Yoga for 2: Prenatal and Postnatal Artwork
Season 4 - Episode 9

Nourishing Slow Flow

45 min - Practice


Maria guides us through a slow and balanced flow to open the legs, hips, and hamstrings to circulate your chi and blood flow. You will feel nourished and energized.
What You'll Need: Mat, Wall, Blanket (2), Block (2)


Read Full Transcript

Welcome back. Today we're just going to be doing a nice opening practice to target the backs of the legs, the hamstrings, the hips, the outer legs, and just give you a nice balanced practice to circulate your chi, your blood, and help you feel good, energized. It's not a depleting practice at all. We will need two blankets, most likely two blocks if you have them, and you'll want to be close to a wall for the end. So when you're ready, let's come up to standing. So we'll come to the front of our mat and we'll just bring the hands to prayer position and take a moment to just ground through your feet, spreading the toes. Just getting a sense that the mound of the big toe, the baby toe, and the center of the heel are pressing down into the floor. And as you press down through the feet, reach up through the crown of the head, and then relax the shoulders and just slightly pull them back so your chest is lifted. Close the eyes, take a few deep breaths in and out through the nose here. And as you breathe in, let the rib cage expand in all directions. As you breathe out, just slightly pull the lower belly in very softly. With each in, breath get taller. And with each out breath, press down through the feet a bit more. Soften any tension in the shoulders and in the jaw. And really just be here with your breath. And we'll start with Surya Namaskar A, releasing the arms down alongside the body. On an inhale, turn the palms open, reach them up overhead. You can keep the hands shoulder distance apart. Reach up for the first one. Find just a touch of backbend in the upper back, lifting the chest high. And then with your next exhalation, hinging at the hips, you'll fold forward. If you need to, soften the knees, bend the knees a bit, let the head and neck relax. And just lift your shins. Inhale, bring your hands to your shins, lengthen the spine. Just open the chest by pulling the shoulder blades slightly together on the back. And then with your exhalation, bend the knees, set the hands flat on the floor, step back to plank pose, top of a push up. Press through the roots of the fingers so that you're a little lighter on the wrists. Pull the belly in, lengthen the tailbone down. Then shift forward, look slightly forward. And with an exhalation, you'll bend your elbows and lower all the way down to the floor. Point the toes back. Keep the hands where they are, which should be so that the wrists are right underneath the elbows. Press the tops of the feet down onto the floor, particularly the baby toes. Feet should be hip distance apart. Lift the kneecaps up the thighs, press the pubic bone to the floor so that you're lengthening the tailbone down. And with your in inhalation, roll the shoulders up and back, coming into a baby cobra. And cobra can be with the rib cage on the floor to begin with, just opening the chest with the breath, keeping the back of the neck nice and long. Or maybe you want to come up a little higher. Take a few breaths here. And then with exhalation, you'll bring the hips up and back, curl the toes under, and you can either stay in child's pose or come into downward facing dog. And in downward facing dog, just keep the feet about hip distance apart. You can go wider if you need. And just for the first one, kind of transfer the weight from one heel to the other, pedaling out the feet, easing up the backs of the legs. And keep pressing through the roots of the fingers so that you're not putting too much pressure on the wrists. And then we'll take one breath and a normal downward dog reaching the heels to the floor, pushing the roots of the fingers down as we stretch the hips up and back. At the end of your exhalation, look forward and we'll walk the feet to the hands. As you land, inhale, bring your hands to the shins, look up and lengthen. Pull the shoulders down the back, exhale and fold, head and neck relax, and inhale coming all the way up. Reach the arms up overhead, finding lots of length. If it feels okay, go ahead and bring the palms together, look up to the thumbs, and exhale, arms down alongside the body. And again, another round. Inhale, arms reach. Exhale, hinge at the hips and fold. Inhale, look up, lengthen. And exhale, step, or if you'd like, you can do a little jump back to Chaturanga. Either cobra or upward facing dog, your choice. Be nice and gentle and up dog. And exhale back to downward facing dog. Taking a few breaths in down dog. It's your practice, so if you still feel like you need to keep the knees bent or pedal out the feet, feel free to.

