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Season 2 - Episode 5

Heart Strings and Hamstrings

60 min - Practice


Together we explore opening the heart from the ground up. Mary Dana guides us in a creative sequence with small details, intricate alignment, and fast rhythmic Vinyasas that bring us into interesting shapes. We generate heat through a series of Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations), lunges, twists, and standing patterns to awaken the shoulders, hamstrings, and heart.
What You'll Need: Mat

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(ocean waves) Hi there and welcome back. This practice is all about opening the heart from the ground up. We'll explore small details, intricate alignment and fast Vinyasas that'll open us up for some really interesting shapes that I hope you'll come back to over and over again. So, start sitting, find a comfortable seat, feel the buttock bones on the ground. And take a big breath in, lift through the back of the head.

And as you breathe out, just feel the navel gently kiss the spine, nothing too forced. You're more in an observational space at this time. Let the arms lift on your breath in. And let's take a twist to the right, so you're going to bring your left hand to your right knee, and take your right hand behind you. And then go ahead and see if you can open up your left collarbone just a little bit, breathing in.

And take your gaze gently over your right shoulder as you breathe out. Inhale your right arm up. Lift the back ribs into the heart. We've been exploring that throughout our practices. And use that for the side bend, especially on that left side so you don't collapse into the left side.

And then take your right hand on to your left knee. And so, even out your elbows there, so they're inline with your midline, and move the back ribs forward, so you're kind of pushing the chest into the arms there, and even rolling on to the front of your buttock bones, and even maybe lifting them off the ground a little bit. Go ahead and roll back, and bring your hands to your outer shoulders, stack the elbows. So, press the left elbow up and to the right, and the right elbow down and to the left. Big breath in, lift the back ribs.

You can stay here, or eagle wrap the arms, if that's accessible. As you lift the elbows, draw the front ribs towards the buttock bones. So, that anchoring in the ground allows us to even lift a little bit more. And you feel the spread in the mid-back, instead of collapsing into the vertebra. Let's go ahead and take the other side.

Inhale your arms up. Twist to the left, right hand on left knee. Open up your right collarbone a little bit more and take your gaze over your left shoulder. Easing into the body, easing into the breath, breathe in, breathe out. Let's add the side bend, inhale the left arm up.

Keep lifting from the back ribs, so that both sides of the body are even. Get a little longer there, breathing in, and then bring your left hand to your right knee, even out your shoulders. Lean into the arms, rolling forward on the buttock bones. Think of even the chest moving through the arms, and the arms pressing towards the chest. And then take your hands to your outer shoulders, rock back onto the buttock bones, lifting the right elbow toward the left, and dropping the left elbow into the right.

Feel that resistance a little bit, and see if the breath can give you a little bit more space to open up. And then, if it's accessible, eagle wrap the arms, right underneath the left. We'll be doing a lot of this today in our practice, and you can always modify and just hold on to the shoulders whenever we explore this variation. Inhale, lift the back ribs, exhale feel the anchor, the front ribs draw in, and then inhale lift the back ribs. Good, release the arms, and then we're gonna make our way onto our hands and our knees for child's pose.

Go ahead and make sure that you have some room at the front of your mat, bring your feet together, widen your knees, and let your hips drop towards your heels. The front ribs draw toward the buttock bones, and crawl the hands out in front of you, you might even tent the fingers there, and breathe in, and breathe out. We're gonna make our way on to our hands and our knees. You bring yourself onto all fours, and make sure that the spacing is right so that your wrists are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. Go ahead and take the right arm forward, and circle it up so you're twisting to the right.

Left rib cage turns towards the right there. See if you can open up the left collarbone a little bit more as you reach up through your right hand. And then exhale, thread your right arm underneath your left, you're gonna let your hips sort of lift up into the air. Walk your left hand out in front of you, stretching your fingers forward, kind of like you did in child's pose, you might keep a tent in the fingers. And let the buttock bones lift and broaden, but still feel the front ribs, are moving towards the buttock bones so you have that anchor.

And then see if you can find the backbend here. So you might walk that left hand behind the ear a little bit, and stretch the right arm towards the side. and almost feel like you're laying back into your shoulder blade, but still keep the anchor in the hips. Go ahead, exhale, start to bring your hips to your heels, your knees might come together. And just let your right hand slide to your left knee, and take your left fingers behind you.

Let the buttock bones move towards the backs of the knees, to peel the hips off of the heels, and lift the right arm straight up, again, opening up that left collarbone, just like you did in the twist, breathe in, and breathe out. Let your hips lower as you breathe in. And then you're gonna bring our left arm underneath your right as you breathe out, eagle wrapping the arms. Step that right foot forward. Let it even go more forward there, and lean into it a little bit, and feel like that right knee is then moving that left hip forward.

We've done that quite a bit in our practices. Now here, let your back ribs lift towards the heart and towards the elbows, and draw the front right rib cage toward that right buttock bone, so you feel a little tiny bit of space between that right waist and right thigh, but you're still able to release the hips and lift the heart. Go ahead, draw the front ribs in, and start to bring the forearms towards the ground, unwrap the arms, bring your left hand to the ground left the right arm up, finding the twist, and tuck your left toes under. Lift the left knee off the ground, and see if you can feel the opposition of that right inner knee moving forward, the left inner heel moving back. Take your right hand to the ground.

