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Season 2 - Episode 7

Standing Flow for Athletes

40 min - Practice


Lydia guides us through a sequence designed to generate heat, strength, stability, and flexibility. Moving with our breath, we focus on standing postures to stretch and open our shoulders, chest, hips, and legs. You will feel more refreshed, grounded, and energized. This practice is great for an active rest day.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket

About This Video


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Hi I'm so happy you're here with me. I want to take you through a standing flow that can be really positive on an active rest day. One of the safest ways to open up your hips is to do standing postures, so you're supporting your spine from your legs in all of the hip opening so I really love this posture for those active rest days or maybe right after activity or maybe also for a warm up depending on what you're doing. So join me at the top of the mat, spread your toes, root down through your heels and we'll start off with a repetitive movement to just warm the body and sync the breath with the movement. So inhaling reach your arms up without taking your hips forward.

Soften your knees and exhale and fold forward over your legs. You can bend your knees as much as you want here. Inhale, lengthen. Exhale, fold, and then support your lower spine from your belly and round up to standing arms by the side and if that doesn't feel good for your spine take your arms out to the sides and come up with a fairly straight spine. So inhale, the arms up, I'll show that option.

Exhale, and fold. Inhale and lengthen, pull the belly out of the pelvis. Exhale and fold, and second option is inhale, arms out to the sides, come all the way up and exhale. And I'll continue with the rounding one. Inhale, arms up.

Exhale and fold, up and over. Inhale and lengthen, pull the belly along, shine the crown of the head forward, exhale and fold and then use the pulling back of the belly into the spine to roll up getting through all of those spinal muscles. Exhale, inhale, the arms up, three more. Exhale and fold. Inhale, and lengthen.

Exhale and fold. Inhale, pull the belly back and relax the belly here, exhale. Inhale, arms up. Exhale, push up and out of your hip joints. Inhale and lengthen.

Exhale and fold. Pull belly back, a little belly, upper belly. Exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, lengthen, exhale, fold. Inhale, hollow out the belly as you come up. Exhale.

Sun salutations, inhale, the arms up. Push it up and out of the hips. Exhale and fold. Inhale, elongate your spine. Press your hands flat, exhale come to downward dog.

Pedal out your feet for a moment, downward dog. Stretch your arms, let you head fall through your biceps. Round forwards into a plank pose. Soften your knees a little bit so the top of your femur moves back and lift your bum and ripple back into a downward dog, grounding your heels. Inhale, round forward into a rounded plank, press into your fingertips, soften your knees, lift your bum, ripple back, downward dog.

Come high up onto your toes, pull the belly like a big wave rolling the belly up towards the rib cage, rounded plank. Bend the knees, lift the sit bones, ripple back. Downward dog, and a good dog pose definitely doesn't have to have the heels on the ground, in fact if the feet are nice and far away from your hands you use a little bit more support from the strength of the lines of your periphery to lengthen the spine. So don't worry about heels getting down. One more nice deep breath.

Exhale. Bend your knees and step your feet forwards towards the top of the mat or if you feel jumpy today you can jump. Inhale. Exhale, fold. Arms out to the sides this time, inhale, come on up without taking the hips too far forwards like that.

Exhale. Arms down. Inhale, the arms up. Exhale, push up and out of your hips. Inhale, elongate.

Exhale, downward dog. Inhale, rounded plank. Bend your knees here. Exhale, reach back into downward dog. Rounded plank, inhale, bend the knees a bit, lift the sit bones, ripple back through the low back, mid back, upper back, downward dog.

Take a few deep breaths. Opening and strengthening the shape. Feeling the tips of your body connected, your fingertips, your toes, heels of the feet. Exhale, bend the knees. Step or hop, top of the mat.

Inhale, elongate, in which you might have your hands on your shins. Exhale and fold. Open the arms out, inhale, come up, without tucking your pelvis under. Exhale, hands to center. Variation, inhale the arms up.

Exhale and fold. Lengthen, exhale, downward dog. Inhale, rounded plank. This time I'll lurch forwards onto your tall pads, bend your elbows lower to Chaturanga Dandasana, lower part of the push-up. Push your toes back, you might take your knees down here and you come into a knee upward dog.