This is really just about getting nice circulation. There are no rules. Just breathing and moving. End of your next exhalation, we'll look forward and you can step, or if you'd like, you can take a little jump to your hands. Inhale as you land, look up and lengthen. Either fingertips or hands to the shins. Exhale and fold. And inhale, coming all the way up to the top. Arms reaching up overhead. And exhale, arms down alongside the body. Surya Namaskar B, bend your knees, sit your hips back. Sink the weight into your heels so you press the tops of the shin bones back. Pull the belly in and let's reach the arms up overhead. Hands can be shoulder distance apart. Or if you have open shoulders and it feels appropriate today, take the hands together. Lift the chest, lift the hands. And then with exhalation, go ahead and bring your belly to your thighs as you fold forward. Head and neck relax. Arms can come down alongside the feet. Inhale, look up, lengthen. And exhale, either step or jump back to Chaturanga. Point the toes, inhale, cobra or up dog. And exhale back, downward facing dog. Bring the feet together. And we'll take the left foot up and back. Left leg. Take a few breaths here. And then bend the left knee, open the left hip up.

Try to keep the shoulders level, the roots of the fingers, pressing the floor evenly. And then we'll bring the left knee up to your chest and step it forward to your left hand. If you need to, you can use your left hand to help your foot come forward. And let's bring the right knee down to the floor. We'll take the hands to the left knee, coming into a low lunge. Take a deep breath in here, relax your shoulders, relax your jaw. We'll just sink into the left knee. Tailbone lengthens down, front hip bones lift up, sternum lifts up. You have the option to either stay here or you can bring your fingertips to the floor, lean forward a little more. Just be careful not to let your knee go past your ankle. And then if you'd like, you can bend your right knee, reach back for your right foot, bringing the heel towards your sitting bone. A few deep breaths. Keep the shoulders relaxing, the jaw, cheeks soft. Really just opening up that right hip flexor here. And if you have a hold of your right foot, release it, curl your back toes under a few more breaths, just straightening out the right leg, sternum reaching. And then let's press the hands flat, lift the hips a little bit, bring the left heel up and step back to downward facing dog. Either stay in downward facing dog or you have the option to move through plank to chaturanga and then up dog or cobra. And exhale back to downward facing dog. We'll bring the feet together again. This time we'll take the right leg up and back and press out through the right heel, lift the inner right thigh to begin with. And then keeping the shoulders as level as possible, the roots of the fingers pressing the floor will open the right hip up, bend the right knee. Take a few breaths there. And then square off the hips again, come forward to a plank, bring the right knee up to the chest and then step the right foot down inside the right hand and bring the left knee down to the floor. Either keep the left toes curled under or you can point the toes and bring your hands onto your right knee. So the option is to just stay with this variation. Just make sure the knee is above the ankle, shoulders relaxed, face relaxed. Another option is to bring the hands down to the floor. And if you'd like you can take another deeper variation, letting the hips sink, the right knee stays over the ankle. You can bend your left knee and reach back for your left foot, starting to bring the heel in towards the hip or the sitting bone. And if your right knee is gonna go out to the side, which is fine, it'll add another aspect to the pose of opening up the right hip or IT band. Just take the foot with it. So the foot and the knee point in the same direction and keep that foot active.

