The Sweet Heart Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 8

Day 6: Empowered Heart

45 min - Practice


Invite empowerment in so that you can live from the heart. Today, we will move through a spicy practice to strengthen the core and expand through the chest and heart. You will feel empowered, brave, and free.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket


Read Full Transcript

Hi Yogis, welcome back. We are on day six. How is the challenge going for you so far? Connect with me and let me know how that experiment with fear went. When we move into that space of fear and we move some of those obstacles out of the way that block us, then we start to feel really empowered.

And that's what we're talking about today. That's our whole topic of our challenge today is empowerment. When we feel empowered from this heart center, maybe it's not the typical variation that you would think of in our society and our community where it's leadership and strength and conquering. It's more of a sense of I'm feeling like I really belong in this space here. Like I know why I'm here now.

I know what the heart is saying to me and I see the path more clearly because we've removed some of those obstacles. We've taken fear out of the equation. And when we start to really feel empowered and energetically in the heart center, then we start to get these hits like I'm having a hit right now, the hair on my arm is starting to go up. I know that I'm supposed to be saying something here. So we'll start to feel these hits, a gut reaction or something that is a visceral reaction that we know that we're right in our heart center.

As we start to keep that line of communication with the heart, then whatever's happening in our mind doesn't sabotage us. We know that this is home and this is where we start to live, love and communicate from. So this is the kind of source that we should feel empowered by. As we explore our practice today, some strengthening movements, I want you to feel like energetically and physically it's empowering you not just for the physical body, but so that you feel more strength to live in this space in your heart somewhere. So God, I'm excited about this journey.

Yes, let's go. Let's feel empowered. One of the breaths, one of the pranayama practices that empowers us is ujjayi breath. So we're going to play a little bit with the ujjayi, the victorious breath. This pranayama practice is where we kind of constrict the throat a little bit and what this does is it allows us to lengthen the duration of our inhales and our exhales.

So we're able to pace the breath out more and this is a beautiful breath to bring into our practice. Our asana practice really is benefited by this breath. So we're going to try to bring it into some of the practice today and in your own personal practice maybe you'll start to explore this ujjayi breath a little bit more. So I'm seated on a blanket here if you want to prop yourself up. Sit on a blanket or a block so you can find that tall spine again, get comfortable, arrive and check in.

Each time we've come to our practice we've cleared the mind with the inhale and we've let go of anything that feels like it's blocking us energetically with the exhale. So take a couple of moments to purify and cleanse the mind with the inhales and release something with the exhales, purifying with the inhales and let it go with the exhales. I'd like you to start breathing it in and out through the mouth here and we're going to kind of reflect the sound of the ocean, the ocean behind us and we're going to bring that sound of the waves into the back of the throat. Some people call it the Darth Vader breath. Whatever you relate to, whatever metaphor works better for you.

We're closing off the back of the throat as we inhale and exhale and add that pause after the inhale. Keep the quality of the breath but just close the mouth and breathe in and out through the nose. It's kind of like a soft snoring sound and as you connect with this breath, keep the breath present as we start to move into some cat and cow tilts that you're comfortable with throughout our practice. So use that Ujjayi inhale, bring the palms and hands to the shins. Use the Ujjayi inhale as you move into your cow tilt.

Pause and use the Ujjayi exhale as you move into your cat tilt. Drawing the navel up and back. Stay connected to the breath. Let the breath lead you into each of the movements. Give yourself two more rounds.

Then come to a nice neutral spine, nice tall seat. So we can keep checking back into this breath while we're flowing through our practice. Keep your right leg bent and go ahead and extend your left leg out. We're going to take a modified variation of Janu Sureshasan. We'll take a little twist and bring the right hand above the right knee and bring the left hand somewhere behind you.

Use the left hand to help you lift through the spine so that you can take a little hip opening rotation of the spine, lengthening and twisting. If you're starting to feel a little bit more depth, you can bring the hand a little higher up the quad. You always can go back to that Ujjayi and explore. Go ahead and turn back to center. Invite your right knee in towards the left ribcage, sole of the foot to the floor.

