21-Day Meditation Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 11

Practice 5: Activate the Core

15 min - Practice


Warm the body in preparation for meditation. In this movement practice we generate some heat by focusing on the abdominals.
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video

Jul 01, 2017
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Today's practice is going to be focused on abdominals and building heat and strength to prepare us for meditation. So we're going to start in child's pose. Find your version, however you like your knees, to either be wide or more in the middle or even all the way together. And if you need any kind of prop support, then of course you can support your sitting bones or support your forehead. And then just come forward, releasing into your pose.

And either the arms are in front or if it's more comfortable for you, you can tuck your arms back by your ankles. And then just have a moment of relaxing into the shape and tuning into your breathing. And then of course, beginning to deepen your breathing. Begin ujjayi pranayama, extending the length of both the inhalations and the exhalations. And just take another cycle of breath, and then we're going to shift from child's pose onto all fours.

So as you breathe in, come right up. And then adjust your placement of your hands, wrists under the shoulders, fingers spread wide and knees directly underneath your hips. And then just pause, take a nice big breath in. And as you exhale, cat pose. Drop the head, round your spine, and scoop your tail underneath you.

And then the opposite, inhale, cow shape, lift the tail, keep the arms straight, lift the chest, maybe lift the gaze. And then again, exhale, keep grounding into your palms, back to cat pose. Little more of these, breathing in, breathing out, linking your movements with your breath. Opening the chest and then stretching the back body. Just do it one more time, exhale, engage the low belly as you round into cat pose.

Now we're going to add on. So just come back to center for a second, move your left knee just a little bit in towards the midline of your body. This will just make you a little more stable. And then on the next breath, you're going to inhale, lift your right leg up, allow your back to arch, pull your chest through, and exhale, knee to nose, round your back, pull through, try and touch. And then again, inhale, leg back and up behind you, chest opens, exhale, engage the belly number two, inhaling, exhaling for three, and last one, two more, sorry.

Coming through for four, and then now the last one, number five. Now from here, it's going to be a little bit different. You're going to inhale and lift that right leg back behind you, but don't lift it so much your back arches, just lift it to hip height, engage the belly and lengthen your tailbone towards your back heel. And then as you're engaging your belly, lift your ribs into your back body and then balancing inhale, reach the left arm forward, turn the palm towards the midline, holding and breathing. So we're not trying to go way up, we're actually just lengthening, breathing, balancing and holding our center point.

One more breath, big inhale, and then exhale right back onto all fours. Take a breath between sides, and then let's change. So move your right knee just a fraction into the midline, again, this will make you a little more stable. Ground into your palms, and here we go, inhale, lift the left leg up, arch the back, lift the chest, exhale, come through, knee to nose, inhaling again, back and up, exhaling number two, inhale, so working the belly every exhale, exhale number three, keeping the arms firm, two more times, breathing in, breathing out, and last one, big breath in, exhale, rounding, toning the belly, lifting the knee, and then you're going to take it back behind you, but not as high as it goes, just hip height, the leg turns in, lift your belly and your ribs and lengthen your tailbone to your back heel. And then when you feel stable, the right arm comes forward, palm faces the midline, breathing.

So it looks simple, but it's actually challenging not to arch the back, to hold steady and then to elongate, take one more breath, exhale, bring it down, and then just a brief pause in child's pose, knees apart, shift back, feet together, two breaths, and one more deep breath, body soft and relaxed, and then we're going to move forward and this time into downward facing dog. So inhale, come forward, separate the feet, move your hands up by a couple of inches for better down dog distance, tuck your toes and with your exhalation, lift the knees, gaze back and see that your feet are parallel, your hamstrings are a little on the tight side, keep some bend in the legs and at first accentuate lengthening your spine. And then if it feels appropriate to start pressing the thighs back, then you can move towards straight and you can even move the heels towards the floor. And then let's give ourselves a couple of very deep rounds of breath, one more cycle of breath, and then returning once again, hands and knees, we're going to kind of build on the intensity and the abdominal work. So make sure you're aligned, wrists, shoulders, knees and hips.

