Inner Workings Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 2

Tuning Towards Smaller Details

35 min - Practice


Your genuine interest and curiosity for the internal realm is absolutely necessary for her to reveal herself. Kira leads us through a simple sequence combining easy movement and gentle pranayama. The result will be a deep quietude and peace.
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(waves crashing) The centrifugal forces drawing us up and out of center are immense and incredibly tempting. And so many of the technologies of yoga are simply designed to help foster the centripetal forces, center-seeking. One of the practices is known as Pratyahara. Now Pratyahara literally gets translated as to eat in reverse. Sometimes you'll hear the translation as the withdrawal of the senses inward.

Now when we use that as the translation it can sound like kind of a bummer. Like, why would I wanna remove my senses from this beautiful, amazing world. So the suggestion is not to remove your experience from the world. The suggestion is to start to increase your capacity of seeing, by starting to turn the senses inward, so that you have a greater range of experience, not lesser. So this short, simple practice is designed to help start to tune our awareness inward.

We'll be playing with a simple Pranayama exercise. Sometimes you'll hear it referred to as Nadi Shodhana. It's employing the sensitivity of the breath in the nostrils, but instead of using our hands, we'll simply be using our awareness. So, what we'll do is, we'll lie down supine. We'll open up with some really easy movements, just to start to draw the attention inward.

Then we'll move into the awareness of the breath in the nostrils. We'll probably lose some of you with air, it's quite relaxing. But if you're still with us, we'll come back up to sitting, we'll do an easy side stretch, and then we'll sit together for a handful of moments. I have my heels in close to my sit bones. I have my arms up over the top of my head.

Now, I like to bend my elbows a little bit, because it's nice on my shoulders. And I mentioned to you earlier, that we love this pose Windshield Wiper. So that's how we're gonna start. Inhale here. Exhale, knees will come to a side.

Inhale, knees will come back center. And exhale, knees will come over to the other side. And you'll continue like this. Coordinating your movement with your breath. Doing your best to start to let this tether your attention into your body.

Okay, so again, it's an inhale to center, an exhale to a side. And you could leave your head and neck stationary, but what usually you'll find feels good is to start to let them coordinate. And so sometimes it's nice to follow the knees with the gaze and move in coordination. And sometimes it just feels better to let the head move in opposition. You'll know what works best for you.

The purpose of starting out kind of slow and groovy, is 'cause it takes a little bit to get in the mood. In fact, for most of us it takes quite a long time. And so what happens is, because what we call the awareness can be anywhere in space and time, and so right now, most likely, you're thinking about a lot of other things. That's totally natural. And what we call the body is generally right here.

And so what we do is, we just do our best to start to tether the attention into what's right here, which is usually the body. So, next time you find your knees over to your left, so that you feel the stretch more on the right side, just stay there and lengthen just a little bit more so you feel the space in between your ribs, and you start to become more aware of your right lung. And as you start to become more aware of the movement in your right lung, so I'm using my hand to show where I mean, but you might just keep this right arm over the top of your head, so you're stretching. Okay, inhale, let your knees come back in to center. And then exhale, bring your knees over to the other side.

And same idea, just lengthen, so that you feel more through this left side, so that you have more of a chance at becoming aware of the movement of the breath in the left lung. Let the left lung become interesting to you. This is one of the key details of the practices of yoga, is this quality of curiosity. Become more interested in the landscape of the lung. The mind will not be held unless she's interested.

Okay, inhale, bring your knees back up center, and then again over, over to the right again. So sorry, excuse me, the left. So you're lengthening on this right side. Feel the opportunity of opening. Easier in the mouth.

And again, if you already know everything there is to know about the right lung, then she won't hold your attention. And now, bring the knees back up center. Exhale one more time, just over to the other side. Lengthen. In fact, one of the many, there's so many definitions of yoga, but one of them is vismayo yoga bhumikah, which is wonderment is the basis of yoga.

