(waves crashing) Welcome. So, as we mentioned before, we have more neural pathways for pain and discomfort than we do for ease and joy. So, today we're really gonna work on that. On trying to strengthen our neural pathways that can recognize ease and joy that's already within us. And hopefully bring some more vitality into the system in the midst of some of the low times or the depression.
So, whenever you're ready guys, come into a comfortable seat. And that might be on the floor. And if you notice here, I've got a bolster underneath me sitting me up so my lower back and hips have a little extra room. Feel free to do that. You also can come into a chair, no problem.
But take a moment to see if you can wiggle in and get connected to whatever is on the earth. Whether it's your feet or the legs or your hips. Nice. And now, just notice your setting. Like, where are you?
Allow your eyes and shoulders and head to just look around and take in where you actually are. Sometimes this just helps us bring us back to the present moment, rather than spinning in our thoughts, or head. We're gonna start by taking a big hug around ourselves. Just really kind of squeezing the backs of the arms or whatever part of the arms you can connect with. Take the opposite arms to the upper shoulder.
And as we go down, make some contact, give yourself a little squeeze down the triceps to the elbows, through the forearms. If you're feelin' really disconnected today, you might even say to yourself, "These are my arms. "Yep, here I am. "These are my arms." And then go to your hands. And play around with the different connections of the hands.
Pull and see what it's like to have a lot of intensity, and maybe softly and just notice the connections, wiggle the hands around, bringing awareness back to you rather than the locus of intention outside. And now, shift the awareness down to the legs. So, make some connections with your hands on the thighs. You might even rub them, you might squeeze the thighs. And again, if you're feeling disconnected, "These are my leg, I am here." Feel free to say that over and over to yourself as many times as you need to until you start to feel present.
See if you can keep this awareness of like, I'm here, I'm present, as we come down onto our backs. Now, if you have a tendency to kind of check out when you lay down onto your back, you can also do all this stuff standing or seated. Okay? So, if you have any props feel free to shift them aside and come all the way down onto the back. Now, reach the body from fingertips to toe tips as long as you can.
It's easy, especially when we're in lower energetic spaces or depression, to feel really comfortable in a ball. So this might not be entirely comfortable, but notice if anything about it feels alive or good or okay. Now, let's bring one knee into the chest at a time. Start with the left and just squeeze the left knee into the outside edge of the ribs. On your exhale, if you feel comfortable coordinating with breath, reach the legs back down, the arms back over head.
Do that one more time on the other side. (exhaling) So this is giving a little bit of circulation to the gut, and remember with a lot of stress, our guts are usually the first place to be affected. So now, bend knees. Gonna reach the left leg up toward the ceiling, and you can grab wherever you can grab. So, if the backs of the legs are really tight, hamstrings are tight, just hold behind the thigh.
Now, if you can get a little bit more range of motion, totally fine, reach the arms up higher, or maybe even grab the big toe. But remember, for this one, it's just not a competition. Nobody gets a gold star for stretching their leg straighter, but what is your relationship to your body? So, bend and stretch, just kind of waking up the backs of the legs. Keep reaching.
(exhaling) And then one more time. Notice though, that as I do this, I'm not lifting my hip, I'm trying to keep my low back grounded, so the spine's a priority and I know that I'm supported and I can actually sense this. See if you can sense your back on the ground. We'll hold for just another three counts here as you lengthen through the back of your leg. (exhaling) See if you're breathing as you feel the sensations, whether the sensations are really intense or not that much.
Good, let's change legs. We're gonna take the right leg up. And again, I'm gonna keep the low back anchored as I reach. Straight is very much a relative term. So, what is the relationship to your body right now?
As you bend and stretch the right leg, what are you noticing? Alright, and we're gonna hold it here for four breaths. And if you're noticing intensity, is it kind of your tendency to go deeper into that intensity and to get as much stretch as possible? If so, would it be possible to back off a little bit? And if it's your tendency to collapse and kind of shy away from anything that you feel, how would it be to just show up and take one more breath, feeling what you feel?
Great! Place the foot down. Take a moment to notice, how's the circulation? Where's the energy, if anywhere, in the body? Okay, now, lift your hips an inch or so, slide them towards the left and drop the knees to the right. If you're dealing with any back issues or achiness, you can place a block or pillows between the knees to help support.
