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Season 2 - Episode 9

Finding Empty

40 min - Practice


Kira guides us through a practice honing in on the exploration of the exhalation, specifically the bottom of the exhale. Observe the quality of you from this practice.
What You'll Need: Mat


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We've been spending most of our season tuned towards the inhalation and what inspires the breath, what moves the breath. Let's switch a little bit towards some exploration of the exhale, particularly the bottom of the exhale. In fact, most specifically so. We'll do that with a practice. Thank you.

We'll start by lying down. Bring your knees into your chest and wobble a little bit side to side. Keep your right knee in as your left foot comes down to the floor, keeping your left knee bent to begin with. And allow for a handful of what we usually call Ardha Apanasana. So keeping the hands around the shin, let an inhale move the knee away from you and let an exhale draw the knee in.

Four more. Let an inhale move the knee away from you and let an exhale draw the knee in. Three more, two more, one more. And as you draw the knee in on this last one, hold the knee in and see if you can sense where it's a little gripped on the outside of the right hip or in the right inner groin or where the torso and the thigh meet. And can you let a bit of a happen, soften the jaw and the mouth and relax this area.

Nice. As you're ready then, extend your right leg up towards the sky, flex the foot a little bit, catch around where it's convenient. So for most of you, that's going to be the thigh. Some of you, it might be the back of the right leg. Two of you, maybe it's the right foot.

Now most of the time, keeping this left knee bent is more supportive on the back. But for some of you, it'll feel better to slowly stretch that left leg towards straight, giving a little reach out through that left heel. As you reach up through the right heel, let the leg wobble a little bit. We're offering a bit of stretch for the hamstring to prepare for what will next be a strengthening exercise. Gorgeous.

Now, keep the right leg lifted, release your hands and slow, let the heel float all the way back down to the floor to meet the right. Nice. Big deliberate inhale, exhale, let it happen, pretty. Let the knees bend again, soles of the feet on the floor, let the left ankle come in towards your chest. And then release your fingers around the left knee and a little Ard Apanasana.

Inhale, the knee moves away, and as you exhale, the knee comes in. Nice. Four more like that. Inhale, knee moves away, exhale, knee comes in. Pretty.

Three more. Mm-hmm. Really nice. Two more. Beautiful.

And as you come to the end of this last one, and you're hugging the knee into the chest, soften the grip on the outside of that left hip, yep. Soften some of the holding, the tension, or the leg and the torso meet. Soften the jaw a little bit. Nice. As you feel ready, extend the leg up towards the sky, catch around where it's convenient, calf, thigh, foot.

Press the foot, the lengthening of the heel will help encourage the feeling of the stretch. Maybe keep this right knee bent because it tends to be more supportive on the low back, or maybe extend the right leg straight, flexing through the foot. Wobble the left leg a little side to side. Just let it feel good. We're not trying to get too much done here.

We're actually, it's a bit of a pregame stretch. Really nice. Beautiful. Keep the leg extended, release the grip, and then let the left heel float all the way back down to the floor to meet the right. And pause.

Big, deliberate inhale, exhale, everything. Gorgeous. Hug the knees back into the chest and wobble. We're going to explore what we call rolling bridge. So bring the heels down in line with the sit bones and let the arms come up over the top of your head.

Now make sure this is comfortable for you. There is a purpose for the arms up over the top of the head, but it's not for everybody. And so sometimes by bending the elbows a little bit, that will soften the shoulders. Sometimes it's just too much. So if this instruction is too much, you can have the arms down along your side.

So we're going to really try to coordinate with the breath. So we're going to do our best to guide you, but your breath is obviously your guide. That's been the lesson this whole season. Clearing breath first, big inhale. Exhale everything.

Nice. Gorgeous. Then as you're ready, allow for an inhale. And as you exhale, root down through the heels, curl your sit bones under, and lift your hips up off the floor. Gorgeous.

And stay here as you inhale. And as you come across your exhale, you're going to come up onto the balls of the feet, and you're going to roll back down on your exhale, upper back, mid-back, low back. Hips will eventually land, and heels eventually land. Gorgeous clearing breath, big inhale. Exhale everything.

Just a little tip. Before we continue on this, so one of the reasons we stretch the hamstrings to begin with is this can be cramping in the hamstrings. And so if you experience cramping in that last one, step one is just keep the heels down. See if that helps. I'm going to continue to suggest lifting the heels up because it helps with the articulation of the spine, but it also makes it tougher on the hamstrings.

