30 Day Yoga Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 28

Day 26: Focused Flow

20 min - Practice


Improve your focus, release the mind chatter, and experience the calming power of your breath in today's hip opening yoga sequence.
What You'll Need: Mat

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(waves crashing) Hey welcome back to Yoga Anytime. This is Practice number 26, we only have four more. So let's really embrace the time we have together. I know I will be so thanks for joining me once again. We are going to introduce alternate nostril breathing.

In my mind, the best breath, I love it, I practice it. I believe in it, I believe in it because it helps improve my focus. It releases a lot of the like mind chatter. It really, like its needs and asks for that focus. And the calming, relaxing benefits are fully there.

In the beginning, it's a little tricky, a little, ya know, you gotta get used to it to get to that point but let's just dabble with it. I'll give you just a little taste. Alternate nostril, so close your eyes, you and I together as always, take a breath in and breath out. And if you haven't already, get the two blocks, stack them like so, place your sit bones on them. Make yourself comfortable, put a blanket on it too.

Make yourself comfortable, alternate nostril breathing, Anuloma Viloma, it basically means inhaling through one, retaining the breath for a moment, exhaling through the other, balancing the right and left sides of the brain. So close your eyes, rest your hands on your thighs. And just imagine for a moment, really feel for breathing in through the left side of your nostril only. Breathing out through the left side. It may feel weird, you may not feel it at all but just give it a shot, no.

Tune into the right side, inhale through the right. Exhale through the right. Go to the left, inhale through the left. Exhale left, one more time on the right. Inhale right, exhale right, again, with the hands free version, we're just looking for subtle little sensation, alright, really focus, focus, focus.

Now hands free, inhale through the left, a comfortable breath in, hold your breath for two seconds, exhale right. Inhale through the right, hold the breath, retain it for two seconds, relax your shoulders, exhale left. Good, if your eyes were closed, open them up for a moment. It's kinda nice hands free, I like that. Let's go with the basic hold, we'll take our thumb, our right thumb and our index finger.

Traditionally there is a different hold but just for the sake of kinda getting the basics, we'll do thumb and index finger. So thumb closes off the right, sit up tall, relax your shoulders, comfortable breath in, two, three seconds max through the left, breathe in. Hold the index finger on the left side, pinch both sides of the nose, hold the breath for two seconds. Exhale right, inhale comfortably through your right. Hold the breath, close it off with both fingers.

Good job, exhale left, let's do one more round. Then you can practice on your own, inhale left, hold the breath, maybe add a second. This part is the most difficult part so if you have trouble with it, it's totally normal. Exhale right, cool, let the arms come down. Take a pause, see what kind of sensations are there.

(deep breathing) Again, just a little taste, all we have is 20 minutes. So practice that on your own, rewind the tape, the video, whatever, let's take the blocks, bring them to the front of the mat. So I'll emphasize again, calming and focus benefits alternate nostril. Okay so the blocks are at the front of the mat. We're gonna use them in a few moments.

Before we come into Child's Pose, I invite you to kinda dabble again in that, just a feel for, imagine the breath coming in through the left, holding it, exhale right and just see what that feels like while we move through some of the more mellow poses. So go ahead and come back into child's pose. (deep breathing) Straight away come up into table top. Move through cat, cow, breathing in cow pose, exhale, cat pose, good, one more time. Breathe in, breathe out. (deep breathing)

Cat pose, nice, lower down. I'm gonna move myself back just a tiny bit. Lower down on the exhale, move through a, kinda like a wavy cobra, right? So it's not too rigid, just kinda lift up, shoulders up, push back into child's pose, good. Inhale table and exhale, kinda lazily, let the thighs come down, the hips, then start to bend your arms and roll down.

Good, one more time, just like that. Breathing in, lifting the chest. It's like a cobra, big cobra, almost up dog into child's pose, good. (deep breathing) Okay, come back up into table and bring the blocks into play now. This is just for a little height to make the first downward dog that much more accommodating.

So from table top using the blocks, curl the toes and rise up, good, three breathes. Inhaling through the left, holding, exhaling through the right and when you're on your own and you don't have to listen to me so much, that's a really nice breath to practice. Especially when you're moving very slowly and holding poses for longer periods of time. Take the right leg, lift it high, breathe in. And now exhale the right foot to the outer edge of the block on the right, land softly.

Okay from here, in the lunge, right, you're gonna settle the hips down into the lunge, lifting the chest. And then feel free, we've done this before is to straighten the front leg or get some length in that hamstring on the right side. Then come back into the lunge getting into the hips. Good, this is a little warm up, little bit of play for something to come, we're gonna get a little new balancing posture today. (deep breathing) Good, one more time, lunge, and see if you can use an exhale here to deepen, like let the hips feel heavy.

