Move to Meditate Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 8

Fluid Body and Mind

30 min - Practice


In the spirit of exploration and inquiry, Julian guides us in a movement practice playing with spirals, rotations, and freeform movement in preparation for vipassana meditation.

Click here to listen to the playlist Julian created to go along with this practice, then come back here start the above video at the same time to enjoy the full synchronized experience!
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video


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Welcome. Let's start on the hands and knees. And today's practice is really going to be about improvising and exploring, playing with spirals and rotations. So let's go right into Cat-Cow. If you've been doing these with me, you'll know this is a favorite. The reason for that is it gets us right into warming up the spine. And so we can play here even more than usual with rotations, undulations, play with different head movements, shoulder movements. You'll notice here your shoulders can rise up higher than your ribs. Your ribs can come up higher than your shoulders. Just feel what's available. All of the technical work that we're doing, your hips can come back, your hips can come forward and go side to side. All of the technical work we do should set you free in this way to be embodied and expressive. Let's play with this for another minute or so. Just keep breathing. You might close your eyes. You're arching, rounding, rotating. Stay safe and mindful, but get out of the box a little. And as you're exploring this way, here's an image from the Radiance Sutras from Lauren Roche, his translation. He says, rocking, swaying, undulating, carried by the rhythm, ride the ecstatic waves into a sublime fusion of passion and peace. Sounds good to me. So inhale, look up, tuck your toes onto the mat. We're going to exhale to downward dog. And in downward dog, play again. You can bring the feet close together, straighten and bend the knees. You can take the feet wider apart, straighten and bend. You might lean to one side, lean to the other side. See what's available here. Again, stay safe and mindful, but explore. My hips are rotating a little and leaning back and coming forward slightly. Good. And then find a standard downward dog position and breathe here. I'm going to take the right leg up behind you on an exhale. Press away the floor and reach through that leg. And on the exhale, step all the way up. We're coming to warrior one. I want you to take that back foot over to the left a little. And once your arms are up, find your feet. Feel your thighs engaging, your glutes activating, your belly nice and firm. We'll turn the palms out and then rotate them back in. Turn the palms out. And as you rotate in, feel for that coming through the elbow and the shoulder. Do a couple more. Good. And then stand and take another breath here and float the arms down. I want you to put your right hand on your chest. Take the left arm forward. Let me adjust my feet here a little. We're going to play with shoulder articulation. So extend forward and then draw back. And this is really about scapula articulation. Drawing back, extending forward. I'm not moving my torso too much. Really finding that expression through the shoulder. We might do circles one way, circles the other way. Stand forward and back. Maybe come up to 45 degrees. Same thing. Becoming more aware of the possibilities of your shoulder movement. Good. Float that arm down. Both arms can come down and shake out a little. Take a breath here and sigh it out. And we'll go back to plank position. So stepping back to plank and slowly down your chaturanga, you can go to cobra or up dog. Downward dog on the exhale. Walk a little again. And then find your down dog and send the left leg up behind you as you exhale. On the next exhale, stepping through. Back foot comes over a little. Arms sweep up on the inhale. We'll play again with turning the palms out and then spiraling down into the shoulders. Rotating back and forth. Maybe there's a little more awareness now of that whole shoulder area. Hang out in warrior one for a breath. And then let's float the arms down. I'm readjusting my feet a little here. Left hand goes on chest, right arm extends forward. And we'll play again with extending out and drawing back. Extending out and drawing back. Some awareness in the feet and the legs and the core. So you stay steady. Might play with circles. Going back. Circles coming forward. All about that joint articulation. Come up to 45 and draw back. Find out and draw back. Couple more. Good. And then float the arms down. Shake them out a little. Take a breath here. I'm going to have you just step up to the front of your mat now. Bring the hands together. Take a couple breaths. Just finding center again. And then arms can float back down. I'm going to play with hand spirals here. So I'm starting with the backs of the hands against each other. Backs of the fingers, knuckles meeting. And I'm spiraling up and coming down with the hands facing the floor. So check this out.