And then we'll come back to center. If you have a hold of the left foot, release it, curl the back toes under, straighten the back leg, take a few breaths here, reaching the chest forward, breathing. And then press the hands down to the floor, pick up your front foot, step it back to Downward Facing Dog. Either stay there or come forward to plank, exhaling. Exhale, lowering down. Inhale, Cobra Rup Dog. And exhale, Downward Facing Dog. You have the option to bring the feet together and lift your left leg up and back, or you can just step it forward. Bring the right knee down to the floor. Here's where you may benefit from some blocks. So we'll grab a hold of our blocks and we'll take them underneath our hands, one under each hand, straighten your left leg, point your back toes. And if your hamstrings are kind of tight, then you'll just stay here with your hands on the blocks. And you just want to drop your outer left hip down, pull the belly in, the front hipbones up, reach the sternum forward. Even if you have more range of motion in your hamstrings, sometimes it's nice to just back off and not go to your full range of motion. So see where you're at today. If you feel like you want to go a little further, you lower the height of the blocks, or you also have the option of not using the blocks, bringing your hands to the floor. Now, if when you bring your hands to the floor, you really start to round your back, maybe it's worth it to use the blocks. We do want to keep the front body lengthening, the chest opening, carrying babies as moms. We just wind up doing this so much that it's really important to use our yoga practice to balance out that shape. So to find more length in the front body, more opening in the chest. And then let's curl the back toes under. I'm going to move the blocks out of my way. And we'll press the hands, straighten the back leg, and then step the left foot back, come to down dog, or come forward to plank, exhale lower chaturanga, inhale upward facing dog, and exhale downward facing dog. Second side, either lifting the right leg up and back, or just stepping the right foot forward, bring the left knee down to the floor, using the blocks under your hands if you'd like to, or keeping them on the floor, toes point to the ceiling, start to tilt the pelvis forward, drop the outer right hip, pull the belly in, lengthen the sternum forward, and see where you want to go with it today. And if you'd like, you can fold towards the leg a little bit, or if you've gone in too deep and you want to back off, then grab your blocks and come up to a higher height. And then curling your back toes under, pressing the hands to the floor, straightening the back leg, sliding the right leg back, coming to down dog, inhale forward to plank, exhale lower down, inhale to upward facing dog or cobra, and exhale to downward facing dog. End of your exhale, look forward and step forward, jump your feet to your hands, inhale look up and lengthen, exhale fold, bend your knees, sit your hips back, inhale to utkatasana, and exhale to standing. Prasarita padottanasana will inhale open to the right and take the hands to the waist, feet are about one leg's distance apart and toes are pointing straight forward, or possibly slightly in, very slightly in. Pull the belly in, lift the chest up, tip the head back, and with exhalation you'll fold forward, releasing the hands down to the floor about shoulder distance apart. You also have the option to bring your hands to blocks here as well, inhale, lengthen the front body again, really taking the time to counter that shape that we create so often as we're holding our babies, lengthening the front body and pulling the chest forward, and with exhalation maintain that as you fold. This is where blocks can be very helpful, so it's like you want to lead with the chest. I like to think of it like I'm trying to reach my chest through my elbows, and if the head comes down to the floor, just put a little bit of pressure into the crown of the head, keep the weight just in front of the heels so you're not sitting the weight back, let the hips come forward and come in front of the heels, lower belly pulling in, and then you just focus on long deep breaths in and out. Inhale, look up and lengthen, exhale, pause, pull your belly in, bring your hands to your waist, pull your shoulders back so your chest can reach forward on an inhale, come all the way up and on an exhalation stretch the arms out to the side and step to the front of your mat. Bend your knees, sit your hips back, inhale to chair pose, utkatasana, and exhale fold forward, head and neck relaxing. Inhale, look up and lengthen, exhale step or jump to chaturanga. Inhale to cobra or up dog, exhale to downward facing dog. Step the left foot forward, keep the right heel lifted, and on an inhalation we're going to come up into a crescent pose. Let your back knee be soft, your left knee is above your left ankle, reach the arms up overhead, pull the front ribs down