So breathe in and exhale, hips heavy. (deep breathing) Nice come back into the lunge, lift the right foot up off of the mat, step back into plank pose. I know you have the strength to do it on your knees or not but one push up and then the push up takes you right back to downward dog. So breathe in, lower down half way, shoulders back, look forward a little bit and exhale, push back into downward dog, good. Breathe in, breathe out. (deep breathing)

And with such focus and such attention to detail, you're really starting to develop that meditation practice. Right, that meditation with some movement. (deep breathing) Left leg rises, breathe in, exhale, send it up. Good, nice wide stance, let the hips feel heavy here. And you just kinda go back and forth.

This is also that time, right, number 26 together. So you know by now, at least my philosophy and my encouragement is for to explore constantly. Explore and it's that cultivation, that deepening of the relationship between you, your breath, your body. (deep breathing) Not worrying about perfection or what it should really look like or feel like, it just, it is what it is. I mean, you have the power and choice to kinda like cruise around, make it your own.

Okay lunge, straight leg. (deep breathing) Okay, come back into the lunge, pause, deep breath in. And now exhale, sink the hips. (deep breathing) Maybe even open that knee out a little bit. Yes, good, now step the right foot up to meet the block on the right, squat, okay.

So move the blocks out, I don't think we really need those for a little while, if at all. So move them all the way out of the way. Okay, I'm actually gonna do my squat heading or facing you. (deep breathing) So your feet are out wide, toes out. That'll help create a little bit of space.

So what's really like in addition to the stretching and all the breathing right, is finding a sense of like mobility so opening up the hips in certain ways. Ya know, rounding the back, that's that exploration. This is a posture, this is a Yoga posture because you're paying attention and it's all about the quality of attention, ya know, to the experience, if that makes sense. So there are a few things you can do here. Squat down, you can move the, we've done this before.

The knee comes in a little bit and you open it up on the exhale, do that a couple times, breathing in, pushing out on the exhale, do that on the right. (deep breathing) If you're finding right now, that this depth that I have is not the same for you, I encourage you to get some kind of blanket, mat, something that you can get your heels up a little higher, that'll help out a lot. Now here, you had the hip thing, right? Now maybe like arm up. (deep breathing) So you're still in the hips but there's a little upper back mobility.

Maybe some shoulder movements here. Think about your shoulder blade in the back body. Where can you move? (deep breathing) To encourage more space, right? So many things get locked up from lack of movement, move.

You gotta kinda be present though, right. This isn't sorta something you just sorta wait to end. Right, you're guiding it, you're leading this, you're directing it. (deep breathing) Now let your chest kinda come forward. Lift your hips high, parallel your feet.

Fold over, it might feel nice after the squat for so long. (deep breathing) Let the arms hang, good, come back into the squat. But take the squat and don't go down as far this time. And take your feet a little bit wider. This is one I've been enjoying lately.

So I'll stay here and now I'm like pushing out. It's not as deep, I can kinda do this a little bit longer. And so once I get like the hips rockin' and rollin', then I come up a little bit and then I just kinda move the upper body, move the upper body so there's this like core, it's inspired by my core. (deep breathing) Do some folding, some lifting. (deep breathing) It's right, the movement is right.

The experience is right because I'm fully in tune with the experience, there's breath alive. I'm not hurting myself, okay. So that's where my thing is with that. (deep breathing) Alright, let's come back into table top. Or come into table top, we're not coming back because we haven't been there yet.

Now take your hips from side to side here. So get the outer hips and now there's this like kinda fire hydrant thing and it's more mobility, right? Just place your hands underneath the shoulders. Lift your left knee out and in no real specific way, maybe the first way is just knee in toward the right thigh, left knee, left thigh, pull away. (deep breathing) Keep it up as high as you can and then move it back.

Straighten the leg, bring it forward, as high as you can. So it's like fire hydrant like a dog, right, takin' a, relieving himself, it looks kinda like that. But I want you to kinda like lift the leg, create some circles. (deep breathing) Lift the leg out, out, out, out and up. Now lift the knee higher and out up above your left elbow even.

Send it all the way back, good, bring the knee down. Turn your wrists over, maybe one at a time or two if you have that mobility. So get that wrist stretched for a moment. You could even take the fingers back and point the wrists forward, lean back. There's all kinds of ways for you to kinda ya know, stretch the wrists.

Now bring them back to that neutral or standard way, take the right knee, now same thing. Just a few like five to seven breaths of moving it up and around, like for me, right away I feel like, I've got much more range of motion in my right side. (deep breathing) And you can try to keep the hips square. You're not really moving the hips as much. It's really more about just that right hip region.

