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Season 2 - Episode 4

Journey Into the Core

35 min - Practice
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Lydia guides us in a core-infused flow designed to awaken the deepest layers of our abdominals and release stickiness in the hips. We begin with an old yogic breathing technique that we will then integrate into our flow practice, playing with standing postures and dolphin plank to strengthen and stretch the shoulders, hips, and legs.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Welcome back. This is a core infused flow shorty for you to not only work with some of the smaller muscles in the core body, like the pelvic floor and the deepest lower of abdominals, but also to get you moving in your hips and just use out some of the stickiness that might be in your body. So we'll start out with something that's kind of weird, but I love it and have used it a lot to access some of these smaller muscles. And I love the way it feels before, during and after. It's an old yoga technique, and it's done on an exhale retention.

So I'm gonna show you first, and then we're gonna do it within the practice, and we can do it together. I'm just gonna show you my belly and turn to the side so you can have a better view. And come down onto, to sort of brace myself on the knees. Deep inhale, exhale everything out. (exhales heavily) And it's this part that's really important.

When you exhale everything out, totally relax your belly so you're not engaging your superficial core. It's like you're three months pregnant. Sorry guys. And then do a mock inhalation. Let the belly go, let the rest of the exhale out.

And then inhale, come up to standing. So that whole kind of sucking in and up is done without breathing in. So now we're gonna try it together. And I want you to think about really, it's almost like, for lack of a better metaphor, a toilet plunger, (chuckles) like, from the pelvic floor, (imitates sucking sound) sucking back and up, and everything kind of hollows back and up into your rib cage. So brace yourself like this.

Exhale everything. Sometimes, out of the mouth is nice. Let the belly go, so relax the muscles. Suck in and up. Let the belly go rested exhale out.

And inhale, come back up. One more time. So as you can see already, it brings up quite a bit of heat to do this practice, and maybe you relate to like when you were a little kid and you did this, and you were like, look at me. You know? It's that same thing, but on an exhale retention.

So exhale everything. (exhales heavily) Without breathing. Suck in and up. Let go, and then inhale, come on up. So by doing that, you're activating without even knowing it, your pelvic floor and also your diaphragm and all of the intercostals in the side ribs as you spread and open like that.

Now we're gonna roll that into a flow. So come to the top of the mat, spread your toes. You can take your hands together, exhale your hands down by your sides. Sweep your arms up, inhale. Get nice and long, exhale, fold forwards.

Let's take a few breaths here. Inhale, lengthen and exhale and fold. Press down into your legs. Rise up inhale, and exhale your hands down. Again, inhale, sweep the arms up.

Soften your knees a bit. Exhale, push out of your legs as you come up and down. Inhale, lengthen through your belly. And exhale and fold. Press down into your feet.

Inhale, rise up; and exhale, hands down through center. Inhale, rise the arms up. Soften your knees, exhale, come up out and over. Fingertips to the floor, inhale, lengthen. And then exhale, take your left foot back into a high lunge.

Move your fingertips back. And breathe here for a couple of rounds of breath, lengthening your head and your heel away from each other. And then we're gonna walk our hands around and turn our toes in and our heels out. Walking the hands way forwards, press your fingertips into the floor and exhale, let your head come in between your biceps. And take a few, nice, deep breaths, letting the center of your chest melt forward towards the floor and connecting your front ribs in.

And then we're gonna walk back our hands underneath our shoulders, soften the knees a little bit, shoot the skull forwards, take your arms out to the side and inhale, come all the way up. And exhale your hands down. And then turn your heels in and your toes out and sink down, supporting your hands on the inner knees in which you can encourage some down and out movement. Think about taking the pelvis through the legs out through the inner thighs and back through the IT bands as you sink down here. So here's where we're gonna involve that suction breath retention.

So deep inhale. (inhales deeply) Exhale everything. (exhales heavily) And then we'll draw in and up without inhaling. It'll feel probably good to tuck your chin. Let the rest of your breath out and inhale.

We'll do it one more time, exhale everything. Suck back and up. Let it go, let the rest of your breath out. And deep inhale. Exhale.

