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Season 2 - Episode 8

Build Toward Bhujapidasana

30 min - Practice


Shelley guides is a Vinyasa practice flowing towards Bhujapidasana (Shoulder Pressing Pose). We find the actions of coiling up through the core and lengthening forward in the heart. You will feel brave and strong.
What You'll Need: Mat, Square Bolster, Block (2)

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Greetings tribe, nice to see you again. This practice will be flowing towards bhujapadasana, arm pressing pose, which is a really wonderful arm balance that focuses on opening up the hips and lower back. It'll be helpful for you to have a couple of blocks and a bolster. So let's come to the top of the mat to start and take your feet apart as wide as your mat, opening the outer edges of the feet parallel to the outer edges of your mat, and draw your hands to your heart. Take a very deep breath in, and as you inhale, open up your arms like you're opening up for an embrace.

And as you exhale, draw the hands back to the heart, softening the knees. And inhale, opening up, pressing down through the feet, lifting through the heart. Exhale, hands come back to the heart. Just feel these natural lines of energy of prana that move within the body, and also in nature as we expand and open like a sea anemone, and exhale to draw inward like a sunflower closing at the end of the day. Inhale to open, and exhale to draw inward.

Let's take our next inhale to circulate out and up. Bend your palms over your head, and as you exhale, soften the knees and come down through the midline into a forward fold. Release your head and neck. Inhale to lift the heart halfway. Exhale, release back into your forward fold.

Bend your knees, and slowly roll up your spine, and when you come up to standing, roll the shoulders up and back. Take your hands to the shoulders, roll your elbows up and back. It's like a slow motion unfurling of your wings as you go to a full wingspan, arching the spine, bend the knees, come all the way down to a forward fold. As you lift the chest, step the left foot back, coming to a nice high wide legged lunge, and then push back into your wide leg forward fold. Step the right foot back to that same high wide legged lunge, and then step into your forward fold.

Inhale, lift your heart halfway. Exhale, release through the legs. Bend your knees, slowly roll up your spine, and let's take that again, just the unfolding of the shoulders, drawing the hands to the shoulders, starting to unfold your wings, and then a full expansiveness, opening from the heart, drifting down, back through the center of the spine. Step the left foot back as you inhale, exhale, wide leg forward fold. Step the right foot back as you inhale, exhale, wide leg forward fold.

Let's add a vinyasa from here, so lift the chest, bend your knees and plant your palms and step or hop back to chaturanga. Open the chest on an inhale to up dog, exhale, downward facing dog, and just take a couple of breaths here. Inhaling to your toes. Bend the knees, look forward, and let's hop the feet around the hands, coming back to that wide leg forward fold, lift the heart. As you exhale, dive down right through the legs.

Bend the knees, slowly roll up, and unfurling the shoulders through the elbows and the chest, and through a full wingspan, opening the chest, come all the way down inside the legs. Step the left foot back to that high deep lunge, and really let the hips drop down as the back thigh stays lifted. Push back into your forward fold. Let the right foot back to that high deep lunge, and push into the forward fold. Lift the heart halfway and step or float back, chaturanga, inhale, upward dog, exhale, downward facing dog.

Three breaths here. One more full ujjayi breath in through the nose, out through the nose, inhale to the tippy toes. Bend the knees, hop the feet around the hands, lift the heart halfway, exhale, forward fold. Bend your knees, slowly roll up, let's take this pattern one more time, rolling the shoulders open, taking the hands to the shoulders, opening across the chest, and then spread the back of the shoulders open, lift the chest, and come all the way down through the legs. Step the left foot back to that high deep lunge, exhale, deep forward fold.

Step the right foot back to the high deep lunge, exhale, deep forward fold. Lift your heart, plant your palms, step or float back through chaturanga, inhaling to your upward dog, exhale, downward dog. So let's continue to prepare our body for bhujapadasana with a simple standing sequence. Step the feet close together, inhale the right leg to the sky, and as you exhale, step forward to warrior one, inhale to rise, bhujapadasana one, and as you exhale, come to a humble warrior bowing down inside the front thigh, lace the fingers, and release the crown of the head down towards the earth, if not on the earth. Come back up on an inhale, take it twice more, exhale, humble warrior, exhale, all the breath out, and this allows us to really start to get into the deeper hip opening as we dip down the shoulder inside the knee.

