees apart a little bit. And then from here on your next exhale, just gently turn, twisting, bringing your right shoulder towards your inner left knee. And as you do that really work on keeping your right knee out, and then inhale your way back to center. And exhale, left shoulder towards the right knee.

Inhale to center. Exhale, change sides. Inhale to center. And exhale. Good.

Inhale, come all the way back to the center and then just pause here for a few more breaths just in case you have any extra energy you just need to burn off. And then as you inhale, slowly straighten your legs, and turn your toes forward again. And then lets get our blocks for a nice, wide leg forward fold, just to calm and cool after that strenuous squat. We'll open our legs wide apart. Take your blocks in your hands just so you already have them ready to go.

Toes turn in. Take a big breath in here and then place a nice bend in your knees. Hinge at your hips and bring your blocks down to the floor. So have your wrists right beneath your shoulders here. Inhale, length and crown of the head away from tailbone, and then as you exhale just leg your neck relax.

And you can stay right here. You could of course have your blocks a little bit higher if you need to. Or if you want to fold a little bit more you could turn your blocks down a little bit lower. You could also allow the elbows to bend a little it. Again, just being mindful of your edges.

Mindful of the length in the spine, and also the length in the front of your torso. So creating space between your sternum and your pubic bone. On your next inhale bend your knees and then bring your hands to your thighs and just press yourself all the way back up to stand. And then walk your feet together, and we'll place our blocks off to the side again. And now we'll be making our way down onto the floor.

And you'll probably want to bring your blanket back so you can bring it underneath your head. Coming all the way down onto your back, find that comfortable support for underneath your neck. Draw your right knee in towards your chest and interlace your fingers around the knee and stretch your left leg out. Reach through your left heel and take some breaths here. Allow your shoulders to relax down away from the ears.

Notice if you can begin to slow your breath down a little bit as we transition into these more calming and cooling poses. (inhaling and exhaling breath) Keep holding your knee with your left hand and stretch your right arm out to the side, palm up, shoulder height. Take an inhale here, and with your exhale draw your right knee across your body, coming into a spinal twist. And you can allow your knee to lower as much as it feels comfortable. Turn your head towards your right hand if that's okay on your neck.

And then actively focus on breathing into your belly. Really nice, full belly breaths. (inhaling and exhaling breath) Take one more breath around here in your twist. (inhaling and exhaling breath) And then slowly inhale and unwind. Come back to the center.

Pause and just hug that knee and one more time. And then slowly release your right foot towards the floor. And draw the left knee in. Interlace your fingers around the left knee. Stretch your right leg out.

Breathing here. (inhaling and exhaling breath) Shoulders relaxed, muscles of the face and the jaw relax. (inhaling and exhaling breath) And then using your right hand to hold your left knee, stretch your left arm out, shoulder height, palm up. And then start to guide that left knee across your body. And you can stop wherever you need to here.

Deep breaths filling up your abdomen. Noticing as you're pausing in these longer holds how your nervous system begins to calm, to settle. You can turn your head towards the left if that feels comfortable on your neck. (inhaling and exhaling breath) And then as you inhale, slowly unwind back to center. Hug that left knee in one more time, and then release, placing your left foot on the floor.

Bend your right knee and let's slide the blanket out from underneath the head and just move it off to the side, and find one block. We'll come into a supported bridge variation here. So we'll lift the hips and slide the block on the lowest setting to start, right underneath your sacrum. And the sacrum is that triangle of fused bones right at the base of your spine. So when you get your block into the right spot, it should feel like you're on a pretty level surface.

Once you're here, just bend your elbows and rest your hands on your low belly again. And then we'll practice just a very calming breath practice here. As you inhale, take a full diaphragmatic breath, breathing in, filling up the abdomen. And with your exhale, blow the breath through the lips as if you were softly blowing bubbles. You're making a round O-shape with the lips and blowing the breath out.