Early pyramid pose, so we're gonna keep our left heel lifted, and you're gonna feel that left inner thigh is spiraling back and lifting the right buttock bone up, and that's what's straightening the front leg. And it does not have to straighten all the way. You might keep your fingers tented like I do, you might use blocks, or even bring the hands flat. And breathe in. Go ahead and release the head, as you breathe out.

And think of the head releasing from the back ribs, so the spine is sort of spilling forward out of the pelvis. Bend the right knee, breathe in. We're going to bring back perch pose, so you're gonna bring your left knee to meet your right. Let your hands move out in front of you. Really focus on the hamstrings, drawing that left heel towards the buttock bone.

And then from here, you're gonna come up for standing perch, which is a little bit of a wobbly transition, but it gets more poised with practice. Hook your thumbs, bring your left foot to meet your right. Let there be a relaxed spread of the fingers, and lift from the back ribs, and feel the legs a little bit more reached down as you lift up. Bend the knees, stick the butt out a little bit. Fit the torso on the thighs, release into your Uttanasana, forward fold.

Bend the knees, breathe in, step your right leg back. Take your gaze forward, downward facing dog. And in our downward facing dog, lift the hips, bend the knees, bring the torso a little bit towards the thighs, it's like the thighs are enticing the torso forward, but you're able then to breathe into the side waist, find the anchor, and then you feel the spine being stretched a little bit more from that lift in the pelvis. Now, head take a plank pose on your breath in, and then lower your knees to the ground for child's pose, breathing out. We're gonna thread or round our way into cobra.

I like to round, like I'm going into cat pose. And then let the pelvis release, slowly stretching the toes back and the heart forward, bend the elbows as much as you need to. Breathe in. Exhale, tuck your toes under, downward facing dog. And then, let's go ahead, plank pose on the breath in, same roll over the tops of the feet and find yourself onto your hands and knees as you breathe out.

And then make sure your wrists are stacked underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Now, send your left arm forward, really go for that reach. Lift your left arm up, find that nice twist. Open up that right collarbone as much as you can, keep reaching, keep laying back, keep breathing. Thread your left arm underneath your right.

Let your left ear rest on the ground. Start to walk your right hands forward. Feel that same lift in the buttock bones as you did in down dog, and that same anchoring. And that the spine is really similar to what it's doing in down dog, except we're adding the twist. And you might walk your right hand behind you a little bit more and keep reaching that left arm to the side, keep lifting the left buttock bone up, and almost feel like you can lay back in your upper spine.

Big breath in here. Big breath out. Big breath in. And big breath out. So, slowly begin to come up to sit, bringing the hips to the heels, letting the left hand find the right knee, and the right hand move to the ground outside of the hip.

Lift the left arm up, and start to peel the buttock bones off the heels by aiming them towards the backs of the knees, and keep lifting straight up through the left hand, let the right collarbone open, take your gaze toward your left hand, and feel if you can find that opening, that little, tiny extra bit of crack of space that we can find with each practice. And then lower your hips. You're gonna pick up that left arm with the right, eagle wrapping the arms, stand on the shins, and send your left leg out in front of you. And lean into it a little bit, and let yourself, kind of soften into the shape, and always bring some padding underneath the back knee. Think of the left knee bringing that right hip forward, the right pelvic bone forward.

And then start to lift the back ribs. And draw the front left ribcage towards the left buttock bone. That might even steer the right pelvic bone forward more, and then you can continue to release the hips, and feel the heart open without cramming into your front thigh. Let the arms move forward, almost like you're rounding that middle back just a little bit, and then take your right hand to the ground under the shoulder, lift your left arm up. Open up the right collarbone again, tuck the right toes under and lift the right knee.

Reach back through your right heel, forward through your left inner knee. Breathe in, and take your left arm over your head. Take the left hand to the ground. You might tent the fingers. You wanna feel that this pose is coming from the back leg, all right, so you're sort of shifting your perspective.

Let the right inner thigh spiral back. Let it take the left buttock bone back and up. And from there you can start to move the ribcage forward, the heart forward, breathe in. See if you can even draw the front left rib cage towards the left buttock bone, and that can give you a tiny bit more squareness in the hips. Bend the left knee, breathe in.

Hands move a little in front of you, perch pose. Bring the knees to touch. Squeeze that right heel into the hip, and you really just have to go for it, right. And you might fall from time to time, there. Hook the thumbs, breathe in.

Lower the right foot to meet the left. Root down into the feet, let the back ribs lift, let the fingers be light. Try not to bend at the wrists here. That actually moves into your lower back. But, breathe in, and then it's a conscious bend in the hip, right, so you bend the knees, stick the butt out, fit the belly on the thighs, release the thumbs, and find your Uttanasana, keeping your control in the fronts of the thighs.

Bend both knees, heart forward, left leg back, breathe in, downward facing dog as you breathe out. And go ahead, you can either keep the knees bent, or lengthen the legs. Let's take a plank on the breath in. This time, we're gonna lower all the way to the ground. And then come up for cobra, big breath in there, stay as you breathe out.

You can lower, or lift, as much as you need to. Don't over do it, let the breath be your guide. Stretch back through the big toes, tuck the toes under, let the front ribs draw towards the buttock bones to give you that pike. Let's go ahead and walk the feet to the top of the mat, prepping for some Surya Namaskara variations that are quite playful, and effective. Roll up to stand, breathing in.

