The Yoga Flow Show Artwork
Season 6 - Episode 7

Flowing River

30 min - Practice


Shelley shares a sweet, fluid sequence to inspire the inner rivers. We move through a series of Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations) and a groovy Marichyasana twist pattern, warming up our spine in preparation for backbending and a supine Natarajasana (Dancer Pose). You will feel more open and fluid.
What You'll Need: Mat, Strap

About This Video


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(waves crashing) Greetings. Good to see you again, welcome back. Today we'll be moving through a deeper progression of our water element sequence. We're gonna let the rivers flow a little bit into some different back bending. But it will be mostly grounded and we'll be staying close to the river, close to the Earth, so let's enjoy together and it's great to have a strap handy for this practice.

I have mine preset to the width of my elbows. So if you want to take a moment and preset your strap so that you don't have to mess with it later, that would be great. Let's begin. Take your feet wider than hips' width apart and slightly turn your toes out. So turn your palms to face down and imagine that you're standing waist deep in a river.

And start to let the current of the river take you and take your breath from side to side. Maybe bending one knee and letting the spine, the arms, the fingers trail along the surface of the water. Taking these moments, these first few moments, to set the tone and the mood for your practice. And I really encourage you to close your eyes as you shift from side to side. Just start to connect in with how this feels inside of your body and let go of how it looks.

There's no wrong way to do this, but really just to move slowly and breathe and connect with that liquid water element that's inside of all of our bodies. So as you move from side to side, you can start to widen the feet and deepen the lunge and taking the surface of the river lower and lower. Towards your base. And eventually taking the hands all the way down to trail along the edges of the mat, the floor, letting your hair, your head, your neck release. And eventually sweeping the hands towards the front of the mat and stepping back into a downward facing dog.

Let the current of your breath continue to ride through your spine as you inhale, roll forward towards plank and then bend the knees and lead with your hips as you glide back into your downward dog. And just take that twice more, rippling through the spine, letting go of any hard edges in your body. Excuse me. Any hard edges in your breath. Try to just release through them, and especially any hard edges in your mind.

Soften those especially. Exhale to press back and just take a fluid step to the front of the mat. Right followed by left, inhale to lift your heart. And exhale to release. With a flat back, come all the way up to standing.

Circle the arms wide and reach to the sky. As you exhale, release your hands behind your back and we'll move into a variation of classical (foreign language spoken), so lift through your chest. Open up the front of the throat. And as you exhale, bend the knees, come into a forward fold, release your knuckles over your head, and then release your hands, and as your chest lifts, step your right foot back to a high lunge. And exhale to downward dog.

Inhale, roll through the plank. And as you exhale, lower all the way down to the bottom of the river in one piece. Inhale, rise up to the top, coming up out of the surface of the water, and then exhale, folding back. Step the right foot forward and inhale to lift your heart. Exhale, step to the front of the mat.

Inhale to rise, coming up out of water. And exhale, release your hands behind your back. Maybe lace the opposite finger on top. Inhale to open up your chest. And exhale, soften the knees as you fold forward.

Release your hands, inhale, lift the chest. Step your left foot back to a high lunge. And then press back to downward dog. Inhale, glide forward, and this time, as you exhale, just hover in your (foreign language spoken) and rising, upward facing dog, (foreign language spoken). Exhale, downward dog, (foreign language spoken).

Step the left foot forward to a high lunge and inhale to lift your heart. Exhale, forward fold. Inhale to rise. Exhale, release your hands behind your back. Inhale, open up your heart.

Exhale, forward fold, release your head, release your neck. Release your hands, lift your chest. And this time, step straight back into downward facing dog. So I'm gonna introduce what I like to call a (foreign language spoken), it's just a simple flow that we work with to start opening up the spine towards back bending. So as you inhale, shift forward to plank and then lower all the way down to the bottom of the river in one piece.

And as you inhale, come up into a bit of a high cobra. Keep the hips planted, but really lift through the heart and pull your heart forward. As you exhale, melt down, turn your head right. Bend your right knee, and then push the floor away and roll onto the left tip and all the way up to seated. And there's no need to center yourself on your mat, we'll get back there soon enough.

And so just spiral into a twist as you exhale, unwind, plant your left hand behind you and roll to the outer edge, the knife edge of your left foot, and lifting through the hips, through the heart, rising up into a little bit of a half back bend, exhale, slowly, come back down, and back into your twist. Inhaling, look over the shoulder. And exhale, unwind, and rising up again. Up and over like a wave. Exhale, one last time to sit down.