Give yourself a hug with the left hand. Your right hand's coming to the floor. You're pressing down, lifting up and out of the lower back, creating space for rotation. Go back to the Ujjayi if you lost it. Keep your right hand back where it is and extend your right leg.

We'll keep it bent at first. Grab somewhere outside of the right calf and extend the leg for a soft twist. If you're moving deeper, you can go for ankle or sole of the foot, lift through your heart and move back into the twist. Lift through the heart and move back into the twist. Big inhale, exhale.

As you turn back to center, go ahead and bend both legs. Bring the hands behind you. I'm going to demo from the side so that you can see what's happening with my hands. Hips are facing forward. You're going to lift the feet off the floor, the height of the knees, and you're going to lift the chest and squeeze the shoulder blades together for this variation of Navasana.

Draw the navel up and back. Good. As you inhale, press the feet away from you and bend your elbows. Keep the heart lifted. Keep the core active.

As you exhale, start to draw the knees into the chest and keep the heels lifted, lengthening with the inhale, contracting, drawing in with the exhale. Follow the rhythm of the breath. Throw in that Ujjaya if it's calling you. Good, and then we'll take the opposite cross-legged seat, so whatever leg was on the bottom, you're going to switch. A little clearing of the spine, move back to your cat and cow tilts.

It's really great to practice next to somebody who has a really beautiful Ujjaya practice because it reminds you to breathe. That's one of the things we forget to do in our yoga practice. Good. Come to a tall spine. We're going to extend the right leg this time and bring the left leg into Janu.

And we're going to take a little soft twist to the right, a little hip opening twist. So lift the heart, create space for rotation. Lift the heart, create space for rotation. Go back to the Ujjaya if it disappeared. Turn back to center, hug the left knee into the chest, right hand wraps around, left palm presses down into the floor, always creating length before the twist.

Big inhales, good. Turn forward and start to extend the left leg. You can grab the outer calf, ankle, or side of the foot. And as you extend the leg, lift the heart, create space for the rotation. Back to our Navasana.

I'm going to swing around so you can see this different angle, fingertips back, palms behind the seat, fingertips facing forward, lift the heart. This time as you exhale and you lower down, decide whether you're keeping your hands here. Inhale, draw, exhale, draw the knees into the chest, inhale away, exhale, draw the knees into the chest, inhale away. If you'd like to challenge yourself, exhale, draw the knees into the chest. Look my hands variation, inhale it away.

Make sure you're not feeling this in the lower back. Try to keep lifting the sternum and chest as you draw the knees in. If you can smile doing this pose, then you should feel really empowered here. This is not a hard pose, not an easy pose to smile in. Good.

Rise up, good. And then we're going to move the blanket out of the way. We're going to come into our table pose. So swing the legs around, palms underneath the shoulders, knees underneath the hips. We're going to do a different variation in table pose today.

We're going to do some circular movements in our table. So for this one, I'd like you to shift your weight to the right, the hips and the shoulders. Keep leaning to the right and then lean forward and to the right. Keep leaning forward to center, transition the weight into the fingers. Lean all the way over to the left and start to create this nice, slow circle with a torso.

So for some of you, this is perfect right here. Just exploring this rotation. For a few of you that would like to feel more empowered, since that's the topic of our day today, you can move into those chaturanga arms as you move forward. So as you move forward, just start to bend the elbows, keep the same movements and then press back. You're going to start to fire up, heat up that core center, bringing that heat back to the practice, helping us move deeper into the asana poses.

Good. And next time you back up your seat over your right heel, pause here and walk hand over hand to your left, maybe place the right hand on top of the left and start to back up your seat towards the heel. Nice opportunity to go back to the ujjayi. Good. Come back to your table pulse.