Lean into your legs to come up straight. Turn your back toe in, your right knee bends, and let your arms come out to Warrior II. Left hand down, right arm up, reverse your warrior. Keep your front ribs into your skin, reach. And then exhale and hands come behind the back.

Turn your torso on a diagonal, reach your hands back behind you and fold on the inside of your right leg. Take a few breaths there. Leaning into your back foot. Some people can come a little bit lower here, some people might want to stay up a little bit. Release your hands, take your hands on either side of your foot, turn your back foot onto more of a pivot and lower down through the back knee.

Exhale, pull back, let your toes lift, dig your heel into the floor and engage the underside of your leg. And then come back forwards, take your left hand now out to the side, it might even come off your mat, and turn the hand out. Right hand on the right knee. Let your hips draw up, let your chest roll open, maybe even looking up. Take a few deep breaths.

Turning your left hip towards the inner right heel. Again, try to breathe into your back waist and lift it a little bit instead of sagging the spine. Okay, turn on back and take your hands to the floor. Press into all of your finger pads, take your right foot back so that you're in a plank pose. Some people might wanna come onto a knee plank like this, but again, breath into your back waistline so that you're not sagging there.

Reach the crown of the head forwards and press equally into every single finger pad. And so your shoulders don't need to be right over top of your wrist. They can be a little bit kicked back so you'll have more of a wedge support of strength under your armpit. And then you can start to kind of rainbow your hips over to one side and over to the other, applying a little bit more pressure in one-hand and just seeing how that feels in the wrist and the finger pads and then into the other. And then drop down to your knees and take your forearms down to the floor.

Walk your legs back and come into a forearm plank. Root down to your hands, your outer elbows and you can start to move your hips up and over, applying a little bit more pressure into one arm and just seeing how that feels and over to the other. Reach the head forwards, reach the heels back. I just found out that someone won the world planking record and it was seven hours. Seven or eight hours.

You might find as you are in plank, this plank for a long time, that your inner wrist might pop up like that. So if you can really press down through the inner wrist and every single finger pad and reach out through the inner arches of your feet. Beautiful, now let's try to walk our legs up so that we're more of like a bent knee downward facing dog. Let your head release. Some people can strengthen their legs here.

This is quite demanding on your shoulders, but it's a really wonderful stretch and strengthen of the shoulders. Bring the front ribs into the skin. Beautiful work, you guys. And then come on down to the knees, hands plant. Step it back into the dog pose.

And then come forwards. Inhale, lengthen. And exhale and fold. Arms up to the sides, especially if you have a tweaky back, this is gonna support the lift. Horizontal, stretch out through the arms and then up, and exhale, we'll come back to center and try the whole thing on the other side.

Inhale, the arms come up. Soften the knees, exhale, fold forwards. Beautiful. Fingertips down, inhale, right leg back, snuggle back. Walk your hands in line so that you're a little bit more supported by your arms on your fingertips.

And then we're gonna walk all the way around, turning on your foot to the wide legged forward fold. you can walk your hands forwards. Spread your sit bones. See if you can allow the spine to sink a little bit into the body with the front ribs coming in. Relax your jaw and then walk back, root down through your feet, bend your knees a little bit, arms out to the sides.

Inhale, come all the way up. Exhale, your hands down. And then we're gonna turn our heels in and our toes out and our knees out and just get this looping happening where you move out to the inner thigh back through the outer thigh so you feel strengthening in that outer glute. Tail bone and pubic bone drop, pelvis reaches through, and we'll do the suction retention again. So inhale deeply.

Exhale everything. Let the belly relax. Draw in and up from the pelvic floor through the diaphragm. Spread the ribs nice and wide. Release the belly, exhale the rest of your breath out with a little puff and inhale deeply.

Two more times, exhale everything. Draw in and up, almost like you're pulling all the way from your inner thighs up into your spine. Traction your spine, tuck chin. Release, let the rest of the breath out. Inhale deeply.

Last one, exhale. Good, draw in and up. Release, press feet to earth. Slowly reach up. Turn your right foot in, turn your whole right inner thigh in.