Lift the arms all the way up. Hands to your heart, breathing out. Just pause here for a moment. Find your breath. Feel the ground.

Maybe outer heels moving towards the big toes, and the inner heels moving towards the pinkie toes, giving you a spread underneath your feet that you can connect to in the ground. And then hook your thumbs, soft bend in the knees, breathe in, lift the arms all the way up. Fold forward over your legs, breathing out. Step your right leg back on your breath in, let's drop the back knee, lift the arms up, exhale hands to the ground downward facing dog. Inhale plank pose, exhale Chaturanga all the way to the ground.

Upward dog, breathing in, downward dog breathing out. Right leg high, inhale. Exhale the foot between your thumbs. Left knee meets the right for a perch, breathing in, lifting the arms up, lower your left foot to meet your right, breathe out, inhale, lift from the back ribs, exhale fold over your legs. Inhale, step your left leg back, drop the knee lift the arms, hands to the ground, downward facing dog as you breathe out, inhale plank, exhale Chaturanga.

Inhale upward facing dog, exhale, lift the hips, downward facing dog. Inhale, left leg high, exhale foot between the thumbs. Right knee meets the left, inhale come all the way to stand, hook the thumbs right foot meets the left, exhale. And breathe in, fold as you breathe out. Right leg back, and breathing in, knee to the ground, arms lift.

Hands to the ground, exhale, downward facing dog. Plank pose, breathing in, lower down, breathing out. Upward dog or cobra, breathing in, downward facing dog, breathing out. Right leg high, breathing in, and right foot forward, breathing out. Perch inhale, come all the way up.

Left foot meets the right exhale. Inhale reach, exhale fold. Inhale left leg back, knee to the ground, arms lift. Exhale downward facing dog. Inhale plank, exhale Chaturanga, building heat, inhale up dog, use your legs, find your quads, exhale, downward facing dog.

Inhale, left leg high. Exhale, foot between your thumbs. Right knee meets the left, inhale come up, exhale right foot meets the left heart, lift. Exhale interlace the hands behind the back as you fold forward. Inhale right leg back, hands to the ground, exhale Chaturanga, inhale upward facing dog, exhale downward facing dog.

Stay and breathe all the way in. All the way out. All the way in, lift the buttock bones, reach into your fingerprints, all the way out. Draw the front ribs in towards the buttock bones. See if you can find that spread in the feet.

Outer heels towards big toes, and then pinkie toes towards inner heels. Go ahead, lift the heels, breathe in. You can bring them close together. Look forward, bend the knees, step, or float, your feet to meet your hands. Lift the gaze for Ardha Uttanasana.

Try not to lean back into the knees, exhale, fold into your legs, Uttanasana. Hook the thumbs, come on up, breathing in. Fold forward, interlace your fingers behind your back, breathing out, switch the thumb if you didn't. And then hands to the ground, left leg back, inhale. Chaturanga Dandasana as you exhale, upward facing dog, breathing in.

Downward facing dog breathing out. Breathe in and breathe out, nice and steady on your breath. You can always take a break and drop the knees for child's pose, or even do some cat cow whenever you feel like you need a break, but don't want to stop the movement all together. Try to find some space in the side waist, make sure the pads of the index fingers are down, both the knuckle and the fingerprint. Let's go ahead, lift the heels, maybe bring the feet together, breathe in.

Let the heart lift, bend the knees. Exhale, step, or float, inhale, heart lifts. And exhale, fold. This time, bend the knees on the breath in. Feel the outer ankles drawing in towards the midline, as you sit in chair pose.

Let the arms move by the ears. Sit a little deeper, breathe in. Sit a little bit deeper, and then go ahead and stand up. Get nice and lifted in the back of the waist. Go and go ahead and fold forward over your legs.

Prepare on your breath in, step, or float, Chaturanga breathing out, upward dog breathing in. Downward dog breathe out. Let's create a standing sequence. So, we're gonna lift the right leg up high, breathe in. Then step your foot forward, left heel down 45 degrees, warrior one.

Let's take the right arm underneath the left, eagle wrapping the arms, and straighten the right leg, and feel your left inner thigh spiral back. Let it draw the right waist back, and then draw a line from outer right ankle, or outer right heel towards the ball of the foot. So, you're pressing more into the big toe of the right foot, as you re-bend the right knee. Now, feel like the left inner thigh is resisting that bend of the right knee, and see if you can find more depth. Now, lift up through the back of the heart, and then start to move the front rib towards the buttock bones, move the elbows towards the navel and move your head towards your biceps.

Sniff your biceps, right, better than your arm pit. So let your right outer hip move into the midline still. So, try not to let your right butt cheek just sort of flare out, see if can keep that length in the right side body. From here, let your left arm move forward, and open up into warrior two. So you line up your right heel with your left arch, open the arms, take a moment, kind of like you're just surfing in the shape and then land.

And we'll take our right angle peaceful. So, you're gonna bring your right arm to the side. Just like we did when we threaded the needle, you're reaching more in two directions, right? Back through the left, in front of you with the right. And then find your peaceful.

Find your peaceful warrior there, breathing in. Let the right knee bend a little bit more. Good, hands to the ground, plank inhale. You can stay here, or take your Vinyasa Chaturanga, upward dog, breathe in, downward dog breathing out. Left leg high, breathing in, left foot forward on your exhale, right heel down 45 degrees.

