Yoga for Our Nature Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 5

Elemental Yoga: Water

40 min - Practice
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Description

We are mostly water and she ebbs and flows just like the tides of the ocean. Melina guides us through a rhythmic practice to tap into the quiet pulsing humility of the element water. We begin supine with some abdominal work. We then move through a beautiful standing sequence and finish with some deep hip opening. You will feel fluid, juicy, and surrendered.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block

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(waves crashing) I'd like to welcome you to the Water Practice. This class is one that I recommend at the times of the full moon when the water is rising, both externally out in nature as well as potentially within your own body. We can tend to feel a little bit more emotional at the time of the full moon. So this practice is something that will have a nice, slow flow and encourage you to stay close to your intuition and how you're feeling. We're gonna begin our practice lying down on our back.

So if you will find a block to support your feet, and if you raise your feet up to the block the knees open out to the sides and just notice how far away from the block or how close to the block feels most comfortable, most natural for you. When you discover that place, let your arms fall out to the sides away from the torso and let the eyes gradually close as you surrender the weight of your body to the floor. And just let the water stay close to the ground, perhaps where it prefers to be, where it's heavy, it's fluid. And take a few moments as you arrive to center your awareness today down in the center of your belly. And try to feel the natural rising of the belly as you breathe in.

And see if you can feel the way the belly recedes back toward the floor as you exhale. Sense and feel into that wave of movement much like the ocean brushing up against the shore. And perhaps starting to hear the faint echo of the sound of the ocean in your breath. Take in a few more moments to enhance your awareness of the breath, moving down through the belly all the way down to your hips. From the hips, the washing of the breath all the way back up toward the belly, back up eventually toward the face.

Try to stay close to your breath through the entire practice to help inform you whether we're moving too deep into a posture, or perhaps to move a little bit further into a shape. And then the next shape that we'll move into is where we'll take the hands around the backside of the head, lace your fingers together, and with that soft lace as you start the exhalation, please draw your knees toward each other as you're rolling your head and shoulders off the ground, so we curl up on the exhale. Inhale, let the knees and elbows reach out wide. And again as you exhale, curl forward and up. I'll often encourage students to close their eyes when they're doing this movement pattern so that you're more intuitively focused of how far to lift, when to let go, and so that you're really filling up just the right amount for yourself today as you go back and forth.

And one more time exhale, curling forward and up before releasing back. As you release back, let your feet slide to the side of your block, and then if you can lift the block up and place that block now between your inner thighs the small way, with your arms open out to the side, palms facing the sky, and as you exhale, just let yourself move over to the right side, knees halfway over to the floor, and let the knees move away from your chest like you're drawing a half moon with your knees, and then we'll come over to the left, pause, knees move toward the chest, then move the knees back away from your chest as you finish, again, the shape of that half moon, just moving in little half circles, moving with your breath and perhaps even with your eyes closed as you feel just the right amount of movement to support the fluids moving in the body. And back and forth. Next time we come back around through the center, we'll pause in that center position and reach forward for the block and take it with your hands, stretch your arms all the way back by your ears while holding the block, send the feet up toward the sky. As you exhale, let the legs separate, and then lift your head and shoulders and reach the block forward through the legs.

The legs close as the arms reach all the way back by your ears. Exhale as the block reaches forward through the legs. And just feel yourself flow in between those two shapes. Again, you might even do that with your eyes closed. Just to feel again, you're moving just the right amount, not too much, and perhaps just getting that little nudge one more time to lift away from the ground and then rolling back toward the floor.

And then from here as we leave the block there, arms come down to your side as the feet root down underneath the knees in preparation for a bridge pose. So as we lift the hips away from the ground, lift your arms, and that's one inhale as we lift the bridge and reach your arms back by your ears. As you exhale, take the arms down as your spine comes back down to the floor. And just let yourself move back and forth between those two shapes, just trying to feel like you're moving like water, like a wave moving back and forth away from the shore. And two more times you inhale, lifting up the bridge with the arms flowing back.