This time as you come on up, we'll take a little rainbow warrior transition. So we'll fan up and over all the way to the second side, step back to downward dog with your left leg high, and then step it through to warrior one base. In pattern, inhale, come up to your Virabhajasana one, exhale, all the breath out into your humble warrior, inhale, all the way up, exhale, bowing down torso inside the front thigh. Once more, inhale to come on up, exhale, humble warrior. Come all the way up through your rainbow warrior, and let's pause in the center and come into a proserita variation.

So lift your chest on an inhale, exhale, diving down through the legs, plant your palms for proserita A, lift your chest. But bring the feet a little closer towards your hands, so we're a little bit wider than hips width apart. So it's a bit of a shorter, more condensed proserita A, and let's actually take the hands through the space between the feet and cup the back of the ankles. We'll start to snuggle the shoulders down towards the inside of our knees, and this in essence is a very similar shape to Bhujapadasana. So bend your knees, allow your hips to lower down towards your elbows, chest forward on an inhale, and as you exhale, lift the hips, release the crown of the head down, and just gently press your inner knees against the outer arms, spreading open the back of the heart.

Let's do that again, bend your knees, reach the spine forward as you inhale, exhale, lift the hips, press the inner knees against the outer arms. Once more like that, inhale to shift forward, and as you exhale, we're just kind of massaging into the shape and the feeling of Bhujapadasana. Let's bend the knees once again, release your hands, take them to the front of the mat, step back to downward facing dog, shift forward to plank on an inhale, exhale, lower halfway to chaturanga, inhale, open the heart, exhale back to downward dog. Let's take one more standing sequence here, inhale right leg to the sky, exhale, step through to a runner's lunge, and let's lower the back knee down, inhale, reach up to crescent, a low crescent pose, and as you exhale, bring your hands to your heart, but back the hips up, back your pelvis up so that it's directly above the back knee, so rather than staying in a released lunge, just stack the joints here so we have a 90 degree angle at the front knee, and a 90 degree angle at the back knee, and then come into a forward fold right inside that front leg, bringing your hands inside of the front shin. Same thing here, we'll wrap our hand around the outer edge of the right ankle and start to snuggle your shoulder behind your knee, and we're basically just taking one half of bhujapadasana, let's inhale around the spine, and then as you exhale, reach the heart forward, the hips back, fill this version of cat cow here as you inhale to round, exhale, heart forward, tailbone back, once more, inhale around, coiling your energy inward, knee presses against the outer arm, exhale, heart forward, hips back, now plant your palms flat, curl the back toes under and lift your back knee, and we're just gonna fill one half of bhujapadasana here for a moment, so press into your hands, pull up through your core and lift your front foot up, and feel that pressure, that pressing of the knee against the outer arm, let's wrap it around, and take it back into down dog's split as you inhale, exhale, step it all the way through into a runner's lunge, and a little rainbow warrior to come all the way up and over to the other side, stepping back to down dog's split, left leg is high, take a breath here, exhale, step it all the way through to a runner's lunge, and lower the back knee, shift the hips back, inhale, reaching up towards the sky, and exhale, hands come down through the midline, keeping your hips stacked above the back knee, and allow your left shoulder to start to snuggle inside your left knee, and we'll take that same cat-cow pulsation here as you inhale, round your spine, exhale, heart forward, hips back, inhale around, exhale, once more, and exhale, plant your palms flat, keep that little connection of your knee against the outer shoulder, let's curl the back toes under and lift your back knee, and then draw up through the core, and lift the front foot up towards the midline, feeling one half of bhujapirasana, wrap it around the bend and up and over the elbow, reaching back to down dog's split, exhale, step it all the way through, rainbow warrior comes up and over and back to downward facing dog, inhale to your tippy toes, and as you exhale lower the knees kind of wide, big toes touch, and let's take a moment here in child's pose, take three very deep breaths, and slowly make your way back to your hands and knees, and let's take our blocks and bring them to the mat so that we can work with them for workshopping and playing around a little bit with bhujapirasana, so we'll take the blocks about hips width apart, bring your hands back to the mat in front of the blocks and press back to your downward facing dog, and let's just walk the feet right through the blocks and come into a forward fold with your heels in front of your blocks, lift the heart halfway, as you exhale forward fold, dry your hands right in between your feet, bend your knees and cup the back of the ankles, so from here it's really important to set up before