Inhale, bring your knees back up center. Reach your arms up to the sky and you'll let your arms come down along your side. Now for this next part, we're gonna start to get to know the hip joint a little bit. So keep your left foot where she is. Bring your right ankle up on top of your left thigh, near your knee.

From here you keep the left foot on the floor and as you inhale this right hip and knee is gonna come closer in towards the heart, and as you exhale this right hip and knee is gonna move away from the heart. And as you inhale, the right hip is gonna come towards the heart, and as you exhale, the right hip and knee is gonna move away from the heart. Now this is a super simple exercise, and so generally it's easy to kind of leave. The purpose here is, "Can you please start to become more interested in how your hip joint works?". You're just starting to become more interested in what already is.

The difficulty for all of us, is that we generally only become interested in something when it stops working. So next time the hip and the knee is moving away from you, a slight flex in your foot is generally considered more protective for your knee joint. When the knee is moving away from you now, if it's appropriate to feel more, you'll start to let your left thigh draw in towards you. Now just be gentle here. You'll start to feel a greater stretch through the back of the right hip.

And for some of you this might already be enough, no extra attention might be necessary. What I like to do more and more lately, is I like to hold the pinkie side with the left hand, and I like to bring my right hand around my right knee, and just with tenderness I like to cradle that leg in a little further. Okay, this might be the perfect spot. Some of you, though, might prefer to feel a little bit more. In which case, you might thread the right hand through the triangle of the leg and maybe catch around the back of this left shin.

This might be just right. Couple of you might be more natural to catch around just below the knee. Okay, now, gently, tenderly, notice the relationship you're in. So if your knuckles have gone white and you can feel you're mouth gripping than it's more work than is necessary. So, soften the jaw, soften the eyes, soften the hands.

Wobble a little bit. And then when you feel ready, you'll let the left foot come back down to the floor. What I like to do is let the right leg come up to the sky, shake her out a little bit. Couple ankle circles, both directions. Then let the knee bend, let the foot come back down to the floor.

And pause here. Big deliberate inhale, exhale everything. And then just allow yourself to be aware of the feeling in your right hip from doing so little. And if you're not sure how the right hip feels, then one of the things the mind loves to do the best is compare. So compare her to the left hip.

Okay, we'll repeat that on the other side. So, left ankle up on top of the right leg. Keep your right foot on the floor please. And same idea, you're just getting to know the hips. So as you inhale the left hip and knee comes towards the heart.

And as you exhale the left hip and knee move away. And as you inhale, left hip and knee towards heart. And as you exhale, left hip and knee away. And usually as the hip and the knee comes toward the heart, we call that internal rotation. And usually as the hip and the knee move away, we call that external rotation.

And so you're just kinda getting a sense of how that hip joint is put together. When you start to understand things while they're still simple, it becomes easier to understand them when they become more complicated. I think that's about the same number we did on the other side. You'll be okay. This might be enough for you, stay here.

Or, if it's appropriate to feel more, start to let the right thigh draw in. Now wobble a little bit here and just notice, and pay attention for yourself, when it becomes more intense are you suddenly paying more attention. This is something to just notice about ourselves. It's hard to stay present when things are easy. So this might be the spot.

You might like the hold I like, which is to just tenderly hold the back of the knee and the pinkie toe. And so, what this does, is it keeps me from over pulling. It keeps us a quality of sweetness. But your body might need you to feel a little bit more. In which case, you would catch around maybe around the back of the right thigh.

Maybe for a couple of you, the right shin. But the play here is notice the relationship you're in. So soften the eyes, kind in the mouth. Wobble a little bit. Smooth out the forehead.

Even if it feels like you're forcing, then you are (laughs). It's likely that I'm gypping the second side, but we've probably been here about the right amount of time. You'll let that foot release. You'll let the left leg extend, you'll shake her out a little bit, and then slow ankle circles. Okay ankle circles other direction, and then bend that knee and let that foot come back down to the floor.

I'm gonna adjust my yoga costume. And pause, big deliberate inhale. Exhale everything. And just notice the results. Nice.