and in and start to breathe into your middle and lower back, creating length, space, and if it feels appropriate start to straighten your back leg. And one more option is to bring the hands together, look up, two more breaths here, belly pulls in, we reach up and with exhalation bring the fingertips down to the floor, pick up your back foot, slide it to the right and then pivot your right heel down to the floor. Press down into your left heel, press the outer edge of your right foot down and then we'll come back up into warrior one. As you come up drop the tailbone down, pull the lower belly in, inhale up warrior one and then with exhalation we're just going to open up to warrior two. As you open up keep pressing the left knee out so it points to your second toe the entire time, draw your shoulders back, keep your right leg nice and straight and reach out through your arms. We'll just gaze over the left shoulder, left fingertips, sternum lifts high, lower belly pulls in. Let's just take that into a reverse warrior, either take the right hand to the hip and reach the left arm up to the ceiling and rather than thinking of reaching back, think of lifting the left hip up off the left thigh, getting lots of length in the left side, possibly for some of you we'll bring the right hand down and then it'll look like we're reaching back but really we're just lengthening the left side. Knee continues to press out so it's pointing to the second toe and then one more inhale and then with exhalation we're just going to take the left elbow to the knee, Parijva Konasana, right hand can come to the waist, we'll start to open the chest up to the side, either stay there or reach the right arm up to the ceiling or up overhead. Another option is taking your left hand to the floor or to a block outside of the foot. Pull the belly in, lengthen the tailbone to the heel and then inhale, reach the right arm up to the ceiling, push down into your heels, come up to warrior two one, inhale and exhale, bring the hands down to the floor, take up your back heel and press it back to down dog or you have the option to come forward to plank, lower. Inhale, cobra or up dog and exhale, downward facing dog. Step the right foot forward, keep the back heel lifted, press down into your right heel, right knee is over the ankle and on an inhale come up into crescent, soften your back knee to begin with, hands can be shoulder distance apart, pull the belly in, take the breath into your middle back, your lower back, let the rib cage expand, relax the shoulders, maybe bring the hands together and maybe start to straighten the back leg if it feels appropriate. And then release the hands down to the floor for a moment, pivot your back heel down to midline, press into your right heel in the outer edge of your left foot, pull the right hip back, bend your right knee, inhale, come back up into warrior one, just for one inhale and then as you exhale we're going to open up and as you open up you might need to open your left foot a little bit but your right knee should stay directly over the ankle, it might want to collapse in, the job in the work in this pose is to keep it pressing out so it points your second toe, shoulders down the back, chest lifted, turn to look over the right hand and breathe, left leg nice and strong, left leg straight and we'll take the left hand to the hip or to the thigh, right arm reaches up, right hip lifts up, deep breathing lots of length in the right side and then with your exhalation we'll take the right elbow to the knee or the hand to the floor and just because you can do the full expression of a posture doesn't mean it's right to do it today, so really being present to what your body needs, pull the shoulders back, chest lifted, tailbone lengthens down, most importantly breathing, being present to yourself and your needs, maybe taking the left arm up and over, maybe taking the right hand to the floor and then push down into your heels, inhale come up to warrior two and exhale bring the hands down to the floor, pick up the back heel, step back either to down dog or coming forward to plank, lower down, inhale cobra or up dog and exhale downward facing dog and then from downward facing dog look forward and step or jump the feet to the hand, inhale look up and lengthen, exhale fold and inhale we'll just come all the way up to standing, arms reach up overhead and exhale samastitihi, tree pose so we're going to start with the left leg, take the weight onto your right foot, hand can come to your hip, we'll bring the left knee up, turn the left knee out, use your left hand on your left ankle to place the foot as high up on the thigh as you can get it, it may just be low and you may also want to use a wall here, just don't put the foot on the knee, it's too much pressure on the knee, so either above or below, if you're in tree you'll bring your hands to prayer, continue to firm the outer hip in as you press the left knee out, shoulders relaxed, chest lifted.