We're going to shift the weight to the left this time, shoulders and hips, and then we'll lengthen forward all the way over to the right, lean to the right and give yourself a couple of slow rounds here. You can do the straight arm variation like you did earlier, or you can start to bend the arms as you move forward. Do a variation, really fire up the triceps and the muscles in the arms. The next time you circle back over your left heel, that's your pause, walk hand over hand to the right and stretch through the right side body. If you want to place a left hand on top of the right, that could be a good opportunity to move deeper into the pose.

Slow journey back to your table pose, stay connected to your breath. Walk the palms about a print forward, squeeze the biceps forward, tuck the toes under, keep your knees bent for this variation of down dog. We're going to feel the power of the quads, draw the navel up and back. Look towards the thumbs here. Really connect to the muscles and the legs, and then we're going to transition that weight forward to plank pose.

Press back to your bent leg down dog, draw the navel up and back. It'll give you a great opportunity if you want to bend the arms a little bit in plank pose. Don't lower down, press back to your bent leg down dog. One more round, straight arm or bent arm. Press it back and then go ahead and pedal it out in your down dog.

Connect with the hamstrings and the calves, draw the navel up to the spine, be very active in all fingers so you're not sinking into the wrists. Lengthen forward to your plank and we'll lower it all the way down. Replace your palms with your elbows, stretch the front body in sphinx pose. Invite those shoulders to roll back as you move the heart forward, little internal rotation of the quads, legs are active, pressing into the tops of the toes. Think of this as your little resting pose here for a second because we're going to play with some forearm variations.

These forearm variations we're going to move from side to side and then pause and forearm side plank. Go ahead and tuck your toes under, move to your forearm side plank and your feet are going to stay hip distance but you're going to slowly drop your heels to the right and then back to center and then to the left, moving from side to side. The next time you come over to the right side, pause, either stay here with your left foot in front of the right or stack the left foot on top of the right. You'll want to lift the left arm but don't do it yet. Lower the hips and lift the hips.

Lower the hips and lift the hips. Lower the hips, gets right into the obliques. This is muffin top begone pose. Lift the hips, press into that right palm. See if you can send it up.

Breathe into that right side body. Good. Come back to your forearm plank. Lower it down. Take your fingertips wider than your mat.

Press into the fingers. Squeeze the elbows towards each other. Take this modified cobra pose. Really creating space in the upper back and shoulders and giving us a nice break between sides. We'll go ahead and lower down.

Get excited for side two. It's happening. Feel the power. Tuck the toes under. Forearm plank.

Let it rock from side to side. The next time you shift your weight over to the left, right foot in front or stack it on top. We're lowering and lifting, keeping the right forearm on the floor. Breathing and lifting. The next time you lift, press down and forward into that left forearm and either come up to right fingertips or send it to the sky.

That transition is really powerful and connects you with the muscles in the side body that really support you in your forearm plank and your forearm side plank. Lower back down, come all the way down, replace your elbows with your palms, cobra or up dog. Pause in your child's pose and reconnect with your breath. You're doing so well. Pat yourself on the back.

You deserve it. Feel empowered. So cool what the body can do, right? You should always remember this. From here, we're going to work our way to the front of the mat, take your dristy forward.

Either the option of knee, chest and chin or if you like that sneaky up dog that we are working with, slide forward without touching the floor, move into cobra up dog. Press back to your down dog and take a nice slow journey forward. Bend the knees at any time that you need to as you work your way to the front of the mat. Lengthen with the inhale and soften with your exhale. From your forward fold, bend the knees.

Use your core and quad muscles to help you roll a vertebrae by vertebrae. Rise all the way up, big inhale. Exhale right into the heart center. Bring the big toes together for this one, a little space between the heels. We're going to play with our chair pose here.

So as you exhale, bend the knees and bring the palms right on top of your quads. A little bit higher up on the quads. Press down into the quads and really lift your heart. Pull a navel up and back and then energetically hold right there. Support yourself.

Palms to the sky. Take your dristy forward and then we're going to lift the heels off the floor. We're going to slowly lower the seat and we're going to slowly lift the seat. Stay on the tops of the toes. Try it one more round.

