21-Day Meditation Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 12

Practice 6: Stand Up

20 min - Practice


Waking up the legs can be just the movement practice you need before meditating. Try this practice before finding your seat for our meditation challenge.
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video

Jul 01, 2017
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For this practice, we're going to work on standing poses to get the energy flowing and help prepare us for meditation. So we're simply going to begin on all fours. So come to hands and knees, aligning joints, wrists under shoulders and knees under hips. Spread your fingers wide and ground into your hands and then just pause here for a moment to connect with your breathing. Begin your Ujjayi breathing.

So close your mouth and breathe through your nose, extending the breath towards a five count inhalation and a five count exhalation and on the next round of breath we'll begin to move. So start first with just a deep inhalation and then with exhalation cat pose, round your back, scoop your tail under, drop your head. And as you breathe in, arch up, cow shape, lift the tail, lift the chest, possibly if it's comfortable, look up. And then exhale, keep pressing into your palms and go back to cat. Let's do that a couple more times, inhaling, exhaling, moving the spine in opposite directions.

Once more, and on the next one we'll prepare for down dog. So inhale, come back through to cow, except this time move your hands a little bit forward for better distance, tuck your toes and as you exhale, lift your knees and press up and back into downward facing dog. Have a few breaths here, ground into your hands, firm your arms, breathe very deeply. If your hamstrings feel stiff, you can do this with legs bent, accentuate the length of your spine, so keep grounding into your hands to stretch up, up, up through your hips and let your head release. And then breathing deeply, maintaining that length, if it's okay for you to press into straight legs, then you press both thighs back and guide your heels towards the mat.

Stay two to three more rounds of breath, let the head hang free. If your legs are straight, make them very firm, lift the kneecaps. And then now from here we're going to transition, so simply walk back, walking hands to feet, we're going to hang in our standing forward bend, I sometimes like to at least start with knees bent, upper body kind of like a rag doll, you can also hold your elbows, that's another way. And then just breathing and allowing the weight of the torso to release, every exhale torso very heavy, and then depending on my body, some days I'll just go right ahead and press into straight legs, if it feels like too much, then you know keep your knees bent and just give it a couple more rounds of breath, deep inhalations, long exhalations, spine getting heavier and heavier. Just do one last breath here, and then let's make our transition, so release your hands, you might on purpose bend the knees a little more, place the hands at the hips and as you breathe in, lead with your chest, come up with a really tall spine.

And then we're going to walk up to the top of the mat for mountain pose, either the feet all the way together or under your hips in parallel. Slide your toes wide and just take a moment to align and stand tall, and then eventually use one of your exhalations and bring your palms together at your heart. Let's do two, maybe three, Arda, Surya Namaskar, half sun salutations, inhale, circle and reach up, exhale, hinge at the hips, dive down, forward bending. Breathing in, arching up, if the hamstrings are a little tighter, you might need to place hands on the shins, breathing out and re-forward folding. And then stay grounded in your feet, breathe in to rise, and exhale, hands to heart.

And then again, breathing in, little more lift, little more reach, exhale, folding into your forward bend. Inhale half Uttanasana, exhale back to Uttanasana, rise to mountain, inhaling, exhaling. Let's do that third round, that third cycle, little more energy, breathing in, going up, breathing out, diving down, inhale, lift up and elongate, pull the top of your chest forward, and as you exhale, begin to fold a little bit more. And then rise to standing, nice big inhalation, hands down to the heart with exhalation. Take one full round of breath, and then we're going to step one foot back and take a really wide stance.

So we're going right into our standing pose work. So widen the feet, you know, pretty far apart, we're going to come into warrior two. You're going to turn your right leg out, rotating your thigh, knee and foot to make a straight line and then slip the opposite heel a little bit away from you so there's some angle on your back foot. And make sure that you are heel to arch, sometimes you might have to readjust slightly. And then we're going to come into the pose, inhale, lifting the arms up to T shape, and then as you exhale, bend that right knee, stacking it on top of the heel and making sure that your knee aligns with the center of your foot.

And then just adjust, regulate your breathing, smooth, deep ujjayi breathing. Start to bend in a little bit more with the front leg. Press back strongly through the back leg and keep that back arm lifted. Take one more breath, you're going to inhale deeply, stay and maybe even deepen with exhale. And then we're going to move dynamically.

So we're going to straighten that front leg, inhale, reach the arms up for lift, and then you're going to exhale, bend back into Virabhadrasana too. Four more of those, inhaling, reaching up, exhaling, bending in. Making sure to track your knee each time you bend in. Inhale coming up, exhale, bending in, that's three. And then one more time, inhaling, exhaling, bending in for four.

And our last one, number five. And then now hover here, I want us to stay, take a few breaths, we're going to add a shoulder variation. So you're going to inhale and reach out through both arms, keeping your knee aligned, your front knee, and then you're going to exhale, left arm on top of right arm to intertwine. So eagle arms, lift the chest up, but draw the shoulders down, breathing deeply, bend in a little bit more, keep that back leg strong. One more full breath, full inhale, hold as you exhale.

Your front leg might be burning, we're going to stay one more breath, inhale, reach out through the arms, hold your warrior, exhale completely. And then come all the way up, big breath in, exhale and release. Now turn both feet parallel, take a breath, we're going to move into side two. So you're going to turn your left leg out, 90 degrees, thigh, knee, foot, straight line. Opposite heel slips away and just make sure that you're heel to arch in your base.

