Greetings, welcome to The Mat. Nice to see you here today. Let's move into a really wonderful, grounding practice to open up, strengthen and release any tension you might be feeling in the lower body and to reconnect you with your roots, your feet, your legs, your hips, and of course your heart. Let's begin. Take your hands to the level of the pelvis and turn your palms face up and as you inhale, just circulate your hands forward and up and as you exhale let your hands cascade down the mid line, just receiving the wave of your breath.
You can close your eyes if you'd like and inhale, circulate and as you exhale just drop the hands gently down the center, letting it cascade over you. As you breathe in this way, take another round, you'll probably notice this immediate, instantaneous shift in your nervous system. Let's take one more here together before we add on any more movement and as you exhale just release down a little deeper into your feet and turn the toes open, bend the knees and come a little deeper into your base. As you inhale, once again circulate and exhale, drop into your roots and just feel a little power through the feet, through the legs, through the hips. As we start to circulate a little prana, a little energy and life force down into your base.
And exhale completely, step to the front of your mat, bring the hands to the heart and we'll take that same pattern right into our namaskar so as you inhale, once again, receive the wave of your breath and as you exhale simply dissolve through the mid line soften the knees, release the head, the neck, the shoulders. Step the left foot back to a long, low lunge and then release your knee down and you might even want to place a blanket in the middle of your mat to pad your knees and as you inhale circulate forward and up, rise up and over the hips and then dive down into the earth. Completely releasing the neck, and once again. Inhale, circulate forward and up, and as you exhale just dropping in any amount and if the floor ever feels far away you can always place a couple of blocks right next to your hips and as you come down take your hands to your blocks. From here shift forward and plant your palms flat and step back to plank.
Slightly shift forward as you inhale and on an exhale let's take a lunar vinyasa, lower the knees, followed chest, hips down to the earth and really releasing into gravity. As you inhale, roll the shoulders back to a low cobra and as you exhale simply release, press to your hands and knees and press back to downward facing dog and just take a single cycle of breath here to connect. Step the left foot directly forward between your hands, lower the back knee down and again as you inhale, circulate, feel the sun rising as you circulate and setting as you exhale. Inhale twice more. Exhale to dive down and you can really start to feel this connection into gravity, into your roots, the hips starting to open, the hamstrings starting to breathe a little bit and also that shift of the inner mind.
Just shift forward and plant your palms, step back and on an inhale, lightly glide forward like you're looking over the edge of a cliff, and then lower the knees and lower down to the edge. Lift your heart to a low cobra, stream back through your legs and as you exhale, press back to your downward facing dog. Super simple, nothing complex here, just breathing and moving into our base. Feel free to bicycle pedal through the feet and knees, circulate the hips a little bit, spread your toes, take off your shoes and then inhale to your toes, bend the knees, look forward and lightly spring to the top of the mat. Inhale to lift your heart and exhale back into your forward fold.
As you inhale, soften the knees, circulate forward and up and as you exhale, drop right back into the second round. Step the right foot back and lower your knee as you inhale reach forward and up and exhale, maybe enjoy going a little deeper on these three cycles. Shifting forward inhale to open the heart, and exhale come back and like you're tunneling down. Once more, inhale to rise. As you exhale dropping in.
Shift forward and this time as you inhale let's keep the knees lifted, put a little bit of energy into the core, a lot of energy into your legs and as you lower hover for a moment, hover above the earth. Flip over the tops of the feet, come right into upward dog. If that doesn't work for you, you can always set the knees down and shift to cobra. Every vinyasa is your vinyasa. Take a deep cycle of breath here and exhale completely.
Step the right foot directly forward, lower the back knee and three cycles to rise and to descend. We simply follow the breath like we follow a wave coming into the shore as it rises up over us and the simplest way is not over it but to go underneath. Just diving down. Releasing through the neck and shift forward, shift back to plank and once again if you like keep the knees lifted or set them down and just hover for a moment. Inhale to rise, exhale folding back and take a moment here feel free to hold steady, even the eyes can be steady or if a little bit of water element, a little bit of movement in the body feels right, take that liberty at any time.