Bend through your last thigh, open up your arms. Try not to reach too far forward yet. Take your sternum over your pubic bone, hand down, reverse your warrior, ribs in, back long and soft. Beautiful. And then come on, do a diagonal alongside your mat.

Interlock your hands behind, roll open your chest and fold over the inside of the leg. If you're coming low enough that your side chest meets your inner leg, seal your chest and your leg together. Let your hands come down, turn your back foot on a pivot. Lower your back knee, pull back in a little bit of a rounding and you can keep a micro bend in this front knee. Beautiful, shift it forwards, take your hand out to the side, left hand on your knee and spin open.

Breathe and open into your back waist. Let your collarbones spread. Lift your heart off your bottom arm. Roll back, step back plank pose and connect your legs into your belly by thinking that your legs actually start from behind your belly button. Reach out, breathe into the back waist.

Maybe even look forwards. Imagine that the front of your spine is supporting the back of your spine, so there's a lift from there. Maybe wiggle your hips side to side. Maybe even take one handoff and then the other. And then lower to your knees, take your forearms down, forearm plank.

Root down through your inner wrist, root down through every single finger pad. Smile. Soften your tongue and your neck. Maybe you do these little smudges on your feet side to side and you get into the sides of the core a little bit. And then we're gonna let the knees come down, reach back, tuck the toes, downward dog.

Bend the knees, step forwards. Lengthen the belly. And exhale, fold and try to keep, lengthen the belly from pubic bone to navel. Sweep the arms, open, inhale, come up. And exhale.

And we'll do the whole things on both sides. Again, just a little bit quicker. Inhale the arms up. Exhale, fold. Inhale, left leg back.

Exhale, walk all the way around, big toes and heels out. Walk way forwards, press your finger pads down, lift your inner bicep, roll your shoulders down to the floor, melt your spine. Get long. Breathe, walk your hands back, soften your knees, arms out to the sides, inhale, come all the way up. Exhale.

Turn heels in, toes out, sinking to a squat, you're welcome this time to try this squat without the use of your hands. So inner thighs roll out, outer thighs roll in. Inhale, exhale everything out of the mouth. See if you can still draw in and up, exhale retention. Release.

Inhale, exhale out. Draw in and up. Let go. Inhale deeply. Press feet down, whew.

All the way up, warrior II. Make sure your knee is over the pinky toe side of the foot. Reverse the worrier, get a nice side stretch. Hands behind, interlock fingers, reach, exhale and fold. Nice and long through your spine.

Release hands, turn back foot on a pivot. Take your left hand out to the side, take your right hand on your right knee. This time, if it feels available to come onto the top of the kneecap so it's a bit more cushioned, bend your back leg and just do that a couple of times, see if that's available to you and it's not too hard on the knee. If it feels nice, take your right arm up with a big movement, hold onto your foot and gently kick the foot back into the hand. Some people might even draw the more relaxed leg in towards the bum.

Again, breathe into your back waist. A little bit of elegance through your neck. Release. Come into the plank. Be here for a few breaths, thinking the whole, not just your belly but the whole front line of your spine, all the way up until almost the tongue is supporting the back of the spine.

So you're feeling lifted from the front of your body from where you initiate movement from. Maybe a little shift forwards and back. Lower down. Hands down. Tuck toes, reach it back.

Breathe. How is your neck, feeling like it's still part of the support that comes through the front of your spine? Are you tense at the base of the neck? And then we'll exhale. Reach your hips back, tuck toes, downward dog.

Step it forwards. Lengthen. And exhale, fold. Inhale, come all the way up. And exhale.

On the other side, inhale, arms up. Exhale, fold. Right leg back. Walk hands back. Lean back through your back heel, walk all the way around.

Walk your hands forwards, hammock pose, heart melts. Ribs in, spine long. Walk your hands back, soften your knees, arms out to the side. From the front of your spine, rise up. Exhale your hands down, turn your heels and toes out.