Exhale as you come down to touch the earth. And one more time, inhaling up and back, and exhaling our way back down toward the earth. Let the knees come toward your chest, separate the knees away from one another, and let the feet rise up above the knees for happy baby pose, and just for a brief moment let your knees reach down beside the chest, and take a big breath in with the heels wide, at least as wide as your knees. As we exhale we'll drop the heels, invite the legs to come together, and just slowly rock your way up toward a seated position, and then from our seated position, we'll turn and rotate toward the front of your mat. And then from here, let your hips sway a little bit side to side in little circles, then moving that up through the belly area, little circles, up through the shoulders, the neck, just free movement, letting the water move through the body.

Let your eyes relax. Just moving intuitively, the right amount, not too little, not too much. And after a few rounds it's decreasing some stiffness in some of the joints, so slide the knees together and then sit back with your hips towards your heels as your hands walk out in front of you. Before you come to the final end range of your movement, walk your hands over to the left. With your hands moving over to the left, eventually stack your right hand on top of your left and lower your head down between your arm bones.

And just feel like the arms are flowing out away from the ribs. At the same time, the hips sink back more and more heavy towards your heels. Big breath in through the belly. Big breath out. Let the hands gradually walk across the center of the mat all the way over to the opposite side and we'll eventually stack left hand on top of right hand and let the head settle down between the arm bones.

Notice the head may or may not actually come to the floor. Once you're here, big breath in through the center of the belly, and flowing out through the arms as we're heavy sitting back towards your heels. And then inhale as the arms walk out in front of you, and then we'll come to all fours. Let the knees separate now, hip distance apart. Let your toes curl under as you inhale.

We'll start to arch and look forward towards the space in front of you. As you exhale, draw a line with your eyes all the way up towards your navel as you round the back. And right at the end, lift your knees and hips up off the mat for our first downward dog. You might let your feet wriggle further away from your wrist, and then just for a moment let the heels rise up, lift your hips toward the sky. I'm gonna roll forward through the upper body, moving again like a wave, to approach your plank pose and just easing into a very mild version of upward dog.

Hang your head back towards your heart as you go in reverse back into your downward facing dog. Exhale. Rolling forward through the upper back, plank position into the beginning of upward dog as you breathe in. Exhale, letting your head hang toward the heart as you press your hips up and back to down dog. Last time, rolling forward through the upper back, approaching the beginning of upward facing dog, and exhale, hang the head as you reverse back to down dog.

We'll step the right foot up towards your right wrist, lower your left knee to the floor, and then stay up on the tips of your fingers. If it's hard to reach the floor, you could also use blocks under your hands. We'll sink the hips toward the front of your mat as you curl your chest up toward the sky. Then as you exhale, let your hips move back as far as you're comfortable, eventually pulling the right foot away from the floor. Fold slightly over your right leg, just the right amount for you to acknowledge the hamstrings this first time.

We're gonna go back and forth between those two movements where you lunge, lift up through the chest. As you exhale, fold back over your front leg with your head dropped down. Inhaling again as you come forward. Lift up through your chest. And then exhale as you soften into that forward fold.

And then in between we'll pause in that lunge and step back into plank pose, and from your plank pose, come down to the ground, knees, belly, chest, and when we're down on the floor, we're gonna lift the legs out to the side as your arms reach forward almost like you were swimming, and we'll let the arms come down by your side as the legs come together. Look down on exhale. Inhaling, legs open, arms reach out in front of you. Exhale as the legs come together, the arms come down to your sides, just like a swimming action. Inhaling, legs wide, arms forward.

Exhaling with the arms all the way in, legs together, and we'll pause. Put the hands by your chest. Then take one breath in cobra, curling the chest away from the ground. Move your hips back over your knees, toes flip under, and we're back to downward dog as you exhale. Step forward with your left foot and set your right knee to the floor.