Now neither cat nor cow, I want you to find neutral, so you're not lifting your tail, you're not tucking your tail. Lengthen the tail straight back, lift the belly and the ribs, and as you ground into your hands draw the top of your chest forward. Keep breathing, reach back and put the ball of the right foot on the floor and press the thigh towards the ceiling, same with the left. And now here we are in plank, holding a well aligned plank not sinking in the middle, not overly rounding the back, nice and solid and steady here, two breaths. Hold it again for the inhalation, exhale hinge back down dog number two, three breaths, slow steady breathing, and one more round of breath, same process, release to all fours, have a moment to align, find center neutral through your torso, we'll do the same entry but this time we'll start with the left foot reaching back.

So hold your alignment, ball the left foot on the floor, thigh presses up strongly, right foot, three breaths. So a well aligned plank is very much abdominal, it's not just upper body, last inhale, hinge it back, downward facing dog, exhale. Let's do three rounds of breath, press into your palms and go up through your hips and as you press back through your legs drop down into your heels, take one last breath here and then this time let's walk back, so just take yourself for a walk, hands are going to go back to the feet, feet are hips width in parallel, if you're feeling a lot of tightness in your hamstrings you can bend your knees, if you're feeling fairly warm go ahead into straight legs. And then just for a few breaths, shake out your head, tension free, and then we're going to add a little shoulder stretch here, so we're going to reach back and interlace the fingers behind the back, key action here is rolling the shoulders, the fronts of the shoulders up away from the mat, squeeze the blades together and then begin to reach the arms up and over and away, such a great way to open the chest, let your head drop, come back to good steady Ujjayi breath, go a little deeper if it feels appropriate in your body, one more cycle of breath and then end of the exhalation, release your hands back down and let's return to down dog, so just walk it forward again, checking your hand placement one more time, making sure that your shoulders width, fingers spread nice and balanced, now from here you might need to move your left foot just slightly into the midline, stay grounded in both palms, we're going to inhale the right leg back and up and as you exhale bend your knee and open your hip, feels so good to stretch the hip, breathe here a couple cycles, one more breath reaching into that top leg, go straight as you inhale and square as you exhale, now just like we did on all fours except from down dog to plank, so stay here, breathe in, reach up, exhale knee to nose for one, so come forward shoulders on top of wrists, inhale back and up again and exhale knee to nose for two, and then again breathing in back and up, exhale for three, inhaling, exhaling for four and final time, breathing in, breathing out for five and then simply step back, take a nice deep breath back in your symmetrical down dog and side two, so it's helpful sometimes just to move the grounded foot, in this case the right foot, a little more midline and then lift the leg, big inhale, bend and open up the hip as you exhale, breathing here, reaching into the top side, take another breath, go straight, go square and then here we go the dynamic movements, pause here, big inhale, knee to nose, exhale for one, down dog leg lift, inhale, exhale for two, breathing in, breathing out for three, last two times, warming up through these ab movements and last one exhale for five, step back, final downward dog, two breaths, one more deep breath and then release, dropping to the knees, pausing, I feel warm, I bet you feel warmed up too, time to sit and meditate, namaste, thank you.


Ben R
1 person likes this.
Excellent! I enjoyed her teachings and this is.great prep for meditation. Very helpful. Do you offer a guided meditation? Even a short version to compliment your training? Many thanks. Namaste.
Nikki Estrada
Ben there are 21 different meditations within the challenge. I suggest you start from the beginning and over the course you will discover a technique that works for you.
Ben R
1 person likes this.
Many thanks. I realized that after i wrote my comment, silly me. Your work/teachings are wonderful and i am learning tons. I completed my 200 hr yoga training when I was 66 years old, but it is only a beginning. Be well. Namaste.

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