Come on down. If you can get this looping action strong through your feet, reaching out through your inner leg, pulling back through your outer leg, maybe you can play without the hands. Inhale deeply. Exhale out of the mouth everything. And then as you do the suction, I do a little bit of a curling in of the neck.

Exhale everything out. Inhale. Exhale. (exhales heavily) Draw in and up like there's a huge ice cream scoop, ice cream scooping out the belly. Organs pull back and up.

Pelvic floor rises. Exhale everything out. Press into the feet, see if you can smoothly plug the hip joints into the hip sockets. Turning for Warrior II, short visit. Reverse your warrior, open up your side.

Come on up, hands behind, interlock, reach. Exhale, fold. Seal inner thigh and heart together. Chest side chest. Come as low as is available with the strong support of the legs.

And then coming into the lunge, turn your back foot on a pivot, take your hand out to the side, lower your knees, start to peel open the front. Lift your heart off your bottom arm. Try to be on the top of the back kneecap so as you bend and releasing, you just play with that. See if you can do that without cramping in your hamstring. If it feels like you can hold it, then come up with a big movement.

Kick back, open the chest and draw in a little bit if it's there. Some people can even come down unto their forearm here. Breathe into the back waist and then unwind it, step back, plank pose. And this time, let's do our plank pose with our feet right together, squeezing into the inner line of the legs, gently lifting the back waist. You can have a little bit of movement in there.

You can try coming up onto one fingertip and then on the other. You can try lifting one leg without too much change of shape in your back. So stay supportive from the front of the spine. And then the other. You can try walking your hands more forwards.

And just a different way of playing with this, maybe wrapping your elbows in and lowering, wiggling your feet back so that you're in the forearm plank. Root down through the inner wrist every single finger pad. Feel like you have the strength of one leg, almost like a mermaid or merman tail here with the legs lightly squeezing together. Maybe walk up a little bit so that you're letting the head go, coming into this dog pose where you're strengthening and stretching the outer shoulders. And then exhale and come on down.

Reach back into a downward dog. Shift over to your left a little bit. Take your right hand, one hand distance forwards and roll so that both of your feet stack. And if that's a little bit difficult, take one foot in front. Like this.

But I'll play with this version with your feet stack, like you have that strong one leg. Squeeze the inner thighs together and reach your left arm up, side plank. And then just try dipping your hips. And your shoulder might may come a little bit up towards your ear, but just keep the base of the neck muscles fairly soft and then lift up your heads. Let's try it again, exhale and lower and then lift up.

And if this is too much weight-bearing for you, you can also do it on your forearm like this. Exhale and lower and inhale and lift. Now we're gonna come back into either the plank or wrist people onto your forearms like this. And over to the other side. So hand is not directly under the shoulder, but I like this wedge support of having it a little bit forwards.

Either the foot can stay half way forwards or stacked. And then exhale and lower a little bit and gather the energy of your side as you lift up. Lower. Lift up. Lower, exhale, press into every single finger pad as you lift up.

Lift your heart off your bottom arm. Maybe slow motion it back. Downward dog. Come onto your knees, sit your hips back on your heels. Child's pose.

And if child's pose does not feel nice for you, you can lie right down on your belly. Let your hips get heavy, like you have a giant tail heavy to the floor. And then we're gonna roll on up, and I'm gonna turn on my mat to show you this way. Here is where, if you feel like you have tighter hamstrings and your pelvis tends to roll back in a seated posture, you can place the blanket just underneath your sit bones. And I'm gonna have my right leg out and my left leg in.

Heel towards the pelvic floor. And then I'm gonna lean over towards the right leg. So some people might find it nice to place the hand on the shin or the ankle. Some people might find it like there's the reach to get the elbow down to the floor. I'll play staying here.

Left hand under the left thigh, turn the fingers in and press a little bit like you're encouraging a little bit of a release into this hip flexor and encouraging the thigh bone to move away from the pelvis. It's like your hip flexor is just taking a giant yawn. And your side is taking a giant opening. And you might feel like you wanna come a little bit lower. If you wanna release this arm, you can reach it up into the air.

