The Sweet Heart Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 9

Day 7: Unconditional Love

45 min - Practice
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With devotion to the love of the mother, we explore fluid rocking movements to create ease and spaciousness in our flow practice today. We get deep into the hips and legs.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block

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Hi yogis, it's a wonderful day for yoga. I hope you're feeling the same way and if for some reason you might be rolling your eyes just a little bit and you just made it to the mat and you're still resisting a little bit, that's okay because it's day seven and this happens but just showing up for the practice you're already winning. And if you are resisting it probably means that you really need this practice. So just flow into it, we'll connect with the breath and go back to that heart space soon. Today we're going to focus on unconditional love.

We're going to really hit the reset button. When I think of unconditional love I think of love of the mother so that's why I'm bringing this to you because I got such a sweet mom. You know she just is the embodiment of nurturing and caring. I get goosebumps thinking about her. And I want you to find somebody, something, it could be Mother Earth, it could be some person in your life, it could be your mother, it could be a figure in your life where you felt that sense of really being supported, really being nurtured, really belonging.

So we're going to channel that sense of belonging and that sense of being right here in the heart, that unconditional love, that unchanging love, we're going to start to let that blossom a little bit as we practice today. This practice is going to be a lot about rocking. Rocking kind of helps release some of the muscles and it's that first sense of feeling supported and love, that rocking, nurturing sense. And I really enjoyed it in my practice, I hope you guys respond to it as well. Just think of it as another tool that you can use in your practice and we're going to explore the love of the mother.

We're going to start today in supine line on the back, so get comfortable. You can extend your legs out for this one and just let the body melt into the floor. We always go back to that clearing, purifying breath, inhaling, clearing and purifying in the mind, letting go of any busyness, any distractions, any resistance. Bring it all the way down to the heart center of that breath and move out anything that's not serving you, any distractions. You've created this time and space for your practice, so really clear and create space and be present with your breath.

Feel that lightness of being each time you exhale. And enjoy and purify with your inhales. So on your next exhale, go ahead and draw the knees into the chest. Let them drop a little wider than the chest and give yourself a nice rock from side to side. So you're feeling each of the glutes rocking side to side, you're getting a little massage, lower back, glutes, sacrum area, good.

And then bring the bottoms of your feet together, pursuit of Baddha Konasana. We're going to keep the left hand right on top of the left thigh, you don't have to press very hard just to keep that leg down and we'll draw the right knee in towards the chest as we exhale and we'll circle it, we'll keep the knee bent, circle it away as you inhale, draw it in as you exhale and circle it away as you inhale. You'll get a little rocking movement from side to side on the hips and you're exploring your range of motion right here on the right leg. Draw your right knee towards your right ribcage just outside of the chest and just give yourself a little rock from side to side here. If you'd like to feel a little bit more resistance, happy baby pose on the right, if we're talking about the love of the mother, we have to do a happy baby pose.

And as you start to rock to the right, see if you can keep that left leg anchored down a little bit more so you feel a little resistance, good. Right leg stays in happy baby, left knee draws towards the midline of the body, right ankle on top, draw the left knee into the chest. Slide your hands through, grab onto the hamstring and if you lift your left heel so that you can see the whole foot at this angle, you get this really nice angle that helps you focus on the right hip. We haven't gotten into the hamstring at this downward angle, this focus is all about the outer right glute and hip. Little figure four pose.

Then you can extend your left leg, hold onto the hamstring and we're going to play with a little rock forward and backwards. So imagine you're starting to send that straight left leg, the heel towards the floor and let it pull the upper back and shoulders off the floor. You might just lift an inch or so off the floor but whatever you're doing, try not to use the core muscles to help you. Just let the movement of that leg help you rock forward and backward. If you have any neck issues, you can look straight up.

If it feels comfortable and you want to let that movement help you feel the trapezius stretch, let the head and neck relax back. Get a nice separation between the vertebrae and the back body here. Lower the left leg back to the floor, keep the right leg just as it is. Heel to your left foot off the mat to the left and we're going to let both knees drop over to the right. As you look at your left hip, left hip and left knee will be aligned and then from here we can just bring in that same rocking sensation.

