Awaken to You: 30-Day Yoga Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 7

Day 4: Spinal Wave

30 min - Practice


Explore deep awareness. In Day 4, we warm the body with half Sun Salutations before moving into Cat/ Cow vinyasas and pendulum namaskars to promote fluidity and ease. We explore some standing balancing postures before moving to the ground for gentle stretches and a rewarding Savasana (Corpse Pose).

If you are looking for transitional alternatives, you might find what you seek with Shelley's Vinyasa Tutorial.

What You'll Need: Mat, Block (2)


Read Full Transcript

Greetings tribe, welcome to day four. It'll be helpful to have a couple of blocks on hand for today's practice for some new postures and shapes that we'll be introducing. Let's begin. Go ahead and take your feet a little bit wider than hips width apart and soften your knees. And as you inhale, circle the arms out and up, take a deep breath.

As you exhale, simply draw the hands down the midline and you're welcome to close your eyes and we'll just continue to move like this a few more rounds. So as you inhale, just feel your whole body receiving your breath. And exhale, draw the hands down the midline. Inhale as if you're breathing in through all of your pores. And exhale, hands come down the midline.

And just once more like that, full breath in, opening up to your practice today, to your day. And as you exhale, draw the hands all the way down the midline, soften the knees and take your hands all the way down to the mat, coming into a forward fold. As you inhale, lift the heart halfway. You can come up on your fingertips or hands to shins. Exhale back into your forward fold, knees soft.

And then bend the knees a little deeper, draw your navel in. Let's slowly roll up the spine, one vertebrae at a time. Grab the shoulders back and step to the front of your mat and draw the hands together at your heart. We'll continue with that half sun salutation pattern. So deepest breath in.

Exhale swan dive into your forward fold. Again you can soften your knees if you like. Inhale lift the heart halfway. Exhale release, surrender the back of the neck and roll up your spine. Make sure you bend the knees generously and draw the navel in.

And inhale expand. Just warming up the spine. Exhale swan dive into your forward fold. Lift the heart halfway and you can stretch the legs any amount. Exhale release, soften the knees.

Once again roll up through your spine and just start to feel your spine moving like a river. Inhale. Just flowing and meandering from an upright stance to a forward fold, unfurling as you look forward halfway. Exhale releasing pouring out through your crown. Soften the knees, slowly roll it up.

We'll take that just one more time. Inhale circle out and up. Exhale forward fold. This time maybe stretch the legs a little longer in your forward fold. Inhale halfway.

Exhale let's step back to downward dog and kind of progress onward in warming up our shoulders and our core. So from your downward facing dog simply roll forward to a plank pose. And wherever you adjust your feet to sometimes we shift them back a little bit. Keep them there as you press back into downward facing dog and we'll just shift forward and back a couple of times. Rolling through the spine like a wave across the surface of the ocean.

Exhale press it back. Inhale roll it forward, feel the strength in your core, your legs. Exhale shifting back. Just once more like that inhale roll forward. Exhale shifting back downward dog and let's go ahead and drop down into our child's pose.

Knees kind of wide big toes touch and just relax back here for a moment or two. Noticing how you feel today. Dropping into that deeper state of awareness where we get beyond the physical movements of the body and really start to notice where our mind is resting. And see if you can encourage your awareness to come back to that special intention. Maybe the same one you set in your last practice or a new one for today.

I'm going to take one more deep breath here getting centered both in your body and your mind with your breath. Exhale completely. And then inhale up to your hands and knees and we've been introducing a couple different forms of vinyasa to connect left and right side to use in our namaskar. So today we'll add another one and it's really simple. It's a cat cow vinyasa.

You're familiar with this. So as you inhale, arch your back. As you exhale, round your spine, inhale, arch your back and tuck your toes under. And then exhale back to downward dog. So a really nice option.

Let's do it again. Come to your hands and knees, relax your feet, inhale, arch your back, exhale, round and pull the navel in, inhale, arch your back, tuck your toes, exhale, downward dog. So it's a really nice option, especially if you're a risk or tender or you're wanting to just kind of preserve some of your energy. So we'll work with that as we progress into our warmups or namaskars today. We call it pendulum namaskar.