You can also create a wider stretch or bring your knees a little closer in, but play around until you say like, "Oh, this is a comfortable-ish place." Let the arms open up, and try to prioritize shoulders on the floor before the knees. Be here for about four breaths. Can you notice your spine? What's the length of the spine right now? How's your neck?
If it's not comfortable, could you give yourself permission to place it in a way that feels a little better for you? That's about the end of four breaths. So, move on the exhale. The exhale will help dial up the abdominal muscles to support the back. Come to the middle.
Pay attention. That's it. And then we'll lift the hips and slide the hips in the opposite direction, knees into chest, and drop your knees to the other side. Let the arms open. And remember, these are never obligations.
This is just suggestions. You can have your hands in, you can have the arms out, but pay attention to what actually gives you space in your system. So, again, I'm gonna suggest allowing the shoulders to settle, allowing the neck and the spine to be comfortable. Notice how you feel comfortable. What cues are your body giving you?
Does something feel bigger, can you take a deeper breath? Yeah. Is there more ease anywhere? And if not, could you give yourself permission to adjust to find that ease? Great.
When you're ready, let's come back to the center. Good! So, you might let your hips wiggle, feeling the spine come back towards a more neutral position. Gonna do just a little bit of awareness in the core, okay? So, point the toes, you're gonna bring your hands back to the base of the skull, and don't worry, this is not like gym class stomach exercises or abdominal crunches, I promise. But I do want you to see if you can make a basket with your hands for your head to rest in, okay?
So your head isn't gonna be lifting, your face isn't gonna be doing the work, but your head gets to rest in your hands. Yeah. Now, see if while pointing your toes, and of course, if your feet cramp at all, just flex the feet, draw your lower belly and back down into the floor so there's some stability. We're just gonna lift the head and the shoulders off the ground and then lift your left knee up. Dip those toes back to the floor, as if you're trying to dip the toes into a puddle of water.
Now notice your lower body, see if the lower body can stay stable. Lift he opposite foot, or knee, and then place that down. Breathing in as you lift up, and then place them down. Try to keep the lower body pretty stable. Do that two more times, each side.
And placing it down. Head's relaxing into the hands. And then place the toes down, last one. Pause right here, notice if there's anything that feels strong or that it's cultivating strength, and then lower. (exhaling) Consciously, we're gonna take a breath in, hold the breath for a moment, and open your mouth and make a little sound.
Just a ha. It's fine if you feel silly. The good news and the bad news is nobody cares right now. So let's try that again. Take a deep breath in.
And as you stretch your arms up overhead and release your legs, ha. Now, bring the knees into the chest. Go ahead and give yourself a big hug, and you might even lift your head off the ground. Place the head back down, place your feet about hip bone distance apart, and reach down, see if you can feel your heels or just make sure they're somewhat close to your hips. Now we're gonna spread the toes and press the feet into the floor, enough to start to lift the hips off the ground.
And start to lift your arms overhead as well. On your exhale, lower down. Try this again, we'll do this two more times. If this bothers the shoulders at all, just leave the arms out of it. And if this just feels like it's not the right thing for you to do, you might imagine it rather than doing it in your body.
One more time. Spread the toes, press your feet and lift up, feeling any sort of strengh in the legs as you take one inhale and exhale here. And lower down. Nice. Notice how that affected your system, if at all, and then bring your knees into your chest.
Let's roll over to the side, we're gonna come up to child's pose. So, for child's pose, it's really a fantastic potential resting pose for a lot of people. Anytime during your practices, whether it's this one or any other one, feel free to come into this shape. Take your knees a little wider apart than your feet and come on down and let the head release. If turning the head down doesn't work for you, you're always welcome to rest your head on your hands and look forward, or just stay a little bit more upright, allowing your back to get the stretch.
But for two to three more cycles of breath, consider allowing yourself some space for rest and release. Everything in nature, everything organic anyways, has both an expansion and a contraction. So just notice the releasing phase that you're in here. See if you can find your breath and we'll crawl out of this by bringing the knees a little closer and curling the toes. Try to spread your toes, and press the hips right back onto the heels so there's some pressure.