You're going to feel this on the outer glute on the right side and the idea behind this is to just send that message to the muscle, hey, you can relax, relax and it might help you sink into the pose just a little bit deeper. Good. Keep the right leg where it is, heel to your left foot back to the center of your mat, relax the right leg on top of the left and let those knees softly drop over to your left. Use the inhales to lengthen and the exhales to just soften into the twist. Without any forcing here.

Slowly unwind, hug the knees into the chest. Little rock from side to side. Clear the back and then Supta Baddha Konasana. Right hand stays on the right thigh as you explore hip rotation with the left leg. Anchoring down that right leg will give you a little bit more resistance.

Find that left knee towards the left rib cage and rocking from side to side. This could be perfect for you right here resistance wise. Or you can go into happy baby and move back side to side with a rock. This is one of my favorite go to sequences just to really create some space in the body before I start my actual standing practice. So I hope you enjoy this one.

Let the right knee draw towards the midline, left ankle on top of the right thigh. Draw the right knee into the chest and lift that right heel so you can see the whole foot above the knee. This is a nice angle to focus all the attention on that outer left glute and hip. Always going back to connecting with the breath. Go ahead and inhale the right leg to the sky.

Whether it's straight or not, really up to your hamstring. We're going to press the right heel away from us. That pressing away might lift the head and shoulders off the floor without any working of the core muscles, without any pulling of the arms. Just keeping that interlace should feel like a nice relaxing massaging pose for the muscles along the spine. Lower the right heel to the floor.

Heel to your right foot off to the right and then let your knees drop to the left. Right hip, right knee in alignment and just hang out and give yourself a little pulse. You'll feel this massaging action in your outer left hip and right IT band. Walk the right toes back to the center of your mat, cross the legs and let your knees drop over to the right for the spinal twist. Slowly unwind, hug the knees into the chest.

Start to give yourself a little rock forward and backward. Nice massaging movements. Give yourself a little more momentum until you're able to rock all the way up to your seat. If we come to our comfortable seat, we're going to play a little bit with the breath. We're going to work with a technique called Veloma A. This breath helps us expand the inhale so that we're expanding around the heart center.

I like to think of it as creating more space for that love, that unconditional love, creating more space here. The inhale is a two-part breath and then we'll pause and then we'll exhale one part. I'm going to use my arms so that you get a little visual of what it's going to look like and then you can join me with. We can start with the palms on top of the knees. Start by taking an exhalation, letting everything go, and then a slow inhalation, pause, hold the breath, don't breathe out, inhale a little bit more, top it off, pause, and then exhale, let everything go.

Two-part inhale and a pause, slow inhale, pause, inhale a little bit more, pause, hold the breath, exhale, let it go, slow deep inhale, pause, top up the breath, inhale a little more, pause, and then exhale. Do one more round, slow deep inhale, pause, inhale a little more, and exhale. So without controlling the breath, just notice that next inhale and settle into that next exhale. You might notice that that inhale, you're able to expand a little bit more and create a little bit more space. Let's keep inviting that space in each time we inhale.

So from here, we're going to swing the legs around, I'm going to swing the legs around, and we're going to move into cat and cow tilts. You can swing the legs around behind you traditionally, or if you want to go back to that challenge, pull the heels up and towards the seat, palms forward in front of the knees, walk or step back to your table pose. Our table pose we'll set up so the palms are right underneath the shoulders and the knees are right underneath the hips. From here we'll move into our traditional cat and cow tilts, inhale taking the drishti up, exhale pressing into the palms, curling the spine, tucking chin to the chest, slightly pressing the hips forward, inhale looking forward, belly drops and relax, seat lifts, drishti forward, squeeze the shoulder blades towards each other, exhale. Good, we'll come to a neutral spine, walk the palms forward in a palm print or two, squeeze the biceps forward, we're going to press back to our down dog.