Might feel better for your back also to be in a cobra pose and then exhale, hands down. Come up onto the knees or maybe straight up into the plank. Lift the sit bones and ripple back to downward dog. Take your feet together at the back of the mat and come high up onto your tippy-toes, inhale, your right leg up and back, give it permission to roll open a little bit if that feels good on your body. Exhale, curl in knee towards the nose and see if you can hover that foot almost by pushing into your arms, lifting your upper back and then placing that foot down and some people need to grab it and move it forwards.

Plant the back foot on an angle. Inhale, sweep up, warrior one, so belly button points forwards. Ground your back heel. For some people it feels better in the hips to have that back heel lifted. When we're gonna exhale take the hands to the heart, really open up the left hip so that your hips face to the left and let your arms come open.

Maybe a little bit of a smudging open of your feet into warrior two. Left hand comes down on your thigh somewhere, turn your right palm up, inhale, open up through your ribs, reverse your warrior and then come on up, take your elbow to your knee, slide your left arm in front of your face and up, roll your bottom chest under your top chest to look maybe up. Some people can take the hand right down to the floor on the outside of the foot. Breathing there, and we're going to continue this rotation of taking the arm down, turn the back foot onto a pivot, let your back knee come down, left hand a little out to the side, right hand on the right knee, spin, open. Breath into your back waist and lift your soft palette up and away from your hips and breathe.

Unwind here, we're gonna toe heel this foot, maybe sharpen the angle a little bit of this leg. Knee towards the right wrist, walk the hips back into more of an upright pigeon. Sometimes I like to keep the back toes tucked under here and actually lift the knee off of the floor. Reaching this whole leg back. If it's cranking on your back a little bit, walk a little bit more forwards.

And eventually we're gonna come down with the hands nice and wide. Press out into your hands, deep inhale and exhale, just twist one way, almost like tapping your shoulder or your temple to the floor. Inhale to the center, twist the other way. One more time on both sides. Little activity in both of your feet so your knees and hips are supported.

Come back to center, hands plant. Step back into downward dog. Feet together on the back of the mat, come high up on your toes. Inhale, your left leg up, maybe open it a little bit, keep an even weight on both your hands. Lift your armpit, exhale and curl it in, knee towards the nose.

Use the kind of ice cream scooping action in your lower belly. The lift of the upper back to make that space to maybe place the foot or drag it and move it forwards. Place the back foot on an angle. Inhale, warrior one. You can even try engaging your right glute to support the opening of the front of the hip.

Bellybutton points straight forwards here then exhale, your hands to your heart. Roll that hip open and wiggle your feet a little bit. Open your arms out to the sides. Your knee, it's not great for your knee to be rolling inwards so move that knee to the pinky toe side of the foot. Feel both sides of your lower spine are evenly dropping.

Reverse your warrior, hand down the leg, left arm up, reach into the space in your ribs. Exhale, come up and over, elbow to knee, slide your right arm in front of the face and up, and again both sides of your spine, think about them evenly lengthening, the sit bones dropping away from the skull, the front ribs coming in and rotate a little bit, that bottom chest up. Might feel comfortable for some people to take the fingertips or the hand to the floor, continue that spin of the arm, come up onto the back toes. Exhale, the knee down, right hand out to the side, maybe turn it out on an angle. Left hand to the left knee, spin it open.

Feel that your back leg is engaged with the tucked toes under. Press all the way out through your back heel so you're not just hanging out in your front hip joint. Turn, hands down, wiggle wiggle wiggle, pigeon. A little bit more upright pigeon, maybe for some people lift the back knee off and ooze that back heel out and back so you feel that your hip is getting some space, might come a little bit more forwards, and eventually we're gonna come a little bit more down. Arms wide, inhale, exhale, twist gently to one side.

Inhale, exhale, twist to the other side. Inhale, exhale, any amount, twist. Inhale, exhale, twist. Inhale, come up, plant hands. Pick it up, pull back, downward dog.