Okay, so let's do four more like this. So as you're ready, inhale. And on your exhale, root through the feet, draw your sit bones under, lift your hips up off the floor, stay here as you inhale, and as you come to your exhale, up on the balls of the feet, and roll on back down, upper back, mid-back, low back, hips land, and heels land. Exhale, press into the feet, lift your hips up, come on back up. This is number three, stay here as you inhale, as you come across the exhale, up on the balls of the feet, and roll on back down, upper back, mid-back, low back, hips land, and heels land.

Beautiful. One more like this on your own, let for the inhale. As you exhale, you'll come up, you stay in the shape as you inhale, and eventually, and only as you find that exhale, you'll start to roll on back down. Get used to moving with your breath, so pretty. Beautiful.

One more like this. So pretty softer in the neck, and the eyes, and the jaw, gorgeous. When you have found your way back down from that last one, you'll eventually let the knees hug into the chest, and wobble. For some of you, that will feel adequate, as it will stretch the area of the back that we just compressed. For most of you, it'll feel good to stretch your legs up to the sky, and flex your feet, and stretch out through the hamstrings.

Because again, that can be cramping in the hamstrings, you're not alone. Now as you're stretching out here, either knees into the chest or legs extended, listen as I do my best to explain what we're going to do next. So we're going to repeat basically what we just did, but we're going to change the breath pattern. So we'll inhale to prepare, we'll exhale to come up into bridge, we'll stay in the bridge as we inhale, and then we will stay in the shape of the bridge as we exhale everything, for real everything, and then we'll roll back down on empty. And when we roll back down on empty, what will happen, or what usually happens, is a really strong stretch of the diaphragm, which results in what the yogis call udiyada bandha, which translates usually as the flying upward lock is one translation.

So you'll come back down, but wait for a moment, so when you come back down and you've got that strong stretch in the diaphragm, then the request will be to release the grip, which means you kind of release the tension in the belly and the throat. The inhale will naturally occur. You'll exhale everything, and then you'll rest in the heart. So let's try that, let's try a round together, because words are rarely helpful. Heels in line with your sit bones, arms up over the top of the head, soft in the elbows if helpful.

As you are ready, big inhale, exhale everything, beautiful, and then inhale, and exhale, root through the feet, draw the sit bones up, and lift your hips up off the earth. Now stay here as you inhale, and stay in the shape as you exhale everything until you're really for real, bona fide empty. Once you're actually empty, you come up on the balls of the feet, and you roll on back down on empty, upper back, mid back, low back, hips land, heels land. There's a strong stretch in the diaphragm, you eventually release the grip, you let the inhale occur, and you let the exhale happen, and rest your awareness in the center of the heart. Rest in the results of extending the bottom of empty, and we're going to do that again.

This is where really knowing your own breath pace really helps, because as we do this again, if you felt like it was too slow, then you speed it up, and if you felt like you could have been there longer, you slow it down, okie dokie. Spread the toes wide, as you're ready, clearing breath, big inhale, exhale everything, then only as you're ready, inhale, and as you exhale, root through the feet, draw the sit bones under, and lift. Stay in the shape as you inhale, and stay in the shape as you exhale everything. Once you're really for real empty, come up onto the balls of the feet, and roll on back down on empty, upper back, mid back, low back, hips land, heels eventually land, hang out there as long as feels good, eventually you will relax the contraction, the inhale will occur, and the exhale will occur, nice, beautiful, and then just rest, rest your awareness at the space of the heart that occurs in the empty. Now this might have been enough for you, the request now here though is that you allow yourself at least one or two more like this, and as you allow yourself one or two more, you pay a little bit more attention to the, essentially the action of the udiyarabhanda, the stretching of the tayafram that occurs when you come back down on empty, and pay a little bit more attention to the feeling after empty, okay?

So on your own, allowing yourself one or two more like that, or simply just kind of rest and bank, so Awana will take two more, so that you have a chance to do yours, yes. And be aware as you come back down with that udiyarabhanda, that pulling on the neck is totally natural, it even has a name, jalandarabhanda, and you just follow it with your chin, and really studying what's happening in the belly, in this bottom of the exhale, in this udiyarabhanda. Beautiful, giving yourself adequate time to kind of rest afterwards and absorb the effect. Some of you might be on your last one like Awana, yeah. You might notice yourself disco-ing a little bit, like what I mean by that is as you roll back down, you might notice that you like to wiggle your hips a little side to side, that can be really interesting, yes, and after that last one, like just give yourself the time to rest in the effect, okay, like study what it, the result of increasing the length of the bottom of the exhale, of increasing empty.