Listen to the knees. If you're comfortable coming all the way down, come all the way down. If you're not comfortable sitting here, keep the heels on the floor and chair pose and we'll take a little twist in our chair. Right hand to the floor or palms into prayer. A little trick if you can't get that right hand to the floor is bringing that right arm between the thighs and taking the twist.

Otherwise prayer or splitting the palms. Come here, we're going to come back to tippy toe chair. Good luck. Try to lift very slowly. Use the power of your quad, glutes, tops of the toes as you rise all the way up.

Come back to your tippy toe chair. Listen to the knees. This isn't working for you. Throw the heels to the floor and stay in chair and take your twist. Easier variation, left palm between the legs for the twist or you can bring it into prayer outside of the right knee.

Splitting the palms. Good. Take the drishti forward. Come on back to your chair pose. You'll have a new appreciation for that chair.

Take a big inhale and as you exhale, slow dive to the floor. Lengthen with the inhale. Walk or float back. Lower through your vinyasa. Cobra up dog.

Send it back to your down dog. Inhale the right leg to the sky. We'll take a little bend in the knee. Open the hip. As you draw the right knee up, draw the right heel towards your seat, but press actively forward with both hands.

Take a nice big inhale here. Exhale the right foot to the front of the mat. High lunge. This variation of high lunge. As we inhale, we're going to straighten the right leg and come up to the tops of the left toes.

So really reach up, keep the chest high. As you bend the right leg, flip your palms and imagine that you're pressing through water. So you're really activating the triceps and you're pressing all the way back as you lift your heart and sink deeper into the lunge. Flow with your breath. Inhale straighten the right leg.

Tops of the left toes. Exhale. Press back. Lift your heart. Two more rounds.

Last one. When you reach your palms back this time, interlace them. Move your wrists away from the seat and really shine the heart to the sky. As we move forward into Warrior III, you can decide whether you want to release those hands for safety or step the left foot in, lengthen the spine, keep the hands in the interlace. Find your breath.

Step the left leg back. Bend the left leg and carefully lower it to the floor. Slow. Good. If you need to use that blanket under the left knee, modify.

Right hand, left hand, bring it over to the left waistband here and then sink in right here. Right hand stays, slide it down the IT band, lift your left palm to the sky. Turn to the breath. Left hand to the floor inside of the right leg. Soft twist.

And then keep that right arm reaching up and back. And heel to your right foot off of the mat. Bring the toes out to about two o'clock. If you want to feel more, back up the left leg a little bit so you start to get into the so out stretch. Being right here, flipping the palm and reaching back is a great spot.

Letting the left ear drop to the left shoulder gives you this nice, sweet, trapezius stretch or bringing it all together. Looking back for the ankle and maybe kicking the heel away. Notice when you bring that ujjayi breath, whether it helps you with this longer journey on each side. It should help you lengthen out the breath and lengthen out the poses so you're not breathing so quickly. We're going to finish this side off with a little wild thing.

We're going to flip our dog, tuck the left toes under, lift the left knee off the floor. Keep that right leg bent as you send it to the sky. Step it behind you and lift the left rib cage and the heart. It should feel good. Really press down and forward into that left palm.

Press back to your child's pose. Connect with your breath. You've had your five breaths here, resting after the first side. Let's go dive into, with excitement, side two. Look forward, either knees, chest, and chin, or slide forward, go up dog.

Send it back to your down dog. Inhale the left leg to the sky, bend the knee, open the hip. As you draw the left heel towards the right seat, actively press forward with both palms. Keep lifting the left inner thigh away from the floor. Keep breathing, big inhale.

Exhale, step the left foot to the front of your mat. High lunge, inhale, straighten the left leg, tops of the right toes. Find a Drishti focal spot. Exhale, bend the left leg like you're pressing through water. Lift the heart.