Bend and straighten one leg at a time and start to connect with that rocking feeling, letting the hips shift from side to side as you straighten and bend. Settle into your expression of the down dog today. Press actively forward with both palms, spiral the biceps forward, draw the navel up and back and make sure the breath is active, lengthen forward to your plank pose, always the option of lowering the knees to the floor as you come down, come into your sphinx pose. We're going to explore cat and cow tilts in our sphinx pose today, so keep your knees on the floor for this one, as you exhale press down into the knees, tuck the chin towards the chest, cat tilt of the spine and as you inhale lower the hips, move the ribs forward towards the elbows, roll the shoulder blades back, drishti forward or up, follow the rhythm of your breath, last one, good lower down, replace your elbows with your palms, hug those elbows in, low cobra lift and exhale lower, pulse with the breath, inhale rising, exhale softening, inhale rising, good, exhale tuck the toes under, press back to your down dog. I can't get enough of this rocking, we're just going to keep on rocking through this whole practice y'all.

So we're going to shift our legs over to, shift our heels over to the right and we'll do that little pedal back and forth, rocking back and forth, you need to feel this on the left side body, breathe into it and enjoy it, bending one leg at a time, good, rise to the tops of the toes, shift your heels over to the left and we'll go back into that same rocking movement, bending one leg at a time, actively pressing forward with your left hand stability so you get that nice big side stretch on the right side, inhale back to your plank pose, always the option of lowering the knees to the floor, come on down all the way and bring your fingertips a little wider than the mat so your fingers are right under bent elbows and then we'll press up and we'll just explore some rocking movements from side to side. I like to call this one the alien cobra because it looks a little weird, this one you can kind of allow yourself to just go there, these rocking movements helping to create a little space here in the upper back and shoulders, slide the palms back next to the ribs, cobra up dog and then from here we'll step back to the down dog and take a nice big inhale here, reconnect with the breath, let something go, one more time nice big inhale, so go ahead and inhale the right leg to the sky, we're going to take it for a little flow here as you exhale draw the knee into the chest and step that right foot all the way to the front of the mat, pivot your left heel set up for your warrior two, bend into that front leg right knee over the ankle press back into the outer heel and we'll just play with a little pulse here bending and straightening the leg, if you would like to feel a little bit more here lift your right heel off the floor and you'll really get into the calf muscle and the quad and glute, lower the right leg, straighten the right leg, peaceful warrior right palm to the sky, flip the palm to the back, left hand supports the hamstring so that we can keep lifting up through the left side body, stay right here or if it feels interesting reach up with the left hand and grab onto the right wrist for a little bit more resistance and if you still want to feel more resistance go back into that pulsing movement just bending and straightening the right leg, that pulsing movement we might be able to just soften into the pose a little deeper without force, good, come back to your warrior two, straighten the right leg I'd like you to get a block for this one and use the block in front of your right foot, low, medium or high give yourself about six inches to a foot you'll figure it out after that first one and we're just going to play with a little rocking movement back and forth from peaceful warrior with the palms to the sky, palms are reaching forward and then we'll step into our half moon pose, okay, let's see how it works, so inhale reach up for your variation of peaceful warrior, bend the right leg, variation of warrior two as it meets pars flow, reach forward with the right fingertips, left hand to the hip, half moon and then go back to the flow, straighten and bend, let's do about two or three straightening and bends and on each third one we'll go into that half moon pose, bring a little flowing rocking movement to the practice, make sure you're still breathing with me, I just want to sing we are the world right now, we are the world, we are the children, go ahead and press back and rest in your peaceful warrior, breathe into it right here, lift the right ribs, lats and your costals and lift the left waistband as well, really lift up and out of that hip and seat, as you come back to center pivot your right toes to join the left, this one's really important, give yourself a big hug and then switch which arms on top, big inhale, bring it all in, imagine you're being embraced, loved fully unconditionally give yourself two more, you probably deserve it, whatever feels good right, finish that last one with the right arm on the bottom and the left arm on top, we'll go into eagle arms, right arm on the bottom, left arm on top, if you can't grab on to anything just hang out right here, draw the palms towards each other, from here we're going to lift the elbows the height of the shoulders and we're going to drop that left elbow, left palm to the left and enjoy a little trapezius stretch here, I like to slowly move that right ear back and forth towards the right shoulder, nice little massaging action for the trapezius, good, come on back to center with the palms, possibly to variation, give yourself a little bend in the knees, that top hand, the left hand we're going to flip so that the palm is facing the sky, we're going to try to slide that in the direction of the floor, so left palm, maybe the fingers touch, maybe nothing touches, that's okay, keep the knees bent maybe walk that left hand back in between you, good, stay here or start to straighten the legs, if you want to feel a nice juicy shoulder opener, carefully lean forward, back up the hands and then lean a little farther forward, good, slowly unwind, rise up, free the arms, back to your warrior two, windmill the palms to the floor, good, lower the left knee, straighten the right leg, rest in your half split, this is a good spot to hang out, you've got your block if you need it, you can put a block under one or both hands so that you have a little bit more height here or some of you are getting a little deeper into your split, you can put a block under the hamstring or the glute or lukmano block, whatever is working for you today, try to feel this as a resting pose, then we're going to take a vinyasa right leg slides back, you can keep your block handy for the second side, right leg to the sky, right where we started, plank pose, lower down, cobra up dog, press back to your down dog, we can have a little rest either in child's pose or if you want to keep things more active, dolphin, forearms on the floor, knees off the floor variation of down dog with your elbows down, choose the one that's right for you right now. So we're going to come back to our down dog, you can tuck the toes under, we can all get excited about the second side, inhale the left leg to the sky, exhale, step the left foot to the front of the mat, warrior two, heel to heel alignment or step out a little bit wider, shoulders over hips, left knee, direction of second and third toe and press into the pinky toe side of the right foot and we'll just play with that little rocking sensation again. Sometimes we can go deeper into the pose as we just rock that muscle, find a new spot to hang out at. If you were lifting the heel on the other side and you liked that challenge, make sure to mirror it on this side for balance.