Up, spiral, the thumbs touch and we end up facing outward. A little confusing. Stay with me on it and explore. It doesn't have to be exactly the way I'm doing it. Notice my knees are bending. Starting to express a little bit of the waveform through my spine as I rotate up. Good. Two more. See what happens for you. You can get creative with it. And now folding forward. Inhaling to flat back. We'll step or jump back. Come down slow feeling for awareness of those shoulders drawing back being cobra or up dog and downward dog on the exhale. Breathing here. So the ribs move in all directions. You might shake out the head a little at the neck go. And now right leg up behind you. I want you to straighten and bend that leg. Straighten and bend. Feel free to keep hips square or stack them open if that feels good. Listen to your body. On this exhale we're going to step through and sweep up and over to reverse warrior. Feet plant. Core stays engaged for reaching long and breathing so the ribs move. I'm going to come up into warrior two but go right into a spiral to eagle here with the left arm on top. So we came up and over and continued the spiral right here. Elbows lift. Breathe up into those shoulders again. Last breath here. Sigh it out if you like. Then unwrap the arms. Come up and open. Play with spirals through the wrists and the shoulders and the elbows in your warrior two. And then right forearm on the thigh we're sweeping up and over. We'll go back and forth a few times. Now reaching away again the spiral through the shoulder and the wrists and the fingers. And then up and over into this extended warrior variation. Deep breath here. I'm going to let the hand float down and the fingers kind of graze the chest and then sweep the arm up to this position and breathe here. And on this exhale wrap the arm behind you. You can wiggle the fingers through to hold on to whatever is available there. Face can turn down. Chin can roll up. Stay grounded. Feel free to hold either of those positions or rotate the head a little. Good. And then carefully release. And we're stepping back to plank. Inhale here. Exhale as you come down drawing shoulders back. Why don't we take Cobra? So inhaling and downward dog. And on that exhale left leg up behind you. And again we're going to straighten and bend. And you can keep the hips square like that. Or you can stack them open if that feels good. Really listen to your body. Over time you want to feel empowered to have the kind of practice that serves you. On this exhale we're going to step through, keep up and over into reverse warrior. Inner thighs are engaged. Feet are planted. And as you reach long here, nice and firm through the belly, deep breath moving the ribs. We're coming up again into that eagle warrior. So big circle with the arms. Now the right arm is on top. In that eagle position. Elbows scoop up. Deep breath here right where you feel it. Two more. Sigh it out if you need to. Let yourself be human. Good. Inhale the arms up and open. Go right into those rotations here. Adjust your feet if you need to. I'm getting a little slippery. So rotating. Good. And now forearm on the thigh reaching long. Nice and long up the right side of the body. Shoulder away from the neck on that left side.

I'm going to let my fingers graze my chest again as I reach up with that top arm. Full inhale here. On the exhale wrapping the arm behind your back, fingers can wiggle through. Hold on to whatever is reachable there. You can play with looking down or looking up with the head hanging a little or rotating the head. Whatever feels interesting and useful and of course safe here. Couple more breaths. Surrendering into the exhale. Good. Then ease your way carefully out of that pose. We're going to come up to the front of the mat. Give yourself a moment here just to breathe into Dasana. How's the energy now? So again back to these hand spirals. Join me here. The backs of the hands touch. I'm spiraling through the thumbs touch and again the backs of the hands touch at the top. See how that feels. We don't often explore nonlinear movements in yoga practice and yet our bodies are much more like everything else we find in nature than they are like architecture or geometrical shapes with straight hard lines. Let yourself inhabit this sense of spiral and again the hips can move. The spine could move. It could be a moment here in chair pose. Just exploring. Maybe the spine gets in on the action a little more here. One more spiral and then let the arms hang. Close your eyes. Let the breath get really slow and deep here. Take a few more breaths sensing your body from the inside. Pulsing heart, streaming blood, rippling breath, great nervous system. It's that famous line from Walt Whitman. I sing the body electric. Notice the electricity of your aliveness right now. Some of this more fluid spiraling exploration is about the ecstatic and I like the definition of ecstasy as moving out of stuckness. Moving from stuckness into flow. Feel your breath rising and falling as you sense your body.