Beautiful, now at this moment you might want to just chill here, I totally get it, Awana looks like she does too, but we're going to continue, so hugging the knees into your chest and a womble, nice, gently rock and roll your way up to sitting, crossing your ankles and rock and roll, and we're going to find what we call funky pigeon, let your left or let your right shin be as if you were going into pigeon, okay, so parallel with the front of your mat and let your left knee be bent almost like a Virasana kind of style, so instead of this left leg behind you, like pigeon, it's a little bit of a funky pigeon which for a lot of us is just more accessible, now once you have the shape though, the play here is that we're really going to only move on the bottom of the exhale, so this takes amazing patience, so the request to Awana and you at home is to allow the inhale to occur, allow the exhale to occur, and then only at the bottom of the exhale, when all the breath is gone, then maybe deep in the situation, walking the hands a little bit more forward, and then when you come to the point where you need to inhale again, you pause, you allow the inhale to occur, you're going to allow the exhale to occur, and then you wait for the moment of empty, and then maybe you walk your hands forward and you deepen the situation a little bit, okay, so in a large part this is extreme patience training, it's like really waiting for that moment of empty, waiting for that moment when nothing is being desired, softer in the jaw, easier in the eyes, so it's allowing a different part of the breath to move you, so previous when we worked in the sun's eye auditions, we were letting ourselves be inspired towards movement, it's a completely different investigation, beautiful, now eventually you're going to find an inhale, and you're going to then find the exhale, and you're going to wait for the empty, and you're going to find your way back up on the empty, and then with great care you will switch your legs, so now the left shin will be forward and the right knee will be bent, beautiful, organized into your shape, and part of this is starting to be more obedient to the breath, to be more obedient to what loves you. Part of how we show our care for another is following instructions, and so letting the inhale lengthen a little bit and open, feeling the exhale but really not making a move until you're empty, and letting this side teach you appropriately, we know we get ahead of ourselves when we're like, okay I need to do the same thing on this side that is the last side, it's this invitation to really just like quiet the attention to something so much subtler than the particular shape you're in, again you're allowing the inhale to occur, and you're allowing the exhale to occur, and you're just waiting, patience is, in the western tradition we tend to refer to patience as a virtue, in the eastern particularly the Mahayana Buddhist Path it's a perfection, it's one of the paramitas, the six perfections, if awards were given out for patience maybe I would probably, maybe one year I would get like runner up maybe most improved player but usually just sort of a participation award it's not an easy thing, again you're just like waiting for that exhale this takes mad concentration so hard, okay then eventually you'll feel an inhale and you'll find an exhale and you'll wait till you're empty to come on back up, beautiful, so you're going to keep your left leg where it is and you're going to bring your right knee forward to meet your left sole of the foot, beautiful, you'll bring your right hand to the outside of the left thigh where it's comfortable you'll bring your left hand behind you, now once you've got the shape pause like the temptation is to go for it, so really like feel the rise of the inhale and feel the invitation of the exhale but wait until you're empty to start to pull the navel back to the spine and twist, yes, beautiful, so feel the rise of the inhale and feel the quality of the exhale and waiting for that empty point to really to allow yourself to action if that makes sense, yes, and what some of you might play with doing is when you get to the bottom of that exhale what some of you will start to play with is the slightest little bit and you can see Alana is doing it like the slightest little bit of udiyada bandha there and then eventually you let that go to allow for the rise, yeah, pretty, yes, at least one more breath cycle, if you're really moving at that place of empty you're safe, you're protected, there won't be an over engagement, it will be impossible to overdo, it will be almost impossible to overdo, beautiful, so pretty. Now eventually in your own breath timing you're going to find an inhale and you're going to find an exhale and you're going to allow that moment of empty to slowly unwind you back and pause when you come back to neutral, let yourself feel the results, gorgeous, and then as you're ready you'll slowly switch your legs for the other side, so you're bringing the right hand behind you and you're finding your left hand on the outside of the right leg, come into the basic beginning of the shape and then really let the breath happen, so it's allowing yourself to be more obedient with a subtler layer of yourself, a subtler layer of which we have very little understanding, the study of the breath is the study towards the mystery, so as you are, as we are willing to tune into her and wait and to follow and let her be the guide, it's a practice of tuning to a subtler deeper relationship, again remember tuning towards a relationship where you are truly loved and as we've explored our ideas of things are not necessarily where we're loved, our headspace around this is the way to do the pose, some of you are adding the action of the udiyada bandha or some of you that's more than is necessary, but again you're waiting for each of those exhales, so beautiful. Yes, now eventually you're going to come across an inhale and then eventually an exhale and you'll find an empty spot which will guide you to unwind, pausing and like see the effects internally and you see the effects from noticing what's happening and if the breath has gotten very quiet when you come out of something and the result is a quietude of breath, that implies that the chatter of the mind, the vrittis have settled and then we'll transition for one more twist, Ardha Matsyandrasana, so keep your right knee bent and simply bring your left foot across, snuggle your sit bones in, now without twisting the spine, organize your arms but that's an impossible instruction, so twisting the spine as little as possible, bring the left hand behind you and let for a gentle hug happen with your right arm around the left knee and then this time maybe even like feel, you might even like combine the two like what happens if you remember your mantra and let that inspire the breath upwards, what happens when you simply allow for the exhale and then really only twisting at the bottom of the exhale and then come into that new shape, pause, let the inhale rise and open, follow the fall of the exhale, waiting till you're empty, maybe Udyada Bandha happens at the bottom, twisting on that bottom, then relaxing the engagement and enjoying the ride again, softer in the jaw, kinder in the eyes, again patience with your own breath, resisting the temptation to rush or more accurately noticing the temptation to rush, yes, beautiful. Beautiful moments of investigation, like just really like be curious about yourself, about the breath, yeah, eventually you're going to find an inhale and an exhale will follow and there will be a point of empty that you'll use to unwind and pause, just hold the front of that left shin and just pause and feel the results, okay, and tenderly switch other side, one more twist, setting up for Ardha Matsyandrasana on the other side, right hand finds a way behind, left elbow finds a way around the knee and then again you're letting yourself be obedient to the breath, only moving at the bottom when you're empty, it's an exercise of course, it's a practice in surrender, it's a practice in patience, it's a practice of exploring the bottom of the breath, what's available, base of the skull, easy, soft in the back of the neck, yes, and you have a unique form and a unique shape and well there's a basic set of instructions here, only you know what works best.