For some of you, this is completely easy. For others of you, it might be excruciating. If that's the case, stand up a little higher. Hold here and try to take two or three breaths, or just count to two to three, feeling any sensation in your feet. Stretching, heat, cold, just creating that awareness.
Nice! Now we're gonna bring the hands onto the floor and just push back over the feet, we'll rise to standing and rolling up. Nice. Come on into a comfortable position with your feet at least hip distance apart. And then, this is the first time we're standing in the practice, so wiggle around, yeah. Start to feel your weight distributed through like all four parts of the feet.
Almost like you're in old school roller skates. Backward and forward, just playing around with the weight. And then take a moment to collapse a little bit and feel a little heavier, and then, just like you did with the bridge pose, press the feet into the floor and come up a little taller. And then one more time like that, playing around with the collapse and just the melt, and then the rebound, the pressing into earth and rising. What's it like to stand upright?
Just notice. Okay, we're gonna take the feet a little wider apart now, getting the sense of upright stability with us. And feet are more about shoulder distance. Take your hands right onto the thighs. We'll inhale and lift the chest, and on the exhale, try tilting the tailbone under, maybe lifting the belly and squeezing.
You might squeeze the legs, you might squeeze the butt, you might squeeze the stomach. And then on the inhale, the same thing. Kind of opening and releasing. So we're moving between expansion, contraction. Press down, feeling the energy into the legs, into the earth, squeezing and then release.
One more time. Press down, notice any amount of energy or strength that's in the lower body. Hold this for just a brief moment, and then release. Open the chest, shoulders roll back. You're rising up.
Check out the currents that might be traveling through the limbs, through the legs and the stomach. And from your navel down, you might even imagine trying to be fierce or strong. Okay, feet can stay there or come closer together. We're gonna do a little breath work here. So if breath really triggers you, you might pause this part or just join us when you're ready.
We'll bring the palms straight out at the shoulders, and it's not collapsed, it's a more upright position with the torso. On the inhale, we'll lift the arms. On the exhale, bring the arms back to center. And then opening inhale and then exhale, bring it back to center. And then the inhale, we'll lift up, straighten the legs and exhale, forward fold.
You can come to the floor or you can come halfway down, but allow the shoulders to release. And then rise back up. Exhale into your feet. Inhale, reach the arms out of the shoulders, stay here on your exhale. Your next inhale, reaching up, exhale back to the center.
Inhale, opening up, back to the center. Lifting up, but press the feet down and then forward, exhale. One more time. Come on back up. Send the energy down into your legs for a nice, strong base.
Inhale to the center, and all the way up this time. Exhale back to the center. Inhale, opening. Exhale together. Inhale up and then exhale all the way down.
Rounding up, or flat back up, rise to standing. One more time, find that mountain position where you feel the feet underneath you. And feel free to move the weight of the body until you can feel all four corners of the feet down. Allow the legs that you just got into to support you. Strength of the glutes and the butt to support you to stand a little taller.
And whether this feels comfortable to you or uncomfortable to you, would it be okay to tolerate for just two more counts? Being, standing. Now, let's get our blocks and if you don't have blocks, that's okay. You can also grab a chair and have it in front of you or to the side for support, or just skip it. But if you do have blocks, place it to the front of your mat on either side.
Just getting it into position. We're gonna turn and face one direction. And now, take the feet underneath you, under your hips, and we'll step your left leg back to start with. I'm gonna be at least heel to heel distance, if not a little wider, because really the priority here is stability, okay? Now, stretch the front leg straight-ish, stretch the back leg straight-ish, and lift the thigh muscles up so you can feel some stability.
Good! Bring the hands onto the hips. Pretend like you're really just standing in the back leg and in your front heel, and now bend your front knee. Great! On the inhale, you're gonna straighten the leg. On the exhale, we'll go into the bend but lift your knee. Inhale, stretch the leg straight and then exhale, lift the arms up.
So as you bend your front knee, there's still an awareness of where's my back body? Where's the stability and strength coming from? If you can remember doing belly work on the back, think about the heat that may have been brought up and activate that here. Let the core help lift the spine. Take one more breath.