Inhale, rise up. Bend the left leg. Exhale, sink into the lunge, but keep the heart lifted. Two more rounds. Follow your breath.

The next time you bend the left leg, take the interlace with the non-habitual interlace, the weird index finger on top. Move the wrists away from your seat, lift the heart. Look forward, step the right foot forward about a foot, foot and a half. Lengthen out. If you need to release the hands for safety, Warrior III, feel free.

Otherwise, keep the interlace. Move the wrists away from the seat. Breathe into the pose. Step the right leg back, carefully lower that right knee to the floor, nice and slow. Bring both hands over to your right side band, waistband here.

Keep the left hand here. Follow the right palm to the sky. If you'd like to go deeper, slide that left hand down the right side IT band. Right palm to the floor, soft twist, lengthen and rotate. You'll tell your left foot off of the mat.

Think 10 o'clock, turn the toes out, left knee follows the toes. Reach back with the left palm, palm facing up, shoulder height, with the right ear drop towards the right shoulder. This is a great spot to just be right here. If you'd like to take the quad, so as stretch, bend the right leg, reach back, moving deeper into the pose. Kick the heel away from the seat.

You really open up through the left side body, right psoas and right hip, left shoulder, pec muscle. Breathe into it. Release your palms to the floor, tuck the right toes under, same bent leg as we move into our wild thing. Step the left foot behind the right, left leg stays bent, push forward and down with the right hand. Press into the left leg, lift the heart, lift the right hip.

Keep breathing, vinyasa, through child's pose. Stretch with your breath. If you need to rest in the child's pose longer, feel free. Otherwise, we're going to take that last slide forward. Look forward, either knees, chest and chin, or guide yourself all the way up to cobra dog, and lower to the floor.

We've taken this pectoral stretch before with a straight arm. I'd like you to keep this opportunity as a variation if this second version doesn't work for you. We're going to try that cactus field goal arm if this depth of the pose works for you. If it doesn't, go back to the straight arm like you did before. Both are wonderful peck openers.

You won't go as far in this one usually. So choose which one you're taking. Press with your right hand and roll to your left. Opportunity to stay right here and just enjoy this stretch for the front body. If you'd like to move deeper into the pose, bend your right leg, reach back with your right hand, and kick the heel away from your seat.

It's like a little war. Both sides win on this one. You get the peck opener on both sides, you get the psoas stretch. Slowly come back to center, bring your right ear to the floor, and then we'll slide that right palm in, right arm out to the side like a wing, or bend the elbow. Use the variation you did on the other side, and start to roll.

This is a great spot to hang out and breathe into. If you'd like to move deeper, bend your left leg, and start to move the heel away from the seat. Really helps to open up the front body. Nice transition before we go into our camel pose. Slowly release, come on back to center.

Notice how this up dog or cobra feels. And then grab a seat on your heels. So we're going to set up for our wustrasana, our camel pose. This over this pose, the knees can be hip distance apart. There's a little squeeze towards each other to really keep the legs active.

Lengthen the seat down, and lift the front body up. I like to start with my hands at the sacrum, so I feel really supported. See if this one works for you. As you squeeze the elbows together, and you lift the heart, you can use your hands to invite that lengthening of the tailbone down. Little internal squeeze as you lift.

For some of you, this is the great spot to stay at and be at. If you'd like to move deeper, easier if you tuck your toes under if you decide to reach back for your heels. Make sure you don't sink into the lower body, keep the heart lifted. If you're not taking the heel variation, just keep the toes untucked, lift the sternum, lift the chest. Neck issues, you can look straight forward, otherwise you can start to take the drishti up and slightly back.

Go ahead and rest on your heels. And do your breath. There's a fun little variation. If you're feeling it, I would suggest taking a bolster or a blanket and sliding it in front of you as your crass pad. This is the ustrasan vinyasa.

So basically we want to keep the pose, that ustrasan extension, and as we drop forward, we're actually going to drop. As we drop forward, we don't want to move the seat back. We want to keep the hips moving forward, navel lifting. It's kind of a little trust factor. So lean forward, your hands will hit first.