And the image from Rumi here, he says wherever you stand, wherever you stand, be the soul of that place. Take another breath. Just whatever that might mean for you, whatever soulfulness represents in your life. Be the soul of this place as you breathe. Beautiful. So let your eyes open here. We're going to come down onto the mat for this next phase and you're going to be on your back with your feet on the mat and your knees bent. So for this part, you may want to watch me for a little bit here just to get a sense of what I'm doing because I'm really inviting you into more of a freeform practice that's about organic fluid movement. So we'll start here just on your back. We can bring the arms up alongside the ears that feels nice and then sway and sway. Notice how your thighs and your hips, your low back and your waist are doing now. It's all about body awareness. The poses are just a vehicle for that exploration of mind-body awareness. So as we sway here, we might bring the arms down and come over onto one side and that arm can reach up and then come back and sway. Sway the other way, arm can reach up. So we're just elaborating on this swaying motion and seeing what naturally shows up. So I might come here and then this leg wants to reach. That feels really nice. And then I'm coming back and I'm on my back again and swaying. Time deal here. Leg extends, arm reaches and I'm coming back in. And that may seamlessly start to transition into other movements, other rotations that have to do with gravity and how my body is moving through space. We come back to center. So join me here if you've just been watching and let yourself play. You can't really get this wrong and everything we've been doing should set you up to be able to explore in this way and really enjoy being in the moment in your body like this. So we're swaying and you're with me now as we come onto one side, top arm can reach, top leg can reach and then we bring them back in to come back onto your back. So you can think of this as the neutral that you come back to as a kind of familiar spot. And then over time the movements maybe get bigger and more diverse and feels really good. You might even touch the flowers with your toes.