And now come on back out. Good. We're gonna change legs. So step to the front, and nice and simple, change. Again, you're heel to heel, maybe a little bit wider, but stand with both legs straight-ish, lifting the thigh muscles up towards the hips while pressing down into the feet.
Bend into the front knee and the hands will lift. This time we'll exhale as we stretch the leg, and we're gonna inhale as we extend the leg. That's it. And exhale, stretch. And inhale, bend, holding for two counts.
Two, one, all the way up. Good. Step up to the front, yep. And just like I keep telling you, notice what you notice. See if there's any heat, tingling, bubbling.
If you need to pause, pause here. If you're ready to, we're gonna bend the knees and place the hands on the blocks, or you can place the hands on the floor. Let's step the left leg back, this time staying high on the ball of the back foot. You're generally heel to heel distance because if you're much closer, you're gonna feel like you're on a tight rope and it's easier to fall. So, keep it a little wider.
Bring the right hand to the thigh and we'll get long on your exhale. Twist towards your right. In my case, I get to twist toward an amazing ocean. Inhale, and then exhale, twist towards the right again. One more time, return to your center.
Press the feet, and twist towards your right. If it feels available to you, reach the top arm up. Lengthen fingertips to fingertips, heel to crown, notice that there's breath, and then bring the top arm down. We're gonna look forward and step to the front. Inhale.
Change legs, exhale, staying high on the ball of the back foot again at least hip distance. Left hand to the thigh this time, breathing in and twisting towards the left. And again, center. And towards the left. One more time.
Twisting towards the left, consider letting that left arm reach out of the shoulder. Again, great for a stomach that's had to deal with a lot of stress. Allow your belly to breathe and massage the gut area, and then release down, circulation really returning to the center of body, halfway as you lengthen. Good. Consider bowing the body.
If the backs of the legs or the back are tight on your knees. Hands on hips, flat back to come on up. (exhaling) There's potentially a lot of energy. So, feel the circulation that might be in your fingers or your toes. Now we're gonna step open, a good arm's distance apart.
So let's bring the hands onto the low back, and if you happen to have really long arms, I've got kind of ridiculously long arms, bring your hands down onto kind of the low butt, thigh area. We're gonna press again into earth, really finding roots, finding ground. And then lift up from the lower body, from the lower belly muscles so the chest, as if there's a little string, can lift up towards the ceiling. A little standing camel pose. Now, everyone should look down with your face and make sure that it's not just your face that's lifted.
So, press feet, chest lifting then maybe even the gaze goes up. Three, two, one. Draw the belly in and come all the way up. Bring the hands behind the back, interlace the fingers, yeah? So, interlace the fingers.
Now, this might not be available for everybody's shoulders, you got a lot of muscle mass, bring a strap behind, or a tie or a belt, and just grab that. Otherwise, interlace. We're gonna inhale. Do that same thing of pushing down and lifting up through the center, bend the knees a whole bunch and then forward fold bringing your arms overhead. Consider letting your head release, just like the brain's falling right out of the head.
Take two more breaths if you can. Press into the feet, bend the knees, look forward with the heart, eyes all the way up. (exhaling) And now, just find your center, wherever center is. That might be one hand on heart, maybe one hand on belly. It might be both hands over the heart, or hands together.
Just paying attention on purpose about your judgment. Just witnessing what's happening here. Where's your life force? Where does it feel like you're alive, if anywhere? Last one.
Now, take that, bringing and collecting all of this energy together, being really upright. You're gonna take the left heel up first. So moving towards the tree, but let's just start out on the earth, yeah? So press down. There's a tendency, you know the path of least resistance, to go into like, whatever's easiest.
If you start to get sassy hips, just kind of draw it back in. Allow yourself to be. Yeah, find that firm uprightness. Pressing left heel into ankle, and now, hands can either be on hips, they can be out, they can be in, but find the place that feels centering, or right for you. If it's available, move the leg up a little higher to the calf.
Some of you might move it up to the inner thigh. Just three more counts, being aware of whatever's connected to earth and reaching up above. And that's one. Lowering down as if the transitions matter, pausing to see, and then shifting to the other side. Start with hands on hips, start with heel to ankle.
