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Season 1 - Episode 6

Widening the Stance

35 min - Practice


One of the purposes of standing asanas is to help us feel the support of the earth. Kira guides us through a simple sequence playing with Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2) and variations of Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-legged Forward Fold) to increase our flexibility and strength in the hips and legs. We finish with some seated postures and backbends to ease the heart and calm the mind. You will feel grounded and generous.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video

Jan 06, 2015
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(wave crashing) Nice to see you again. So in our first several episodes, we've been working with the lunge pattern to begin to find our sequences. As we begin today, we'll be finding a little bit more of a wide-legged stance and start to explore some more of the, I guess the word might even be classical yoga postures. Okay, so we'll begin in Tadasana, feet about hip distance apart. Big, deliberate inhale.

And exhale, let a (exhaling) happen, and soften. Soften your knees, soften the low belly, and really allow yourself, do your best, to have a sense of support. Can you have a sense that the earth has you? And, really, the only way to really let somebody have you is to stop having yourself, so you got to let a (exhaling) happen. Soften.

Belly. This isn't as easy as it sounds. Okay. And then just a little bit of rooting through the feet, just enough through the feet so that you feel this natural blossoming up through the heart. The heart is naturally generous, and yet absolutely key to generosity is the ability to receive because if we're hard in our generosity, we'll run out.

So the tendency is we press into the feet and let the heart lift. The tendency is to harden in the back of the body a little bit, and so let the back of the body just soften. Sit bones soft, back of the heart widen. Can you have a sense of both receiving and giving? Now, the hands are rumored to be the motor organ of the heart, so the way we'll begin our practice is just trying to tune this relationship a little bit.

We've spent a lot of time over the last sequences opening up the shoulders. We're gonna tune something a little bit more subtle. So with your heart feeling generous and receptive, let your arms reach out to the side. And what I like to do here is bend the elbows, shoulders relax back and down, and then press a little bit into the feet and really reach. And as you reach, reach through the pinky, the ring, the middle, index, thumb.

Really feel the fingers. Okay? And then as you're ready, flex the hands so that you're drawing your fingertips back towards your head, and I usually like to bend the elbows again, soften the shoulders back and down, and then press into the feet again and re-reach. Now, this might feel a little nervy and a little funky. It's usually fine.

Okay, keep pulling back a little bit through there. Now curl the fingertips in into what we usually call the swan head stretch. You're curling the fingertips in, stretching through the tops of the wrists there. Nice. Now release the fingertips back up.

Turn the fingertips behind you, and then turn the fingertips towards the earth, and now pull the fingertips in, press into the feet, and really reach through the heels of the palms. Reach down through the pinky, ring, middle, index, thumb. Nice. Okay, now curl the fingertips in. Swan head stretch.

Beautiful. Now last part. Relax the fingertips back up towards the sky. Soften the elbows again. Reach out through the hands, yes, and now really start to tune your awareness into the center points of the palms.

Spread the toes a little bit so you feel the earth. With your awareness on the center points of the palms, let your eyes soften. Let your elbows relax. Let the hands face towards each other. And now as the hands face towards each other, let your eyes close or soften towards the earth, and as the hands face towards each other, sometimes, if you let your hands feel a little more sensitive, a little bit more receptive, sometimes you start to catch this gentle force between the hands.

Not always. But as the hands come closer together, what you might do, if it hasn't quite revealed itself, you can kind of almost like you're fluffing what's between your hands. It's sort of this gentle pulling the hands apart, letting them come towards each other. Soften the mouth. Let your hands feel more sensitive.

When we're endeavoring to touch something less obvious, more subtle, more invisible, a more sensitive touch is required, so just a few more moments. This may or may not be available. Soften the mouth. If you happen to be catching this gentle force, the yogis usually refer to this as prana or life force. And we can understand prana as essentially the deeper layers of the breath, or we can understand the breath as the most obvious version of prana.

Okay. And then in the interest of starting to tune towards the breath, let the hands find each other in the Anjali Mudra right at the heart. Sometimes you're not allowed to bring your hands all the way to touching. Sometimes there just has to be this gentleness. Begin to find the breath, and as soon as you turn your attention to her, she responds.