Let's take our left hand one hand distance forwards, turn onto the outer edge of our right foot. You can place your left foot halfway forwards and plant to elevate your left arm. Some people will feel like it's okay to stack the feet, keep a little bend in your knees, roll open. Press evenly into all your fingertips and feel like you're lifting your heart off your bottom arm. Some people even play with lifting up this top leg, maybe holding onto it, maybe holding onto the toe, maybe extending any amount and then wherever you are, exhale, like you're coming up and over a really big ball, so you're really connected to the core line, downward dog.

Left hand one hand distance forwards, roll up and over to the other side, choose a side plank that feels supported and you can lift off the bottom shoulder joint, maybe stack the feet, maybe lift up a little bit. Press evenly into every single fingertip of that bottom hand even your pinky finger, and then exhale. The transitions are just as mindful as the postures, they're all little postures. Exhaling, downward dog. Bend you knees, step or hop, lengthen then fold.

Open arms, inhale come up, keeping your bum behind you instead of tucking it under. Exhale. Let's do that whole thing one more time a little bit quicker. Inhale, the arms up, push out. Exhale, fold.

Lengthen, inhale. Exhale, you might hop here if you like to downward dog or step. Inhale, plank pose. Lurch a little forwards onto your toes, every single fingertip presses, exhale, lower, and you can choose to come onto the belly or push the toes back and inhale into a bent elbow, upward dog, maybe to the knees, and then exhale, you might use the knees or push up into plank to come back. Feet together at the back of the mat.

Inhale, right leg up, come high up onto your left toes. Exhale, curl. Foot plants, back foot plants. Inhale, warrior one. Exhale, hands to the heart, open it up.

Warrior two. Inhale, reverse your warrior. Exhale, extended side angle. Inhale, sweep. Lower down onto the back knee, kick the left arm out to the side, turn the fingertips out to the side, spin.

Maybe if you come onto the top of the back kneecap you can bend the back leg, reach back and find it in space. Either kick it back into your hand or if it feels okay to draw it in towards your bum, you can play with that and this is a really nice posture, some people might want to come a little bit further down onto the forearm and maybe even turn your right foot and right knee out a little bit. Breathe into your back waist, unwind. Walk it across, pigeon pose, the closer your heel is towards your groin, the softer it is and the more intense it's going to be if you make more of a right angle with this front foot. I like to tuck the back toes under and lift the back knee.

Reach back through the heel, come a little bit forward, arms up to the sides. Inhale, exhale, twist. Inhale, exhale, twist. Inhale, exhale, turn from the lower spine, roll up to the top of the spine. Come center place, your hands.

Pull it back, downward dog. Come high up onto your toes. Inhale, your left leg up. Exhale, curl, hollow out and ice cream scoop out your belly. Press into all your fingertips, place the foot, back foot planted, beautiful work.

Inhale, warrior one. Exhale, hands to the heart. Inhale, you might need to move your feet a little bit. Warrior two, exhale, inhale, reverse your warrior. Exhale, extended side angle, sweep the arm.

Lengthen the two buttresses on the sides of your spine, like push down both your sitting bones towards the back heel. Roll to look down towards the floor, turn the back toe, drop the knee, take the hand out to the side, you might even turn this foot out a little bit to give you a little bit more space in the hips. Try to stay on the top of the back kneecap, maybe a bend, maybe a floss here of lifting and lowering and just seeing how that is on your hamstring. Big reach back, kick back, or draw in. Maybe come a little bit lower down and this is a really beautiful way to get into the front of the thigh.

I think I heard once that anger is stored in the quadriceps (laughing) so sometimes it's frustrating to get into the front of the hips. Whatever's coming up for you take a nice deep breath. Maybe soften your jaw as you exhale. We'll unwind, wiggle across pigeon. Maybe take it a little bit more right angle than you did before if it's okay for you.

Maybe back knee lifts. Arms out to the sides, exhale. Just oscillate and watch what's happening in your hips as you move side to side. Could be staying up high. Back heal oozes back, so the whole leg bone structure of the right leg is pressing out at the hip, and come back to place your hands, pick it up, pull back, downward dog.

Nice deep breathes, bend your knees, step or hop forwards, elongate. Exhale and fold. Inhale, come all the way up and exhale, and here we're gonna take the left leg up and take it back, turn open so you're about a leg distance of yours apart with your feet heel to arch alignment. Slide your hips to the back of the mat so again you're thinking about the two sides of the spine being evenly long. Come up and over your right hip joint.