And then come up for your warrior one. Left arm underneath the right, straighten your left leg. Let your right inner thigh spiral back, and let it help you draw your left hip back, but then counterbalance that by pushing into the ball of the left foot. Think outer left ankle towards the ball of the foot there. And then as you re-bend the left knee, the right inner thigh is resisting the bend of the knee and you can get a little more depth.

Breathe in, breathe out, front ribs towards the buttock bones, elbows towards the navel, head towards the biceps. And then try not to lean to the left, right? Try to keep the pose organized, using the arms and using the legs to draw that left hip in. So, you might even press your left thigh to your left arm a little bit more. And breathe in.

And breathe out. And breathe in. And breathe out. Now, from your back ribs, lift the heart. Send the right arm forward.

Open up into warrior two. Soft entering into the shape, right, let there be a little softness, like a little wavelike quality to it. And the from here, let that left thigh descend. Let that right pelvic bone lift. Take your left arm to the side.

Make a clear and deeper right angle, stretching back through your right hand, stretching forward through your left, and the find your peaceful, breathing in. Hands to the ground, inhale plank. Stay here, or exhale Chaturanga, up dog breathing in, down dog, breathing out. Inhale, lift your right leg up. Exhale, step it forward between the thumbs, left heel down, warrior one, breathe in.

Exhale, right arm under the left, straighten the right leg. Breathe in, bend the right knee, lift the back of the heart. Exhale, bow forward, lower the head, bring the elbows to the navel, and then free up the left arm and let it take you into warrior two, adjusting your stance as needed. Go ahead, take the right arm to the side, make your right angle peaceful there, breathe in. And then straighten your right leg for triangle pose.

Now, in your triangle pose, you're welcome to explore half bind right away today. You can keep that left arm lifted a little longer if you need to, and breathe in. Take your gaze to your right shoulder, open up that right collarbone, and then press into the big toe of the right foot. So, even though we're externally rotating our right thigh, we wanna stay connected to the inner seam of the foot, so we've got that nice opening in the inner thigh. So, press into the big toe of the right foot, like you're pushing the floor forward.

And then take your right arm under your head, press down into that right foot, bend the knee, come up to stand, and then take your Vinyasa. Plank pose, Chaturanga, upward dog, breathing in, downward facing dog, breathing out. Inhale your left leg high, exhale left foot forward right heel down, inhale warrior one. So, we're building this with the breath. Exhale, left arm under, straighten the left leg.

And then bend your left knee, and lift the back ribs, breathing in, exhale, bow forward, drawing those elbows toward your navel as you do so, bowing the head. Inhale, right arm forward open up into warrior two. Take the exhale, then make that right angle really stretching, going in both directions, inhale peaceful, straighten your left leg, go towards triangle, really taking your time moving into the shape. And then you can either lift the right arm up, or take the right forearm behind the back, going for the half bind. Try to find that external rotation in your left thigh, but press into the big toe of your left foot, and then lift the right pelvic bone, so you feel the abduction of the right hip.

Breathe in. See if you can find a little more length in your left lung. So, breathe into the left lung a little bit more. That part of the body that encases the lung, let it get fuller. Take your left arm under your head.

Reach into your feet, come up to stand, you might keep the half bind there, as you bend the left knee, and then hands to the ground Vinyasa plank pose, Chaturanga exhale, up dog inhale, downward facing dog, exhale. Inhale right leg high, exhale right foot between the thumbs, left heel down, inhale warrior one, exhale right arm underneath the left straighten the right leg, inhale, bend the right knee, bow forward, elbows move towards the navel, moving with your breath. Left arm forward with the breath, and this time take it all the way to the back of your mat for warrior two, kind of feels nice and good just to release into that shape there. And then find your right angle in the arms, take it into your peaceful warrior. Let's bring the left tricep to the inner thigh, and lift the right arm up, and press that left inner thigh towards the outer thigh, but keep pressing into the left big toe.

And then take your right forearm behind your back, and then go ahead and straighten your left leg, finding your half bound triangle here. Breathe in, finding that external rotation in that left thigh, and that abduction in the right. Big breath in here, and big breath out. Now, re-bend your left knee on the breath in, let the left fingers move to the ground. Really press the inner left thigh towards the outer thigh, and lift the right pelvic bone up a little bit more there.

Fantastic, take your right arm over your head, wide straddle forward bend, it's like a little pass through. Walk back to the top of your mat. Plant the left hand to the ground, lift the right arm up, find the openness in the left collarbone. Side plank, you can do it. Bend the right knee like perch, and then bring the right ball of the foot behind the left thigh taking that right arm straight up and then moving the back ribs into the heart.

And then go ahead, step the right foot forward, take your right hand to the ground lift into Ardha Chandrasana, keep a soft bend in your standing leg, so you can keep energy in the ball of the right foot, then lengthen the right leg, lift the left pelvic bone, open the chest, whoo. Maybe fall a little bit, and that's always okay. We learn how to get back up. And we also learn that it's not such a big deal to fall. Take your left hand to the ground, bring your left knee to meet your right, standing perch.

And then lower your left foot to meet your right. Let the fingers reach straight up, standing perch, bending the right knee. Rotate your right thigh externally. try not to let your hip turn into your thigh. Keep your left pelvic bone moving to the left.

