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Season 1 - Episode 12

Soak Up the Sun

20 min - Practice


Laura guides us in a practice designed to stretch and open our shoulders and chest. Using a strap, we find integrity in the shoulders as we move through a lunge and warrior sequence. You will feel refreshed and a news sense of openness to greet your day.
What You'll Need: Mat, Strap

About This Video


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(waves crashing) Namaste, welcome. We're gonna soak up some sun, and the sun's gonna be generated inside our body. Oh, boy. You're gonna need a strap. And I've got mine pre-set.

So, you want to place the strap and set it so that when you take your arms in there you're about shoulder-width apart. Looks just like that. And then from here I'm gonna take these, this time all the way to my thumbs, and take the arms over the head. Now this, I'm gonna concentrate this on the shoulders. So, you might feel it in your thumbs, sure, but move your mind and your attention to your shoulders.

And let's spread the collarbones. I almost feel as though I'm lifting my rib cage out of its particular spot. Right? Keeping that tension so the tension's going that way, keeping that tension there. But localizing the sensation in the shoulders.

Opening the arm pits. You can already feel the heat start to build in the arms and in the shoulders. You want to try not to jut the body forward, and the ribs. But bring the ribs in so that you keep everything right in the shoulder area. And then you're gonna lower that back down.

We're gonna do that one more time. Just in case somebody is still trying to figure their strap out. We'll go all the way back up. So the resistance in the thumb, it shouldn't hurt your thumbs. It shouldn't bother the joints of the hands at all.

You're feeling it right at the armpits. I'm also kind of feeling like I'm doing this with my arms. Like they're spinning towards one another. And then go ahead and draw the belly in and up a little bit. And that will help settle the shoulders a little bit more.

And then relax the arms back down. We're gonna keep it moving. I'm gonna turn away from you so you see what I'm doing, alright? I've got one arm over my head, and I'm dropping the strap back behind me and then I reach back and I grab the strap with the other hand. You can walk them closer to one another if you like.

But I really want you to feel like you're pulling this way on the strap. So we're pulling that way on the strap. This elbow might want to float. No, no, no, keep it right in there. And go ahead and bend the legs just for extra fun.

And then straighten back up. And one more time, bend the legs. And then straighten back up. We're switching all the way around. We'll take, now, the other side.

So, this arm does the same thing. Pointing straight up. Strap, back down, reaching back behind, walking the hands close but then the tension on the strap is that way. Right? And then the elbow doesn't float, it stays right in line.

Ribs don't jut, they stay nice and close. Belly stays firm. Legs bent. At this point you don't know if the sunshine is in your arm, your thighs, or your belly. Really, anywhere you're feeling it is good 'Cause things are warming up.

And that sensational burn? That's just things waking up. Nothing to really concern yourself about. Let's release that. Now I know you felt that stretch in your arms.

Let's get a little more activity in the arms by taking the strap just below the wrist, arms go over. This time your focus is not on the shoulders, your focus is on the arms. So, I'm gonna take my arms away from one another. I feel like I lift. And I feel like the muscles deepen into the bones of the arms.

Now all this is gonna come into play as we move into the Vinyasa. So, you have a nice understanding of what's going to happen. (slow breathing) And then you'll bring the arms down. Hold onto the strap, you keep the tension in the strap, and step up to the front of your mat. And back up they go.

And let's go ahead and bend the legs nice and deep for our very first movement into the Vinyasa. Deep breath. Onto exhale, you're going to fold forward. Hold onto the strap. So, you're keeping the tension on the strap.

It's extra work for the arms. Inhaling, up you go again. Exhaling, floating back down. In that forward fold keep the tension on the strap. Might be feeling a little bit of the burn now in the arms.

Coming back to that nice bent leg position. Folding again. Now, place your hands, walk the feet back, and come into a Downward Dog. You're gonna spread the hands a little wider than what may feel normal for your Dog, and spin the hands out a little bit. (slow breathing) Three nice breaths here.

So, the strap should be stabilizing the arms. If it has slipped down too low, come down to your knees. Wiggle it up a little higher, but not beyond the elbows. And then go back into the posture. Now, here comes the funnest part of class.

Step the feet up just a tiny bit. I want you to bend your knees a tiny bit, and just lift yourself off the ground briefly. A little hop. You may have seen these in the other classes. So, let's do ten of these.

Are you ready? One, two, three, oh they're fast. Four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Excellent. And rest for just a moment.

(slow breathing) If you lift your tailbone slightly and pull the legs back it gives you a little more room for the lungs to expand. Exhaling now to your knees. Uncurling the toes, and sinking back into a Child's Pose. Let's take two, three breaths here. (slow breathing) Plant the hands and bring yourself to hands and knees.

Keep the tension on the strap. I'm gonna bring my feet along with me and come into a little half Plank. In this half Plank, I'm not sagging my back. That can make your back ache a little bit. I'm drawing the belly in nice and taunt.

And then I'm lifting the chest. (slow breathing) And then back I go to the Downward Dog. (slow breathing) And then down to hands and knees. Now, this is a fun little sequence. It's kind of interesting, though, because we're gonna be moving the feet forward.

So, do your best with the strap. Step the right leg forward, I keep the strap tense, and I'm bringing my arms up. Now my back knee is on the ground. So, leave it on the ground this time. Open the chest.

You're gonna feel a familiar feeling from working with the strap earlier. And then the arms are gonna float down. Step yourself forward. Come into that. Beautiful Chair Pose.

Keep resisting. I know the shoulders may be feeling a little bit like, what? Now this is where it gets kind of fun. Take you left leg and just step it back. And we'll move to the next posture without coming to the ground.

