Awaken to You: 30-Day Yoga Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 12

Day 9: Rhythmic Flow

30 min - Practice


In Day 9, we continue to progress with a rhythmic and heart-opening flow. We explore postures to open the quadriceps and the heart in preparation for an expansive Natarajasana (Dancer's Pose).
What You'll Need: Mat, Strap

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Greetings tribe, namaste. Welcome back and welcome to day nine. How's it going? You're amazing and I'm glad you're here. So let's do this.

We're going to start with a flowing practice. We'll step right into a rhythmic flow and then we'll ground down towards the middle half of the practice. So step the feet together right at the top of the mat, bring your hands to your heart, take a nice deep breath in. And as you exhale, just ground down through your feet, release your hands and open your eyes. Let's bend the knees and come into chair pose on an inhale.

Exhale, sweep the arms back, just like we did in yesterday's practice, just finding an easy pouring rhythm of the breath and the body. Exhale, sweep it back. Inhale, reach forward and up. Exhale, forward, fold, and then just come up halfway, inhaling to rise, nice and light. Exhale, pour it down, soften the knees as you need to.

Halfway up on an inhale, exhale, melt it down. One more time like that, inhale halfway, exhale, step back to downward dog and you'll notice we're taking each of these asanas and just flowing in and out of them three times each. It's a little triplet rhythm, a little waltz if you will. So inhale, shift forward to plank, exhale, press it back to down dog. Just do it again twice more, inhale, shift forward, you're welcome to ripple through the spine, exhale, downward dog.

Once more, shift it forward, exhale, shift it back. And then come on forward to plank, either knees down or legs straight and take three visits to chaturanga, inhaling as you go down, exhaling as you go up, diving right into the strength, inhale, come up and then exhale all the way down. And let's take three visits to cobra, lift through the heart, exhale, touch your forehead down, inhale, rising up, exhale, forehead touches down as you reach back through your feet. Once more, inhale, rise, exhale, press back to downward facing dog. Take your right leg to the sky on an inhale and then three cycles to draw the knee to the chest as you shift to plank, reach it back in up, exhale, coil generating your energy.

Once more, exhale, step it all the way through, set up for a warrior one and let's inhale to rise, exhale, take about three cycles and like you're coming up out of water on an inhale and then dipping back down as you exhale once more, exhale, hands to the mat, step back to plank. Are you ready? Three visits to chaturanga, you can keep the legs straight or set the knees down, moving into it with enthusiasm and then lower all the way, inhale cobra, exhale, forehead touches down, take your hands wide for the next two, come up on the fingertips, notice how it feels different in the body. Once more inhale, easy cobra, exhale and let's make our way back to downward dog. Take the left leg to the sky, breathing in, exhale, knee to navel, three cycles, inhale, exhale, once more, exhale, step it all the way through, warrior one base and then just flow like water, inhaling as you rise, exhaling as you sweep down and back, inhale to rise, exhale, notice how each pose pours into the next, just like each breath pours into the next.

Hands come down, step back to plank, let's do it one more time, three visits, put your knees down or skip it, if it feels like too much, once more and then lower all the way down, take the hands wide once again, pitch a little tent with your fingers and roll your shoulders back, gently lift your heart to cobra, exhale, forehead touches down, inhale, rising up to cobra, exhale, forehead touches down and just once more and you can feel how this is a really effective warm up, let's go back to child's pose, you deserve it, so take the knees wide, big toes touch and hang out here for a breath or two and notice how full and deep you can breathe, the heart might be beaten with a nice little rhythm here, just enjoy the feel of your energy pulsing, vibrating, shimmering inside. On your next inhale shift forward to hands and knees, curl the toes under, press back to downward dot and then walk your feet all the way up to the top of the mat, coming into your forward fold and let's finish just like we started three rounds to lift halfway up, exhale, forward fold, inhale halfway, exhale, forward fold, one more cycle, inhaling halfway, exhale, release through the head and neck, bend your knees and inhale to chair pose and just three cycles, moving your arms like these big pranic windshield wipers, wiping away any extra thoughts you don't need right now, just keep moving up and down a couple more times, come all the way up to standing as you inhale and exhale, hands to your heart, eyes steady on one point and let's move into a simple balance, kind of a baby royal dancer, so you can reach back and take the outer edge of your left foot with your left hand and bring your right hand to the low belly and just lift the front of the pelvis up and press your left thigh back and just feel a little opening through the quadricep, through the hip flexors, through the shoulders and really working on the tilt of the pelvis here, tailbone down, front of the hips up and then release your foot, reach to the sky on an inhale, exhale, hands to your heart, shift your weight into the left foot and bring your right hand to the outer edge of your right foot, left hand to the low belly and press upward, feel that kind of posterior tilt of your pelvis, right thigh presses back and just take a couple breaths here, gentle opening through the quadriceps, we have a lot of really nice quadriceps, so quadricep opener is coming in this practice and this is just the first of many, so let's enjoy. And then release your foot and take a nice wide step to, we call this a procerida base, so open up wide like a superhero, as you exhale forward fold, draw your hands down right underneath your shoulders and check out the outer edges of your feet, parallel to the edges of the mat, let's start to move rhythmically here as we bend into the right knee and then bend into the left knee and we're just feeling into a shape, a side lunge that we call skandhasana and as you shift side to side, just keep your head, your heart and your hips in one line and that might mean coming up a little higher on your fingertips or placing your hands on a pair of blocks, but just feel how we can keep our energy a little lifted and a little contained as we shift from side to side, it's totally possible to turn the toes out and go deeper, but let's kind of save that for a little later, just stay high as you shift. Once more each side and then slowly come to a forward fold here with the feet wide, you can walk your hands back in the same line as your feet, bend your elbows and lower the crown of the head down towards the floor. It may or may not touch, no big deal if it does or it doesn't, just allow your spine to lengthen and breathe.