Deep inhale to your toes as you exhale step as light as a feather, hop to the top of the mat and lift your heart. Exhale fold. Inhaling to rise, as you exhale dialing right back down just dissolving. Lifting your heart and this time step right back to downward facing dog. Come onto the back but let's rise to the toes and simply pivot your knees toward the one side of the mat and flip over like a pancake and roll on down.
As you come down draw the knees in to the chest and feel the back body connecting with the earth, the back of the head, your shoulders, your hips and let's cross the right ankle on top of the left knee and come into a little thread the needle. From here we'll activate our core just enough to feel it so you can lace your fingers behind your head and as you exhale, coil up. Draw your shin bone toward your chin, draw the navel to the spine. As you inhale simply open up your figure for it, let it hover. Careful not to arch the back here but to keep a little anchor through the low belly then exhale and draw it right back in.
Inhaling to open and exhale, navel draws in. Coiling inward. Once more, inhale to open. Exhale, we're just saying hello to the core, just a little hello. From here you can lace your right peace fingers around your big toe or if you'd like you can always grab a strap sometimes it's nice to have a little arm extender.
There's plenty of times when my arms feel too short for the rest of my body so if you feel like that you can take your strap and hold it close to your foot so kind of choke up on the strap and this time as you exhale, extend the leg long away from you. Coming into supta padangusthasana b and open up your left arm in opposition so really spreading out in all directions. Then come back into that same coiling energy, we draw our energy to the core and you can take your hand to the back of your hamstring or the back of your head. Then exhale, open it up nice and wide. We're just tracing a pathway here that we might come into in a few moments while we're standing so let your body learn that pathway, coming down into thread the needle then opening up wide into Padangusthasana b.
From here simply just changing sides, you can set your strap to one side. Cross your left ankle on top of your right knee and just draw the whole shape in. Lace your fingers behind your head as you exhale coil up and in and as you inhale, expand out. Exhale, drawing in, the tailbone can curl up just enough and inhale, to open up through the hips. Exhale, lift the head, neck and shoulders and then inhale, just spreading out.
Exhale coiling in for the last time here and once again either take your toe with your peace fingers or your strap and open up wide like a starfish spread out in all directions. From the navel center coil back in, and then inhale, extend long front back side to side. Twice more, exhale to coil in, inhale open. Exhale coiling back in, inhaling to open, just feel the support of the earth here. Feel the connection with the earth underneath you.
Draw everything back to the midline, knees to chest and start to rock and roll along the length of the spine. Let it be kind of loose and free, you can toss your feet over your head, keep your spine nice and rounded. This is a wonderful way just to massage the low back. Then just go ahead and plithe on over to your downward facing dog and press your heels back toward the mat. Whenever we use props in yoga we like to make a practice of keeping them organized and tidy.
So we set them to one side. So from your downward facing dog we'll take one more visit to the top of the mat so go ahead and inhale to your toes, bend the knees, look forward and step or lightly hop right up to your hands. Set the feet together on an inhale, lift your heart. Keep the weight shifted forward and as you exhale, just drape your spine over the long legs. Remember to always release completely through the back of the neck.
The head just hangs like a ripe avocado. Bend the knees. Let your knees separate like butterfly wings. Walk your hands forward and we're coming into a version of malasana a yogic squat. There's many versions of malasana and this particular one the toes, the heels are together, the hips are reaching back and the fingertips can reach forward, head dropping down.
There's this wonderful line of energy and release from the tail all the way to the crown of your head. So as you breathe here, allow gravity to drop you into your hips, notice this really wonderful and interesting shape in your feet and ankles the inner ankles lengthening and the outer ankles gently pulling in toward one another. And you're welcome to stay right here for a few breaths and maybe even release the forearms down, the palms open or if you'd like to activate your core just a touch, slide the hands in, catch the upper triceps with your knees and shift your weight forward. Always looking over the edge of that cliff here when you're in crow pose. As you coil through the low belly, one foot might lift and you can hover there.