Let's take the right leg to the sky on an inhale. And as you exhale, coil the knee to the navel and step all the way through to a low runner's lunge. You can lower the back knee down and on an inhale, reach forward and up. As you exhale, let your right arm swing like a pendulum back and into a simple twist and then retrace that pathway. Reach forward and up, your fingertips can touch.

Exhale circle the arms wide and step back to downward dog. We'll skip the vinyasa on these first few rounds. Take your left leg to the sky, big inhale, exhale, step it all the way through, low lunge. Inhale, reach forward and up and then exhale, let your left arm swing back and down, up into the twist, that's your exhale. Then retrace the pathway, both arms reach up on your inhale, exhale, circle the arms wide and step back to downward dog.

Let's continue with that pattern, right leg rising on an inhale, exhale, step it all the way through. This time you can keep your back knee lifted for the first lunge, inhale, reach forward and up, exhale, left hand to the mat, right arm swings to your twist. Now set your back knee down, come back down to earth as you reach forward and up, both hands to the sky. Exhale, open your wings and step straight back to downward dog. Left leg rises, inhale, exhale, step it all the way through.

We'll keep a high lunge for this first crescent, inhale, rise up, exhale, simple twist, right hand grounds, left arm reaches, set your back knee down and reach forward and up with both hands, exhale, circle it wide. You can start to feel the progression of this pattern, step back to downward dog. Let's take it once more, right leg rising, exhale, step it all the way through, it can be a lower high lunge, inhale, reach forward and up, opening the front body, exhale to your twist, left hand down, right arm reaches high. Now maybe keep the back knee lifted this time as you inhale, return to crescent and then open your wings. Let's add our vinyasa here, so from your downward dog, simply shift to your hands and knees and feel cat cow, inhale to arch your back, exhale round, inhale, arch, curl the toes, super simple, exhale, downward dog.

