The Sweet Heart Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 11

Day 9: Brave Heart

45 min - Practice


It takes a strong person to be vulnerable. Today, we explore our vulnerability with deep expansive heart opening postures during this Vinyasa flow sequence including Dolphin Pose, Lazy Dancer Pose, and Wheel. You will feel expansive and brave.
What You'll Need: Mat, Square Bolster, Block (2)


Read Full Transcript

Hi Yogis, welcome back. Day nine, the finish line from living fully from the heart space is within sight. Wouldn't it be nice if it was that easy? Like once we go through day nine, it's every day. We live from this space.

It's going to be a challenge and the challenge will continue. But hopefully over this process, these tools and these techniques are helping you to drop from the head down to this heart space. We talked a little bit about impermanence and about the stagnant waters of the heart and moving and clearing and being comfortable with that flow, that flow of energy, the flow of life. And it really takes a brave, courageous being to live from this space, to really be seen, to really be visible and vulnerable. And we're going to be talking about brave, strength, vulnerability in this practice.

Vulnerable sometimes gets a bad rap, right? Oh, soft, you can step all over that person. But it takes a very strong person to be vulnerable enough to go down this path, to live from the heart. In fact, it's a real powerful statement to the true authenticity within you to really be seen and really to live your truth. So we're going there today.

And to help us go there, we're going to invite one of these beautiful Buddhist lotus mudras that I love to explore. And it just starts to pull us from that depth of that mud and murk, that stuff that we have to deal with here on earth. And it brings us right to that heart center where we... So day nine, we're just starting to open up, right? So this lotus is a really nice metaphor for how we're feeling on our path to day 10.

So thanks for joining me. Let's start with a little hand mood right here. So warm up the hands, get them ready. We're actually going to turn the hands back to back. And as you draw your thumbs forward, you can interlace your fingers.

You see that? So we're interlacing the fingers and we're going to keep the ring fingers free. The ring fingers stay right where they are. The index fingers, both the index fingers are going to find a middle finger. So right index finger finds left middle finger.

Left index finger finds right middle finger. And we pull those back and we start to expose the lotus flower within. The thumb connects to the pinky on each hand. And then we pull back to reveal the lotus flower and we bring it right here into the heart center. So we can keep our attention here at the heart center and invite that idea of vulnerability to be one of our biggest strengths as we journey down this path.

Thanks for joining me today. Happy day. Let's come into child's pose and we'll use two blocks for our child's pose today. So you can bring the blocks to the front of your mat. Find how much of a shoulder stretch you want to feel.

You can keep the blocks low, medium, or high. You'll know right when you press back into child's pose which one is right for you. Knees are wider than the hips. Big toes are drawing towards each other. Hands on the block.

Settle in. Now as you drop in, if you're feeling this is too much, lower the block. Find that spot where you can connect with the rise and fall of your breath. Clearing with your nail, moving any busyness, tension, obstacles out with the exhale. Start to create the mood and the tone for your practice right here in the very beginning.

See if you can experience the breath in the front, side, and back body. Lengthen out the duration of your inhales, the pauses, and the exhales. So bring your attention and your awareness to where your left hand is on the block and walk the right hand over to join the left and lose the left hand. Bring it somewhere by the left knee and focus your attention on the right side body and see if you can feel that resistance as you breathe into that right side body. If you want to use your left hand to push the floor away and lift the left ribcage, you'll get a deeper sensation of that stretch through the right side body.

One thing we don't want to do is to compromise the breath. So really go big with your inhales. Good. So we'll walk the palms back to center and we journey the left palm over to the block that the right hand was resting on. So we get that nice side body on the left side and breathe into it, isolating that left shoulder, muscles of rotation and creating space around the lungs, deeper, fuller breaths.

Go big with your inhales. Maybe push down into the ground with your right palm for a little bit more resistance with your exhales. Come on back to center. Give your blocks to the side. We'll use them later and then grab a seat in your child's pose.