Again, use blocks under the hands if it's hard to reach the ground. Otherwise, drop your hips and lift your chest as you breathe in. And you might try this side with your eyes closed, just a way to intuitively sense how deep to move into the posture, how long to stay. Inhale, lift your chest. Then find the rhythm that's just right for your body.

It's mostly composed of water, maybe 80, 90 percent depending on your source. One more time, just getting the fluids to move with minimal effort. And then coming through that lunge, we'll pause from that plank pose and then send your hips back up for your downward facing dog. And then one more transition with your right foot forward this time into a high lunge. Root your fingertips under your shoulders or grab your blocks.

As you inhale, drop your hips an inch or two toward the floor, lift your chest like your doing a little cobra, and then as you exhale, with straight legs pull your hips back and once again fold over your right leg. Drop your back heel. Notice it'll stay off the ground. Lunge again through your front leg. Drop your hips, lift up through your chest.

Exhaling as the hips move back in space and we fold over the leg. Relax the eyes, just intuitively sense how deep to go, how long to stay. Exhale, fold forward over your front leg. In the transition we'll pause, step back with your right leg, and from that plank, come down to the floor, knees, belly, chest. Raise the legs, stretch the arms out in front of you on inhale, and then legs together as you come down on exhale.

Inhale, legs wide, arms reach forward, and then exhale as if you were swimming with your arms. Bring them back towards your legs. Last time, inhale, legs wide, arms forward. And then legs together, arms at your sides. Lift the chest as you breathe into gentle cobra.

And then working your way back into downward facing dog, exhale. Take the left foot up toward the left hand. Grab your blocks or come up to the very tips of your fingers. When you inhale, drop your hips an inch or two to lift your chest away from the knee. With straight legs, pull your hips back and point the left foot toward the sky.

And check into the hamstrings. Back and forth with your breath, perhaps with the eyes closed. Sense and feel the right amount, or even noticing if you need to stay and linger a little longer somewhere along the way. Last one, exhale when you're moving back to straight legs. And then as we come back through that lunge, we'll step the back foot forward and come into our first forward fold with the feet apart.

Take an exhale. As you fold forward, grab an opposite elbow and just hang for a moment like a waterfall, letting the spine flow down over the legs. And just take a moment to root down into your feet, big breath into your belly and a big breath out. As we come up, release the elbows, roll up the spine, or come up in a good way for you to stand, and adjust your feet once you come up to stand with your feet down underneath your hips. Let the hands turn to face forward as you inhale.

Sweep your arms up by your ears. Catch a hold of your right wrist, and then as you exhale, take a bend over to your left side. And then release the neck, release your gaze down towards your lower heel. As you inhale, come all the way up to the center, catch a hold of your left wrist, and as you exhale, bend to your right side and take a glance down toward your right outer heel. Inhale all the way back to the center.

Then release your arms down at your side. We'll heel-toe the legs and feet away from each other, and as we spread the arms in preparation for triangle pose, we'll start with the left side turned out, the toes facing away from your back foot as your hips stretch over to the right. Lower your left hand just below the knee even if you could go lower. Just take a moment with your top arm reaching up toward the sky. Big breath in.

And as you exhale, turn your gaze down toward the floor, down toward your lower ankle. Come up from here into a warrior two on the inhalation, where we'll gather the hands in front of the chest. Then turn that left foot in about 10 degrees as we start to bow forward with your shoulder sliding to the inside of the knee, just gazing down toward the earth, and then from here stretch your arms out in front of you and just let your arms flow away from the ribs. Stay up on the tips of your fingers, and then exhale here. Ground through your back foot.

Slowly walk your hands right in front of you. As your hands are straight out, both feet face straight ahead, and just take a moment in that wide legged downward dog as you exhale. Walk the hands back in so they're underneath your shoulders. Reach up for your waist, and then come all the way up to stand. Let the arms again spread out to the side.

Turn your right foot out for triangle pose. Adjust your back heel. Reach out to the right side. Lower your hand just below your knee, even if you could go lower, and then take the left hand up above your head toward the sky. So that's the inhale.