Or two feet might lift and you can hover there. Pulling up through the naval center, holding steady for a beat or two. You can step or gently extend back to chaduranga rising to your back bend and exhale folding back to downward facing dog. So we start to move into a few standing postures. As you inhale just slowly sweep the right leg to the sky and really take the length of your inhale to lift your right leg.
As you exhale, coil the knee to the navel and step all the way through between your hands. To help you balance, gently hug your inner thighs toward the mid line and this will stabilize the base of the posture. As you inhale, come on up to crescent pose. Then exhale to reach forward and down, walk your hands along the edge of the mat, spin all the way to the back of the mat and hug the midline with the inner thighs once again and inhale, rise up to crescent pose. Exhale to reach forward and down, walk your hands back to the front of the mat, plant the left palm flat and on an inhale sweep the right arm to the sky and come into a simple twist.
As you exhale release your hand down and walk to the long edge of the mat. Turn the feet parallel and bend into one knee keeping the head, heart and hips all in one line. We'll come up and over into a high, wide malasan. Exhale bending into the opposite knee. Opening the hips toward the earth and just look to the front of the mat, turn and step back to plank and extend the right leg long so it hovers and you're welcome to go straight to chaduranga or to explore the feet a little bit.
Roll to the outer edge of the left foot and come down into a parshfa chaduranga and then square off the feet and hips as you roll through to your back bend and exhale, downward dog. Inhale, sweep your left leg to the sky. Exhale, coil the knee to the navel, step all the way through runner's lunge. Hugging the mid line, inhale to rise and you can think of the front of your mat as 12 o clock. As you exhale sweep forward and down, walk your hands to the back of the mat and you can think of that as six o clock.
Inhale to rise. Exhale reach forward and down, walk your hands back to 12 o clock, plant your palm and open the chest in one direction, simple twist here. And exhale, walk your hands to the opposite long edge of the mat and once again keeping the head, heart and hips in one line as you bend into one knee and come up and over to bend into the opposite knee. To a high malasana. Bending into the back knee again.
Look to the front of the mat, crawl forward and step back to plank, let your left leg extend. Roll to the outer edge of your foot if you'd like, halfway down to partial chaduranga. And then square off inhale. Exhale, downward facing dog. Take a deep cycle of breath here and exhale completely.
Inhale to your toes, bend the knees. Step or lightly hop to the top of the mat and lift your heart halfway. Exhale, release down and step the feet all the way together and we're about to go into that same pattern that we worked on on our back. Thread the needle into padangusthasana b but we'll do it standing so it's a different relationship to gravity. Bend your knees and come into chair pose on an inhale and as you exhale draw your hands together at your heart.
Let your gaze be steady on one point. This will help you balance. And shift your weight into the left foot, cross the right ankle on top of your left knee and sit down into what I like to call temple dancer. It's like a Balinese dancer only a little different. From here bring your left hand to your hip and you're welcome to take your peace fingers to your big toe or if you'd like you can take your strap once again and loop your foot.
Slowly rise up to standing and as you lift your chest, lift your gaze as well. The spine tends to follow where the eyes go. Extend the leg long, any amount and whether it stays slightly bent or goes all the way straight, doesn't matter but feel the expansion through the body and rooting down through the base. Spread the toes, lift your heart and take a couple breaths here. Balance your posture it's great for focus and great for grounding.
Then slowly release back to temple dancer. Keep the gaze steady, ankle comes to the knee and hands to the heart. Then come up to standing on an inhale. Exhale forward fold. Inhale, lift the heart halfway and exhale release back all the way through the neck.
All the way through the crown. Bend your knees, inhale to utkatasana and exhale, hands to your heart and we'll take the second side so you can cross your left ankle on top of the right knee and really reach back through your hips and feel a little bit of cobra through your upper spine. Little opening through your heart. Grab onto your big toe or take your strap to your foot and as you inhale lift your chest, lift your gaze. Feel the steadiness like the base of a tree rooting down deep into the soil.