If you need to put a block underneath the seat, put a block underneath the seat or wrap up that blanket underneath your knees and bring the palms right on top of the quads. Squeeze the elbows back, lift heart, chin and chest, cow tilt and then walk the fingertips forward. Draw the navel up and back, cat tilt. You know the rhythm of the breath by now. Inhale, lifting for the cow tilt.

Exhale drawing the navel up and back, activating the core muscles for the cat tilt. Follow the rhythm of your breath. One more round. We're going to take a little gate pose to the left. Walk the left fingertips out and forward.

We're lining up the left hand with the left knee about a foot and a half, two feet from the knee and we're shifting our weight onto the left knee, right foot to the floor. This is challenging for the left knee. You got your blanket next to you, use the blanket, slide it underneath your knee. Put a lot of pressure down into the fingers of that left palm so you're not sinking into the wrists. Press into the pinky toe side of the right foot and bring the arm to the sky or bigger side stretch up and over the ear.

Keep lifting the left side body as you breathe into the right side body. The focus of the tension is right here, ribs, lats and acoustics. Push strongly into the left fingers and we're going to lift that right leg off the floor. Draw the right heel towards your seat. If you're not able to grab the leg, that's okay.

Just move the heel away and in towards the seat. If you're able to grab the ankle, same thing, move the heel away and in towards the seat. Move the heel away and in towards the seat. A bigger heart opener here, flip the palm, move the heel away and in towards the seat. Give yourself one more round wherever you're at.

As you extend the right leg back long to the mat, slowly rise up and we'll take that nice big inhale and take it over to the right. Bring your right hand to the IT band, right toes pointing forward and then move into the left side stretch here. Good. We'll come on back to our knees once again. This time, I'm going to slide this way so you can see, tuck your toes under and sit back on your heels.

You might have that blanket under your knees still and then just lean back a little bit for that arch stretch or lean back kind of limbo style, you know? Just keep leaning into it. All these great songs are coming into my head right now, going back to center. Release the toes, cat and cow tilts of the spine, give yourself three. Drawing the navel up and back, heart lifts forward, shoulder blades squeezed together.

Good. We're going to walk the right fingertips out, about two feet, line it up with the right knee, extend the left leg, side of the foot presses into the floor, really press the pinky toe side of the foot into the floor and we'll move back into that side stretch. We're opening up all these areas around the heart today for this brave heart practice. Good, shift your weight all the way into that right palm, left leg off the floor, bend and extend option one. Option two, if this pose is okay for you, go for it.

Move the heel away as you inhale, draw it in as you exhale. Here's stretch, big toe side of the foot. Last round. Extend the leg back, rise up to your right hips right over the right knee and we'll lift to take that side stretch. Try not to collapse into this area.

Good. We'll lower back down, come back to your knees and this is an optional one to see what it feels like for you today. We've opened up the front of the shin so I'm going to show you from the side. See what it feels like, palms into the floor, maybe lift the knees off a little bit, maybe go a little farther, maybe go a little farther. Big stretch for ankle shin connection.

Good. Go ahead and lower down. Move into your table pose. One round of cat and cow tilts. Then we'll set up for our first down dog.

Pump it forward with the hands, tuck the toes under, pedal out the dog, invite some lengthening to happen there in the hamstrings and the calves, ears side to side, feeling where the biceps are so you know where the head should be, draw the navel up and back. One vinyasa here, lengthen to plank pose. Here's the option of the knees to the floor. First round so we'll stay nice and low in our swings pose and move deeper into the back bend as we journey forward. Replace your palms, tuck the toes under, press back to your down dog.

We're going to take side plank over to the right. So move into your plank pose first, pivot your feet to the right, step the left foot behind for your kickstand variation, press down into the left toes, lift the right hip. Big inhale here. Look towards the front of the mat. We're going to step the left foot forward.

You can use your left hand to guide you or use quad and core power to step forward. That one's a good one for homework. Press into the left quad, forward and down, lengthen the spine, press the right heel back and enjoy a twist, lengthening, creating space for rotation. We'll lower down for a little half split here, pull the toes back and then bend and come into a nice low lunge. We'll pulse it forward and backward just a couple of times.