So as soon as you give some interest, she starts to deepen. And we'll start to practice coordinating with her. We'll start with, again, the very simple quarter salutation, so allow for an inhale. Exhale breath. Inhale, circle your arms open, and exhale, hands come back to the center of the heart.

Again, inhale. Exhale breath. Inhale, circle. And exhale, hands back to the center of the heart. One more like this.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Moving in to half salutations.

Three rounds. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale, circle your arms open. This time, exhale, swan dive forward, forward fold.

Your knees might appropriately bend. Head drops. Hands down on the legs or earth. Inhale, half arch, hand slide halfway up the legs. Exhale, forward fold, Uttanasana.

Soften the knees as you inhale. Circle the arms all the way back up, and exhale, hands back to the center of the heart. Two more like that. Inhale, exhale, press your hands towards the earth. Inhale, circle, open, lengthen.

Exhale, swan dive forward. Knees might soften as you come down over the legs. Head drops. Let an inhale create a half arch. Let an exhale fold you forward.

Soften the knees, press into the earth, inhale, circle the arms all the way up. Exhale, hands back to the heart. One more, inhale. And exhale. Inhale, open.

Exhale, swan dive. Inhale, half arch. Exhale, forward fold. Inhale, press into the feet. Let yourself come all the way back up.

Exhale, hands back to the center of the heart. So nice. Pause here. Big, deliberate inhale. Exhale everything.

As you're ready, let your hands find your waist, and start to find a wide stance. Now, as we start to find a wide stance, take a moment and just notice your feet are pointing straight forward. Let your hands be on your hips, and just sort of, we've talked a little bit of the bowl of the pelvis here. Just sort of see if it makes sense. Lean your hips to one side, and then lean your hips to the other.

So if you imagine your pelvis like a bowl. As I lean my hips in this direction, then the bowl's tipping down. Opposite. Just kinda get a sense of that. So right at the bottom of the bowl, you have all these attachments, and you can probably feel it in your inner groin.

So as you lean your hips over towards your left, you'll feel that in the right inner thigh. And as you lean your hips over to your right, you'll feel that in your left inner thigh. Just start to get a sense there. Nice. And we'll start with a variation of Warrior Two.

So turn, I'm gonna turn, turn your left foot out. Turn your back right foot in. Now, how you decide the distance here, we're gonna be making a way again, Warrior Two, and eventually this left knee is gonna come over this left ankle. Generally, while yoga teachers will disagree about most things, we'll generally agree on the possibility that it's the nicest alignment if that knee lines up right over the ankle. So if you're gonna take a shorter stance, which is no problem, then you just stop where that knee is over the ankle.

Okay, so if you take a wider stance, then you'll be moving more towards the 90 degree. Okay? Okay, let yourself come with the legs straight, and we're gonna start with something we call Warrior Two Dance. Now notice what's happening in the pelvis. Notice how it's probably tipping towards that left foot.

Let that right sit bone draw under. Let that right sit bone draw towards that left heel so your pelvis is more even. Let an inhale reach your arms up. Now pause here. Get a little longer, and now let's move with our breath.

So inhale here, exhale, let that front knee bend as you open. Nice. Four more like that. Inhale, gather your resources. Exhale and open.

Beautiful, three more. Inhale up. Exhale, open. Nice. Two more.

Inhale. Exhale, open. So pretty. Last one. Inhale.

Exhale, open. Beautiful. Let an inhale bring you all the way back up. Exhale, hands back on that waist. Turn that left foot in, and turn your right foot out.

Now spread the toes a little bit. And while probably you have the same measurement, just check, just make sure that when you're gonna bend this right knee that it's gonna land right over that ankle. So, again, it doesn't have to be at 90 degrees. If you want it to be, then you need a longer stand. That's about where I'm gonna go today.

Okay, let that front leg draw straight. Notice how the pelvis is tipped. It just does that, and the purpose here of drawing that left sit bone under towards that right heel, the purpose of that is just to help this bowl bump, be a little bit more even, and it takes some of the compression out in this joint. It's just an idea. Inhale, reach your arms up.

Lengthen (exhaling). We'll dance on this side too. Inhale here. Exhale. Let that front knee bend as you open.