And then lift the right knee, bring your right foot to your left inner thigh for tree. And we're gonna take our left arm under the right here. As we bring the left arm under, the right, keep moving your left pelvic bone to the left, and let your right buttock bone move forward as your inner right knee moves back, and then lift the back ribs, breathe in. Breathe out. Kind of relax that left foot into the ground, drawing that line, outer ankle towards ball of the foot, inner heel towards pinkie toe.

And then bring your right foot to meet your left. Keep the eagle arms. I'm gonna take a step back on my mat. You might too, if you're really far in front. Let's go ahead and start to find Malasana, but keep the eagle legged.

So you're gonna take your heels up, you're gonna let them lift, open the knees. Reach the arms forward, and let your eagle arms just release to the ground. And let your head release to the ground. And think of the elbows moving towards your navel, and the heart's still moving forward. So, I think of my heart moving to the wrists here.

Now hook your left elbow to your left knee, and your left tricep to your inner thigh, just like we did in extended side angle. And lift the right arm up, and take that half bind again. And then, maybe you have the half bind, or maybe you can bring that left arm around to find the full bind here. And keep your left collarbone super wide. Now, from here, lower your right foot, and come on up for standing Marichi.

And get really super long in the front of your right hip, and super steady on that right foot, not by just forcing it, but just sort of being present to the shakiness, that steadies it automatically. It doesn't mean you're not gonna fall. It's about how we react to the fall, or how we deal with the reaction. From here, you're gonna bend the right knee. Find the fold, point your left toe back, move the heart forward, and go into warrior three.

Back ribs forward, left heel back, front ribs towards the buttock bones. Breathe in, draw your outer hips and outer ankles in, and find the inner spiral of that left thigh. Let it lift the right buttock bone up, bend the right knee, reach your arms forward, land in a high lunge, letting that right knee move forward as that left heel reaches back, feeling the pelvis release to the ground. Take your hands to the ground, breathe in. Right leg high, three-legged dog.

Three-legged plank, breathing in. Three-legged Chaturanga, and then point the top of your right foot so you can kind of swim into a nice, and safe, and supported up dog. Downward facing dog, whoo. Let's do that on the left side. Left leg high on the breath in.

Step the left foot forward on the breath out. Right heel down, inhale, warrior one. And then go ahead, exhale, left arm underneath the right, straighten your left leg. Inhale, re-bend the left knee, lifting the heart, exhale, bow forward, elbows towards the navel. Inhale, right arm forward, warrior two to the back of your mat.

Take your right arm to the side, find your right angle, find your peaceful warrior. And then right forearm to right thigh, or actually right elbow to the inner thigh, lifting the right arm up, finding that wideness in the collarbones, and then bring your left forearm behind your back. Bring your right hand to your right shin, half bound triangle pose. Open up that right collarbone, breathe in. Press into the big toe sides of the feet as you wrap the outer hips back, and then re-bend the right knee, bringing the right hand to the inside of the right foot.

And as you move the inner right thigh towards the outer thigh, lift the left pelvic bone, open up both collarbones and draw your navel in. Big breath in. Big breath out. Send your left arm over your head, breathing in, wide straddle forward bend, breathing out. Walk to the front of your mat, right hand on the ground.

Find your twist, open up your collarbones, and then side plank from here. And in your side plank, bend your left knee like perch. Left arm reaches straight up, and then bring the left foot behind the right thigh. Breathe in. Let that left hand lift you out of your wrist.

Go ahead, look at the ground next to your right hand. Step the left foot forward, take your left hand a little to the side. Keep a bend in your left knee, let that right inner thigh lifting towards the ceiling straighten your left leg. And breathe in, and breathe out. Collarbones wide, gaze up towards your right hand.

Breathe in. Good, right arm over, right knee meets the left. Standing perch, arms lift, right foot meets the left. Standing perch on the left side, rotate that left thigh bone, but don't let your right pelvic bone rotate. Let it move in the opposite direction.

And start to bend your left knee. Reach for your left ankle with your left hand, and guide it to the inner thigh. And then take your right arm underneath the left. Okay, let the back ribs lift towards the elbows, think of back ribs taking that left buttock bone forward as that right pelvic bone moves to the right. So you don't wanna let your tree pose to just be about that left knee opening.

It's about stacking the hips right under the shoulders. So, we find that symmetry even in these asymmetrical poses. See if you can find some space in the armpits. You can relax that right foot on the ground. Can you just be here?

And breathe. Bring your left foot to meet your right. Go ahead and start to bend the knees like a chair pose. Start to open up the knees, but keep the outer ankles drawing towards each other. The heels will lift.

The weight of the arms allows a softness. We're embracing the heart right now, letting the head bow. Let the fore-ribs move towards the heels to bring the heels closer to the ground, and see if you can relax the toes. I'm gonna hook the right armpit onto the right knee, and take the left arm up, bringing the left forearm behind the back. And then we might even be able to reach a little bit more through that right arm, internally rotating the arm bone, and see if we can find the clasp.

If not, you can find your clothes, or even just hold on to your left leg. We're going to hold on to our left leg, and squeeze that right heel towards the seat. All right, take your time here. Come on up for standing Marichi. It could be tree pose all over again.