Maybe even turn the bottom chest under the top chest and reach the arm back. Maybe over your ear. And some people can find the foot. We'll inhale, come on back up. And just switching sides.

So support the hips. I like to feel like this top of the foot is more on the floor than the side. Slide into a side stretch and try not to overly backbend here or forward fold like flex, but go straight over, hand under the thigh and let that hip flexor take a giant yawn. And you might feel like you wanna come a little bit lower, rise up the arm, turn the bottom chest up towards the ceiling. Feet are a little bit active.

Maybe reach the top arm over, and then pull yourself up like someone's holding onto your hand and you come all the way up. You can take the prop out of the way here if it's there, and turn to roll down on your back. And take your feet, snuggle them a little close to your sit bones, take your arms up over the top of your head him and lean down into your feet. Lean the small of your back down into the floor gently. Roll your hips up, mid back, upper back, chest.

And then roll down and come high up onto your toe pads, exhale, roll on down in sequential order, and then you can release your heels. And again, lean down to your lower back and then curl up, the top of the breath, lean up onto your toe pads and then exhale and keep your heels high, roll down. See if you can articulate all the vertebra. And then let your heels down and roll up one last time. Come high up onto the toes and then exhale.

And roll down, letting the chin lift a little bit so the front of the neck is a little bit soft. Drop the heels to the floor and then bring the knees in towards the chest, hug the knees in and wobble a little bit or rock a little bit. And then you can let the right leg rise up. Maybe there's a little bit of a bend in it. Let the left leg either plant or slide out, hands behind the thigh or the calf or maybe even the foot.

And first off, press the leg into your hand, so you're descending the leg away from the belly. It can be quite bent if you like. And then second off, maybe draw it in a little bit, keeping the softness and depth of your hip pocket. And if you're not feeling that, plant your foot and it'll support you. And then we'll let that leg come down.

Inhale, the other leg up. So plant to foot or start to slide it straight. First off, press the leg away from you, into your hands. However, the shape of the leg is just to get the lower back on that side to slide into more length. Then you can draw it in any amount.

If you have a sticky, tight lower back, these hamstring stretches are really supportive for opening up this tissue just enough so that it's not pulling on your lower back and standing. And then exhale and release your feet to the floor, and we're gonna come into a short relaxation. So your hands can come a little bit away, your feet, you can either stay planted or your feet can come to lie flat. If I have a blanket with me, I usually like to just rest that weight on top of my torso. Because it's just grounding.

And with all of the stimulation we get now in this digital era, it's nice to feel like we're still part of the earth. Nice, deep breath in. Exhale everything, close your eyes and feel your midline from the big toes all the way up through your inner legs through the sides of your spine, all the way up like into the front of the throat, the center of the skull even. And let everything drop away from that midline, like peel away the two halves of your lower back, upper back, your arms and your legs. Just slowly, just peel off, flake off.

You can feel that gravity drinks in the heaviness of your body, and the bones feel like they settle into alignment. Feeling the breath in the belly, rise and fall of the breath, the softness around the organs now, the release. So you might choose to stay here for a little bit longer. But if you feel dropped in and grounded, stretch. You can draw your knees in.

I like playing with rolling over to the side, drawing my knees in and coming up without the use of my hands, just to check in if you can do that. I read somewhere that if you can get up to standing without the use of your hands, you're gonna live longer. (giggles) (clears throat) Thanks for joining me on that creative journey into the core. Namaste.

Comments

1 person likes this.
wonderful play and reconnection with the subtler elements of my core in the postpartum period, Lydia! thank you again :)
Hi Brittany! So happy you liked it. Talk soon!
Love this series for Athletes especially the level 2 sequence.
Thank you. It is much needed! Aoife
Hi Aoife. So happy this is useful for you. Keep in touch! L
I thought my core was fairly strong...until this practice! haha. Really felt those planks! Feel great now though and very open in my hips. Thank you for sharing this with us! X
Hi John Jackson Happy that this challenged you and left you feeling great! Love hearing from you! Warmly, Lydia Zamorano
Hi there! What do you call the pranayama kriya you teach at the beginning? Thanks!

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