we go in bhujapirasana to really take the time to snuggle your shoulders behind your knees, so you're pushing your hands forward as you tuck the shoulders in and back, so we create a surface for our legs to rest on, and then place your hands on the blocks with your fingertips pointing forward, heels of the hands down and just have a seat on your elbows and you might reach the chest forward, and what's interesting about these postures and all the coiled arm balance postures is this dual action of coiling up through the core and reaching forward through the heart at the same time, so see if you can feel that pressing of the arms with your knees, coiling up through the belly and then just start to walk your toes in and you might find that you can lift the feet and hook the ball of one foot over the other, chest reaches forward squeezing the inner knees against the outer arms and feeling that wonderful balance of bhujapirasana, maybe release your feet and then come back into a forward fold and let's take padahastasana to release the wrist, so place the hands right under the feet, look forward on an inhale, exhale, bend your elbows and release down and take a moment here and maybe shrug the shoulders alternately up the spine, relax your head and neck, so shifting the shoulder blades to massage the neck and the head and then let's go ahead and try it again, so release your hands, inhale to lift the heart halfway, exhale bring your hands to your hips, let's come all the way up to standing for a moment just to open up the front of the hips, take your hands to the low back so the fingertips crawl up the spine and the heels and the hands point down and lift up through the chest, give the hip flexors a little air, open the heart towards the sky, take a full breath in and then as you exhale bend your knees, pour your spine down, dive your hands through and once again take your hands to the back of the ankle, so let's try it again and snuggling your shoulders behind your knees, you might find a little more range this time, you might be able to get the shoulders a little deeper and same thing here just have a seat on your elbows, you might be in the beginning stages where just starting to lift the feet up off the mat where you can start to walk the toes in towards one another and hook your toes and just feeling that coiling pulling in through the core as you reach forward through the heart, staying here for a breath or two wherever you are on the progression and then releasing back into your forward fold, padahastasana, hands underneath the feet, reach forward with your spine as you inhale, exhale, relax, let it go, shrug the shoulders, create a little dance here for the back of the heart, release your hands, inhale lift the heart halfway, exhale bring your hands to your hips, inhale come all the way up to standing, let's open the front of the hips one more time here, fingertips point up, inhale to lift the heart, ready for the exhale, inhale lifting up and out of the low back and then exhale hinge at the hips, bend the knees, dive your hands through the ankles, so maybe we do it again on the blocks or maybe this time you're ready to try it without your blocks so you can set them to one side and it's the same pathway and progression in, we reach back into the ankles and start to snuggle the shoulders first, getting a little deeper and this time can slide your hands under your feet, bend your elbows and have a seat, walk your feet towards one another, hook the tops of the feet and press, bhujapita means arm pressing pose, press the arms with your knees, coil up through the belly and keep your gaze steady and it has this wonderful feeling of the fragility of a floating bubble so just enjoy that feeling and when you're ready to come out of it the floor is not too far away so you can just sit down and release, cross your legs in sukhasana, easy pose and start to stir your spine over your hips, relaxing your hips, relaxing the low back, relaxing your head and neck and notice if there's a little more openness, a little more freedom in your low back and then take it the other direction, try to create a nice bit of movement and freedom between the ribcage and the pelvis, maybe let your head and neck go and then coming back through the center, rolling up your spine, let's circle the arms out and up on an inhale, touching your palms and then taking a side bend to one side, rooting down through the opposite hip, open the chest, full body breath in here, exhale circle forward and down and then sweep your hand behind you coming into a simple seated twist, coming back to the center and let's take that on the second side, circle the arms out and up, gathering up some prana, exhale side, bending the opposite side, rooting your hip down, reaching up and over, really opening up through the side waist and through the low back, deep inhale, turn your heart towards the sky and then exhale, reach forward and down and across into a simple twist, reaching across to the opposite knee, lift up, gentle spiral in the spine and then slowly coming back to center, let's come into a variation, it's a really simple variation of supta kramasana, I like to call this one supta kramasana light because we're using a bolster and it's the same reflection of the bhujapadasana shape but a much more grounded, relaxed, restorative version.