See if you can let the ball of the left foot rest on the ground, and squeeze that right heel towards your seat, and lift the back ribs, and relax. Now, for this next transition, you're gonna bend your knee. We've been talking about the puzzle pieces throughout our practices, you're doing that here, right. You're training the body to see that these different pieces fit together. Once you let your right leg go, keep that softness in the knee, the left knee.

Move the back ribs forward, straighten your standing leg from your right inner thigh, lifting, draw your outer hips in, move your front ribs back, move your back ribs forward, keep lifting through the right inner thigh. And then bend the left knee, reaching the arms forward, and up, land in your high lunge, breathe in. Breathe out, feel the legs move in opposite directions. And take the pelvis down, take your hands to the ground, left leg high, inhale, three-legged plank exhale three-legged Chaturanga, point your left toes, breathe in, up dog, exhale downward facing dog. One more round of standing poses, you can do it.

Right leg high, breathe, right foot forward, breathe out. Arms lift on the breath in, going right into that high lunge. Let's go ahead, straighten the right leg, bring your right arm underneath your left. Feel that your left inner thigh resists the bend of that right knee, as the back of the ribs lift. So, really super similar to what we've been doing in warrior one.

And then bring your left armpit to your right knee. Draw your chest through the arms, and lean back, open up, and then either prayer twist, or open the arms. Breathe, see if you can keep drawing that right outer hip into the midline, and lengthening the right side rib cage. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Breathe in. And breathe out. Take your hands to the ground, lengthen your right leg. This time you can step that foot in a little bit. Straighten the leg, and bring the hands out in front of you.

A lot of breathing here. Good, and bend the right knee on the breath in, look forward, good, find your perch. Stand up in your perch. Lower your left foot to meet your right. And then let's go ahead and take, bend your right knee here for standing perch, And take your right foot in your right hand.

And draw the right heel towards the seat. You can bend your right elbow a little bit. We're gonna do Shiva Natarajasana dancer's pose, but it's not gonna be so much of a movement forward, as a lift in the chest, as a kick in the foot. What you wanna do is try to bring that thigh parallel to the ground without moving the torso so far forward. So, it's more upright.

And the hips stay square. So, you get the stretch in the front of your right hip a little bit more. As you kick back, lift up, not only in the thigh, but also in the back ribs. Breathe in. And breathe out.

Good, go ahead and take your left hand to the ground, and turn this into, like a standing split variation. You can keep the bow. You can lose it. Let's all lose it, bringing the right hand to the ground, lifting the right leg up on the breath in. And slowly begin to step your right leg back, lower the right knee to the ground, lift the arms up finding the nice and easy crescent there, breathing in.

And then take your hands to the ground, tuck your right toes under, lift the left leg up. Bend the left knee, open the hip, but keep the shoulders even. So as you open that left hip, draw your outer right hip towards the midline, and try not to collapse in your right shoulder. Keep the back ribs moving forward as the front ribs move towards the buttock bones. Square your hips, optional Vinyasa plank, Chaturanga, upward dog, and downward dog.

And it is optional. I almost never do all of the Vinyasas in the practice. Breathe in, left leg high. Breathe out, left foot forward. High lunge.

Straighten your left leg, left arm underneath the right, eagle wrapping the arms. Let that right inner thigh resist the re-bend of that left knee. So, it happens slowly. You see the movement, you see micro movements even in these macro movements, even in these bigger asanas. You're gonna hook the right armpit to the left knee, and send the chest forward, and anchor in your back foot.

Now from here, prayer twist. Or, open your arms if you did on the other side. See if you can draw that left hip down and in, as you open up your left waist a little bit more. Breathing in, breathing out, breathe in, breathe out. Take your hands to the ground, lengthen your left leg step that back foot in a little bit.

Try not to lean into your front hip. Keep things pretty centered, and take your hands out in front of you. Try to imagine you can almost balance something on your sacrum so it's not sliding to the left side. That something could be a shot of wheat grass, or a shot of whatever you want. Breathe in, breathe out.

Bend your left knee on the breath in, bring your right knee to meet your left, and breathe out, inhale come on up, exhale. Right foot meets the left, bend your left knee. Reach for your left foot with your left hand. Draw the heel towards the seat. You can bend the left elbow a little bit, and lift the back ribs up.

So, at no time, until we're ready to move into our standing split are we thinking of moving down. It's all about the back ribs lifting, it's all about the head lifting. And that kick, which means that connection between the left foot and the left hand. Keep lengthening, keep breathing, keep exploring, keep reaching the right arm up, breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, now, we'll take it down and forward.

So, it almost becomes a standing split variation. And see if you can stay on the ball of that right foot. Breathe, let your left leg go. Let your left toes point towards the ceiling. Bend the right knee, float that left foot back, lift the arms up, breathe in, take your hands to the ground, breathe out, tuck your left toes under, inhale, three-legged dog.

Bend the knee, open the hip, and draw that outer left hip into the midline, and lift the right knee higher. Keep your shoulder's square. Breathe in, breathe out, square your hips. Plank pose, drop your knees, child's pose. So, now we're gonna play and incorporate some of this stuff that we've done already.