When you exhale, take a peak down toward your lower ankle. Relax the neck. Come all the way up into your warrior two. As you breathe in, we'll gather the hands in front of the chest, and turn your right foot in about 10, 15 degrees. As you exhale, bow over to the right sides and take a moment looking toward the earth, and then let your arms stretch out away from the shoulders as your hips settle more and more toward the floor.

Eventually walk your hands out in front of you. Turn your back foot in. With both feet facing forward, the wide legged downward dog, pause. Walk the hands in so they're underneath the shoulders. Grab your hipbones.

Inhale all the way back up. Keep your feet wide. As you inhale, raise arms out as high as your shoulders. As you exhale, take your left arm over your right arm. We'll wind the arms around each other the way we do in eagle pose.

And here the feet might inch in a little bit closer together, the knees can bend as we flow forward and down with bent knees. Just let the spine release and let the forehead drop in towards your elbow crease. And in that forward fold, as you feel stable here, you might start to let the legs straighten a little bit more. And try to feel, again, the flow of the fluids moving down in this mild inversion as you exhale and release the head a little bit more toward your arm bones. As you lift your head forward, unwind your arms.

Circle them out to the side. Come all the way up with your arms by your ears, and then back down with your hands in front of your chest. Stretch your arms out to the side on the in breath, and then take your right arm over your left arm, wind your arms around each other in the eagle arm variation. Bend your knees, curl forward and down as you exhale. Forehead draws near to the elbows.

And just let the weight of the upper body drop toward the earth. As you're ready, you might start to investigate straightening the legs and noticing how that affects your breath, the posture, the mood. If it feels better with your knees bent, always go back to that first variation with bent knees. As you reach your head forward, unwind your arms, draw a big circle around you as you come up, and then we'll take the hands down in front of your chest and hands slide around to the hipbones. We'll turn to face out toward your right foot as we come to a high lunge.

As you lean over your front leg, touch the ground with your fingertips, and then from that lunge position we'll pause, step back into downward facing dog, and bring the knees down to the floor. So a block can be useful for this next pose, placed the wide way for you to rest your hip on if we need this variation when we straighten the legs. Take the right leg out to the side with the edge of the foot on the ground, and then we're gonna lower your hip to the block that we've placed on the mat. Take a look that your back knee is up away from the floor and your back toes are curled under the back heel. If we turn and face the small edge of your mat, we're gonna walk the hands forward so that you could root down with your elbows.

And then take a peak down between the forearms. So if this feels okay through the outer hip, the next variation is to move the block out of the way, and then come down straight to the floor with that hip. If we lower now the chest to the floor and stretch your left hand out to meet that right foot, and stretch out through the left arm, and we're gonna turn to look toward the direction of your straight leg out to the side first. Make sure your back knee is still lifted, and just let yourself settle into the floor. Try to spread like water spreads when it meets the ground.

And then if you feel like going deeper into that shape, we turn the gaze to look the opposite way towards your back hand, and just noticing how that changes the breath, the experience, and the pose. Take a few more moments, and whichever one feels best for you today, a few more moments to stretch out through both legs, lengthen through your spine, soften, and breathe. Gather the hands when you're ready, back in underneath the shoulders. Lift your chest up off the ground, and then slide that first leg back. As you come through downward dog, bend your knees, shake your hips, and then as we transfer from plank pose either with a block or without the block, take your left leg out to the side from plank so you're balancing on the pinky edge of your foot, take your hip down to the floor or block, look that the back knee is lifted, back toes are curled under.

Turn to the front of your mat, walk your elbows forward, drop your forearms down to the floor, and just take a moment to reach into both legs with your awareness. And with the belly turned toward the floor here, we're gonna settle down onto the ground, stretch out through your right arm, stretch out through your left arm, and first look to your left side, the direction of your straight leg, and see if this feels like a good place to stop and settle. Pay attention to the stream of the breath, coming in through the nose, moving out through the nose. If you feel like the next level is there for you today to step into, we turn and look away from that straight left leg and work a little bit more up into the chest. As we feel that stretch more and more across the chest, we turn the head with more ease to look to the right side.