(deep breathing) Lift the right knee up, 90 degree angle on that right knee or right leg, lift, bring the right knee up, up, up toward the right shoulder. Good, shoot it all the way back and bring it down. Take a cat, cow, one time, breathe in and breathe out. (deep breathing) Inhale back to a neutral and step the right foot up to the right pinky, left foot to the left pinky. Squat, you may even feel a difference from when you came into it the first time, rise up.

Take a deep breath in, circle the arms high. And palms through the chest, exhale. (deep breathing) So I'll face you, good job so far. So we're gonna introduce standing pose. Standing hand to toe pose which is really hard.

I've not practiced it too much in the past, been practicing it lately, let's see how it goes. First off, close the eyes. (deep breathing) Bring the palms to your heart. See if you can address the alternate nostril again without the hands, just bring your focus, bring your attention to here. Now lean to your left, bring your right knee up.

Okay, right knee up, standing strong and tall on that right leg, stay here and/or, right, we have that, we work that hip stuff, rotate the hip open and closed, good, that was meant to be, good one, right? Okay, so do that, if you know right away your hamstrings, there ain't no way, you can hold the right knee like. (groans) Came out, no big deal, right, no big whoop. Right hand, lift, now I'm gonna take my right, right index finger and middle finger, wrap around my big toe, okay, this will be a big test for me. I can stay here but I want you to sit up a little bit taller, sit up taller, taller, taller.

And now let's see if I can straighten my leg while balancing on my left leg. Use an exhale. (deep breathing) Oh, probably rounding a little bit in my shoulders. If I lift strong left leg, I could even bring this leg out a little bit but I'm not going to. (sighs) Square and down.

Shake it out, that one's hard, no joke. Note to self, Rob, practice hand to toe a little bit more. (laughing) Okay, other side, strong right leg, lift the left. Balance, alternate nostril possibly, rotate hip open, explore, same kinda fire hydrant-y thing goin' on as we did in tabletop. (sighs) Balance.

Index finger, middle finger, Yogi Toe Hold. Strong right leg, okay. (forceful exhale) Sound effects help, try it out sometime. Okay, I like the hand on the hip. (groans) There we go.

That's not part of it, that's just me holding myself up. Okay, ready, breathe in and now exhale, straighten, straighten, straighten, straighten. (groaning) I got this, you got this, Rob, you got this, Rob. You got this too. (groans) Okay, ready, one more, just big breath, strong and long. (deep breathing)

And see that wasn't so bad. Take a breath in, reach the arms up. And exhale, palms to the chest. (deep breathing) So for this practice, my friends, my friends, good job on that balance, practice that more often. We're gonna close out in child's pose.

You deserve this one, okay so come on down. Take the knees kinda wide, reach the seat back. Hips might even be more available now. Stack the hands, rest the head, take a deep breath. Exhale, everything out. (deep breathing)

Massage the forehead by rolling it back and forth along your wrists, your hands, maybe even the mat, whatever surface it's on. (deep breathing) Good work today, go ahead and come on up. You're welcome to sit on your heels if that's doable. I, just, we gotta close, I wanna talk to you so much more. I wanna like connect with you but that's it for now.

That's 26, done, in the bank. You are amazing, you are incredible. I know that, because you are continuing to show up and I believe, alright, that's huge. So Namaste, peace, health, all that good stuff, thank you.


Felicity W
1 person likes this.
Hi - Loving the 30 day challenge! I'm trying to do my day 26 but it's not unlocked even though I've done 25 yesterday :(
Kira Sloane
1 person likes this.
Felicity, looking into the mischief now. Thanks for the heads up! xok
Sarah Beston
Hi Felicity, It appears that day 26 is now unlocked for you. I will follow-up with an email. Best wishes, Sarah
Maria Elena D
yay! 26 :) let the count down begin! this was a really good hip opener, and I loved that no hands nostril breathing, very cool! thanks! see you tomorrow for 27!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Elaine Fox
2 people like this.
Loved the alternate nostril breathing and hip openers too! :)
Robert Sidoti
Maria and Eaine ... Sometimes the alternate nostril breathing can be challenging, so happy it felt ok and you were able to enjoy, a little hip opening never hurt anyone!
Meredith H
2 people like this.
Challenging with a head cold :) but had a blast - thanks Robert Sidoti
Robert Sidoti
Hi Meredith ! I'm sure the breathing was challenged with a head cold? Good for you for hanging in there!
Christel B
1 person likes this.
Got to admit I'm not doing these in order but am enjoying them, one day I did two sessions and they actually flowed quite well. I loved the aerobic part with the blocks. Definitely need that at times.
hi - i stopped the challenge when i saw the picture of the standing balance! just now resumed the series and v glad i did. the focus on single nostril breathing seems to soften the voice of the 'inner critic' that comes out with more difficult poses like standing on one leg. thanks v much.
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