Inhale T-shape arms, exhale, bend the left knee, centering it with your left foot. And breathe deeply, smooth pranayama. One more breath, possibly deepening with the exhalation. Now we're going to move dynamically. Palms turn up, inhale, reach up, straighten your front leg, exhale, warrior two.

Inhale coming up, getting tall, lift, exhale, bending in again. Keep moving with the breath and feeling like you're deepening into your warrior. One more time, breathe in, lift up, exhale back to Virabhadrasana two. Pause, take a nice full breath. Now adding those eagle arms, so inhale, reach out through both arms, exhale right on top of left to make sure that you're still tracking that front knee.

Chest goes up but shoulders draw down and breathe. One more breath, maybe a little deeper. Gently draw the shoulders down from the ears and then we'll unwind it. One more breath, a big inhale, exhale here. And then coming up, big inhale, release the arms and parallel the feet as you exhale.

Take a nice big breath, we're going to switch back to side one for Trikonasana. So we're going to turn that right leg out, thigh, knee, foot. Same thing as Virat two, slip the heel away, be sure that you're heel to arch. This time though the legs are going to stay straight. So lift your kneecaps, big inhale, take the arms up, exhale, hinge at the hip crease, reach way out and depending on your mobility, either the hand lightly on that front shin or ankle or for some bodies bring the hand all the way down to the floor.

And then grounding into your feet, lifting your kneecaps, begin to turn your chest open. With Pranayama here, let's stay just a couple more rounds of breath. Keep grounding into the feet and lifting up through your kneecaps so the legs are nice and strong, lengthen through your spine as you turn your chest open. Let's add a variation, our last couple of breaths. So as you inhale, you're going to sweep that top arm all the way over the ear, pressing the edge of the back foot down, creating a long stretch, a long line there.

Final breath right here. And then you're going to take that top arm up, look down, ground into your feet, inhale, come all the way up. We're going to exhale, bend into warrior two temporarily and you may need to expand your stance a little bit for side angle pose, pars vakvanasana. So inhale here, big breath in and then exhale, we're going to take the modified version. You're going to release your forearm onto your thigh, press the back thigh back, turn the chest open and take the top arm up.

Double rounds of breath, now if you want to go a little bit deeper, one option is to look down and release that right hand to the floor on the inside of the knee, keep tracking the knee with the center of the foot, it's much deeper as you come down, then still spin the chest open and eventually inhale that top arm all the way over. Let's stay for two breaths. One more big breath and then preparing to come up, take the top arm up, look down, ground into your foot, inhale, picking it up. Exhale drop, release the arms, parallel the feet, take a really deep breath between your sides and we'll move into side two. So turning your left leg out, 90 degrees, adjust your back heel for trikonasana, right?

Firming into both legs, lift the kneecaps, big breath in, reach up, exhale, hinge at the hip crease, reaching out, again you have the option, it really depends on your hamstring inner thigh mobility. Hand to the shin or ankle, in some cases bringing the hand all the way to the floor. Keep lifting the kneecaps, keep breathing, turn the chest open and eventually that top arm straight up, holding here, keep the legs firm, keep breathing and then we take that variation on the next round of breath. So as you inhale, sweep your top arm all the way over your ear, keep the legs strong and keep spinning the chest open. Two breaths, one more breath and then the top arm goes up, look down, ground into your feet, float up, exhale, you're going to bend in, adjusting your stance as needed, warrior two but in preparation for side angle.

So big breath in, deep inhale, exhale forearm to thigh, this is the modified version, track that knee, center of the foot alignment and then take your top arm up, opening the chest, breathing deeply. Now going just a little bit deeper, if you chose to do so on side one, look down at the foot, release the fingertips to the inside of that front foot, track your knee so it doesn't fall inward, spin your chest open and then inhale that top arm all the way over the ear, two more rounds of breath, one more big breath, big opening and then take that top arm up, gaze down, ground into your feet, carefully lift and then release the arms and parallel both of your feet. Right here we're going to fold into presserita, so it's a standing forward bend, legs wide, make sure your feet are parallel, reach back and interlace your fingers, roll your shoulders back, this is really important, we want that space across the chest, big inhale chest up, look up, exhale, hinge at the hip crease to fold forward. So keep your thighs nice and firm, kneecaps lifted, elongate the front of your body and then with breath slowly go deeper, reaching the arms up and over and away but at the same time drawing the shoulder blades towards one another, so we want the chest open here, take two more rounds of breath, one more deep breath, deepest pose now and then let's rise, next breath in, use the arms like levers, lead with your chest, come all the way up to standing. Using the hands we're going to step back up to the top of the mat, aligning the feet, mountain pose and our last posture is going to be chair pose, which is really heating and really stimulating, it will get you energized and ready to sit comfortably.

So feet together or under the hips, take a breath aligning mountain, as you exhale bring your palms together at your heart, we're going to inhale and start by circling, reaching the arms up uttita hastasana, exhale bend your knees shifting into chair pose, look down your toes should be visible and the knees tracking with the feet, begin to sit down just a little bit deeper, lengthen the tailbone away from the waist and then rise up a little bit taller through the upper body, two full and complete breaths now. One more full breath, hold as you exhale, maybe go deeper and then come all the way up nice big inhalation and exhale releasing the arms down and now we're ready, we're nice and warm and open and ready to sit, so I'll see you on the cushion, thank you.


Simon ?
1 person likes this.
Really love your instruction Nikki. Clear and opening. A really good start to the day. Thank you.
Nikki Estrada
thanks Simon !! Always good to hear that.
1 person likes this.
good to have these different practice choices pre meditation. thanks Nikki.
Nikki Estrada
Matthew S glad they are helpful!

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