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Season 4 - Episode 9

Intimate with the Subtle

35 min - Practice
57 likes

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In this Yin practice, we become intimate with the subtle details by tuning in to the nostrils and different channels of the body. You will feel aware and tuned in.
What You'll Need: Mat, Square Bolster

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In this practice, we'll begin to become a bit more intimate with the subtle details by tuning into the nostrils and different channels of the body. So you might want to bolster for this practice, we'll use it a bit later. And we'll start on our back supines, so find your way there. And we'll begin with good old fashioned windshield wipers, just to find a bit more space and freedom through the hips and the side body. So feet nice and wide, you might stretch your arms overhead, and keep the elbows soft, breathing in.

And exhale, let the knees fall over to the left, just cruising onto the inner outer edges of the feet, and inhale, knees up, and exhale over to the right. And inhale, knees up, exhale to the left, inhale up, and exhale over to the right. And a few more times, side to side, at your own pace, your own breathing pattern. Now the next time your knees fall over to the right, pause with the knees to the right, and just begin to reach and lengthen up through your left arm, lengthening through the left leg and knee. And you might stay with this, you might bring your right ankle on top of that left thigh, and maybe clasp the right hand around the left wrist.

From here, begin to draw your awareness into your left lung, and as you tether your attention into the lung, notice how the breath responds. You might feel some movement or sensation wide in the side body, waking up those intercostal muscles between the ribs. Then from the left lung, tune the pathway up into your left nostril, and as you hold your attention now in the left nostril, notice the quality of breath. You might sense the relationship with your left lung, left nostril, keeping the back of your neck long, and softening through the face, and then just gently relaxing the effort of your attention, your breath, releasing that right foot to the earth if it's on top of the left leg, inhale the knees back up through center and over to the left, and we'll pause here with the knees to the left, and then reach and lengthen up through that right arm, and as you reach through your fingers, notice how you can find a bit more length through the side body down through the right thigh, and you might stay with this, you might bring your left ankle on top of your right thigh, and maybe clasping your left hand around your right wrist there, drawing your awareness into your right lung now. You feel or sense the quality of the breath through the rib cage, and stretching into the intercostals without straining or pushing or forcing the breath.

Might notice that as you bring your attention here into the lung, the breath naturally organically responds, thank goodness, and then from your right lung, tune the pathway, the channel up into your right nostril, notice the quality of the breath, any sensations through your right nostril, and keeping it relaxed between the eyebrows, the base of the skull, and allowing that left knee to get heavy towards the earth as the hip opens a bit. You're ready, relax the effort of your attention and breath, releasing that left foot to the earth if it's on top of the right thigh, releasing the grip through the wrist, and then inhale the knees back up, reorganize your spine, your pelvis, and draw your knees into your chest and rock yourself side to side, easy to spend all day in that mystery. Okay, now we're going to stretch our legs out and come into a side stretch, I call this one banana, and we'll approach it yin style, so with your arms overhead, you can keep the elbows bent, we're going to walk our legs over to the right, like one or two o'clock hour, and we're going to bring the arms over to the right as well, so we're in this banana-like or crescent moon shape, from here you might bring your left ankle on top of the right thigh, maybe clasp the right hand around the left wrist, so we're in this side bend shape, stretching the left side body, and notice what you choose to do with your head, so you might try rolling your head to the left, and then rolling your head downward towards the right, and finding a place where the head and neck feel comfortable. From here, draw your attention back into your nostrils, and notice the quality of the breath in both nostrils, keeping it spacious around the throat, softening through the mouth and the jaw, and as you hold your attention in both nostrils, you might find one nostril feels a bit more open and spacious than the other, perhaps they're even, one feels a little stuffy or clogged, just holding your attention here for a few more moments, and continue to find a position where your neck and head feel good, relaxing your attention in the nostrils, and allowing your awareness to be kind of wide and open, maybe feeling or sensing sensation through that left side body, hip, leg, ribs, nice, and allow for an inhale, as you're ready we'll release, so start by releasing the clasp of the hands, the legs, we're just going to kind of tiptoe the legs back to center, the upper body and the arms back to center, and just take a moment to pause, you might release the arms down, and allow for an inhale, exhale out of the mouth, we'll find that on the other side, so as you're ready, walking both legs over to the left, coming into this side stretch, or banana shape, so the legs are over more like a 10, 11 o'clock hour, and then reaching the arms up and reaching the upper body and the arms over to the left, from here you might clasp or bring your right ankle on top of the left ankle, right heel on top of the left ankle, and then maybe clasping your left hand around the right wrist, and then from here you might roll the head to the right, and roll the head to the left, just finding a place where it feels good, and then within this sensation bring your attention back into the nostrils, your attention in the nostrils, check in, notice quality of the breath, and perhaps notice the relationship with the right lung that's exposed and open, the right nostril, relaxing through the eyes, the jaw, and finding that appropriate edge of sensation for you, so if you're not feeling much in this shape, you might continue to adjust the angle of walking the feet over to the left and the upper body to the left, if the sensation feels a bit much you might back it off a bit, and for the last few moments relax the effort of the attention in the nostrils, allow for this wide open awareness, softening. And when you're ready, releasing the hands, releasing that right foot down, and then tip toe the legs back into the center, the upper body and arms back to the center, and this time we'll bend the knees and draw them into the chest, oh this feels nice and rock from side to side, you might let the head wobble, kind of massaging the back body, spine, the hollow back, the sacrum, and then rolling to your side or rocking your way up to a seat, from here we'll transition into a puppy pose, here's where your bolster will be handy if you have one, and you might bring an extra blanket under your knees for a bit of padding and support, because we are putting pressure on the knees here, and so from here we'll begin to release onto our forearms, and depending on your body, your knees, your hips, you might stay here, you might begin to release your head towards the support of the bolster, maybe it's the ground, your arms might extend, or you might lengthen through your forearms and maybe press the hands together in a prayer position, so we're kind of finding the alignment of our hips over our knees, more or less, and then allowing the heart to soften down towards the earth, so increasing the flavor, the sensation through the shoulders, through the spine, and you might keep the tops of the feet on the earth, you might tuck your toes under, which makes it a bit more active.