Take the left leg to the sky, deepest breath, exhale, step it all the way through, maybe it's a low or a high lunge, your choice, inhale, reach forward and up, exhale, simple twist. Perhaps keep the back knee lifted as you inhale, reach forward and up, open your wings, exhale, downward facing dog, let's move through that cat cow vinyasa, come to the hands and knees, lightly set them down, inhale, arch your back, exhale, pull the belly in and round, inhale, arch your back, curl your toes, exhale, downward dog and let's hang out here for a couple of breaths, just feel into your body, notice what already might feel a little bit different and then feel into your breath, feel into your mind, head is below the heart, so empty out, shake out your head, take one more full deep breath here in your downward facing dog, exhale completely and let's slowly roll from down dog forward to plank, once again if you adjust your feet back, keep them there and then lower down to your forearms, we'll give our wrists a little break, you can lace the fingers if you like and make sure that the hips instead of lifting up high into the air just kind of coil the tailbone down towards the heels and really draw in through the low belly and as we give our wrists a little break here we can put a little energy and love into our core, so you can already feel as we hang out in forearm plank, you might be wondering how long we're going to be here, it's not long and let's add a little bit of movement just so we don't build too much tension in the shoulders but keep it dynamic and roll your heels over to the left and then up and over to the right and just kind of explore the edges of the feet, rolling from the outer edge and the inner edge of one foot and then up and over to the other, you can feel into your side waist, feel into your core, into your strength and this is a really wonderful and functional way to start to build strength in the center of the body, let's enjoy a few more here and then come back to the center, draw your knee to your navel, coil it in and then reach back, this one's a little bit, requires a little bit of work but you can do it, pull the left knee in, reach it back and maybe just one more each side, if you've already had enough then we'll meet you in Sphinx pose, left knee pulls in, reach it back, take a deep breath and then lower your hips, feels good, come into Sphinx, set up your elbows right beneath your shoulders, your palms flat and lift your chest and just for a little moment here, kind of a little treat, take your head and gentle semi circle from left to right, relax your neck, your jaw, feel the back of the neck open up, base of the skull gets a little breath here and then come on back to center and let's take the right hand just to the midline, line with your heart center and bend your left knee and you can reach back and see if your foot's there, is it there? And pull it towards your hip, you'll notice that you turn to grab your foot, just try to square off your hips and shoulders towards the front of the mat and draw your foot in any amount, so you might be able to draw it pretty close or if it feels a little far away you can grab a strap to grab your foot and we're just here for a moment or two and then go ahead and release and take the second side, reach your right hand back, if you turn drastically to grab your foot, just square it off and press the front of the hips into the mat and take a couple breaths here, last breath and slowly release, place your hands right next to your chest, come up through your cobra pose on an inhale, exhale move your hands back an inch, press into the tops of the feet, let's remember upward dog while we're here, inhale standing your hands in the tops of the feet, open the chest and then exhale back to your downward facing dog, snap, crackle, pop goes the joint sometimes, no problem. From your downward facing dog let's keep it moving, take the right leg to the sky, nice big inhale as you lift your leg, exhale step it all the way through between your hands and set your back foot up for a warrior two, so perpendicular to the front foot and leading with your left arm come all the way up and we've been here before in warrior two, so just sink down into your base, check out your alignment, front knee over front heel, back foot slightly pigeon-toed and then let's turn our right palm to face up and just the upper body flows back like a strong wind blowing from the front of your mat, just lean back fill your hair in the breeze literally in the breeze of your breath, feeling into your reverse warrior and then as you exhale you can bring your elbow to your knee and just change the tilt of the spine coming into side angle pose, if you want to go a little deeper you can slide your hand down to the inside of your foot, but whatever feels spacious to you and just enjoy one more breath here, turn your chest towards the sky, exhale release your hands down and step back to downward dog, shift forward to hands and knees, let's work with that cat kalvanyasa, inhale to arch, exhale round, inhale arch and curl the toes, exhale press back to downward dog, left leg rising on an inhale keep it moving, exhale step all the way through warrior two base, lead with your right arm as you come up and exhale settle into your legs, spread out from the heart to the hands and let your eyes be steady on the middle finger of your front hand, this gives you a point of reference, turn your palm to face up, scoop into your intention and then breathe into your side bend your reverse warrior, just a little tilt in the spine here maybe sink a little deeper into your base, deep inhale as you lengthen, exhale side angle pose your choice right elbow to knee as the top arm reaches or you can take your hand to the floor and go a little bit deeper, I like to keep it a little spacious today and just turn your chest towards the sky full breath in, exhale release, step back to downward dog, shift forward to the hands and knees and just let your spine