You can take your hand to your shin, to your ankle or maybe even to the floor as long as you keep space in the right hip and let your left arm come up. So the same tiny little twist here happens in rolling the bottom chest under the top chest. And you have a few moments here so I always check in with my mouth if I'm hardening through the mouth and if you lift the soft palette up a little bit by just with taking a tiny little smile, then you can get elongation right up through the sides of your neck. Let's try this, take your hand behind the back of your head and kind of like hook the back of your skull, anchor your tailbone into your body, move your tailbone in and down and then press your head back and just take a little, a back bend into your upper chest here in triangle pose. So the hips might move a little bit more forwards.

Stay strong through your legs and open up into the top three ribs, that sticky place of opening and then come on out. Use your top hands, saving you from the posture, it's like someone's pulling you up. Exhale, turn to the front, step forwards and we'll try the other side so right leg comes back. Open it up, slide your hips to the back of the mat and feel both your sitting bones are like pulling down so the two sides of your spine get nice and long. Come up and over your hip joint.

Be careful not to lock this knee, so I always keep a little micro bend in the joint, and roll your bottom chest up. Tiny little smile just to lift and make the head and neck feel more elegant and less strained. Breathing into your kidneys across the back of the body, and we can try this, let's take the hand behind the back of the head and kind of like hook the back of your head or hold the ball of the back of the skull, anchor the tailbone down and in, and find a little, really nice back bend here. Breathe, supporting your spine from leaning your feet nice and evenly under the floor. Unwind from that back bend, it's like someone's holding you up, pull up from the top arm and step it forwards and we'll try one more standing posture like that so left leg comes back.

It's gonna be a little bit of a wider stance, like warrior two was. Knees relatively over the ankle, knee is moving back and then the elbow to the knee, or if it feels comfortable, hand to the outside of the foot. Take your hand behind you to the back of the head, anchor the base, very tip of the spine, underneath the back of the pelvis, in and down and then start to come into a little bit of a back bend here pressing the back of your head into your hand and lifting your hear off of your bottom arm so the shape is rounding, and then unwind, use the top hand to help you up. Maybe a little heel toe, because you're pretty wide, to step back and that's a posture stepping back to the top of the mat. You might feel a little bit jagged and less connected to your core so that transition, be mindful of just as much emphasis as you put in the creation of the set up of the posture in the transitions.

So we're going to warrior two, nice wide stance, knee moves to the pinky toe side edge of the foot, elbow comes down, sweep the arm up, hold the back of the head, lean the head into the hand, tailbone anchors down and in so the hips are gonna move a little bit more forwards in this shape. Your frontal hip bones are rolling down towards the floor and then you can come into a little bit of a back bend, bring those taut ribs, the collarbones shoot up and back, a little smile in the mouth to lift up through the center of the skull and then unwind, inhale, come up. Might heel toe in a little bit, step forwards, root down, equal standing. Inhale, your arms up. Exhale, deepen your hip creases as you fold forwards.

Lengthen and maybe hop or step back to downward dog. Inhale, plank pose shift way forward so you can feel the finger pads leaning into the earth and lower down nice and slow, elbows by the sides, collarbones wide, all the way onto the belly and you can either take the chin or the forehead to the floor, whatever feels more comfortable, and then from here wiggle your inner legs to almost touch or come a bit closer to touch, lean the fingernails down onto the floor, reach your toenails back and inhale, come up with the legs and the chest, it's like you're rolling up to the low back, mid back, upper back, and think about the pelvis bones, sit bones, pubic bone and tailbone shooting back and the spine it's like a sword coming out of its sheath, reaching forwards, and exhale and come down. Flip your hands so that your fingertips point forwards. Inhale again, low back arches, mid back, upper back. Pelvis and legs shoot back, spine shoots forwards through the crown of your head, you can also look down here, press into your hands a little bit and exhale, and come down.

Interlock your hands behind you. Wiggle back through your shoulders. Same thing, inhale and come up. Try to widen the back of your pelvis so that you can really shoot that tailbone and pubic bone back. Maybe looking down to elongate the neck, there might be space in between your wrists.