Then just start to grow some branches, grow some leaves and lift through the heart. Even though the gaze is focused, keep it a soft gaze. Keep a little bit of softness inside. Deep inhale to expand a little more into all the ends of you, even your hair. Down into your toenails.
Down to your fingertips. Drop it back down so steady. Draw the hands to the heart, come to standing on an inhale, sweep the arms over your head and as you exhale you can feel that wonderful flush of energy down into your base. Let's inhale to lift the heart and exhale, just step straight back to downward facing dog. And we'll take the standing sequence pattern once more with a couple small changes.
So the right leg slowly sweeps to the sky. And you can feel the difference in the right side after your standing balances. As you exhale step it through and set your base for your vajrsana one. On an inhale slowly come up, maybe touch the palms and as you exhale, reach forward and down, walk your hands back to six o clock, set up your vajrasana one, inhale, rise like you're coming up out of the earth and exhale forward and down. Walk your hands back to 12 o clock.
Inhale, come up to where your one, one more time and exhale, right hand come to the hip. So we'll twist from here and create as much length as you can through the left side of your body and draw the elbow upper tricep towards the outside of your right thigh and it's a very different twist when we come up onto the ball of the back foot verses when we keep our foot down so try to keep the outer edge of the foot down. Plant your palms and press your top hand into your bottom hand so the spine lifts away from the floor. Take a couple nice detoxifying breaths here. And you can pull the right hip back toward your heel and direct the heart forward.
You feel this wonderful opening through your spine, through your breath. Last breath here. Exhale, release, walk your hands over to the long edge of the mat. This time turn your toes out and sink down into a low skandasana and the front foot will lift. Walk it up and over to the second side and once more, up and over and notice the hips coming a little closer to the earth.
So close that you actually sit down upon the earth. And you can take your right hand to the opposite ankle, sweep the left arm across toward the top foot and it feels so good that we take it twice more so we come back up and inhale and as you exhale, lean forward, over your right foot. Turn your heart toward the sky and one more time inhale arise, and as you exhale, lean forward. Maybe connect with your foot if it feels a little far away you can reach straight up to the sky alongside your ear or to your foot. Then just press through the ball of the foot press the back knee open, rotate your heart toward the sky kind of like a sunflower does.
Deep breath here. And we never want to rush out of a shape like this. It took a while to get here so let's hang out for just a moment or two and just feel there's medicine inside of every asana that you move in and out of. So just enjoy it for one more breath. And then just slowly come out of it.
You're welcome to pivot the back knee into the mid line or you can start to extend the back leg long and we're kind of going off road here, we're actually going off the mat and open up toward an asymmetrical hanuman. From there we'll roll the hips toward neutral and you might even pick up and over the hips up and over the mid line and come to hanuman if that feels good to you. From here, plant your palms, pull your right knee in, even yourself out on your mat and press back into downward facing dog. Let's enjoy the left side. So as you inhale the left leg rises, and as you exhale step it all the way through for your vajrasana one base.
Inhaling to rise, stay deep in your legs. Exhale, reach forward and down and walk it to the back of the mat. Set up your base and as you root through your legs, rise through your heart. Exhale reach forward and down. Return to the front of the mat.
Inhale once more to vajrasana one, and as you exhale, left hand to your hip. Create a little space on your right side and then draw the elbow to the outside of your knee. Plant our palms here and we can draw the heels of the hands slightly back and press down, top hand through bottom hand to lift your heart. A couple of breaths here really draw the left hip back and deep twists like this we usually find ourselves in a hurry to get out of but see if you can hang for just one more breath. Slowly release, walk your hands to the long edge of the mat, turn the toes out and sit down a little lower in your skandasana.
Climb up and over to the opposite side and sit down just a little lower, and once more, sitting toward the back of the mat, let your hip come all the way down to the earth and left hand is gonna take right ankle. Sweeping your right arm over your head as you inhale and exhale when you come up it's an opportunity just to orient yourself a little deeper into the shape so dip the left shoulder down and inhale. Drop down into gravity. Once more, inhale to arise and exhale, slowly extend. Top arm can park wherever it's comfortable.