flow, it's kind of a nice option from chaturanga, curl the toes, exhale downward facing dog, now for this next standing sequence this is where your blocks will probably come in handy so you can come down to your knees for a moment and if you have your blocks just set them to the front of your mat on either side and then come back to downward dog, let's take our right leg to the sky deep breath in, exhale step it all the way through between your hands, now set the back foot for warrior one, so a little to the left, steeper diagonal and inhale come on up, Virabhadrasana one, sink into your base and feel how the asymmetry is working towards symmetry and then maybe look up here, maybe touch your palms if that compresses your neck then keep it wide, always options as you exhale take your hands down to your blocks and shorten the stance up quite a bit and come into pyramid pose, so we want to straighten both legs, blocks can be any height right, they've got three different settings that you can choose from and just lift your chest here as you exhale melt over your front leg, oh yes, hello hamstring, relax your head, relax your neck, notice there's a little play here in the hips you can shift your weight slightly forward or back from the front foot to the back foot and just find the middle point where your hips feel level and this is the base for our next shape, twisting triangles so simply stand in your hands, lift your heart, it might feel good to go a little taller with the left block and then slowly ground through the left hand and reach your right arm to the sky like you're drawing a bow and arrow, feeling into your twisting triangle, pull the right hip back a bit and feel your heart reaching forward through your crown one more full breath, exhale release your hands back down to both blocks, from here let's introduce just one more shape before we exit out of this side so lift your chest put a bend in your standing leg and spin on the ball of your back foot and then open up your arms like wings, feel how your torso can lift up away from your front leg a bit, put a little bit of the work here, the effort into your back and then push off that back leg and lift your tail feathers literally to the sky as you come into warrior three and just feel this shape for a moment, try to feel your head, your hands, your heart, your hips, your heel all in one line and then as you exhale step back into your downward dog, you're welcome to keep your hands on the blocks as you step to down dog, might as well, shift to your hands and knees, cat, cow, vinyasa, open the heart, round the spine, open the heart, curl your toes, exhale back to downward dog, let's take the left leg to the sky, big inhale, exhale step it through to warrior one, notice how nice it is to step through with your hands on blocks that's something you can use for any practice, take your warrior one base and come on up with a nice big inhale, exhale sink into your base, right hip pulls forward a little bit, look up maybe touch your palms, maybe not, just choose what feels good to you, what feels powerful, full breath in, as you exhale hands come down, shorten the stance and square off your hips, as you straighten your legs you can rock a little bit forward and back and relax your spine over the front leg, relax your head and forward folds are always a good place to just check in, okay how am I feeling, how's my breath, here's my mind and bring it back to the thread of your breath, it's that simple and it's also that complex, really try to simplify what's going on inside, give your mind a little break and from here press into the blocks, lift your heart, let's bring that right block a little closer, maybe turn it a little taller and then draw like a bow and arrow, left hand to the sky, right arm grounds, feel the twisting in your spine, reach forward through your crown and back through your hips, up through the top hand, down through the bottom hand and that back heel can you root it down, so it's all these points of contact and reach through the body, take one more full breath here and then exhale, let's return, parsvotonasana, pyramid pose, lift your heart, put a little bend in the front knee, let's prepare to take flight, spin on the ball of the back foot and then open your wings, we'll push off the back leg and start to lift into one long line, feeling into your warrior three and just refining this shape for a moment or two, it might feel a little wobbly, that's okay, we're just kind of tasting it, exhale, step back to downward dog and then slowly come down to your hands and knees, cat cow, vinyasa, open the heart, around the spine, open the heart, tuck the toes, press back, walk your hands off the blocks all the way to the back of the mat, coming into a forward fold and then lift your head and your heart, exhale, relax back down, come through that position to stand, lift the head, the heart, circle the arms wide, catch some energy and bring it into your heart, just go right into a balance prep here, so shift your weight into your left foot and let your eyes be steady on one point, I'll try to be as specific as I can with instruction here so you don't have to look around, keep your eyes on one point and just draw the right knee into the chest and we're tracing a balance for padagusthasana, A, B and C, we've done this lying down, we've done some preps for it in our previous practices so just feel the prep here for padagusthasana A with a bent knee instead of a straight leg and then take your left hand to your hip and right hand stays on the knee, open your knee about 45 degrees out to the side and feel how your left hip can hug in a bit, as you exhale bring your knee back to the center, change hands so the left hand grabs the knee and reach your right arm back and it's that same kind of drawing of a bow and arrow feeling that we experienced in twisting triangle, you're welcome to keep your eyes where they are or a little extra challenge is to start to turn your gaze and look towards your