And then the hands come down. Step the foot forward. Keep resisting the strap and come into this nice forward fold. (slow breathing) As you're forward folding, it's a nice time to rest but there's also a lot of attention that can be utilized, so I want you to keep the strap tense. If you could imagine having a strap on your legs you could keep that strap tense.

That imaginary strap. And then take your time bending the legs. You're going to walk back to that Downward Dog again. Shimmy the feet back and shift forward into a Plank. Now, this Plank you might have to walk the hands a little more away so that you can keep the strap nice and taunt.

Plank is a really excellent tool for getting your core body, getting it strong but also making it more intelligent. Back to Downward Dog. (slow breathing) Back to Plank. Now, drop to your knees, lift your feet, and just do a little arc in the back. And then back to that Downward Dog.

Here we go, to the knees. Opposite leg's going to come forward this time. For me that's my left leg. I'm gonna float the arms up. I even keep my back foot turned in, as a little bit of a kickstand.

Give me a little more balance, that's an option always. Open the chest, lift, keep the inner thighs squeezing, hip points narrowing. Arms float forward. Step forward. Back into that Chair Position.

Keep even tone in the arms by resisting that strap. Straighten the legs. Step back with the left leg. And then bend that front leg again, so we have a straight leg. Open the chest.

(slow breathing) Arms float forward. Uttanasana. Keep the tension on the strap. (slow breathing) Nice breath here. Now, step the feet back.

(slow breathing) Shift yourself forward, nice inhalation here. Take a few good breaths. Back to Downward Dog. (slow breathing) Few good breaths. Forward we go again.

Right into that Plank. Make it steady. And then this time we'll drop to the knees, lift the feet, do a little arc in the back. Only if it's comfortable. Back to your Downward Dog.

Walk the feet forward. Let the strap fall. And then your strap, you know it's one of your wonderful yoga tools. You're gonna set it aside carefully. So, set it aside thoughtfully.

(slow breathing) Bend the legs. Reach the arms up. So, there's no strap now. Arms will feel much lighter, but you imagine that the strap is still there so that the integrity of what the strap taught you remains in the arms. All the way up.

Concentrate your efforts in the shoulders as you take the arms back. So, the imaginary strap is there on your thumbs. (slow breathing) Bend one arm, lift the other arm, grab the imaginary strap. Bring the elbow in and open the chest. Ribs don't fall out, they stay in.

Then switch your arms. Right? Same idea, one arm up, one arm down. Elbow in. Just using the imagination.

And then releasing the arms, all the way up they go. Resist the imaginary strap. Ah. And then let the arms go. Fall forward on your mat.

(slow breathing) Let the spine become long. Slide your hands to your shins, inhaling, lengthen the front spine. Exhaling, fold. Inhaling, lengthening the front spine. Exhaling, fold.

Placing the hands for Downward Dog. You're imagining the strap is still there. Create that resistance. (slow breathing) Lower yourself down. Keeping that imaginary strap, you're resisting the straps.

Step the right leg forward. Floating the arms up. Opening the chest, opening the arms, feeling the integrity in the arms. Let your mind remember back to when the strap was there to push against. Hands floating down.

Step yourself forward. Up you go. Bending the legs, resisting the imaginary strap. Straightening the legs. Stepping the left leg back.

Reaching, so you remember here when we had the strap we could feel it in our shoulders. We could feel it in the arms. We could feel it in the ribs. All the way down you go. Uttanasana, release the arms.

(slow breathing) Downward Facing Dog. Imagine the strap is there. Hands and knees. Opposite leg comes forward, float the arms up. Resist that strap, that imaginary strap.

Exhaling, the arms come down. Step forward. Bend the legs. Inhaling, up you come. Exhaling, fold.

Bend the legs all the way up. Taking the right leg back this time. Nice, strong back leg. Exhaling, fold. Downward Dog.

So, here in this Dog I want you to go ahead and bend the legs, sway the hips. A lot of work in the arms today. So, you're gonna thank your arms later. And then roll down to the knees. Keep the toes curled under.

But let's drop down to the forearms, palms together. And we're just gonna sink back into a little bit of a Child's Pose with the palms together and the arms on the ground. Your forehead may or may not come to the ground, either way is fine. (slow breathing) And then bring yourself back up. If it feels fancy, you can straighten the legs.

If it feels good to stay where you are, you can pause there. Walk the feet up for the Kudagra. Nice modified Dog here. Last little bit of attention to the arms. And then down you come.

Let's sit back on the feet. So, I do uncurl my toes. Inhale, the arms up. Exhale, the arms out. And then let's come back to the feet and come back into squatting.

Roll yourself up half way. All the way. Arms float, float, float down. Again, it's like I'm in a body of water and as my arms come down my body moves up to the surface. A little quiet walk to the front of the mat.

(slow breathing) Arms go out. Let's give yourself a hug, wrap the arms. Switch sides. And release those arms. Hoo-hoo.

Thank you so much. Hope you soaked up some sun. Have a beautiful day.


1 person likes this.
Thank you for this mindful and energizing practice, and for the sweet and very thorough instructions.
1 person likes this.
Thank you Laura! You did it again!
That was super-fun! Thank you for guiding me Laura.
1 person likes this.
Yay! I love that one too!
First outdoor sunny yoga session of the year! This seemed like the perfect choice. Love your careful words.
1 person likes this.
Thanks! Great arm workout.
Thank you so much, Laura! 
I injured my shoulder last week and was thinking that I wouldn't even be able to do a downward dog. I wanted a quickie to test the waters and it was so nice to have that added stability throughout the practice. Even when the strap was off, it felt okay! I look forward to practicing with you again. xo

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