Inhaling as you pulse forward, exhaling as you move back. Pause right here in your half split, lengthen the spine or soften and take that cow tilt and walk the palms back. From here we'll take the vinyasa, bend the left leg, send it to the sky, the length pose, always the option of lowering the knees to the floor, send it back to your down dog. Inhale to plank, pivot your heels to the left, step the right toes back, side plank kickstand with the right leg, lift the hips, inviting that little back bend that we were working with earlier in our gait variation into our kickstand side plank. Use the right hand on the floor if you need to as you step the right foot forward to the front of your mat.

Right hand on the right quad, lengthen that right knee forward over the ankle, press back into the left heel, find that stability here, go along with the torso and use that space for your rotation. Right hand to the floor, left knee to the floor, we'll move into that half split and we'll just play with a couple of these pulses, opening up the front of the left quad, so as stretch and back, maybe your pulses are a little softer, that's okay as long as you're feeling and exploring that resistance, pull the toes back on the right for your hamstring stretch and be in the pose for a couple of breaths. Open the right leg, tuck the left toes on the right leg to the sky, good, lower the right foot to the floor, pause right here, breathe into your down dog, this is a great time to take a child's pose if you need it before we go into the second part of our flow. Good, from your down dog we're going to journey towards the front of the mat, you can always float it forward too if you want to, length of the spine, soft fold, bend those knees, roll it up vertebrae by vertebrae, use the power of your quad and core muscles and rise all the way up. We'll take a little side stretch here, right hand grabs the left wrist, going back to that side body creating more space around the heart, back to center with the inhale, exhale it over to your left, left hand grabs the right wrist, inhale back to center and bring the palms right to the heart center, might want to use two blocks for this one, so set yourself up with two blocks on either side of the mat and we'll keep them out of the way.