Allow yourself to wiggle a little, there we go. Now, draw the outer edges of the body in towards the center on both sides. So it's a literal centering. Take your arms to the position that feels best for you. Maybe adjust the leg to the place that feels most stable today for you.
If you're too rigid about this, you'll most likely fall. And if you're too floppy about this, you won't be able to maintain this. See if you can find your middle. Last one, is you reach beyond fingers and toes. And lowering down.
Find center. So, let's move back down towards earth. If you have the blocks here, this might be a nice option. You can set the blocks up because we're gonna come into a squat. Feel free to sit the sitting bones right onto the blocks.
You're also welcome to do this without, or if you have a wall nearby, go to the wall. Stay a little higher. Just make sure you're taking care of your knees. Move back to the block. When you find the squat position that feels most comfortable for you, become aware of whatever sensations may be in the lower back, or down into the hips.
Consider allowing, just like, gravity to come over, like releasing the control of working so hard and just letting the release happen down through the hip joints and the low back. You can keep the body open and upright, you can also release the hands, feeling the upper back. Let's take two more breaths. If it's available to you, you might even imagine that there's a balloon in the belly and you're filling the balloon of the belly and deflating it. One more time, just filling the balloon of the belly, slowing it all down, and emptying it out.
Great. Let's lift off the blocks now, like pressing the feet into the floor. And you can just move the props, if you have them, to the side. We'll come into a cross-legged position. This is also a nice place where, again, if the lower back or hips happen to be tight, that you sit up a little higher.
Take knee over foot and knee over foot, lengthen your spine, and on your exhale, bring the left hand to the right knee, reach the other one back. We're just gonna get long, and then twisting on your exhale. Steady the gaze on a point, or if it's okay for you, close the eyes and just notice how your spine is. What muscles are helping to support the length of you? Come back to the center on the next one.
Let's change legs. Bring the opposite leg on top, so it feels like it's your weird position. Wiggle again, lengthen the spine, and twisting to the opposite direction, right hand to the outer knee. Allow the spine to be tall. And as you twist the middle body, helping to support the movement.
Steady your gaze on a point that won't move, allow your inner body to calm and breath to deepen, if possible. On your next exhale, return to your center. Then feel what it's like to be upright for a moment. Consider even letting your eye gaze shift up an inch or two, and track any sensory reaction that might be in there. The chest may have tingled, the heart may have gotten bigger or smaller, the stomach contracted or released.
And then shift the gaze back down towards the floor, and notice what that's like. And then lift up again, just track your inner awareness. How we hold our bodies have a direct neural chemical reaction inside, which affects our emotions. Notice if any of these eye positions help give you more confidence, awake, connected feeling inside. See if you can take this with you, and we're gonna move onto our backs.
So, shift the bolster out from underneath, come back down, and it's one of the positions and one of the exercises we did earlier in practice, feet hip distance, okay? This time we're gonna make robot arms. If you don't know what I'm talking about, that's fair enough, but just look here and move your fingers to the ceiling, upper arms pressed into the earth, and spread your feet. Now, press the backs of the arms and the feet into the earth as you lift your hips and walk the arms underneath the body. And you can reach the hands down, you might also interlace your fingers.
Lengthen the spine, drawing the tailbone towards the knees and allowing the chest to have some space. And for three more counts, breathe as if your life depends on it, because it kind of actually does. Two. And release the arms, rolling down to three. Place one hand on heart, one hand on belly and check in.
Notice if there was any medicine to that posture. How does that affect you? Is it okay to feel this coursing through you? Great. Let the eyes open if they're closed.
We'll cross the left ankle over right knee. I'm gonna flex my feet, just to make sure that the knee's protected, and then draw my left thigh forward, draw my right knee in. Some of you will be able to clasp behind the thigh, feel free to if the hips are open. If the hips are pretty tight, and you're already feeling a stretch, just stay here, that's completely okay. Imagine the hips turning down to the floor.
You can also place a block underneath that right foot to give you a little bit more sensation. Come to the place where you feel something, and just with compassion, with kindness, being with what you feel. You don't have to change it, you don't have to fix it, it's just becoming aware. Take one more breath, and then knees in, and we'll change sides. If you used the block on the first side, you might need it on the second.