Exhale and come down. One more like this. Take your hands behind the back of your head so there's weight down on your head, the arm lines are resting on the head and then come on up, this time you're looking down more and elongate, you're strengthening through the upper spine by holding the weight of the arms and exhale, come down, turn your cheek to one side and take a few breaths into your back, spine, back muscles, soften them, liquidize them with your breath. I'm gonna look forwards again. This time separate your knees, bend your knees, take the inner feet together.

Take your hands forwards. You might place your forehead down here or look a little bit forewords and then try without overusing your back muscles to lift your knees a little bit off the floor, so sometimes I just touch to check in, anchor the tailbone down, lift up a little bit, and we'll do that a few times, lift without too much movement in the back. Lift the knees off a little bit, and there's gonna be muscular activation, but just soften it a little bit, and this time keep the knees lifted, pull the spine forwards using your hands. Take the hands back, interlock your fingers, reach back, lifting out through the top of the chest bones and you might be available to hold on to your feet or you might have to look back and take one at a time. If it's possible reach back, bend your knees a little bit more, find your ankles and push the shins back as you take the top of the chest, top of the sternum forwards and breath, so there's this traction, back through the hips, forwards through the spine.

Maybe a little rocking action and then exhale and come down and turn your cheek to the other side, and breathe into your back muscles, and then hands back by the low ribs, come up onto your knees, push your hips back, tuck toes, downward dog. Pedal out your feet, and from downward dog step or hop through to a seat, might feel kind of interesting to lift your hips high and cross your feet, land on your feet and then your bum and slide your legs through and I'm just gonna turn around so that you can see me a little bit better here. You come on through. If you're feeling that your pelvis rolls back, when you're sitting it might be really nice to have a blanket with you and place that underneath your hip so you're on like the tiniest bit of a downward slope off of the prop, you can even fold it up a little bit more so that your pelvis feels like you're not completely disappearing and slumping and congesting in the belly, that there's a length in the belly, there's a little bit of a softness that might mean that you need to bend your knees. So we'll try this bent knee version, is tipping the pelvis forwards, sliding your hands towards your ankles or your feet and bringing the navel down towards the thighs and then thinking about the belly button sliding forwards towards your knees.

For some people it might feel like you reach out a bit more through your legs. It's way more interesting to get long in a foreword fold than to get rounded like that, especially after back bends, so we're going for spaciousness. So it also helps to look forwards, 'cause when you look forewords the whole front of the spine opens up, if you look down the back of the spine opens up a little bit more, and then allow, just like be permissive to let the shape round a little bit. Let's take five deep breaths. One, two, grounding the outer hips, reaching the bellybutton foreword, sliding out of the pelvis, four, and five.

And inhale, root down through the sit bones and come up and we're gonna come onto our back here. So roll on down, let your knees come in towards your chest and we're gonna let the knees come a little bit over, or the hips, sorry, come a little bit over to the left and we're gonna take the knees over to the right, and some people want to have a block underneath or in between the knees to support the back of the pelvis, some people like to even cross the left leg over the right and it's just a bit more demanding on the back of the pelvis and let your left arm come up into the air, and start to slide open taking the left lung down towards the floor, back of the left lung towards the floor. If you have your hands down you can actually steer, pressing into your right hand and encourage that left lung to come down and spread wide, and then check in with your mouth if you're holding that tension or like compressing through the neck and the mouth and can you allow the neck to feel a little bit more elegant, little bit longer. Then we're gonna come out, roll back on to the back, your pelvis will be a little over to the left, pop it into the middle, pop it over to the right or you can use your feet to do that little pop, bring your knees in, let your knees fall to the left, open up your arms and you might criss-cross so the right leg comes on top, but the feet are fairly active so you don't feel pinching or too much stretching on the back of the pelvis, and you can touch your low back and just see if your spine is, crosses or the spine pieces are sticking out and if they are play with pressing your hips away from your head, drawing the spine in so you can't feel them anymore and then let the right lung really drop. Nice deep breaths into the back of the body.