Sense and feel which one is right for you today. Gather the hands back in underneath your shoulders, lift your chest first, then go ahead as you slide your leg back into that downward dog, one more time in transition. We'll transfer with the knees down to the floor, slide your right knee up behind your right wrist, and then take your back knee off the floor for a moment like a raised lunge so that you can decide if this is the right amount of knee movement for your pigeon. Or if you lift your hips higher and slide your right foot over toward the left side of your mat for a little deeper version of pigeon. As you drop your back knee, we'll come down closer to the floor, point your toes away from you.

You can use your block underneath your hip as one area to give you more supports that feels best for you, or sometimes that's in the way from you coming into the best possible shape, so we move that and come down toward the floor. So we're gonna walk the hands forward, let your elbows spread out to the side, let your hands stack together, and lower your forehead down toward your hands. Set your attention, start to drop again to the center of the belly and try to find that wavelike movement in your breath. And feeling that watery-like quality settle more and more into any stiffness in the outer hips. Taking a few more moments here just to simply settle and to spread, just taking whatever form that water wants to move into here.

Draw the head up away from the hands as we come out and walk the hands back in toward under the shoulder line. When you straighten your arms, lift up your hips and just transfer the first leg back. We'll bring the left knee forward right up behind the left wrist as a safe starting point if that's all the knee wants to do. You can raise your hips a little higher to slide your left foot over to the right and find a more suitable angle for you to come down without any discomfort in your knee. Then when you're ready we'll start to walk the elbows forward, perhaps slide the elbows wide, stack your hands and come forward and down.

If that's a little bit too far to come down, we have the block to put underneath your forehead, and you could support the block with your hands and then rest your head here. I'm gonna take a few more moments here. Center your awareness down in the belly center, and imagine the water moving all the way down into the hips to soften any dryness in the tissues, any stiffness in the outer hip. And one more breath here before we lift the head. Walk your hands back in under the shoulder line, and go ahead as you lift up, just sit over onto that outer left hip and use your right hand to help you bring the right leg forward and around as we come to a Gomukhasana-type shape.

So if we have here your right knee over your left knee, knees stacked over each other, that this brings some discomfort to the knees, you might first start by sitting on a raised block, blanket, whatever you have to make the knees a little bit more comfortable. You could also roll onto your back and do this same shape holding onto your feet if you lie on your back. So if you feel okay here, let's use your hands to ground your feet down toward the floor. And just, without letting the back of the pelvis lift off the mat, we start to lean a little bit forward, ease your belly towards your thighs. Right knee starting to sink toward the left knee, and just finding here that the eyes might actually close so you can pay a little more attention to the feedback your body is giving you about whether to be more cautious in moving forward, or is the body giving you permission to move more deeply into the shape?

You notice it's difficult to hear the breath, to feel the breath, you wanna take the spine a little bit more vertical. Take two more breaths to investigate your Gomukhasana. On the inhale breath, as you're ready, bring your spine all the way up, take your hands behind you so there's no pressure on the knees as we switch to bring the left leg on top of the right leg. And if this is the knee that's tighter below, go ahead, try sitting on a block or folded blanket or whatever you have to sit on, a pillow, roll onto your back if this is difficult on this side. Otherwise we'll be pressing the feet down, let the left knee release toward the right, and slowly ease your belly forward toward your thigh without letting the back of the pelvis lift.

As we're leaning more and more forward, close your eyes and just intuitively sense, is this the right amount of movement? Is your body giving you permission to flow further forwards over your front leg? Use the breath as a guide, as a teacher, again to notice whether we're going too deep, or perhaps if the breath is starting to disappear, that we bring ourselves more vertical, a little less intense. One more breath here where the spine comes up on the inhalation. Lean back so there's no pressure on the knees, and then we'll have one more seated pose with the soles of the feet together, the heels away from the hips.