Sometimes it takes a couple rounds to really feel it. The fun thing is, when you move straight from your ustrasan, right into the pose. Hips, hands in front, little bend in the elbows. So much fun. Come on back to your seat, stretch the lower back out.

There's some fun homework for you right there. So we're going to swing the legs around. We got our blanket here. You can grab the seat on our blanket, and we're going to take a couple of soft seated windshield wipers to release the back. So bring your palms back behind you, yourself about a foot and a half from your seat, and just let the knees rock from side to side.

Come back to that ujjayi breath. Then come back to a neutral spine. Come back up to the seat. Swing around and lie on your back, and enjoy your shavasan practice. As you melt into the floor, you can let go of any control, guiding the breath.

Let go of the ujjayi, and just let the inhales rise and fall on their own. Let go of any cognizing, multitasking, planning in the mind, and just give yourself that sweet space of being without doing. Feel free to take some more time in your shavasana and really savor all the effects of your practice. And we're going to work our way up to the seat, so as you inhale, reach the arms over the head, point the toes, give yourself a nice big stretch, and as you exhale, draw the knees into the chest for a nice big, much deserved hug. Rolling to the right side, hang out for a breath or two in your fetal pose.

It's a great metaphor for returning back to that mind of innocence. Use your left palm to help you up to your seat. As we start to feel more empowered, we start to become the peacekeepers. And even those people in our lives that challenge us, which happens on a regular basis, right, we're able to send love to, knowing that this eases our mind, and it helps and benefits each person that we send that love to. So we're going to go back to that arm mudra, that gesture that we were working with before.

So remember that we inhaled the palms to the sky, as if we were connecting to the source and channeling the divine. And we exhaled and we brought that energy into the heart space. We took a big inhale here, and we were sending out that love. Send out that love to people that challenge you. That's when you start to really feel empowered.

We're going to add an om and a shanti to this expression. So inhale the palms to the sky, and we're going to om it to the heart center. Take a big inhale here, and send it out with a shanti in all directions, shanti. Connect with the palms, connect with the source, whatever that means to you. Big inhale, om it to the heart, om, big inhale, send the love out, especially to those that challenge you, shanti.

Last one, big inhale, connect with whatever it is that makes you feel like you're part of the source, the whole, and om it to the heart, om, to each living being. Send it out, shanti. Good, bring your arms right back to the heart center. Keep living and loving from this space. Feel empowered.

Notice that sense of empowerment that you're experiencing, and make sure that you're the peacekeeper. Send it out on a daily basis to those people that challenge you, just energetically. It softens up those heavy, dark areas around the heart, and energetically, they'll feel it. When you see them the next time, you'll feel a shift, even if it's something very subtle. It's a wonderful practice, trying to connect.

Right here is one. Happy day, namaste.


Wendy W
2 people like this.
So much more than I could actually do, but love the challenge and guidance forward, something to look forward to!
1 person likes this.
Hi Wendy I think its great you are challenging yourself and accepting where you are now is where you are now...who knows whats in store in 6 months from now!
Helena T
Thank you, lovely ending, it's taking me a longer than 10 days to do the challenge but I'm getting there!!!
Hi Helena Stay with it and do it whenever you can, its just dedicating yourself to finish it thats the most important part of the challenge...thanks for being with us!!
Martha K
Sweet and juicy! This is really getting to my heart! Thank You Wade!
Hi Martha Yes! Glad you are feeling it, share that with the people around you too!!
Glenford N
2 people like this.
Enjoyed the physical but the spiritual and emotional benefits are what I feel and react to the most. Today I'll be channeling love to the people who challenge me because if you can love them unconditionally you can love everyone. Thanks Wade.
Share the love Glenford !
Joanne D
Another ace practice thank you each one physically and spiritually building taking something forwards to enrich each moment ...
Hi Joanne I'm glad you are feeling the benefits of both, win-win!!
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