Inhaling, filling the belly up with breath. Slowly blowing the breath out of O-shaped lips. Blow steady stream for your exhalation. If your eyes are open, allow your eyes to close now for these next rounds. Filling up the belly on your inhale and slowly blowing the breath out through the lips on the exhale.

Feel the spaciousness you're creating with your inhale. Exhale calm, cool breath leaving the body. Let's take three more rounds just like this together. Inhaling abdominal breath. Exhale, slowly blowing the breath out as if you're blowing bubbles.

(inhaling and exhaling breath) When you finish the exhalation that you're on, release your hands, lift your hips just an inch. Just enough to slide that block out from underneath you, and slowly lower down onto your back. Draw the knees into the chest. Place your hands over your knee caps, and as you inhale move your knees away until your arms are straight. And with your exhale draw the knees in towards the chest.

And let's just continue like that for four more breaths. Inhale, knees move away until the arms are straight. Exhale, draw the knees in towards the chest. Exhaling as the knees move in, gently stimulating the downward flow of energy, this cooling, calming, alleviating energy in your body. Last time, exhale.

Knees move into the chest, and this time just hugging the knees in. And then very gently roll over to your side and press yourself up to sit. Let your head and your neck come up last. And we'll make our way over to the wall for our final pose for our practice for legs up the wall pose. You may decide that when you come into this pose you'd like to have a blanket for underneath your head, so just be sure that you have your blanket handy.

So we'll come closer to the wall and we'll start just about a foot away from the wall so that we leave a little bit of space for our hamstrings. And we'll bring the right hip towards the wall and we'll lay down onto the left side. And you'll just weave your left arm underneath the body so that you're coming down all the way onto that left hip and shoulder. And then slowly begin to roll onto your back and bring your feet onto the wall. And you're welcome to stay right here if you just feel like it's a little much for you to straighten your legs.

You can also take your blanket and slide your blanket underneath your head. And then if it's comfortable for you, just begin to straighten the legs so that you have your legs above your hips, your heels resting on the wall. And allow your eyes to close. And if at any time you are feeling like you'd like to be in a little bit closer, you can just bend your knees and shimmy yourself in a little bit closer to the wall or you can roll out onto your side and scoot your hips in a little closer. But for today we'll stay right here just to be sure that hamstrings are nice and comfortable.

Take an inhale. Fill up your abdomen. Open your mouth. Sigh the breath out. Let your shoulders drop towards the earth.

Relax the muscles of your face and your jaw. Soften your eyelids. Let your breath wash over you like ocean waves. Let any residual tension or stress that you may be holding in your body or your mind wash away and drain out of you into the earth. (inhaling and exhaling breath) Give yourself permission to relax completely.

(inhaling and exhaling breath) You're welcome to stay here for as long as you like. Or slowly begin to bend your knees, sliding the feet down the wall, and then drawing the knees in towards you. Just hug the knees in towards the chest. And then rock gently over onto your left side and just pause for a moment here. Use your hands to bring yourself up to a comfortable seat.

Allow the head and the neck to come up last. And find your blanket so that you can give yourself a little height as you sit. Close the eyes and for one last moment, tune into the intention that you set for yourself. The beginning of your practice. (inhaling and exhaling breath) Maybe there's a way that you can carry this intention with you out into your day and into your life.

And drawing your hands together in a prayer in front of the heart. Thank you for sharing your practice. Namaste.

Comments

Thank you Emily for a relaxing way to de-stress and calm the mind and body after a long day!
OMGosh, a new favorite! I was carrying so much tension and anxiety and Diane really helped me slow down, stretch, breathe and let go. I'm keeping this one around. Thank you Diane!
Hi Diane and Stephanie! I am really happy you both enjoyed the practice and found it helpful! Thank you for letting me know!
I am prone to feeling anxious and found this class really helped me in feeling calmer and less anxious.
very relaxing. thanks Emily

Skye B my pleasure! I am glad you found this helpful. 
Thank you very much, Emily, for this great calming practice! Kind regards!

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