And I'll typically encourage people to slide their sit bones back, whatever feels comfortable, away from the heels. Hold on just above the ankles. We'll come to a Tarasana shape where the elbows reach out toward the knees, the hands might slide out towards your feet, and we're allowing the body to fold forward, just the right amount again, so that there's little resistance in your spine. And the elbows are sliding out to the side of the legs, eventually coming in contact to the floor as the forehead drops more and more down toward your feet. You can also use the block here on the top of your feet to give you a little bit of a resting pad for the forehead.

And take a few moments to let your belly soften so the breath, again, moves more and more down to the hips and flows into the inner legs, all the way down to your feet. Ready to inhale. Let the spine prepare to come up. Any props that you're using, set them out of the way to the side. Use your hands to bring your knees toward each other, and then slowly roll your way down onto your back.

As you come down to the floor, take your knees with you down to the floor, and then we'll stretch your feet up toward the sky, slide your hands up toward your calves, and just let the back of your hips lift away from the ground, elbows, and as you slowly, slowly pull your legs in towards your torso. You can slide your hands more and more up, clasp and reach over for the back of the legs for the opposite wrist. Just take a moment as you flow away from the ground, lifting the hips, elbows wide. Big breath in here. Then as you release, we'll slide the feet down eventually to the floor and just take a moment to pause here.

And any last little movement that you might need to do to get comfortable as we stretch the arms out to the side, and eventually place your feet down on the floor in preparation for Shavasana. And wriggle around, making the efforts you need to to be more comfortable with props, eye pillows, something under your knees. Find that place where you're willing to let go, to surrender, and to fully soften into the shape of Shavasana. Sense and feel how the fluids are moving from the heart out to the limbs, and the limbs back to the heart. Sense and feel how the breath is being received in the belly, seat of intuition.

And sense and feel how the practice has perhaps enhanced mobility, fluidity down into the hips and the legs. Continuing to let yourself feel like you're simply melting like an ice cube on the sidewalk on a hot day, just melting, softening the outer edges of the body. And then we'll settle into the rhythm of the breath until you find those calm places in between the breaths to settle more deeply into the moment, eventually into that blissful state of meditation. Without hurrying and without rushing, just gradually prepare yourself to start moving again, making little circles with your ankles and your wrist. Starting then to move the arms and the legs, just feeling the fluid move from the heart out to the limbs and the limbs back to the heart.

When you're ready, go ahead and bend your legs and curl over onto your side, and stay for at least a round or two of the breath on your side. Trying to keep the essence of that Shavasana with you. And then letting yourself roll up in a good way and trying to keep the senses relaxed, the eyes closed as you navigate up to your upright seat. Use whatever you need to to be stable in your seat as you settle through the physical body. Try to soften through the muscles so that it's a little bit easier to trace the breath coming in and out, and using the belly as the seat of our awareness for this practice.

Take a few moments to bring awareness all the way down through the belly when you breathe in, and being aware of the belly drawing in toward the back as you exhale. Two more cycles of breathing, centering your awareness down in the belly. And in closing our water practice together, let's bring the hands up in front of the heart center, and may others also benefit from our practice. Namaste. Thank you so much for practicing.

Comments

3 people like this.
Admire the poetic way you explore the pose ... Inspiring guidance thru the various levels of each asana.
1 person likes this.
I really enjoyed this sequence very much . Thank you.
1 person likes this.
you are so welcome and thanks for watching!!!
2 people like this.
I really loved this practice.....very calming. Thank you very much.
3 people like this.
That was delicious! Love your cues: "like an ice cube melting on a hot day" -- wonderful. :)
Wonderful!!! Thank you.
Wonderful! Thank you.
2 people like this.
love your classes ...hope to see more classes that are 60 min or more being offered by you..thank you
1 person likes this.
This class was heaven! Thank you!
1 person likes this.
thanks for the epic compliment samantha!!!! have a lovely day. om. m.
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