Now, as we come into this next section, which is we're gonna becoming very tuned to the very subtle detail of the breath. We wanna make sure you're quite comfortable. So right now, widen your feet a little bit and just let your knees fall together. And just see how this feels in your low back, and in your sacrum, and in your groin. Okay.

And then in comparison, because we're looking for a comfortable spot, what some of you might try is soles of the feet together, knees dropping wide. So this might be more comfortable. And the request is please simply choose the one that feels best for you. So for me and how I'm put together, my particular anatomy, this feels better. You could have your hands down along your side.

Sometimes it feels more comforting to have the hands on your body. You'll just know what's best. Okay, let the eyes close, big deliberate inhale. Exhale everything. And then so gently, so tenderly, we'll use the lungs first, let your awareness come back into the right lung.

And just notice how when you move your mind to the right lung, suddenly she's right there. And it might even feel like you're just breathing in your right lung. Okay, now so tenderly, so gently, move your mind over to your left lung, and notice, like you can just move your inner eye, your inner awareness to your left lung and there she is. So with this same sensitivity please, maintain the breath as she is, yet move your awareness to your left nostril. And as you move your awareness to your left nostril, often you'll suddenly be able to feel your breath here.

And some of you, if it doesn't quite work, you're not the only one. All sorts of mischief can be occurring in the nostril. We're just beginning. Okay, and then just see. Move your mind's eye over to the right nostril.

And as you move your mind's eye over to the right nostril, sometimes it'll feel like your breath has followed. Soft in the mouth, kind in the eyes. If you're having trouble with this because of a cold or sinus mischief, then keep the awareness in the lungs. Use the lungs as your tether point. Otherwise, please now move your mind back over to the left nostril.

And as you move your mind back over to the left nostril, sometimes it isn't so much the breath you're feeling, but something much more subtle, something the yogis call Prana. It's a deeper layer of breath. And then again, move your mind over to the right nostril, and just start to let yourself be curious towards the small details. And like, can you also, just so gently, can you also slightly be aware of the quality of mind that comes when you're deep in these small inner details. Yes.

Okay, we'll do this one more time with just a little bit more awareness. Move your mind please, back over to your left nostril. And as you move your mind back over to your left nostril, just become a little bit more intimate with the landscape here. I tend to be aware more kind of towards the front opening of the nostril, you might find your attention deeper. Can you become just a little bit more aware of the back channel of the nostril, like closer to the face?

Yeah, nice. What about the outer edge? Meaning like out towards the outer left side. Okay, maybe towards the front tip. Maybe the inner line towards the septum.

Beautiful. Now for the last few moments on this left side, become aware more of the central, right in the center of the nostril. Just kind in the eyes, soft in the forehead. Nice. Beautiful.

Okay, now the request is to gently, slowly, and this is not so easy, but to gently, slowly move your mind back over to the right nostril. The reason that's not so easy, is suddenly you've formed this amazing, intimate relationship with the left one. Attachment happens so quickly. As the request is to move back over to the right nostril, it might not be so easy. No need to rush.

And some of you might already be asleep. That would totally be natural and wonderful. It would mean that you needed a rest. But once you've found your way into the right nostril, if you're here, the request is so gently, maybe start to become more aware of the interior landscape. So again, I'm suggesting to start at the back channel, towards the face.

This requires steady attention. Okay, move your mind to the outer channel. Sometimes it'll feel like you're flaring there. Move your mind to the front channel closer towards the tip. Yes.

Beautiful. And now move your mind so tenderly to what we might call the septum, the inner channel. Yes. Okay. Yes.

And then right there in the center. Just hold your awareness right in the center. Beautiful. And then so tenderly and only as you're ready, let your awareness come back evenly into both nostrils. And then relax this attention.

And just rest, rest in the effect. Rest in the effect of, again, honing the centripetal forces, the center-seeking. (exhales) And some of you have already slipped in to a sweet state, and there's no need to disturb yourself. Okay, so please feel welcome to stop here. This might be the spot.