Good, lower the heel if it was off, straighten the left leg, peaceful warrior, right hand, we're using it as a little leverage so that we can keep lifting through the right side body as we reach back so that we don't collapse into that right side body. Lift and lengthen and then the little pulse with the knee, connect with the breath, rising with the inhale, sinking with the exhale. Good, we're going to come to warrior two, grab your block, place it in front of you and we're going to play with those more fluid rocking movements. So both palms to the sky, inhale, straighten the left leg, reach back, exhale, bend the left leg, keep the shoulders in line with the hips as you reach forward, inhale, rising up, reaching back, exhale, pulsing forward, enjoy the breath here. It's like a dance, the breath comes first, the movements follow.

Every third round we're going to reach for a block, half moon pose, left hand reaches for the block, right hand can come to the hip, extend, step back, go back into the flow, inhale, rising, exhale, side bending, inhale, rising, exhale, side bending. Third round, send it forward, exhale, back, inhale, rise. Start to find a nice fluid movement with your tempo and your breath. Reach forward for that last round, good. Step back to your warrior two, pivot the left toes to join the right, go back to your hugs, inhale it in, inhale it out.

Collect that abundance, that unconditional love and bring it into the heart. Hug it in. If you want to do that sixth grade make out with yourself, you know, you remember, just caress the back of your neck just for fun. The next time you hug and make sure that your left arm is on the bottom, hug it in the closer you get to feeling those shoulder blades, the farther away the elbows are from each other, the easier it will be to find that interlace. The interlace isn't happening, just keep drawing the backs of the hands towards each other.

Lift your elbows the height of the shoulders, drop the palms to the right this time and just let that left ear rock from center to the left. From center to the left and find a spot and enjoy that trapezius stretch. Inhale come back to center with the palms, flip your right palm so the right palm is facing the sky, turn it slightly and then bend the knees. If the fingertips come to the floor, the knees bent, you might want to start walking the hands back through the legs. Little bend in the knees will help you move a little deeper into the pose.