Beautiful, four more. Inhale. Exhale, open. Nice. Three more.

Inhale, gather your resources. Exhale, open. Beautiful. Two more. Open.

Last one. Open. So nice. Inhale, bring your arms back up. Exhale, heads back on the waist.

Now turn both toes in towards each other. Shorten the stance a little bit if it got away from you. We'll come into a forward fold here. Inhale, and as you exhale, let your hands slide down. Stop at about where the knees and the thighs meet, the ka-thigh region.

And for some of you, this is deep enough as you lengthen up through the heart. Inhale here. If appropriate, exhale, slide your hands down a little bit lower. This might be the spot for some of you. Some of you, it's gonna feel super appropriate to let the hands come down towards the ankles.

Some of you are gonna already be bending your knees a little bit. Whether your knees are bent or straight, just gently lean a little side to side. So just notice how, as I lean to that left, or as you lean to your left, feel that on the inner right thigh. And as you lean to the right, feel that on the inner left thigh. Just start to get to know yourself here a little bit.

Okay, few more moments. Beautiful. Come back to neutral. Now bend the knees, chin into the chest, and slowly roll back up, sliding the hands on the legs for support. Come all the way back up to standing.

Excellent, and gently step your feet back towards each other towards the shape of Tadasana. Big, deliberate inhale. Exhale everything. Let a (exhaling) happen. Soften the knees.

Now, one of the designs of the standing asanas, one of the purposes is to help us feel supported by the earth. And so as we have this opportunity to be in Tadasana, Mountain Pose, okay, does that feel true? How do your legs feel? How do you feel on the earth? Okay, beautiful.

We're gonna repeat this Warrior Two dance, but this time we're gonna stay in the posture. So we'll add a few extra details that will help that happen. So once again, wide stance, or as wide as is appropriate. Turn that left foot away from you. Make sure that you're set up for success, that is you bend and straighten that leg, you're set up, and one other little alignment detail that again, most teachers agree on is that if, when you bend that knee, usually it's nice if it tracks over your second toe.

What that's helping is if the knee is collapsing to the inside of the foot, it'll put a lot of pressure on that inside knee joint, which, usually over long periods of time, isn't so awesome. So if that's happening, adjust your foot. Press into the ball of that big left toe and externally rotate the hip a little bit, just see. These are just details. Okay, leg is straight, now take a look back at your back right foot.

Keep your gaze on that back right foot as you let that right sit bone draw towards your left heel, pelvis even, keep the gaze back there, inhale, arms up, exhale, let that front knee bend as you open up Warrior Two. Keep the gaze at the back foot, inhale, gather, exhale, open. Nice. Three more like that, inhale. Exhale, open. Two more, inhale, exhale open.

Nice, one more, inhale. Now this time as you exhale and you open, stay, soften a little bit, let the earth have you, keeping that sense of action through that back foot, let your gaze come over your heart. Let your elbows bend a little bit, shoulders relaxed back and down, and turn the palms up, and you remember that quality in your hands that we explored earlier in Tadasana. Can you let your hands feel this sensitive, this soft, this available? Sweet, last few moments.

Let yourself be more a warrior of a generous, receptive heart. Nice, root through that front foot, inhale up, exhale hands to the waist, turn that left foot in, turn the right foot away from you. Now again, just why not? Why not just make sure it's gonna work out okay? Just make sure you're set up for success.

Nice. Okay, now same idea, let your gaze come back towards that back left foot, and really feel that foot root. Now maintain that as you let that left sit bone draw towards that right heel. Inhale arms up, lengthen a little bit here. Then as you're ready, inhale, exhale open up Warrior Two.

Nice, four more, inhale up, exhale open. Inhale up, exhale open. Two more. Exhale open. Last one, inhale up, exhale open.

Now on this last one, stay. Keep rooting through that back foot but let your gaze come over the heart. So as the gaze comes over the heart now, maybe squeeze your shoulders up around your ears, exhale (exhaling), drop. Elbows bent, palms turned up. Now tune into the sensitivity of the hands.

Let your hands feel more subtle, more sensitive. Gooey in the back of the jaw, let yourself feel more supported. Way easier to give and receive when you feel supported. (Kira exhaling) Last three moments. Nice, inhale, bring the arms back up, exhale, hands on your waist.