Right ankle over left knee, flex the feet, draw the bottom knee in if possible and continue to draw that right thigh forward and drop the hips down. Just kind of higher charged places in our body where our bodies tend to hold more energy, the hips tend to be one. And as we get into the hips, there's usually a direct connection to the mouth. So, check out your mouth. Notice how tight the jaw might be or how loose.
Would it be possible to just open your jaw? And like we did at the beginning of the practice, we're gonna make just a little bit of sound. We'll take the inhale, on the exhale ha. One more time if you're just getting used to it. Ha.
Great. Release the legs. Great. Now we're moving towards our rest. There's a bunch of variations you can take for that, I'm gonna show you a few.
If you do have the bolster, or even have a couple of folded up blankets or pillows, you can place them here for the back of your spine. And you might bring the bolster, depending on how your spine is, you might bring the bolster right up to your hips, or a few inches away, and just lay back. This allows the chest to have a little more room. Legs can be down, you can bring the feet together and actually move your blocks underneath the knees for some support. Or if that feels too open, you can bring the knees together.
And of course, hands can be anywhere. On heart, on belly. And then another option, just lay flat down onto your back. Legs can be out or together, but try to find a position that feels comfortable that you could actually let your body release in for a few minutes, about four minutes, okay? I'm gonna come to seated position so I can talk you through an auto relaxation, but remain in whatever position's most comfortable for you.
Now, laying down on your back might not feel great at all. And if that's the case, you can always come to seated. You never have to close your eyes if it doesn't make you feel safe. So, if they're open, let them rest lightly on a point so you can kind of focus and release inward. If they can close, allow them to close now.
See if you can sense any part of you that's connected to the earth. You're on your back feeling the support of the bolster, any props, or just the mat underneath you. And allow the body to get heavy. You've seen the visual behind us of the beach through this practice. You might even imagine, if it's an okay image for you, of laying on the beach and just having your legs buried in the sand.
The warmth, the weight, yeah. And then from the top of the head down through the feet, just imagine you can release any tension you don't need. Become aware of the mouth and the tongue and let your tongue spread and release in your mouth. Release the bottom teeth and upper teeth, your jaw, the tissues in the face, outer ears, inner ears, the eyes, backs of the eyes. You might imagine hands that you love and trust very much just smoothing out any lines of tension in the forehead and in the temples.
Top of the head, back of the neck, the throat, collarbones, shoulders, releasing any tension that you don't need through the arms, the elbows, forearms, your hands and fingers. Letting the arms release. And then bring the awareness to the chest. Allow any tension that you don't need to release from the chest. In the waist, in the belly, and your hips and down to the legs, knees, shins, feet and toes.
Legs releasing. Sense the whole back body. Backs of the legs, lower back, middle back and upper back. Back body letting go. Letting the internal organs even release, to get more space inside of you.
The mind quieting. And as your body starts to unwind here, I'm gonna be quiet for the next minute and just let you rest in the awareness of this space. And now, as you're ready, just become aware of the body again. You don't even have to stir very much. Just notice maybe your breath and yourself lying here.
And notice what you notice. Does anything feel okay? And if nothing feels okay, what feels the least bad? Something might even feel open or spacious, easy or safe or connected. But see if you can become aware of inside, where this is.
And then begin to move your fingers, and begin to move your toes. (exhaling) Let the arms reach up overhead, giving yourself a full stretch. And the legs reach down. And then bring your knees in, and give yourself a hug. Like, not any of that fake stuff.
But like some real love, okay? Like, I love myself. Nice. And then roll over to one side, whatever feels most comfortablel Take a breath here, and returning upright, just take the hands together, rub the hands. Sometimes in that surreal, relaxed space, we can feel a little bit spacey, so bring your hands back onto your face and just massage the muscles a little.
Your neck and your shoulders, just like we did at the beginning, the arms, I'm here, these are my arms, these are my legs. And then check out your space. Nice and slowly, let the eyes and the head and the neck turn. See the light, the textures, anything that's pleasant. We're just returning to yourself.
Bring the palms together in respect, and bowing inwards. To the mind, the body and the heart, to each other's minds, bodies and hearts and to those outside of these walls. Thank you.