Big toes together, little space between the heels, we're going to take a little journey through our sun salutation, B variations today. As you exhale bend the knees, sweep the arms with the inhale, draw the navel up and back, you can look straight forward neck issues or you can start to take your palms up, palms can be shoulder distance or they can be together. Exhale draw the thumbs down the center line of the body, palms to the shins, length in the spine, option of walking back to plank or floating to plank, lower down, cobrep dog, send it back to your down dog. Inhale the right leg to the sky, bend the knee open, the hip press actively forward with both hands, give yourself another breath here, when you're ready for the next exhale step the right foot to the front of your mat, lower the left knee to the floor, you can always double up your mat or use your blanket here and grab onto your blocks, your block should be right outside of your hips here, let's bring the fingers to the shoulder blades just to open up through the upper back and shoulders first before we take our side stretch, so inhale the elbows forward, exhale roll them back in space, inhale them forward, exhale roll them back in space, bring your left hand down to the block and then allow that right knee to slightly turn out towards the right, you can guide the foot to the right if that feels like more stability and inhale the right arm up and over the ear, going back to that theme of our side stretch here, if you need a little bit more resistance, you're not feeling the stretch, lower the block, but keep lifting through your left side body as you breathe into the pose, good, come on back to center, if you heel tilt the foot out a little bit bring it back to center, we'll take our right hand just outside of the hip onto the block and draw that right knee energetically towards the midline for support and lift the left arm up and over the ear, breathe into that left side body, imagine inflating the areas around the lungs, around the heart, slower fuller breath, move from the collarbones all the way to the chest, good, come back to center, keep hugging that right knee in and reach both palms into the sky and feel that support here and this is my favorite here, this is where you start to feel that vulnerability, let the arm slowly drop out to the side, lift the heart, it's almost like someone's got a rope around your chest and they're pulling you up to the sky, no compression in the lower back, exhale your palms slowly to the floor, right leg to the sky, we're going to do a one knee chest and chin, so come plank, keep your right foot off the floor, lower the left knee, chest and chin, I like to call this one the surfer duck dive, you're getting ready to go under the waves and you're sliding right forward, exhale back to your down dog, reconnect with the breath, find the dog, find the structure of the pose, your foundation and then shift your weight over to your right leg, left leg to the sky, bend the knee, open the hip, press actively forward with both hands, two rounds of breath, begin the inhale, exhale it out, on your next exhale, go ahead and step the left foot to the front of your mat, lower the right knee, double it up or find that blanket, moving into the psoas stretch, your foundation here, right hand reaches out from the right hip, inhale the left palm to the sky and actively lift through your right ribcage, right side body, left knee can softly turn out slightly towards 11 o'clock, you can turn the toes, just so you get that balance, that feeling of being supported and grounded, twisty up towards your palm if it feels good, slowly come back to that neutral crescent lunge, if you move to your foot bring it back, left hand reaches out, low medium high block, invite that left knee slightly to hug in towards the midline for support, you can imagine the inner thighs are squeezing towards each other as you lift up and out of the left ribcage and breathe and enjoy that stretch in the right side body, twisty up is an option here too, good, come on back to center both palms to the sky, imagine that rope around your upper back, keep lifting right here, keep the lift as you slowly invite the heart to shine, bring the palms to the floor, tuck the right toes under, left leg to the sky, one knee, chest and chin, plank, lower the right knee, chest and chin, slide it through, big inhale Cobra up dog, exhale child's pose, so from your child's pose you can move your way back to table, you can slide your blocks out of the way, we're going to make our way to the front of the mat from our down dog, feel free to walk forward or take a half float forward or float all the way, whatever feels right for you today, lengthen the spine when you arrive and take a nice soft fold, if you'd like to move into a deeper forward fold you can grab onto the big toes, lengthen the spine and fold, bend both knees use the power of your quad and core muscles to roll it up vertebrae by vertebrae, inhale palms to the sky, bring it right to home base right here at the heart, good, so we're going to play with some sunny B variations, sun salutation B, big toes together a little space between your heels, as you exhale bend the knees, fingertips drop in the direction of the floor, as you inhale sweep the arms, utkatasana chair, we're going to take our chair from side to side and bring a little bit of movement to the side body like we did when we were in that low lunge, so taking the arms over to the right and to the left, breathing into the side body as you explore the chair pose, good, bring your left palm on top of your left quad, anchor it down, lengthen forward, reach forward with the right hand and hook it outside of your left knee, keep your left hand here, push down and forward, lengthen the spine use it as a lever and then rotate, lengthen and rotate, if you want to bring the palms into prayer feel free to bring the palms into prayer but keep finding space with each inhale and moving into the space with each exhale, back to your chair, let it be a little bit more fluid as you take the arms from side to side, come back to center right palm on top of the right quad, just at the top of the quad, left elbow, hooks outside of the knee, press forward and down with the right, lengthen and twist, press forward and down with the right, lengthen and twist, we're drawing the navel up and back, find more space for rotation, good, you probably want to straighten your legs now, inhale it all the way up and we'll just swan dive all the way down, exhale, lengthen the spine, palms to the shins, walk or float back to your plank pose, lowering down, cobra up dog, exhale, press back to your down dog, we got an option here, keep the option that we did in the first sunny sun is salutation B, right leg to the sky, bend the knee, open the hip, if you'd like to flip your dog, pivot your left toes to the left until the right toes come to the floor, release the right hand, for this variation both knees are bent, squeeze the inner thighs together and lift the heart, I'm going to take my right arm out to the side like a wing, just so that I feel like I'm exposing the heart center and feeling that vulnerability that we were talking about, come on back, right leg to the sky, big inhale, exhale, step the right foot to the front of your mat, you can always bring the left knee to the floor, we're taking a high lunge, as we inhale we're straightening the right leg and sending the palms to the sky, cactus field goal arms, as you exhale bend the right leg, move those arms into cactus field goal and squeeze your shoulder blades together, remember that shoulder blade cleavage we were talking about a couple of days ago, find that, inhale lengthen, exhale, squeeze and lift, give yourself one more round, pause into it, breathe into it, lift the heart, palms to the floor, right leg to the sky, one legged plank, bring your left knee to the floor, right leg bends, right heel lifts to the sky, reach back with your left hand for pinky toe or big toe