If the stance got a little away from you, shorten it. We'll come into that forward fold again. Inhale here, exhale, forward fold. The hands are gonna come right about to where the knees and the thighs meet. For some of you, this is deep enough, stay right here.

Only if it's correct, let the hands slide a little lower. Maybe it's the shins, maybe it's the ankles. If the knees gotta bend, you let 'em. Lean a little side to side, so as you lean your hips to one side, feel the opposing inner line. As you lean your hips to the other side, feel that other line.

A couple more like that. Nice. Beautiful, come back to center, soften the knees, chin into the chest, roll on up slow, feel the belly. Feel the heart, feel the throat, and the face. When you feel ready, walk your feet towards each other.

Tadasana, one last time, just to find out the effect right? Big, deliberate inhale, exhale, let (exhaling) happen. Soften the knees. Belly easy, let the ground support you. Let the heart feel simultaneously receptive and generous.

That's really what she is right? She receives, (exhaling), she gives. Wide at the base of the skull, gooey in the neck, and let your palms turn open and just touch that sensitivity. Two more beats. Beautiful.

Now we're gonna start to make our way towards the squat, Malasana. It's not for everybody, but rarely do these postures get easier by not doing them, so we start. Okay, so inhale here and as you exhale you're gonna start to slide the hands down the legs and let the knees bend and for some of you today this might be as close to squat as feels correct. This is super demanding on the knees, the hips, the ankles. Widening your stance usually helps, and while sometimes in yoga, you're told to turn your feet forward, if you turn your feet out, it often helps.

So you start to come down in the squat. For some of you this is deep enough, and you're just gonna stay here. If your hips, knees and ankles allow, you sink down and in. It's not unusual to roll a little bit forward and the heels come up off the earth. That's more normal than not.

Let your hips sink down a little bit, maybe the heels find the earth, maybe not. We're trying, this is sort of like (exhaling). Again, we've talked about this earlier in the sequence. What motivates you to squat again, right? Like your grandchild.

(Kira laughs) Or you've lost something under the bed. (Kira laughs) Or gardening. Okay, now if, if, if, if... You happen to be close enough to the floor to bring your hands down to the floor and just plunk down, that's how you get down. If not, you'll come back up, and then you'll just find your way to the floor in another way.

So make your way to the floor, and we'll meet in Sukhasana. Suhkasana with, my shins are lined up in front of each other. This may or may not be comfortable. Some of you might sit up on a blanket or put a pillow underneath you. If there's mischief in the knees that doesn't allow for this maybe it's in one side, just stick your leg out.

Snuggle back in here, big deliberate inhale and as you exhale, if it's okay, start to let your elbows come down onto your knees and let a little bit of a (exhaling) happen. Now we've already done a lot of what might be called external rotation of the hips. Those Warrior Twos required a lot of opening, widening in the hips, so we're taking advantage a little bit of that as you come forward. And for most of you, as you soften in the back of the neck and the eyes, right here for many of you is deep enough. This is demanding enough.

If you're invited, just start to let your hands come forward to deepen the forward fold, you might, you'll feel it in the back of the buttocks. Some of you will feel it in the low back. Knees are generally a place that we're not trying to increase pain level. There's a real difference in yoga between what we call good pain and bad pain. Good pain has this deep achy-like oooh, low bass tone.

Bad pain tends to be hot, sharp, spicy and specific. Generally, if it's deep, low, or achy, it's okay. So some of you, that might be deep enough, some of you the elbows might come down. Palms turning up. Again, remember this palms up quality, this sense of (exhaling) offering, receiving.

Nice, from here inhale just up enough and start to walk your hands over to your left. Let your heart come out over the knee a little bit and then as you feel ready, continue your journey 'til your left forearm comes down to the earth and let your right hip come up off the floor. And as your right hip comes up off the floor, circle this top arm in front of the face. Let the elbow bend so the shoulder can relax back and down, and then see if this makes sense. Roll this right hip away from you as you reach this arm, so you're rolling the hip away as you lengthen.