This might be exactly what you needed. Those of you that would like to join us for a sit, though, when and if it feels okay, let your knees come into your chest, and hug your knees and wobble. Beautiful. Now I'm gonna rock and roll up to sitting. You might have a different dismount, but for me this is always, I find that after years of telling people to roll to one side and get up, I finally had to admit that I never do it like that.

Okay, cross your ankles, roll back. Roll up. Nice work. Most people find that quieting. I'd love to know how you found it.

Once you're snuggled in, just let your elbows come down onto your thighs, and pause here and check in. This is an intimate conversation. And so, soften the base of the skull, soften the mouth. And allow your attention to continue to draw inward. And so some of you, because of the hips you're working with today, this is perfect.

This is deep enough. Some of you will choose to let your hands come a little bit more forward, and the suggestion, 'cause this is what we're playing with, is just stay with the nostrils. Stay here. Let this small detail of the situation hold you. This might be deep enough for some of you.

Couple of you, it makes good sense to walk your hands more forward. Wiggle. Gooey in the back of the neck, soft in the eyes. Couple of you will choose to let your elbows relax, and keeping the palms down has one feeling. And turning the palms up has another.

Back of the neck long. And now as you are ready, inhale, lift up, and begin to walk your hands over to the side. Now as you walk over your hands to the side, you'll start to feel it more in that opposite hip. Eventually, you're gonna let this left forearm come down to the earth, okay. And circle this top arm up.

Now let the elbow bend so your shoulder relaxes back and down and in. And tip over, let this hip actually come up off the floor. Now you have these skills. You have the skill of rolling this hip away, and you have the skill of reaching this top arm over the top of your head. Now as your doing this, as your rolling this hip away, and your reaching this top arm over the top of your head, start to bring your awareness back into this top lung.

Start to be aware of the breath in this top lung. Be aware of the breath in that core responding nostril. Lengthen. Gooey in the back of the neck. And then for the last handful of momements now, can you move your awareness to the bottom lung and to the bottom nostril so you're more aware of the underside?

Okay. Let that readjust your posture. And then eventually take a look down at the hand on the earth and let an inhale bring you all the way back up. And now pause here, this is the good part. Pause here and sit in the resulting sauce.

Let yourself become more intimate with the spaciousness of you. And as you're ready, only as you're ready, you'll switch the cross of your legs, opposite leg in front. Snuggle in. Inhale here. And as you exhale you'll let the forearms, again the elbows come down onto the knees, and pause, wait for it.

Soft in the mouth, easy in the jaw. And just let the nostrils hold you. This is the practice. This is the practice of starting to develop more of an intimacy with these small details. And for some of you in the body you happen to be working with today, this is deep enough.

Some of you the hands will start to come more out in front of you. I like to snuggle back in. And do you recognize what is being asked in the hips is that same external rotation that we were finding earlier. Okay, so you might stay right here. Again, some of you might walk your hands a little bit more forward, it just depends, it depends.

A lot of how these yoga postures ends up looking is this equation of how you came out of the womb combined with your day job. And so, I like to turn the palms up. It just has this quality of vulnerability and sweetness that I like. Okay, gooey in the back of the neck, soft in the jaw. (exhales) Nice.

Beautiful. Now we're gonna make our way to the other side, so eventually inhale, lift up. Exhale, you'll start to walk your hands over to that opposite side. Now as you do that, you'll feel it in this hip that's away from you. Continue on over.

Let this forearm find her way towards the earth, and then tip over. Now, we have to give a word out to our friend and teacher, Papa Schiffman. He was the one who first gave us permission to tip. Circle this arm in front of you. Let the elbow bend.

Let the elbow bend so the shoulder relaxes. Now you have these actions. You know how to roll this hip away, you know how to reach this arm over the top of the head. Let it feel good. Okay.

Back of the neck is long. And then you know how to bring your awareness into this top shiny lung. Let your awareness come into here. Be aware of here. Nice.

And then maybe be aware of that top nostril. Like, just be more aware of this side. Yes. Gorgeous. And then start to bring your awareness to the under lung, the lung that's under you, the under nostril.