And we'll slowly unwind, you can do a little pop of the hips back into center. Let the hands come behind the back of the head. Exhale, curl in a little bit and then inhale, open up so that there's a little lower back curve, toes tap the floor. Exhale, curl in. Inhale, open up and then if it feels pretty simple straighten your legs and do the curl in.

Open up, bend your knees. Exhale, little curl. Open it up. Then bring your hands onto your knees and take your knees a little bit wide, draw them by the sides of the body. Let the lower back snuggle into the floor, and let your feet release to the floor and we'll just stay here for a moment walking the feet wide.

Maybe if it's possible let the knees fall in towards each other. Take your hands onto your front ribs, dig your elbows into the floor, lift up your chest and slide it away from your pelvis and it's also really nice here to place a blanket underneath your head, so that'll help your ribs drop down if you tend to thrust up through the ribs and you're really tight in the mid back, it's a really nice thing to do the resting posture with a head on a blanket. Arms can come out to the side, if you want to reach your legs out straight then you can do that. This feels really good for me right now so I'm gonna stay here, and then let a nice big breath in, and exhale, really feel that that exhale is allowing your weight to drop, if there's any parts of you that are still standing. Really feel held by the earth beneath you and lean into that support, and feel like the earth is coming up to meet your body and holding your body, might feel good to close your eyes.

Feel the residue of the practice, what do you feel? What's the quality of the mind, thoughts, emotions? The spaciousness in the body and maybe spaciousness also in the thought processes. Might be a nice place here to create an intention for either something that you want or something that you want to let go of. Last few moments here, just drop that in to the open field of awareness.

And wiggle your fingers and your toes. Always feel welcome to stay here for a little bit longer and be in the residue of the work, but if it feels right for you, you can stretch your arms, stretch your legs, and however you like, roll up to a seat. Take a few moments to just feel that grounding through your hips. Thank you so much for sharing your practice with me today, hope to see you soon, namaste.


Hi Lydia. I really liked this season. Standing Flow for Athletes is my favourite. It's sort of my default if I don't feel like doing anything. Once I'm into it,the motivation returns. Any hints on what's in store for us 2017? I've only been at this a couple of months and I'm convinced that Yoga will play a key role in my climbing improvement and reduced climbing injury. Have a Happy Holiday
Hi Andrew. So great to hear about your practice and what you are finding useful. The balancing aspects that yoga offer have really supported my climbing too! I hope to run another season, and I'll keep you posted. In the mean time, there are lots of standing practices on this site that are similar to this one. Try Alana Mitnick and Brenda Lear's standing flows. You might also really like my Steady Standing Practice on the Grounded Joy show I offer here on this site. Let me know how it goes! Happy New Year. Lydia
This whole practice felt like one big, long "aaaahhhh....". The wide armed shoulder twist in pigeon, especially with the repetitions, is just wonderful. Thanks so much.
Hi Lori!
Thanks for letting me know! I love that feeling... ahhhhhhh.
Sending a big warm hug from Canada. Lydia
Thank you so much for sharing. The sequences were playful with lots of great cueing to help focus on support and alignment. Fabulous sequencing. XXOO
Thanks for sharing. I just love you so much. xo Lydia
Hi Lydia, my first try at this practice. I love the standing sequences and the stretches. The back bending was too much for my lower back, so I did some of your oscillating poses and an easy sphyinx instead. Your guidance into the postures always helps me to release where I habitually tense. Grateful for your teachings
Hi Joan So happy you liked the movement here! Sphinx is a great back bending alternative and so are small belly back bends (salabhasana) done in gentle repetition. Grateful for our friendship with the yoga! So much love. Lydia Zamorano
2 people like this.
I love the focus on anatomy, I feel more comfortable and my body feels safer in poses that I have done many times before with the extra attention to this. Really enjoyed this practice.
1 person likes this.
While you said this was good for an active recovery day, I used it after a 60 mile group-ride and also to recover from yesterday's epic Ashtanga practice. Smooth and mindful transitions are really fun to do! Loved the tip about smiling with the back bends with hand on base of skull. As a cyclist, and with big quad muscles, I laughed when you said "I heard we store anger in our quads".  Makes sense experientially for me.  Thanks for your thoughtful responses to my comments. I love to write, and glad I have a reader. Both hands together here too.  
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