Maybe straightening the legs or if you're going deeper into that shoulder stretch, keep the hands where they are and lean forward with the head off the floor. You feel that in the upper back, right traps, delts, good. And bend the knees, rise up, release the arms, pivot your toes back to warrior two, windmill. The palms down, lower the right knee to the floor and go ahead and straighten the left leg. Feeling that that half split is your resting pose.

This could be the spot right here where you're hanging out. You could be using that block for a little bit more height to take off some of that tension in the hamstring or if you're going deeper, use the block under hamstring, glute or for any form of support that you need for this pose. Turn to the breath and settle in. We'll finish this side off. Slide the left leg back, bend it, inhale the left leg to the sky, plank pose, lower down, cobra up dog, back to child's pose.

Left with the breath. So we'll come up to our down dog, tuck the toes under, press back, go ahead and bend your right leg and take a nice big inhale and then exhale the right foot to the front of your mat. We're going to pivot the left heel to the floor and bring the palms inside for a variation of our lizard lunge. This could be the right spot for you or you might want to use block for the elbows. No block.

Really up to you, your hips, your glutes today. Breathe into that space. For those of you that are feeling adventurous, you can always split the palms and fly a little bit. Good. And we'll bring the palms to the floor, lower the left knee and we're going to heel-toe the right foot to the front of the mat.

If possible, back up your left knee so that the right knee is behind the right ankle. Remember that diamond shape that we've been making, that extended baddha kanasana? It's kind of like we're going to make this shape in our low lunge here. So bring your right hand inside of the right leg and invite that right knee to just softly rock to the right and back to center and rock to the right and back to the center. If you notice that it starts to move closer to the floor, you can walk your right hand out a little bit wider.

If you're not feeling any resistance here, back up the left knee. If you'd like to feel more resistance, walk your palms back as you drop the knee. So you're taking this up dog expression of the pose and you're really getting into that connection with the outer glute, hip, and also because the leg is starting to move into more of a straighter variation, your hamstring. Good. This is a nice way to set us up for our pigeon pose.

So we're going to walk our right foot over to the right side of the mat. If you're newer to pigeon, real great opportunity to use a block right underneath the right seat. Pull the heel in. The closer your heel is towards the groin, the easier it is to internally rotate the back leg so the top of the knee is on the floor. If you're not needing the block or you find that you're able to line up ankle knee with the foot flexed, great.

If you don't need the block, maybe that blanket is the perfect midway or maybe you can just ground into the floor. Either way, check out the back leg. See if you can internally rotate the back leg so you're pressing into the pinky toe side of the foot and then lengthen the left ribcage, the one that wants to draw back. Lengthen the left ribcage forward. From here, this could be your spot to hang out or you can start to walk your palms forward.

I like to hang out on my elbows. That invites me to lengthen the spine, but if that feels too intense, then just take a cat tilt to the spine, it'll put less pressure onto that hip, less of a stretch. More intense, walk those elbows forward. Go back to the breath. Great opportunity while we're going to be here for another five breaths to just really contemplate the nature of our practice today.

Where do you feel loved? Where do you feel completely supported? As you cultivate that feeling, may that be the space where we move and express love, not the attached place, but that looking for, using the concept of giving that unconditional love, without any expectations in return. Enjoy two more rounds of breath if you want to move deeper into the pose. Might feel a little less resistance now.

Good, and then we'll carefully walk the hands back. Tuck your toes under on the back foot. Step the right leg back, shake it out a little bit. Good, and then bend the left leg, take an inhale here, drift you forward, exhale, step the left foot to the front of the mat, pivot your heel. You've got your block handy if you need to use it, bring it inside.

Great spot to hang out here on the block, palms or elbows. If you don't need the block, keep it handy, side of your mat, bring the elbows to the floor or take it for flight like you were doing before. Try to bring balance out to the variation unless you have one knee or hip that needs a little bit more attention than the other. Good, bring your palms to the floor, lower the right knee to the floor, and walk your left foot to the center of your mat. Allow that left knee to drop out a little bit so you're on the pinky toe side of the foot.