So bring that back to center as you're ready and be in this neutral position again, just breathing here. And if you found that you're inspired to play with that kind of free form movement, you could continue and you could add it into other times that you're practicing as well. But for right now, if you're still with me, just drop into your body and notice your sensations and notice the quality of your current state of mind. Just anything you're aware of. One last deep breath here. Let it rush out through your mouth and seeing as we're exploring today, let's do that again. Take a full inhale and just let out whatever comes and be aware of your whole body right after sighing like that. Notice what feels good right now. It's good to be alive. It's good to have a practice and to create sacred space for yourself. Breathe something in and let something go. Gonna have you come all the way onto your side now so you can press up to sitting and then get yourself established to sit and meditate with me now. I'm going to use my blanket to put under my hips. You can set yourself up in any way you like. Make sure you're comfortable. And when you're ready to sit for a little while now, let your eyes close. Feel your breath rising and falling. Be aware of your body sitting in this moment, the places where you're touching the floor, the air against your skin, the feeling of the breath rising and falling. And of course there are many different stories about where asana practice comes from, but one story says that it was developed to give young people a way to kind of burn off their excess energy so as to be able to sit still and meditate. Notice how it feels now to be sitting after some fairly vigorous activity and some exploration and play. So right now bring your awareness to your hands and just notice your hands and your fingers with an open awareness. We're not trying to make anything happen here and there's no right or wrong experience. Just feel your hands and your fingers, whatever position they're in, whatever they're resting on. Be receptive to your hands and your fingers. And now take your attention to your lips and your tongue. Feel your lips and your tongue softening as you allow yourself to come into your center a little more, just sitting as you are, lips and tongue soften, feel your whole face and your scalp relaxing. Notice the sensations there all through your face and your scalp. Your jaw can let go. Feel the base of the skull relaxing. It's very related to your jaw, jaw softening, base of skull relaxing and then drop awareness deep into your belly, deep down into your belly. Maybe feel the breath moving there if you can and give your belly permission to uncoil. Sometimes we hold a lot of stress in our guts. Let your guts soften. Let your belly uncoil and your low back release. You might even sigh the breath out a little from that area. I surrender what I cannot control. Feeling all through that area. And what we're doing right now is practicing Vipassana meditation and this word Vipassana translates to mean insight. And so the assertion from the Buddha is that sitting with this technique of body awareness is a doorway into insight, insight into the nature of the human condition, how to be more free, how to be more awake and kind. Let that awareness spread from your belly and low back through your mid back and your ribs, your diaphragm as you feel your breath moving. Let the awareness come up into your chest and your upper back. Feel the breath moving in your heart area. I receive love and gratitude and beauty. Notice anything in your life that gives you those qualities of feeling, love and gratitude, beauty. Notice the sensations that go with those particular emotional tones as you feel your chest. You may not feel anything right away. That's okay. You're just exploring and breathing out. I release what I cannot control. Feel your throat softening and your neck lengthening. Be aware of that whole area, neck and throat and let the awareness and the energy pour down your arms from shoulders to fingertips, sensing all through your arms. Notice now how we've created a map of your body from the waist up. You can feel your torso, your shoulders and arms down to your hands and fingers. You can feel your neck and your throat, your face and your head. We haven't really been emphasizing the legs yet. Notice the difference there. And now take your awareness down into your feet. Be aware of your feet and your toes. Notice all the rich sensations there, tingling, coolness, warmth, dryness or moistness. And then take the awareness right into your pelvis. Feel where you're touching the floor or whatever you're sitting on. Feel all the way through the hips and the groin and the pelvis and then pour the awareness down your legs, feeling inner and outer thighs, front and back of thighs, into your knees. Feel the crossed over shape of the legs if you're sitting like I am or whatever your leg position is. Notice it. Feeling your calves and your shins, your ankles, feet and toes again. And now sitting in your center, aware of your whole body as your breath rises and falls. Take a few more breaths here and just notice anything that comes and goes in your awareness as you sit with this open witnessing attention. So you might be observing sounds or sensations, images or thoughts, feelings, colors. And the metaphor that's often used is that your mind can become like the big open sky. And all the different phenomena, the sensations, the thoughts, the feelings are like clouds that pass through the sky as you observe. And the image from the Indian poet Kabir, he says, the blue sky opens out farther and farther. The daily sense of failure slowly goes away. The damage I have done to myself begins to fade and a million suns come forward with light. Take your last breath here. You might tilt the face back and let it out through the mouth if you like. And then bring your head back to neutral.

Feel free to keep sitting if you're finding that that's a very rich place to be. When you feel ready, you can let your eyes softly open. Thank you so much for sharing that journey with me.


Mary D
3 people like this.
Julian, I LOVE your yoga offerings and treasure sharing the journey with you
on YOGA ANYTIME. Thank you for all you bring to it... Warmest greetings from
Northern California! How I miss the lovin family at Santa Monica Yoga. Keep it
flowin, great one. Mary Donovan
oh wow, thanks old friend! :) great to hear from you mary. i had so much fun creating this series..... glad you enjoyed.Mary
Erin S
1 person likes this.
What a great video to offer! Thank you so much for adding it!!
1 person likes this.
thanks Erin ! i was honestly not sure how this one would turn out..... glad you like it. :)
Alison L
1 person likes this.
What a nourishing practice. Just what I needed today. Thank you
1 person likes this.
so glad you found it to be nourishing Alison ! the playlist is now available that goes with this specific class, if you want to come back to it soon for an even more full spectrum experience :)
Claire B
2 people like this.
After a stressful day this yoga practice felt like a blanket of calm. I loved the music. Thank you so much for this practice.
oh so glad it was what you needed, and delighted that you were able to have the full experience with the playlist! thanks so much Claire
Trina Altman
1 person likes this.
I'm loving this class! Doing the hand spirals right now....yummmm
1 person likes this.
that's fun Trina Altman i was just enjoying the spirals in your "deconstructing yoga" class! :) i think you'll appreciate the improvised floor work later —i am similarly inspired by the labanne/bartinieff/primal movement/axis syllabus stuff!
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