We're gonna start with a scorp-dog, and pretty similar to what we've done in Shiva Nataraj. So, take a down dog and shorten it, so that your heels are completely on the ground. And then take out your three-legged dog. So, you're gonna lift your right leg up, and really find an inner spiral there. Go ahead and tent your left fingers, so that you're not leaning on your left hand too much, and turn your left heel in about 10 to 15 degrees.

And then bend your right knee, and really go for the hamstrings there in the bend. Now, you might have to bring the knees to touch there, and then it's all about that same kick we just did in Shiva, but that forward motion of the back of the ribs. So, keep the back of the ribs, and the back of the head, moving up and back, as you kick that right foot into the right hand, breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, keep lifting, and then release. Take a moment, pedal out the feet.

You can always take a child's pose and rest when you need to. And let's try the other side. So the heels will be on the ground. The hands will be on the ground. Really find your anchor there.

Lift the left leg, finding that inner spiral, turn your right toes in about 10, 15 degrees, and go on to the right finger tops. Bend the left knee from the back of the thigh, so you're lifting that left knee. Now you might tap that left knee to the right, as you reach for your left foot with your right hand. And then you keep lifting the knee, pressing the foot into the hand, and lifting up through the back of the waist. Scorp-dog is what I call this.

Breathe in, and breathe out. Keep lifting the back ribs, keep lifting the foot. And release. Definitely drop the knees for a moment there, and you can take a child's pose, or sit on your shins. Now, we're gonna prep for forearm stand.

So, if you need to go to the wall here, please set yourself up for a wall. Most important thing is that you're safe, okay. What we're gonna do is we're gonna bring our hands and knees to the ground, finding all fours. And then you're gonna lower your forearms to the ground. Now, I like to make a little isometric relationship between the upper arms and the forearms.

So my upper arms are moving out energetically, my forearms or my wrists are hugging the midline energetically. From here you tuck your toes and you find that same short down dog, and you lift your hips. But try not to round your upper back, and keep drawing your front ribs towards the buttock bones. And if you're newer to the shape, play with just shifting the weight, without losing the integrity of the shape. If you wanna try the pose, lift the right leg up, focusing on that inner spiral, and see if you can take just some light hops off of your left foot.

And maybe one day, the light hops, will take you upside down. The key is stacking the pelvis over the shoulders. And using the hamstrings here. So, it might even be easier for you to bend one knee when you come up. And I'm gonna show you that on the left side, okay?

So, starting over, and make sure you do practice on both sides. We all have a favorite leg, but the practice of yoga is about all of it, right? And getting to know all of who we are, and if it's about balance, and union, then you have to unite with the part of your body you don't like as much. So, for me that's this leg. So, you're gonna find that same inner spiral, and that same setup.

And the maybe, maybe, your pelvis balances over the thigh, maybe a bend in your right knee can help you balance the pelvis over the thighs. And you stay as long as you can. And then you come down and take a child's pose. So, that was a great, great practice. And if you're newer to the shape, make sure you spend time dolphin pose, or forearm plank, and you'll build the strength that you need to get upside down in no time.

Now, let's counterbalance our practice with some backbends, and we've been doing backbends the whole class, so this is kind of where we're leading up to. I'm gonna take the right leg high, and step the right foot forward. We're gonna drop the left knee, and then we're in our crescent again. Now, I recommend maybe bringing something underneath your left knee here if you need to. The first step is to make it feel like you're finding a warrior two, here.

And the most important thing here, is that your left hip is now on top of your left knee, okay. And then we're gonna find that same right angle that we did so much. And you're gonna reach back with your left hand, and to the side with your right. And you might tuck your left toes under here. Go ahead and start to turn toward your right arm as you bring your left hand to your left heel, and reach the right arm up, and then you might straighten the right leg.

That actually helps, and you can kick it forward a little like I did, and think of lifting the left pelvic bone, lifting the right arm up, opening up the left collarbone. So, it's kind of like a hybrid shape between a camel and a Hanuman, a split pose. Breathe in, some of you might take your right forearm behind your back, and start to slide the right hand toward the outer left thigh. To come out of it, bend the right knee. Let that right knee take you forward, sit halfway back, just to open up the lower back there just a little bit, breathe in, and breathe out.

Let's bend the right knee on the breath in, tuck the left toes under, down dog. Lower your knees, stick out the butt, so it's like a cow pose. Bring the hips towards the heels, take your left hand to your heel, and then let the buttock bones aim towards the backs of the knees as you lift the right arm up, breathe in, and then go ahead and lower your hips, and switch. So, you've got that nice, soft undulation in the pelvis here, that's supporting the lifts in the upper back, right, so as we sit down, the butt moves towards the heels, as you lift up, the butt moves towards your knees. Okay, go slow, use your breath, inhale coming up, exhale coming down.

Good, one more time each side, breathe in. And breathe out. Good, take your hands to the ground, make your way back into downward facing dog. Lift the left leg up high, breathe in. Step your left foot forward, and drop your right knee.

Crescent, now you're gonna go ahead and find warrior two arms, and stack the right hip right on top of the knee. Tuck the right toes under, take your left arm to the side, make that clear right angle, and then turn, just like you did in peaceful. Straighten your left leg, keep reaching up through your left arm, keep lifting the right pelvic bone. Breathe. If you feel like you have the room, you bring the left forearm behind the back, and you slide that left hand to the outer right hip.