And stay with this really mellow quality as you inhale to the twist. This time, as you exhale, take your hands back to where you would place them for cobra. Dive through and into your high cobra. And then we'll go the other way. So turn your head left, bend your left knee, push the floor away and roll up to the right hip.

Inhaling to your twist. Exhale, unwind, place your right hand, outer edge of the foot and rise. And shine. Exhale, slowly come back down. Just working with that, kind of meandering quality in your movement.

Unwind. Inhale to rise. Exhale. Cycle to come down. Back into your twist.

And then take your hands back to where you'd place them for cobra, dive through and rise up into your high cobra, exhale. Back to downward facing dog. Take the right leg to the sky on the inhale. And then exhale, step it through and come on up for a high crescent pose, inhaling to rise. And take your arms to soften the elbows and let's take a bit of a high reverse (foreign language spoken), so you can take the wrist in front of the right, soften the back knee, soften the elbows, and as you inhale, stretch long through your limbs, press on the gas peddle through your back heel, reach the fingertips through the roof and then exhale, soften it back in.

Inhale to reach and feel the back bend on the left side of the body. Exhale, soften. Once more, inhale, expand. And then a little flow here as you exhale, shift forward into a bit of a kind of vira three, one hand down. And then step back.

To crescent pose. And this time, as you exhale, you can pass through vira three into a bit of a twisting half moon, and then let it flow back. And just keep that flowing fluid quality in your movement. All right? But attentiveness to the details.

Once more. Inhale, rise. And then exhale to come back down. This time release back to plank. Shift your shoulders forward and let's set the left knee down on the mat.

Lift up through the right hand, through the right leg, and let's take a kneeling (foreign language spoken) with a quad release so you can press the heel towards your buttocks and open up from the chest to the hips to the back hand and foot. Heart reaches forward, knee reaches back. One more cycle of breath here. And as you exhale, just release to a long line from fingers to toes, back to your hands and knees, and a couple rounds of cat cow. Inhaling to arch your back.

Exhaling round your spine. Literally massage your spine with your breath, with your movement. And with the quality of your movement. Inhaling to arch. And exhale to downward facing dog.

Sweep your left leg to the sky as you inhale. And then exhale, step it all the way through to crescent pose, inhaling to rise. Soften the back knee, bend your elbows, and this time, the right wrist in front of the left, and as you start to lengthen, really let the upper arms press back behind the ears if you can. And then exhale, soften. Front of the pelvis lifts, and then inhale, press through the back heel, up through the heart, up through the fingertips.

Exhaling to soften. And inhaling to rise and open the heart. As you exhale, shift forward and starting to trace the pathway from crescent pose to twisting half moon. Inhale to rise. And exhale, sweep the left arm back and up.

Opening towards a little twist. Inhale, absolutely find a place, a block underneath the bottom hand. As you come up. And once more, inhale. And exhale.

To shift forward and open your chest. Inhaling back to crescent pose. Exhale, release to plank. Shift forward and let your right knee come down. Lift up into a little side kneeling (foreign language spoken).

Bend the top knee and press your foot into your hand, open your heart, feel a little (foreign language spoken) on the left side of your body. And just hang out for a few breaths. You can let your head relax, your neck relax. Maybe even close your eyes. Releasing your foot.

Reach alongside your ear, and then slowly come on back to your hands and knees. And this time as you move through cat and cow, let it circle a bit, let the head and tail circle and breathe a little bit of love in the form of your breath, breath in the form of love, to the spine, to the side waist, to the neck. Sacrum. And let it just kind of meander in a way that feels good to you. Be really interested in how it feels and less interested in how it looks.

Just circling your head and your tail, your shoulders, your hips. Take that same circular exploratory quality into your downward facing dog. Inhale to shift forward. Exhale all the way down to the bottom of the river. And we'll come through that same (foreign language spoken) as you inhale, lift your heart.

Look right, bend the right knee, roll to the hip, and just start to let it flow a little bit now with your breath, inhaling to rise. Exhale to sync down into the twist. Inhaling to rise. Exhale down into your twist. And then we connect to side two, follow your hands to the center of the mat, dive down into the river, up through the surface.

And then over to the other side, twisting to your left. Opening up through your heart. Really just enjoy moving in your body. With your breath. And feel the essence of each of these shapes, rather than any rigidity.

Let it really open. Really flowing. Diving back down into the river, rising up on an inhale, then exhale, lowering down. So from here you can bend your knees, shift the hips a little bit from side to side. And we're about to grab our strap and roll onto our backs, so grab it.