If you need to feel more sensation through your shoulders, you might bring the elbows about shoulder width apart, maybe a little closer in, and press the palms together a bit more. And for the last minute or so here, find a position where your head and neck feel comfortable, so if there's any compression here in your spine, on your cervical spine, around your neck, you'll want to change the position of the bolster so that it feels good for you. It's just this overall feeling of support, and then gradually you might feel the belly, the spine releasing towards the earth, relaxing through the jaw, that is the quality of your breath, last few moments here, nice, okay, how do we get out of this one? When you're ready, releasing your hands and pressing your hands into the bolster or the earth, we're going to come onto our bellies, this feels like dessert after that one for me. Okay, we're going to bring the bolster in towards the lower belly so that your pelvis is on the floor, and then coming into a sphinx-like position, and it might feel different having the bolster underneath the belly, feels pretty nice to me, and then morphing into a frog sphinx, so we're going to slide the left knee up, and again you might want some padding through that inner left knee, and then let's play with having the ankle and the foot just right in line with the knee, and just allowing that left hip and inner groin to open and relax here within the sensation, nice, and now there's options and choices in this shape as always, so with your left leg where it is, you might choose to let the elbows go wide and release the forehead to the top of the hands, right, this is a bit more restful, you might prefer working the shape of sphinx pose, or you might choose to play with a bit of a seal action with the arms straightish and dropping into the shoulders, and you choose the shape that makes the most sense for your body, for your back, your spine, your pelvis.

Whatever arm position you choose, of allowing yourself to soften and relax any effort, tension, and allow the muscles to relax, especially around the buttocks, the hips, the legs, and the shoulders, nice, just a few more moments here, nice, nice, nice, nice, nice, nice, nice, a few more moments here, and when you're ready, take your time, let the elbows go wide, forehead might rest on the top of the hands, and then you're gonna swim your left leg back to meet the right, finding a bit of internal rotation through that left thigh, and you might shimmy the hips a little side to side, yeah, and then when you're ready, we'll find the second side, so you might prop yourself up into the shape of supported sphinx, and then we're gonna lift that right knee up, and then stack, or align the foot and heel, or foot and ankle, along with the knee, okay, and then beginning to relax, kind of the effort again through the pelvis, the hips, the legs, the buttocks, and you might stay upright in the sphinx with the support, you might play with the seal shape, which again can feel a bit curious, like a bit uncertain, like is this sensation good for me, and you are the only one that can really know and determine that, really cultivating the skills of listening, this self-study, self-investigation, sua dia is the Sanskrit word, and within the structure, within the shape, I'm finding that yin-like approach, that passive, receptive quality. And it's common in the past, back bending to feel like a dull pooling of pressure around the low back, around the sacrum, the lumbar spine, and the last few moments on this side. You might allow for an exhale, softening through the belly and the pelvis, and then when you're ready, let the elbows go wide, forehead rests on the top of the hands, and we're just going to swim the right leg back to meet the left, finding that intentional, internal rotation through the right thigh, nice, and then you might shimmy the hips a little side to side, feeling some pressure through the internal organs and the belly with the bolster there, and then we're going to press our hands a little closer in and then press our way up into a child's pose for just a few moments, letting the knees go wide, big toes touch, and you might have your bolster there for support as you release. Roll from child's pose, we'll transition onto our back for an eagle wrap, spinal twist, and you can bring your bolster off to the side if you'd like to, and then just roll back onto the earth, so nice. From here, we'll wrap our left leg over our right leg, and then we'll roll everything over to the right side, and we're going to start with some arm glides.