Anywhere along the trajectory. Then just take a couple of quiet breaths here. One more breath. As you start to exit out, the top knee can drop in to the mid line or you can extend back off the back edge of the mat. Start to roll the hips toward the earth.
Even out through the pelvis, lift your heart and once again we get a little opportunity here to crawl like a tiger on the mat which is always kind of fun. So come forward and center yourself out. Inhale to your toes, bend the knees and swivel them to the opposite direction and have a seat on your mat. Just center yourself out. We're coming down onto our backs for the rest of the practice.
Go ahead and roll down your spine and as you roll down, maybe on the way grab your block and we'll use it for our supported bridge pose. Knees to chest, just for a moment, and then place your feet on the mat about hips width apart and as you lift your hips up you can place your block any height. You can place it on a low height, a medium height or even up to the tallest height. I prefer for this particular practice to just a lower more subtle height just to stay closer to the ground. And release your arms open, relax your head.
If you have any kind of hairdo on the back of your head a braid or a bun or a french twist, take it out so that your head can rest comfortably against the mat. Extend one leg long just to allow the hip flexors so the front gate of the hips to open up. If it's alright with the lower back you can even extend both legs long. If you start to feel any compression in your lower back, chances are that you need to move the block a little lower. That will slightly tip the pelvis so that it takes any compression off the low back.
Just take a couple breaths here. Let your legs roll naturally into rotation. As you exhale you can gently pull the ribs in and down which should gently draw the upper part, the origin of the so as down toward the earth and creates this little bridge as it drapes up and over the block and down the femur bone. It's a very subtle, passive stretch. Really great way to relieve tension in the low back.
So let's hang out here for two more cycles of breath in silence. At the end of your second exhale, simply bend your knees lift your hips up off the block, slide it to one side and slowly roll down your spine one vertebrae at a time. Coming to our last forward fold before we close our practice coming into halasana. If you prefer, if you're not inverting for any reason you could always sit up and come into a seated forward fold but otherwise, plant your palms, draw your navel in fold your legs over your head, you are welcome to support your low back with your hands or leave your arms draped along the floor. Add a little energy to the legs so there's some action through the backs of the legs.
The tops of the feet might rest on the floor, sometimes it feels good to curl the toes under and press through the heels and if you are supporting your lower back, you can use your fingertips to gently walk down the spine and massage into the muscles of the low back. If you feel any hot spots on the belly or the front of the spine, it's not uncommon especially if you haven't found yourself in this particular asana for a while. It's very stimulating to the front of the spine so breathe into any hot spots you might feel. To come out of it release your hands, roll down slowly one vertebrae at a time and keep the legs active and once your tailbone comes back to the earth, just bend the knees, give yourself one last bear hug here, you can even curl your forehead up to your knees. And then simply spread out for shavasana.
Extend your legs long, a little wider than your hips, open the palms and close your eyes. We'll let this shavasana be completely in silence. Just listening to the subtle sound of your breath just for two minutes. Slowly start to bring your awareness back into your body and add a little bit of movement into your fingers and toes. As you inhale, reach your arms over your head, reawakened, refreshed.
As you exhale, bend your knees, draw them into the chest, give yourself a little bear hug. Slowly roll over to one side, pour your weight into the top hand and press yourself up to a comfortable, seated position. Yeah. We bring our hands back together at our heart and whenever we draw the left and right palms together, it's a symbol of balance. Bringing the left and right hemispheres of our brain, our body, our being into one plain and we call this anjali mudra.
And the word anjali means offering. And so to close today, it's really a nice practice to offer up your practice to somebody else. Think of one person that would benefit from a simple practice like this but maybe doesn't have the opportunity to do so and send them your experience today. Offer it up to them no strings attached. Thank you so much for sharing your presence and your practice with me today.