back hand and this is always like whoa somebody's moving the floor, who's moving the floor, it's okay if you fall, just get back on the horse and then come back to center and step it down, okay that feels good, let's circle the arms out and up, full breath in, exhale hands to your heart, shift your weight into your right foot and draw the left knee into your chest and feel tadasana here, feel this standing pose like you're on top of your favorite mountain, chest is open, shoulders drop back, firming that outer right hip in and then let's open our left knee 45 degrees or so, doesn't have to go completely open just halfway, continuing to breathe and then bring the knee back to the center, change hands, right hand holds the left knee, draw your left hand back like you're threading a bow and arrow and then maybe slowly turn your gaze and instead of doing a quick turn of the head just let your eyes kind of take in the space around you so that you can keep your balance and slowly looking back behind you and come back to center, deep breath in as you reach up, exhale a little sense of accomplishment, maybe a big sense of accomplishment as you bring your hands to your heart, circle the arms out and up, full breath in and as you exhale come on down to a forward fold, we're going to take it down, down to the mat here, walk your hands forward and lower your knees down and then just walk your hands up to your hips and open up through the chest, feeling a baby Ustrasana, a baby camel pose here, draw the shoulders and elbows back, let your head drop back like you're dipping your head into a waterfall and enjoy one breath, root down through the tailbone and then slowly just come on up, cross your ankles as you sit back behind you and you can set your blocks off to one side now and we'll stretch the right leg forward and so the left foot to the inner thigh, so slowly reach your arms up towards the sky, feel the lift in the small of your back and then exhale forward fold and you can reach to your ankle, to your foot, your toes, strap around your foot if you like, whatever you can grab and then just relax down over the long leg, let's enjoy three good breaths right here and on your next inhale, reach forward through your crown in your heart, reach your arms back up to the sky, exhale, take your hands behind you, plant both feet just for a moment and just lift your hips, open up across the chest, a little mini transition here through table pose as we go to side two, so extend your left leg out, draw the sole of the right foot to the inner thigh, once again sit really tall and then draw your hands up the midline, feel your breath dropping down as you reach upward and exhale forward fold over the long leg, coming into jhanyu shursasana, head to knee pose, it doesn't matter if your head is nowhere near your knee either, what matters is that you're relaxing in your forward fold, emptying out the mind, deepening your breath, feeling some opening through the back of the left leg, the low back and the hips, one more breath, lifting through your head and your heart, reach your arms to the sky as you inhale, exhale, take your hands back behind you, plant your feet and just lift your hips, open up across the chest, visiting table pose and then exhale, let's come on down for our final resting pose shavasana, so roll down onto your back, make yourself comfortable, spread out your feet a little wider than your hips, turn your palms to face up and close your eyes, notice if you're able to drop right into a state of relaxation, part of our skills as we develop our yoga practice is really being able to swing from these two ends of the spectrum of vital energy and showing up to something that requires effort, but also being able to drop into a state of relaxation and softness, so if you happen to be holding on anywhere, usually it's in our mind, see if you can let it go, just for now, just for a few minutes, let your breath, breathe you. And you're welcome to stay here in the longer shavasana if you like, or if you prefer to take this state of relaxation into the rest of your day, just reach your arms over your head, take a nice long leisurely inhale as you stretch your body from the tips of your toes to the tips of your fingers and then exhale, hug your knees into your chest, pour on over to one side and press yourself up to a comfortable seated position, sit cross leg in and just like we began in this practice, just circle the arms out and up, gather your breath, gather your front and as you exhale, just draw it down through the crown, pass the third eye, pass the throat right into your heart. Thank you so much for showing up today and sharing your presence and your practice. I'll see you down the path in our next practice. Namaste.


Lorraine Marek
Very easy to follow this flow thanks
Ruth E
2 people like this.
Done! I feel GREAT! ✌🤩
Susan J
2 people like this.
I really enjoyed this flow.
Shelley Williams
Lorraine Glad you enjoyed this sequence!
Shelley Williams
Ruth Fantastic! Thanks for the feedback
Shelley Williams
Susan Nice to hear from you, I'm happy you enjoyed the sequence. Happy New Year!
Glenford N
4 people like this.
Hi Shelley, I'm into Day 4 and loving your practices. There's a simple beauty, flow and ballet-like quality to your routines. Also, a gentle strength to the core work and balancing asana. Namaste, Glenford.
3 people like this.
Namaste Shelley. I so very much appreciate this challenge. Your cues are clear, your energy inspiring, and the transitions are beautiful. It is exactly what I need to get back on the mat and into my body and soul. Thank you for sharing!
Shelley Williams
Glenford Greetings Glenford! Thanks for your kind note, so glad you are enjoying the practice. I do have a dance background, and love to weave elements into the flow. Namaste!
Shelley Williams
Melissa welcome!! Thank you for your note! Glad to have you back in the mat and part of this challenge. Have a great day~ Namaste!
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