Go ahead and bend the left knee to come out of it, let it take you forward, even sort of drape the body over the leg. Sit halfway back to open up the sacrum, breathe in, and breathe out. And this time, we're just gonna bring the left knee to meet the right. Find your hands on the ground, go for a little bit of elongated cow pose there. Lifting the buttock bones, but drawing the front rips towards the buttock bones.

Tuck the toes, move the hips back, tent the fingers. Okay, and then take your left hand and your right hand to your heels, now we've got the openness in the spine. And we're just gonna add the buttock bones moving towards the backs of the knees, letting the heart lift for camel. And let the pelvic bones move a little forward, breathe in, let the back ribs lift. If this is too much, you bring your hands to your hamstrings.

If you wanna take it a little bit deeper, you untuck your toes, breathe in, and breathe out, breathe in, and then lift the arms, make your way back up, hands to your heart and pause. Let's take it down a notch. Bringing the hands to the ground, tuck the toes, soft down dog with bent knees. Take your right shin forward, lift up for a moment, feel that the hips are nice and even, and then walk your hands, you can either walk them forward, I'm going to offer the side bend walking them towards the left. Try to have the top of the left thigh super anchored on the ground, breathe.

Be where you are. Try not to run. (soft breathing) Walk your hands back forward if you're in the side bend. Let the back ribs move forward. Take the hands out in front of you, underneath the shoulders lift the chest.

Tuck your left toes under, soft down dog. Take the left shin forward, set it up for pigeon. Take padding if you need to. Keep the hips even. Make sure you feel safe, and then you walk out in front of you, you might take that side bend to the right.

That might feel really good. If it doesn't just stay forward. (soft breathing) Be nice and easy here. Walk your hands forward if they're out to the side. Go ahead and start to walk the hands up.

Take a little tiny lift in the heart, breathing in. Sit into your left hip, this time bring your right leg forward. So go ahead and extend your legs out in front of you. Let's flip the wrists today, bring the inner wrists forward let your feet be about inner hips distance apart, and we're gonna lift up for Purvottanasana, so think of letting your toes reach towards the ground, let the back ribs lift, let your breath really help you lift the heart, breathe. If this is too much, always take a table top, or just skip it.

And then lower your hips down, you know, walk the hips back bend the knees a little bit and reach your arms up, breathe in, and drape the body forward. This time, we're gonna keep the knees bent. You're gonna wrap your arms around the backs of the knees, holding on to opposite elbows, so you're your very own prop here. And then you release the backs of the knees into the forearms, and let the hips slide back a little bit and let the head soften. Try not to round in that mid-back, try to keep a nice length there, and let your head go, let your breath be nice and deep.

See if you can stay connected to the process, even when it becomes more still, more reflective. Sometimes we run from the reflective moments, because it's easier to just move fast. (soft breathing) If you want to, you can let the arms go, and just drape them forward. And roll up, I want you to find a seat, any comfortable seat will do. Take your hands to your thighs.

The hands can sort of be pressed on the thighs, and you could sit on a blanket if you need, and just close your eyes, and just sit with me for a moment. All right, sit with what's going on with you for a moment. Sit with what's going on around you for a moment. So, that the practice is you know, to open our hearts, but it's not just to what is inside, it's what's outside, too. We become more aware, we become more in tuned.

So, allow yourself to meet your thought process here, in meditation with friendliness. And just sort of watch how the mind works, and sometimes we wanna run away from what comes up, but we're allowed here to sit with it. And that's one of the most authentic ways of opening the heart is to really contact our vulnerability, and not run from it. I invite you to stay seated as long as you'd like. We will take Shavasana, and you can also take Shavasana as long as you need.

And when you're ready, roll on to your back, and allow yourself to just be. Start to deepen your breath. When you're ready. you can let the toes and the fingers move, and the head sway from side to side. Step your feet to the ground, let the knees touch, let the arms reach above the head take a big breath in, and a big sigh out. (sighing) Roll on to your right side, and pause for a holy grateful moment.

Walk up to sit, and find a comfortable seat, let your hands meet at your heart. Take a moment to honor the practice, bowing into the palms. Thank you so much for practicing with me today, Namaste.


4 people like this.
Absolutely loved the flow! I've been practicing for over 20 years and I was introduced to 2 new postures. Suggestion: given this a 2/3 audience, calling the posture would really help in establishing a more fluid flow. Thank you so much for sharing your practice and experience with me.
Thank you Michelle for practicing with me and sharing your feedback!
3 people like this.
Yahoo! Like Michelle, I'm a longtime yogi and am delighted that Mary Dana's creativity and insight taught me some new things -- while drawing me deeply into a juicy practice. I don't always understand your unique cues but I'm marking this one "Favorite."
1 person likes this.
Fantastic practice! Thank you!
1 person likes this.
1 person likes this.
I have practiced for about 15 years and in last couple months have almost felt burned out with yoga. Nothing has seemed new or interesting till today. This was such an interesting class from beginning all the way to even the last pose of arms under legs during seated forward fold. Thank you for the great class. I agree cueing was a little different but loved the class
1 person likes this.
Wow. What a great practice. Thank you.
Great sunrise practice today! Thanks!
1 person likes this.
The challenging flow with the variety of variations was welcomed by my body. Although challenging, there is a softness to her cueing that allowed for a spacious, dance-like flow.
Thank you!
2 people like this.
Very powerful practice 🙏🏼 thank you
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