So you can take your bolster or your blankets underneath your knees and set up almost a bodhicanasana shape with the soles of the feet together, a nice comfortable relaxed diamond and then just start to thread your arms underneath your knee and reach back towards the opposite hip and it takes a little bit of finagling if you will but again we're not going to come into the full deep supta kramasana but just this very relaxed version of it so you can kind of snuggle your shoulders in towards the inside of the knees, bring the feet towards one another and relax your head down, releasing through the back body, through the hips, through the shoulders, fingers relaxed, toes relaxed and enjoy about three deep breaths here. With each exhale relaxing a little deeper into gravity, relaxing your mind and softening the back of the heart and you decide to come out of this and slowly lift the head, heel toe the feet apart, opening up the space at the back of the shoulders and then just slip your shoulders out from underneath your legs, sitting up tall and set the bolster to one side and let's come onto our backs to make our way towards shavasana. So rolling down onto your spine, take one last counterbalance asana to open up the front of the hips before we come into shavasana so place your feet hips width apart, inhale reach your arms over your head, as you exhale curl the tailbone underneath you lift up into bridge pose and sweep the arms forward and down, let's lace the fingers behind the back and walk your outer shoulders in underneath you, bring your feet all the way together and let's take an ekapada variation today so right leg reaches to the sky like a flag, spread through the toes maybe flex and point your foot a couple of times and just feel that wonderful line of powerful energy through the back body up through the raised leg slowly bring it back down anchoring equally through your feet lifting equally through the hips and let's take the left leg up to the sky flexing and pointing pressing down through the bottom foot to lift up through the top leg and then slowly bring it back down lift both legs to the sky if you can I'm not going to demonstrate that and then separate your hands separate your shoulders roll down your spine one vertebrae at a time once the sacrum touches down please come into happy baby pose just hold on to the outer edges of your feet draw the knees down just outside the rib cage and take some breaths here and notice if you feel a little more ease in your happy baby pose this is essentially the same shape as the bhujipidasana so just notice how it feels to you maybe there's a little more ease and the crease at the hips and in the flexibility in your lower back last but certainly not least just liberate your legs into a nice wide open stretch flexing and pointing through the toes feeling those wonderful lines of energy from the adductors all the way out through the feet and then draw the legs back up to the center hug your knees into your chest curl your forehead up to meet your knees and then stretch on out for your shavasana separate the feet wider than the hips turn your palms face up and close your eyes take some very deep sweeping breaths in and out of your nose and relax your body starting from the base and working your way up to the top so relax your toes in your feet relax your calves your shin bones in your knees it's your thighs your hips relax softening through your belly your rib cage releasing any holding or tension in the heart letting the shoulders feel heavy arms relaxed palms and the fingers soft letting go of any tension in your neck relaxing the head jaw forehead and eyes soft even feeling a sense of softening through your scalp your eyes gently sinking in resting easy in the sockets your body heavy your spirit light just allowing yourself a couple moments to feel unencumbered totally at ease just for this moment


Suzie C
The blocks help a lot for me to get the basics correct. Thank you for the practice, and I love your yoga outfit!!! Where can I buy them?
Kate M
I really appreciate the intelligent sequencing towards Bhujapidasana, Shelley! (Great idea for the Kurmasana variation with the bolster. I definitely want to offer this variation to my class : )

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