We're just going to pulse a little here. If possible, the left ankle's in front of the left knee. If you'd like to go deeper, just start to slide that right knee back so you feel a little bit more resistance as you're pulsing. Walking the palms back will help you feel this connection between outer glute and left hamstring here. Very mindful and careful of your ankles in this one.

This sets you up for a pigeon pose. After this, pigeon actually feels like a little bit of a vacation. Walk the left foot across the mat, feel free to use your block. Right underneath the left seat, drawing the heel in closer, softer experience on hip and knee, internally rotating the back leg. Deeper experience, left ankle, left heel lined up, keep the left foot flexed.

If you feel like the block isn't helping you, move deeper into the pose, move it out of the way. Lengthening with the inhale and softening into the pose with the exhale. Exhaling and softening. Relax the muscles in the face and the jaw. Notice where you're feeling any mental resistance in this pose and send a little unconditional love to that mind that's resisting.

Say, hey, it's going to be okay. Enjoy three more rounds of breath. So slowly rising up. We're going to make our way onto the back so you can go ahead and swing the right leg or left leg around, whichever is easiest for you. Yourself a nice little massaging roll all the way down.

Let those arms drop out to the side and then once again, take your feet about as wide as your mat and we'll revisit those windshield wipers that we did in the beginning. Nice releasing movement, good clearing. From here, go ahead and just settle into your shavasana and while you're enjoying receiving all the wonderful effects of your practice, I'm going to bring in a nice chant that connects us to that supportive nurturing mother. Give a little chant to the mother. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, eight, nine, projectile, Jai Jaya Daga Thambi Hema Dunga Hema Dunga Jai Jaya Daga Thambi Hema Dai Jaya Daga Thambi Hema Dai Jaya Daga Thambi Hema Dunga Hema Dunga Hema Dunga Start to bring your attention back to your body and your breath.

Bring a little life energy back to your fingers and back to your toes. Inhale the arms over the head and give yourself a nice big stretch. Exhale, hug the knees into the chest. Give yourself a little roll back into fetal pose. That metaphor for the mind of innocence.

That unchanging, unconditional love on the heart. Returning home. Help yourself up to your seat. So lucky and so blessed to be able to be on this challenge together and to explore. I feel like this challenge is as much for me as it is for you.

So thanks for being here. Show up tomorrow, okay? We keep sharing this love that you're experiencing right now. Share it with everybody that you meet because this is what our world truly needs. Namaste.

Comments

Jenny S
2 people like this.
Thank you for this nurturing practice. It’s as if the universe (and you!) knew exactly what my body, heart and brain needed today 😍
Wade
Hi Jenny oh wow that's great, I love when that happens, I think it really means that 'you' were tapped into the Flow of life and at the right place and right time to have the experience...wish I could take credit, that's all you, but happy to be a part of it!
Christel B
Some daysI can't make it until the very end of the day....I don't like to miss out on my daily practice although there are days when there's no way around it. Your teachings are mellow and fine for the end of the day with your soothing Mr. Roger's like voice for yogis. Thank you for the wonderful sessions.
Christel B
It's great the way you transition into Kapotasana. It allowed me to get deeper into the pose. Love all these nuances to the poses, keeps it fresh.
Shelley K
I enjoy these practices. I've had a lat/ tricep/ side body discomfort for months that I was having a hard time ridding. This challenge is helping alleviate it. Thank you! :)
Wade
1 person likes this.
HI Christel Great to hear from you and glad you are connecting with the variations, the Mr Roger's voice comment is cracking me up... I have to share this with a few of my friends because it will bring a smile to their face!
Wade
Hi Shelley Im glad this is helping! I get tension in that area a lot when Im swimming daily in summer..have you tried any one arm hangs with slight side bend on a bar (you should be able to have your feet on the ground) this one is so great for creating space...hope it helps too
Wendy W
Perfect. Truly the sweet heart. Thank you!
Wade
Wendy only 3 more challenges...are you ready for it to end? :@
Wendy W
End? Nooooooo! Already thinking of the next time through, and how much better I’ll be! Love this practice with you.
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