side of the foot and move the heel away from your seat, turn to the breath, let the breath guide you through the pose, left hand to the floor, chest and chin slide under your waist, cobra up dog, press back to the down dog, now might be the perfect time to pause and take a child's pose but because it's day 9 and we're just barreling on through and you're staying with me, yes, boom, left leg to the sky, you got this, if you've been able to follow me through this, you are a champion, stay here or pivot the right foot, flip your dog, right knee joins the left, lift the hips, either left palm to the sky or open, I give up, I surrender, I will live from my heart and not my head, left leg to the sky, left hand to the floor, big inhale, step the left foot forward, high lunge, straighten the left leg, send the palms to the sky, big inhale, feel the arms as you bend that left leg, cactus arms, inhale rise, exhale, squeeze the shoulder blades together, move them back in space as you lift your heart, last one, pause, breathe while you're pausing and hold the pose, find the inhale, bring the palms to the floor, left leg to the sky, keep the leg up as you move to plank, carefully lower your right knee, one legged table, left leg still high, press into that left palm, reach back with the right, big toe side a little easier, pinky toe side, more of a stretch through the pec muscles, go back to the breath, if you want to feel more, start to kick the heel farther away from your seat, keep the leg high, palms to the floor, chest and chin, slide under your waist, big inhale, cobra up dog, move into child's pose, you might even make a noise like, mama, that should be our child's pose mantra, so from our child's pose we're going to take a deeper expression of this upper back stretch here, so for this one instead of taking the knees wide you can keep the knees at that table pose distance right underneath the hips and try not to move the glutes forward or backward just keep them right over the knees and then as you start to walk your palms forward you'll know when to stop, give yourself a couple of breaths to find the pose that's right for you, for some of us forehead close to the ground or on the ground as you start to melt into the pose a little bit more and soften into the pose maybe you can look forward and bring the chin to the floor, it's a nice way to set up for our dolphin variations, so we'll walk our palms back to table, keep your right palm and table, we're going to do a single dolphin, right arm into dolphin, middle finger lining up with the thumb, similar to what we did at the wall for impermanence, tuck your toes under, press back to your dolphin and bend your right leg so that we can start to press the chest back towards that right thigh, push down and forward with your left hand to give yourself a little bit more resistance in the pose, if you're feeling it you can always send the right leg to the sky, breathe into this space, we're doing one shoulder at a time, most of us have one shoulder that needs a little more attention, single attention than the other, so this is a great opportunity for you, lower back to your table, left palm replaced by your left elbow, right elbow replaced by your right palm, hug it in, tuck your toes under, left middle finger lining up with the left elbow and start bending that left leg, right hand hugs in like you're doing tripod or push up and then push down into that right hand so you feel a little bit more resistance, this is a great spot to hang out or lift the left leg, really nice pose to open up, upper back and shoulders and prepare us for the back bend, slowly lower down and we're gonna lie on the stomach, so you can walk your palms forward and come all the way down, prop yourself up on your elbows, we'll do a little bakasan just so we can open up those quads, so bend your right leg, keep that left hand where it is, reach back with the right hand, big toe or pinky toe side of the foot and start to draw the heel towards your seat, if you wanna flip the palm make it a little bit more intense feel free, draw the right ribcage forward, lengthen the front body as you draw the heel down, give yourself a little slack, loosen that grip here, take the left arm out to the side like a wing, you might be able to hold on and do this, you might have to revisit the pose and grab on later, we're gonna roll to the left, holding onto that right foot, top pinky toe or big toe and moving the heel away from the seat for that lazy nadiranjasana, dancer pose, really opening up through the front body, unwind come on back to center, prop yourself up on your right elbow, bakasan with the left side, draw the heel in and press down, invite the left ribcage to move forward, right ribcage to move forward and maybe that left shoulder moves into space to meet the right, loosen the grip a little bit, you can let go all together as you take that chest stretch, right arm out to the side, roll it on, make sure the inhales aren't compromised, return to that big full inhale, and then slowly come on back to center, unwind, good, so from here we'll just pause for a moment, so from here we're going to lie on our back, so you can just roll over, set up for bridge pose, so as you bend the knees, draw the heels in close to the seat, you might even be able to touch the back of the heels with your fingers if you're able to move them in that close, you can always use your block to support the bridge like we did in our earlier practices, elbows, triceps pressed into the floor, take a nice exhale and then push down into all four sides of the feet and lift with the inhale, slide one palm in at a time, the closer the elbows are together, the closer the feet, the more you will feel that heart opening, the front of the psoas, the back bend, good, and then come down nice and slow, it's a great opportunity to go into one more bridge pose or if you feel like those shoulder openers got you into a spot where will is calling you, then flip your palms, draw them towards your shoulders, elbows draw towards each other, we're going to come to the crown of the head first, so lift into that bridge pose, roll to the crown of the head, squeeze your biceps towards each other and then from this pose make sure to press in the index and thumb as you rise up and then find your breath, slowly come down, take your feet as wide as your mat, release the arms and we'll do a couple of windshield wipers, dividing that neutral curvature of the spine back, that beautiful space between extension and flexion, we're going to draw the knees just a little wider than the chest and don't bring too close into the chest especially after the back bend, just keep the sacrum on the floor and give yourself a little rock from side to side, this could be a great spot just to stay right here or if happy baby feels like the right ending for this pose, pinky toe sides of the feet, draw the knees just outside of the armpits and invite the sacrum down to the floor at the same time, good, go ahead and release, for our shavasana today we're going to prop ourselves up on the bolsters so we get that nice incline and a heart opener, so you can roll over to your side, grab your bolster and as we lie on our bolster we want to make sure the seat is not on the bolster and the head should be touching somewhere at the back of the bolster, get comfortable, any form of a heart opener, arms out to the side like wings, cactus field goal, whatever feels like you're inviting that expression of openness, of being seen, settle in, thank the breath for all the work that it does for you on a daily basis and let go of any guiding or controlling of your breathing. As you settle into your shavasana, thank all of the body parts that supported you in your practice today, enjoy that tingle of energy throughout the body, that lightness of being, muscles are so relaxed that you start to lose that attachment to the physical body and as you're inhaling you feel the energetic body expanding and hugging back into self towards the heart.