So what you'll do is as you roll onto your right hip, you'll stack your hands and you'll stack your shoulders, so your arms are nice and long, and if you want something underneath your head, you might put something there like your bolster, blanket, and then from here you're just going to reach your left fingertips beyond your right, so you're going to feel maybe that stretch through the outer right shoulder, the bottom one, and then you're going to glide your top arm along the inside of the right arm and across your chest and just allow the rib cage to revolve the left, and then again we're going to glide back beyond the fingertips, reach, and let your head stay heavy, and then gliding the left palm, finding the inside of that right arm, across the heart, the chest, opening, and two or three more times, just sliding back, gliding the left fingertips beyond the right, your forehead might roll towards the earth, and then feeling as you glide across the chest that the upper back opens, let's do about one more together, fingertips glide beyond, and then just tracing the inner right arm with your hand across your chest, and maybe this round you release the left shoulder and arm, finding a place where the neck and head feel nice, softening through the eyes and the mouth, and just letting the breath go into where you feel the sensation, and it might be somewhere obvious in the physical body, like in your left shoulder, your ribs, your left hip, outer hip, where you feel it might be a bit more subtle, maybe a feeling and emotion and energy, thought, feeling that spaciousness across the throat, and allowing the muscles around the spine to relax, and oftentimes this yin approach or practice is referred to as the yoga of surrender, there's this emphasis on allowing, accepting, and letting go. And then slowly unwrap your top left leg, and then come all the way back onto your back, reorganize your spine, your shoulders, your pelvis, you can keep the knees bent or stretch the legs out on the floor, what I call a starfish position, just taking up space on the earth, it can feel really nice, okay, still the rise of the inhale, all of the exhale, okay, when you're ready we'll find the other side, so bending the knees we'll wrap our top right leg around the bottom, coming into that eagle wrap twist, and then roll everything onto the left side, organize your left shoulder, stack your hands, your hips, and then we'll find the gliding motion through the shoulders, so reach your right fingertips beyond your left, so you probably feel a stretch through that outer left arm, you can let the head roll down, and then slow slide the top arm, or top hand, across the inner arm, across the chest, and let the ribcage kind of open and revolve, and then again retrace, slide the top hand through the inner arm beyond the fingertips, you can let the head release down, and then slide the top palm, tracing the inner arm across the chest, and opening to the right, let's do a few more rounds, keeping the head heavy and relaxed as you glide the fingertips beyond, and then tracing that left inner arm across the chest and the heart, opening, we'll do two more together, gliding back, right fingertips go beyond the left fingertips, and keeping the head heavy, that right palm traces the inner arm across the chest, last one, and then slow gliding the top arm across, feeling that opening through the upper spine, upper back as that right arm releases, might allow for an inhale, exhale soften the belly, you can maybe soften any gripping around that top right hip, and find a place where your neck feels happy, relaxing the internal organs, breathing into where you feel any sensation, allowing the shape, this twist to have in all of you, and allowing your body to feel happy, and allowing your body to feel happy, and allowing your body to feel happy, and allowing your body to feel happy, and allowing your body to feel happy, breathing soft through the back of the eyes, the face of the skull, open, and when you're ready unwrap, unwind the top right leg, and come all the way back to center, reorganize everything, shoulders, spine, pelvis, and this time we'll draw our knees into our chest, and rock ourselves side to side, and letting the head wobble, and from here you might extend the legs and the arms into the shape of Shavasana, maybe with a bolster under your knees, or you might roll to your side for a moment, and then make your way up to a seat, and if you're coming up to a seat, propping yourself up, and feel quite nice, just finding a seated shape that works for you, allow for a, you feel this kind of watery seaweed-like quality through the spine, bringing some attention towards the back body, and finding that ease through the base of your skull, a slight softening of the chin down, a soft through the belly heart, a few moments drawing your awareness back into your nostrils, and by doing so perhaps it brings your attention towards the central channel, leaning up and down the spine, and this will join the hands together at the heart, closing with the sound of Aum, if you'd like to join in, find a clearing breath, inhale, nice generous exhale, like you're sinking into a cloud, and then breathing in Aum, namaste, thank you for your practice.

Comments

M Angela C
1 person likes this.
I felt so much more length and internal space after this practice. More aware of myself. Loved the opening shapes. Thank you Alana! 🙏
Alana Mitnick
M Angela, I am so happy to hear this. Thank you for being here and sharing your experience of Yoga. With Love, Alana
Joan J
1 person likes this.
Alana, just when I need more Yin, there you are. I enjoy using the bolster and the shoulder stretch in puppy. Frog was so nice, again using the bolster. I just love how you offer creative postures that make your sessions heavenly. Look forward to your next Yin practice🌾
Alana Mitnick
Hi Joan, Thank you for your lovely message. I love hearing how the practices are feeling and working for you. I hope to film some more practices shortly. Love, Alana
Matthew
2 people like this.
hi - i like the notion of 'surrender' you offered in this class - it makes it easier for me to tune into being present. thanks for this.
Alana Mitnick
Hi Matthew, What a beautiful observation. I'm always amazed by how relaxing "being present" can actually be. Consciously letting and surrendering is indeed a skill. Nice work. 
Laura M
2 people like this.
Soooooo good!!! Thank you!!

Alana Mitnick
Hi Laura, So happy to hear that you enjoyed the practice! Love, Alana
Ali
Ali
1 person likes this.
Beautiful. Thank you Alana.
Alana Mitnick
So good to hear from you, Ali. Glad you are practicing in the midst of all this. It's essential. Sending love and healthy energy. xoA
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