Some of you are adding the little Udi Arabunda action at the bottom, sometimes you can find these little spots where the navel stem can kind of like strum in different areas, yes, beautiful, mm-hmm, eventually you're going to discover an inhale that leads to an exhale that leads to an emptying and you're going to unwind and you're going to pause holding that front chin and just like drop in and notice the result in your heart, in your breath, in your mind, like we've been tuning these instruments of perception, tuning the breath, to help neutralize the twist, the suggestion is to find a forward fold, I'm going to suggest Baddha Konasana, soles of the feet together and I'm going to suggest a rounding forward fold so the heel is a little further from your groin than you might be used to. Baddha Konasana is just one of a multitude of optional forward folds so if you prefer a different one, take that, otherwise start to let the back round and we'll relax the effort of moving only on the exhale now and we'll simply fold and surrender, so relaxing that diligence, that takes so much work, gosh if patience wasn't so hard more people would be patient, mm-hmm, yes, just noticing what the breath and the back and the body wants to do, breathing. If you have a friend at home who's willing, have them hold your back a little bit, thumbs into that sacred region that we explored in the earlier video. If you don't have a friend at home willing to do that, but you have somebody at home train them, only once you feel like your back is neutralized from that twisting, you'll let your chin come into your chest and you'll roll on up and then maybe find some support to sit on, so Alana is going to sit up on a blanket, if you don't want or need support it's not required and let's sit for a handful of minutes just to allow for the space of observation. So sit now it's comfortable, you'll see Alana has chosen freestyle with the heels in line with each other, snuggle in now it's comfortable, big deliberate inhale and exhale, let yourself ground and just see if you can allow the spine to find her alignment and if she's not finding the alignment on her own, let the breath help, let the inhalation help, let the exhalation help, notice what you've done with your hands, and just like we've been observing this whole season, the season before, what's the quality of you from this practice?

And once you've made an accurate enough observation, drop it because what can happen if the quality, if the resulting quality is quite sweet, the observation turns into an attachment of, Alana I have to practice like this every day and if the observation is not so sweet, then resist the attachment to the resistance occurs. So drop the observation now, drop the words around it. Beautiful, big deliberate inhale. Feel everything, let your hands find each other. Thank you Alana, thank you for your exploration, namaste.


1 person likes this.
QUIET heart was the gift of this practice-thanks Kira, love Sethyne
Sethyne, deep sigh of relief. xok
Hi, Kira! This practice made me more aware of my feelings! Thanks and kind regards!

1 person likes this.
Sandra Ž, wonderful!

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