Okay, soft in the back of the neck, tender in the fingertips. Beautiful, take a look down at the earth, let an inhale bring you all the way back up. Exhale. Nice, lean back, switch the cross off your legs. Again, if you're working with some mischief in one of your knees and one of your legs wants to be straight, you do that.

Inhale here, exhale, let a (exhaling) happen and if it's okay, you start to lean in and just let the weight of your elbows gently encourage that rotation in the hips. And wait, really wait for it. Soft in the mouth, easy in the jaw. There's this little internal light that will eventually turn green, and when we force, really it's as simple as it feels like force. Because when you force, you get this feedback in your mouth and your eyes and your jaw, and what the yogis say is some of you are gonna stay there, some of you are gonna start to walk your hands forward.

What the yogis say is, how we're doing something makes a much deeper impression than even what we're doing. So when we're forcing something, all we're really getting better at is force. Some of you might let your elbows come down towards the earth. Again, only if it's appropriate. You'll know if it's not.

Turn the palms up, soft in the mouth, soft in the tongue. Let the hands feel. Again, receptive, offering. Generous. Vulnerable.

A couple more moments so that we do our best to be equally-ish on both sides. Then eventually, inhale, lift up a little bit, exhale, walk your hands over to the right. Heart comes out over the right knee. This might be the spot. Some of you are gonna continue.

That right forearm's gonna come down to the earth and you're gonna tip over. You're letting the left hip come up off the floor. Once you've let that come up off the floor, circle that top arm in front of the face. Soften the elbows so the shoulder relaxes back and down. Now reach that arm away from you as you roll this hip away from you, lengthen, feel this opportunity.

Soft in the mouth, more tender in the fingertips. Beautiful, now take a look down at the earth. Let an inhale bring you all the way back up. Sit for a few moments in the sauce you just created. Beautiful, and let's make our way onto the earth so you free the legs.

Put your arms out in front of you, and I'm just gonna move this back to the side. Exhale, roll it on back down. Once you're supine, let's find a bridge pose. We've been doing all this nice opening up through the hips, which is really quite useful in opening up the heart. (Kira chuckles) There, that's my wisdom for the day.

Opening up the hips is quite useful for opening up the heart. So let the heels come down in line with the sit bones, spread the toes. Let your arms come down along your side. Now remember that sensitivity of the hands. So inhale here, exhale everything, then inhale, and as you exhale, as you start to press down into your feet, as you press a little bit through the balls of the big toes, give just a little bit more juju through the outer pinky pads and heels.

As you give a little bit more juju through the outer pinky pads and heels, that will create the action of external rotation in the hips. Inhale here, exhale root down, lift up a little higher and some of you, again, even though we've been working on this in all of our sequences, this might be deep enough for some of you. Soft in the throat. Some of you are gonna root down through the hips, you're gonna start to wiggle the arms underneath you like we've been practicing. Maybe it feels better to just keep them straight.

Maybe it feels okay today to interlace, even though we haven't done that before in this sequence. Press under the feet, lift the heart, throat is open. Okay, a few more moments here. Soften the eyes, and can you let the heart feel more receptive? Here you are in this big heart "opener", but can you (exhaling) easy in there?

Nice, beautiful. Up on the balls of the feet. Release your arms up to the sky, roll back down. Upper back, mid back, low back. Hips land, heels land, arms come down along your side, and then pause, marinate in the sauce that comes when you come out of that.

Beautiful, okay. Hug your knees into your chest and wobble. Excellent, now for most of you, knees into the chest is deep enough, but because we've done all that hip opening, let's just start to explore something a little bit. So what some of you might start to play with is what we in yoga usually call Happy Baby. In New York, sometimes they call it Dead Bug, so it gets named different things depending on where you are in the country.

So your knees are gonna come towards the underarms. Your hands are gonna make their way towards the feet. Some of you, maybe it's the ankles. Some of you it's the calves. Or maybe towards the feet.

And just see, the play here is to just slowly letting those hips find that same opening we've been finding. Let your knees come down towards the underarms and you just wobble a little side to side. You can let one knee (thunk) down. Let the other knee kinda (thunk) down. Okay, a couple more moments.