Invite this lightness to be that new sense, that new experience of you, that lightness of being, and as you come out of your shavasana you can slowly roll to the right side in a ball for fetal pose, use your left palm to help you when you're ready to press up to your seat. And as you come to your seat we'll end our day nine together with a sense of gratitude that we're able to go on to this journey and we're able to keep opening up, that we invite the sense of vulnerability to be our new normal and that's where we're living from this space of maybe allowing ourselves to be truly seen and that authenticity, that vulnerability will invite others that you connect with to do the same. So thank you, please show up tomorrow for our last one, namaste.


M Angela C
Thank you for the wonderful gift of these practices. Each day I have left the mat with a greater appreciation of self and others. Thank you!
Hi M Angela oh I'm so glad you are feeling it! But happier that you are sharing the energy with others, this is what we really need in our world so thank you!
Christel B
So refreshing! I wish I could remember all the things you have shown us. I wonder what inspired your creation of these classes. I look forward to tomorrow's Sweet Heart challenge.
Christel B
I will definitely want to practice these sessions again.
Hi Christel wow you are almost finished! I really cant remember what inspired me for this specific challenge but Im glad you were feeling it!!
Wendy W
That was really, really, really good! Thanks!
Are you feeling strong Wendy ???!!!
Wendy W
Yes! I’m glad you can’t see me though, I don’t think I’m doing what you’re doing, but it sure is fun trying!
1 person likes this.
Wendy ahahah maybe you will start some new yoga trends!
Martha K
My heart is floating on air. So grateful.
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