Flip over onto your back. And then go ahead and draw the right knee into the chest. And give yourself a little bear hug here. And take your strap and just loop it around the sole of your right foot and you can extend upward into a little souped up (foreign language spoken). Let your shoulders release down, press through the heel of your right foot, lengthen down through your left leg.

And from here we'll come into one of my favorite versions of (foreign language spoken). Which is a beautiful standing balance posture. And it becomes even more beautiful when you lie it down on its side, so let's bend our right knee, and then hold onto, you can hold on close to the foot or a little bit away from the foot to give your shoulders more room, but we'll pivot the knee in, and as you roll onto your side, let your knee and elbow pivot in, and then take your heel and your head behind you. Top arm can join it, right? So both hands come to the strap, and walk down the strap, towards your foot, any amount.

And your bottom arm creates a nice little head rest here, you can hang out and feel the opening through the quadricep and the hip. A little bit of a back bend here as you press your foot into the strap. Your bottom leg can reach forward to counter balance the weight of the back body here and let's enjoy two really deep breaths. If you'll notice, your arms, the position your arms are in is paving the way for either wheel or (foreign language spoken), forearm stand, right? It's a really great opening for the shoulders.

The upper back. One more deep breath here. Exhaling completely. And then slowly release, come out the same way you went in, spring the knee and elbow forward, roll onto the back and simply change sides from the left foot up into the strap, right foot down, and let's come to souped up (foreign language spoken) on our back. Which is a really fancy long name for hand to big toe pose.

But it's fun to say (foreign language spoken). So pressing through your heel, draw your leg in gently toward you, any amount, just to feel a little sweetness, a little saltiness here. And then bend your knee, slide your hand a little further out on the strap and as you roll to your side, let your bottom leg shift forward. Elbow and knee pivot in and up. And you can take your hands over your head and start to walk 'em down the strap.

Towards the back foot. And press your foot back into the strap to open up the front gate of the hip. Reach the bottom leg forward in opposition. And hang out here for a few breaths. Last breath, inhale to expand.

Through your heart, through the whole shape, give it a little bit of juice. And then as you exhale, come back through the center, same way that you went in, just roll right back through the center and take the strap off of your foot. And I had my strap set up elbow width. I got to readjust it and bring it back to elbow width from here. Draw the knees in and go ahead and rock on up and then simply pivot around to your hands and knees and go ahead and take your strap and just place it right around your elbows.

Above your elbows, at your upper arms, and come up for dolphin pose. So it's the same shape again, we just had our hands over our head when we were in the side lying (foreign language spoken), it's a very similar shape in dolphin pose, and your strap might provide a nice little head rest for you. (laughing) As you press your chest back. But instead of letting your head linger on the strap, actually lift your head and look forward towards your wrist, and then let's take the right leg to the sky and lift up. And then come back down.

And we're just paving the way for a little pinch of (foreign language spoken) and some of the later sequences, so you can alternately lift and lower right and left leg up and down, or if you'd like to start and work with just getting a little bit of air and exploring transferring your weight from your foot, your feet to your forearms, you can. Keep your gaze forward. And work with a really straight leg as you kick up. And just once more each side. And then come down to child's pose.

Release the strap from your elbows, slide through onto your tummy. From here we'll take the strap back to our feet, just one more time for a little (foreign language spoken). Which means two footed bow pose. And you can just, once you loop the strap over the tops of the feet, draw the long end of the strap over your head and place your elbows right on either side of your temples and walk your hands back behind you. So from here, just lift your chest, press the front of the hips down and into the earth, and as you rise, you'll feel your feet pressing into the strap which helps to open the shoulders and we're not trying to pull the strap over head where we can see it, but rather walk our hands down the strap towards the back foot.

So really let your elbows bend a lot here and as you lift, and lower, you can play around a little bit with shortening up the hold on the strap, eventually reaching your hands back to grab your own toes. Probably not in my lifetime, but that's OK. So once you feel like you're in a shape that is doable for you, let's lift and lower a few times. As you exhale. Come down about halfway.

And as you inhale, rise and it's really wonderful therapy for the front of the body, the shoulders, the hips, exhale to come down. And just like in (foreign language spoken) the key to balance is a little bit of sweetness, a little bit of saltiness, so notice if you're grinding up against your edge or if you're just brushing it with a feather. And a feather is the kinder tool. So as you lift, just come to that place where you can hang out for about three breaths. And let your body just receive a little bit of medicine here, a little opening to the heart.