Also have the option to take this into a half lotus where you cradle the left ankle, lifting the entire shin bone up, you can stay with this variation or point the toe, lengthen the left knee out and close the knee joint, bring the shin close to the thigh and then press the outer edge of the foot towards the hip crease, if you have any knee pain or you're not familiar with half lotus then just stick with the modification or tree, if you're in half lotus reach the left arm around for your elbow or foot and you have the option to fold and breathe. Inhale lengthen and exhale pause, bend the knee a little and inhale come up and exhale everyone release the left leg and return to standing, we'll take that on the other side so taking the weight to the left foot either reaching for the right ankle and coming into tree, you can stay holding on to the right ankle or hands to prayer, if you're moving into half lotus cradle the right shin bone or ankle can stay here or reach the knee out, close the knee joint by bringing the shin and the thigh bone together, start to reach the knee down to the floor as the outer edge of the foot comes into the hip crease and then maybe reach the arm back for your elbow or toes and possibly fold. In all variations the outer left hip continues to firm into midline, if you're folded inhale look up, exhale pause soften your left knee and inhale come all the way up, exhale everyone releases the right leg and returns to standing, hands to prayer position, arms down alongside the body, inhale arms reach up, exhale and fold, inhale look up lengthen, exhale step or jump to chaturanga, inhale upward facing dog and exhale downward facing dog, from downward dog we're just going to walk our feet about midway up on our mat, turn the toes out and the feet will be at least hip distance apart but in most cases wider, we're going to take this into malasana, a lot of us will want to use blankets here, so malasana is where we squat, the feels okay to squat and your feet are flat then you can just take it with your hands at prayer, if it's hard to balance because your heels don't quite make it to the floor then we're going to take a blanket, you can take two blankets if you'd like and you might be here, hands on the floor or hands at prayer and we're just going to rest into this shape, if your knees are outside your shoulders you'll resist the shoulders out and lift the chest up and we'll just hold here and breathe and the shoulders keep pulling back chest forward and the chin is level to the floor, you are welcome to stay in any version of malasana, if you'd like to try an arm balance here we're going to take this into bhakasana, just because after having a child sometimes you know we lose some of our strength before and it's just good to work on some of those arm balances, they're also very energizing but no pressure to do that today. So if you're going to try bhakasana we'll take the hands shoulder distance apart, slide forward so you're lifting the hips up and you can create a ledge with your arms for your shins, when I take bhakasana I now take my knees outside of my upper arms but we all have very different ranges of motion so it may be outside of the knees, it is good to work on that effort of squeezing the knees in as the arms resist out and this may be your bhakasana, then you may try one leg, the other or both, you can also try bringing the knees a little higher if it's appropriate for you, pull the belly in and at some point maybe straighten the legs, gaze slightly forward on the floor, two more breaths, whatever variation you're in and then we'll exhale, we'll just release out of that and set the feet down and then go ahead and have a seat, so we'll start with bhakasana just to give us a little more opening for the hips, if you're already sitting on a blanket you may want to stay there, if you don't need the blanket or don't want to use it just move it away, I'm going to use it today because it does feel good for the low back just to have that extra support, we'll press the heels together and the outer edges of the feet, if your bhakasana is up here then grab your blocks and we'll place the blocks underneath the knees, even if your bhakasana isn't up here but you feel like it's just too much opening more than you're ready for right now at this stage then just keep the blocks under there and let it be a little bit more nourishing as opposed to pushing deep into a stretch, press the sitting bones down, lift the chest up, relax the shoulders down, if your knees are on the blocks also keep the big toes together as opposed to trying to open them up, let's go for five long deep breaths here, one, two, three, four, and five and look up, we'll move the blocks out of the way and we're going to set up for legs up the wall, this is a nice treat, one of my favorite postures, very restoring and it also helps to reverse the flow of blood, I spend a lot of time on our feet so this is a great pose because it has a lot of the benefits of an inversion without all of the effort of an inversion, so we'll take one blanket and we're going to fold it in thirds and this is going to go underneath our upper back, we're going to take another blanket, it'll just be folded in half and we're going to make a nice pillow and neck roll which will feel great, if you're breastfeeding or even if you're not and you're just holding the baby a lot as I've mentioned you wind up hunching forward and this is a great pose to incorporate into your life because it helps to undo some of that pattern, so we're going to take ourselves to the wall, bring your hips up the wall, lie back so that your blanket is underneath your shoulder blades but the tops of the shoulders can come to the floor and we'll take the legs up the wall and then we'll just take the arms out to the side like scarecrows so the palms are open and you can adjust your blanket as needed here, also an option to keep the feet hip distance which I'm going to do because it just feels much better, make any adjustments you need to now, if this is too much for your hamstrings, simply move yourself further away from the wall, your body away from the wall, that'll take some of the slack out of the hamstrings, then close the eyes, soften and relax the jaw, let yourself really be here in this restorative posture, it's easy to get caught up in everything there is to do, it's very tempting to think about your baby needing you, you needing to be somewhere else other than where you're at right now, but it's really important to take the time to yourself so that you can show up better for everyone else, so that you can be really present when you're with your child, you can be really present for every aspect of your life, so right now just breathing into the abdomen, into the face, focusing the mind on the breath to keep it from wandering, scanning the entire body, looking for pockets of tension, breathing into those areas, and just enjoying the silence and the peace. See you.


Laura M
Thank you!! Great practice !!

Maria Villella
I’m glad you enjoyed it

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