All my friends are having babies and they do this for real. They do this, that's extra credit. Okay, hug the knees into the chest, wobble, and then let your feet come back down and pause, and again, as we've been exploring, your Shavasana might be better with your knees bent. It would probably feel good even to have the feet wide and the knees come together 'cause we've been doing so much external rotation that internal might feel nice. Big, deliberate inhale, exhale, let (exhaling) happen.

If you'd rather, let the legs then straighten one at a time. Shoulders tuck under, palms are open. Big, deliberate inhale, exhale everything. Eyes closed, and then again let your hands feel soft, receptive, generous. Gooey in the back of the neck.

And if right now, you know you wanna be here for longer than we'll be here for, you can go ahead and hit pause or volume, or off. Otherwise we'll be here for about two minutes. Absorbing the effect of the practice. Tuned to the vibrancy of yourself that is now available. Sometimes it's useful to close the eyes, sometimes it's fun to stay in the sauce with your eyes open.

The purpose of these practices is to be able to be awake within the delight. Let the hands feel more sensitive, let the heart feel more receptive. And see if this makes sense. As you soften the jaw, can you feel more space in the hip joints? Nice.

Beautiful. So again, stay here longer if you're able. Otherwise, as you're ready you start to let the legs come towards each other. Let your arms reach over the head. Today I'm gonna clasp my elbows as you lengthen.

Then you bend your knees, you roll to the side. Most people say to roll to the right. The purpose of rolling to the right, one of the theories is because your heart sits on your left, so it's protective of the heart. Another one of the theories is that when you roll to the right, you're sealing in the softer energetics. That's as technical as I'm gonna get on that.

Okay, press your hand into the earth. Let yourself come up. Find a cross-legged position. Big, deliberate inhale, exhale, let a (exhaling) happen. Let your palms turn up, remember this quality.

And as you're ready, let the hands find each other. Anjali Mudra. Namaste.


Christy B
2 people like this.
Kira has an amazing ability to give voice to how my body is feeling. She has lots of quirky comments too that I really connect with. I will definitely be a follower of Kira! She is fun!
Kira Sloane
1 person likes this.
Dearest Christy, so glad you are here! xok
Erika D
HI Kira, I need your guidance through this website. I really want to follow you from beginning to end in order as I notice that you are building progressively. However, when you go into your page with all your episodes they are not in order and do not show which are from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc seasons. can you let me know how to figure out the order of your classes? Thank you so much!!!
Kira Sloane
Dearest Erika, I am so glad to be practicing together, and I so appreciate your feedback that we ned to re-look at the design of the Instructor Pages.

Meanwhile, the Welcome to Yoga Show Season 1 is progressive through the episodes. //www.yogaanytime.com/show-view/55/ Yoga-Show-Welcome-to-Yoga

And Inner Workings is also progressive. Season 1 prepares us for Season 2, and the release of Season 3 is imminent. //www.yogaanytime.com/show-view/4/Y oga-Show-Inner-Workings

Season 1 of the Step by Step Show is not necessarily progressive, rather we try to look at and unpack some of the usual postures. //www.yogaanytime.com/show-view/3/Y oga-Show-Step-By-Step

And the Posing Show is designed to help us unravel from the temptation to believe that there is one right way to do any of this. It's also not progressive, more of a resource. //www.yogaanytime.com/show-view/2/Y oga-Show-Posing

I hope this helps. Stay close.
Erika D
Thank you so much for taking your time to send me all the information. I look forward to growing, deepening, and sweetening my practice with you. Namaste,
xoxo Erika
Jamie M
1 person likes this.
I have just started following season 1 for beginners and I have really enjoy the slow progression. I have a bit of a bum knee from a bicycle accident, so I appreciate the extra tips provided when a certain posture just doesn't work for all. Can't wait to move into season 2. Thanks!
Kira Sloane
Stay close, Jamie. Glad you are here. xok
Lizzy R
Thank you! This was such a nice class for today. I especially enjoyed the moment when you brought the feeling of the prana and the softness in the hands from tadasana back into warrior 2.
Johanna L
1 person likes this.
A great closure of this week. Thank you for your beautiful guidance , and yes cool timing with the train in the end
Kira Sloane
Sweet to be together, Johanna. xok
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