And then exhale, melt back down into the river, release your strap. Shake it off your feet, and then bend your knees. And rock a little bit from side to side. And then placing the hands right alongside your ribcage, press yourself up and back, into child's pose. And walk your hands back to your knees to roll up your spine.

And so, oftentimes, when we come into a deep back bend like that, we come out of it and we feel our back, like, oh I felt my back, and it's not uncommon that we tend to get a little like, oh no, my back. But if you can think of the whole spectrum of your body, it's kind of like when we do core work, and after core work, we're like, oh I felt my stomach and we get really excited about that. We tend to get less excited about feeling our back work and so just remember that we want to keep our back healthy and strong so that we can stay upright. And we see a loved one, an elderly grandma or grandpa that's walking around like this, it didn't happen overnight, right? It happened because over time they got very tight in the front of the body and very weak in the back body.

So we want to really work to maintain the strength in our back body. So from here, let's counter pose so we can find balance once again and we can come from your downward dog to pigeon. Hip openers, forward folds and twists are great counter posing therapy after a deep back bend. So come into your hip opener, if pigeon's not your choice, you can come into a different one. And just drop down for about three deep breaths.

Last exhale, let's lift up just slightly, and we'll just add a little tiny bit of a twist to your pigeons, so thread the left elbow right underneath the right and come down into the outer left shoulder and ear and take a moment here. And slowly rising back up. Back through your downward facing dog, let the right leg breathe and open. All the way down from the hip to the heel. And then exhale, slowly bring the left leg forward.

You can probably already feel that your back is hopefully recovering and feeling better after a deep back bend. So sink on down. And take three breaths here in silence. At the end of your third breath, lift up just enough to add a little bit of a twist for the spine and thread the right elbow underneath the left, come on down. And let the weight of your shoulder drop down towards the earth.

Slowly rising back up, pressing back through your downward facing dog, opening through the left side, the left leg. Rising up to your toes, bend your knees and just come on down for a seat. And last moment here before we drop into (foreign language spoken), just take a simple classic seated forward fold, reach up through the sky. And as you exhale, bowing in. And take a strap to your feet, and your hands to your ankles, or your hands to your feet.

As you inhale, just get a little lift, a little refresh through the spine. And as you exhale, coming down. And for the deep dunk. Taking one more deep breath here. Leading with your head and your heart, come all the way up and let's go ahead and exhale to roll down to (foreign language spoken) and again, if you have any hairdo or props in the way that are gonna keep you from fully relaxing in (foreign language spoken) just set it to one side and then come on down.

Spread out your feet a little wider than hips width apart, relax your palms open. Take a deep breath into your heart's center. And exhale through your mouth. Taking 10 breaths here on your own. Let your body, your mind, and your heart digest all the wonderful things you've experienced, not just here on your mat but today, this unique day, unlike any other.

Slowly start to bring your awareness back into your body. Send a little bit of movement to your fingers and toes. And as you inhale, reach your arms over your head. Stretch your body long and exhale, draw your knees into your chest, give yourself a little bear hug. Rolling over to one side, press yourself up to a comfortable seated position.

And bring your hands together. As you breathe into the fullness of your heart, just a little bit of gratitude for the opportunity to experience beautiful practice and lifestyle that is yoga, we're so lucky to have this knowledge, this gift. And thank you so very much for sharing your presence and your practice. With me. Namaste.


2 people like this.
The water quality is so evident in both body and breath throughout this beautiful practice. Nicely done.
2 people like this.
Love love love this practice. I felt so expansive and open afterwards.
Wonderful water wake up!
1 person likes this.
Amazing! Highly recommend for creative sequencing and emphasis on alignment
2 people like this.
Such a creative sequence! Feels so good to move in new ways...
2 people like this.
I felt so recharged after this back opening practice!
Beth Glad you enjoyed it, this is one of my personal favorite practices!
3 people like this.
There was so much I loved about this practice!!! One of my favorites! Thank you! I just finished your recent 30 day challenge, I really enjoyed you as a teacher so I found you here! Thank you so much!
Mindy ! Welcome over to this program. This is one of my personal favorites, too. I am glad you enjoyed and thank you so much for sharing your kind thoughts. I feel honored to be part of Yoga Anytime, its so wonderful to meet people like you virtually!
2 people like this.
I LOVE the way a 30 minute practice with you never feels rushed. So sweet and flowing...
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