Beautiful. Let that readjust you (exhales). Nice. Okay. Eventually you'll take a look down at the arm on the earth.

You'll let an inhale bring you all the way back up. And then pause, really sit in your sauce, marinate here. (exhales) And you'll know that you're in there, 'cause it feels good. And this, for some of you might be perfect, you might just, you might be done here. But if you'd like to sit with us for a handful of moments.

If this is comfortable and you're happy here, you could stay like this. I usually prefer some support, like a blanket. And I prefer something like what we usually call free pose. Heel in line with heel. Snuggle in through the sit bones.

I'm gonna bring my trusty bell forward. And here's what we'll do. What we'll do is we'll just snuggle in. I'll ring the bell to start. It won't be very long.

We'll find out together how long in a moment (laughs). Big deliberate inhale. Exhale everything. Soften the belly. Soften the belly, and you'll know that you've let the earth have you, you'll know that's happened when you feel supported.

It'll just be this natural sense of (exhales). Like you're held. Okay, you'll let the heart find her generosity. The shoulders, usually as the heart finds her natural generosity, the shoulders usually sort of fall back and down. They make room for her.

They know. And then you'll find your hands in a place that feels comfortable. Some people prefer palms down 'cause it feels supported. Lately, I like palms up. And then you just tune the alignment of the skull, so that the neck tension is no longer necessary.

Widen the base of the skull, soften the lips. And now one of the benefits of tuning into the nostrils, according to the yogis, is that they're helping to essentially bring more awareness as we tune into the nostrils, we tune into the two primary nadis. Nadi means river or channel. And according to the yogis, two of the primary nadis, the ida and the pingala, which descend into the nostrils. It gives us more awareness of the central channel, what the yogis call the sushumna, the gracious channel.

So, here, as you're grounded, you're generous, your mind is open. Soften the lips, kind in the eyes. I'll ring the bell to begin and we'll just sit for a handful of moments. (bell rings) Let it widen at the base of your skull. Let your jaw feel soft.

Lips are kissable. Your eyes are kind. And the play here is to just do your best to let the small internal details hold you. So as you become aware of tension in the back of your neck, then you gently let that tension release. As you become aware of a holding at the back of the heart, you adjust to let that soften.

Yes. Just a handful more moments. You know, these practices, we take baby steps. So just for the last few moments, can you just be aware of where you might be able to offer just a little more of yourself? Beautiful.

So nice. (bell rings) I'm gonna ring that again. (bell rings) Thank you my dear, sweet yogi friends for being here, for practicing together. Namaste.


Kira, thank you for your gentle loving kindness in this series. I am grateful to have come across this series, as it addresses the subtle as well as the gross with an inquiry rare in Western yoga classes. I look forward to continuing the series!
Dearest Elizabeth, thank you for being here. Please stay close and let me know your discoveries as we are in these teachings together. xok
2 people like this.
I found this very calming, very centering. I loved your subtle encouragements and the peace you brought to the practice. Your prompts to be *interested* were perfect. I'll be doing this practice again!
3 people like this.
So calm and MAGIC what I need more often than not. I loved the idea of the spinning force in play. It made so much sense. Dig the dual angle shoot. Your such a NINJA
1 person likes this.
What a divine, gentle "curiosity practice" - thank you, sweet Kira.
1 person likes this.
Kira, love this - I already have a meditation practice and it was lovely to find the connections between the two.

A quick question, if I may? On the side stretches, when I let my right hip float up, my right ankle becomes very uncomfortable (not *quite* pain, but not far off). I don't have the same issue on the left hand side. Is there any adjustments I can make to this posture to avoid putting so much pressure on my ankle?

Thank you!
Thank you for such a gentle sweet practice. It's a new favorite indeed.

1 person likes this.
Thank you for a deep and special practice, Kira. I adore you.
1 person likes this.
Thanks Kira, this is definitely a practice to come back to often! So peaceful!
1 person likes this.
Dearest Frederic, happy the practice was a match. xok
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