Inhale to lift your chest and as you exhale, walk your hands towards the right and let's step back to a down dog with the right leg high, we're going to move in just a half mandala today so really inhale as you lift your right leg and then exhale, open your hip, bend your knee and yesterday's practice we were working on paving the way towards flipping our dog into a supported back bend and let's just feel the beginning of that so with your right knee lifted, shift your shoulders forward, come on to the ball of your left foot so you're in a one-legged plank and then just roll to the outer edge of your left foot, keeping the hips high and the ball of your right foot will come to the floor. You'll notice I came up onto my right fingertips and this is the back view for the first cycle here but just reach up through your right arm and it's not a back bend just yet, it's a side arm balance with a kickstand so feel into that. If that feels like too much on your shoulder or anywhere on your body, you can always lower your left knee and place the ball of the right foot on the floor or simply extend the right leg, this is a great option and from wherever you are we'll step back forward, right foot between the hands and come into warrior two. So we lead with our left arm, come all the way up to warrior two, take a deep breath in as you reach your arms to the sky and then bend your right elbow and take the left hand to the tip of the elbow and just pull your upper arm behind your ear so we get a nice little opening through the shoulder and the tricep, maybe even a side bend, reverse warrior style. Take a deep breath in as you really feel into your legs and then exhale, slowly place that same right elbow form on the right thigh and let's take a single backstroke with the left arm and reach it behind your back so you can place your hand on your sacrum or the back of the hand at your hip, maybe even reach around to your inner thigh, I've got a little battery pack here so that's a little interference, we're going to leave that space so open up through the chest and the shoulder.

Take a full breath in, stay for the exhale and then just sweep your left arm alongside the ear, sweep it all the way down to the edge of the mat, let's turn our feet in and here we are in our skandhasana again, you can bend into the left knee, bend into the right knee, feel the potential to go deeper and lower but keep it a little high as you shift once more from left to right and then walk your hands to the back of the mat and let's step back to down dog with the left leg high, huge inhale here as you open the hip and bend the knee and once again we're just kind of tracing the pathway towards side arm balance, so slow and steady like you're moving through honey, shift your shoulders forward, roll to the outer edge of your right foot and place the ball of your left foot on the floor and then just reach straight up, opening up across the chest, you're welcome to set your right knee down, it's a great option, lifting the left leg or placing the ball of the left foot on the floor and just take one more full breath wherever you are and then from here we meet up with the left foot forward between the hands, set your back foot for warrior two, lead with your right arm, come all the way up, establish your warrior two and then inhale, reach up straight in the front leg, bend into your left elbow, hand to the nape of the neck and take the tip of the left elbow and just draw back, opening up through your side waist, let's enjoy a few breaths here and feel that long channel of energy from your left hip all the way up the side ribs, the side of the heart through the triceps all the way up to your elbow and let's slowly take your elbow forearm down to your left thigh, sweep the right arm up on an inhale and exhale, reach it behind you, hand on the sacrum or you can reach around to your thigh wherever it lands is fine and just open the shoulder, couple of deep breaths here and from here slowly sweep your right arm alongside your ear, full breath in, exhale, take it all the way down along the edge of the mat, turn your feet to parallel and let's just dip side to side into your skandhasana, this time slightly draw the heels in, toes apart and you can sink a little lower as long as that's alright with your knees, sink a little lower, the straight leg foot lifts through the toes and just listen to the feedback that your body is giving you, if this feels great continue side to side, if it's too deep, too much on the knees then you keep it a little higher no big deal, come back to the center big inhale as you exhale walk your hands forward it's a wide leg downward dog, let your heart melt, you can stay on the fingertips here our spine can flow like a river so as you inhale just lift up through the back body as you exhale melt down through the heart, inhale spine moves like a wave across the ocean, exhale melt it down, once more inhale rippling from the tail all the way up to the crown, exhale melt it down, get nice and quiet inside for a few breaths, one more breath, walk your hands in, lift your chest and let's walk the hands over to the right side so from here we'll lower our back knee down we'll go right into some deeper quadricep opening and if you have a strap handy it'll probably be helpful for you because often times we reach back and we're like where's my foot where's my foot so if you're working with a strap or a towel you can make a small loop out of your strap and you can shift your hips back and just catch the top of the foot with your strap and lean into your lunge now if your back knee is tender put a blanket under your back knee, pad it up even a pillow works and draw your heel towards your hip now there's a lot of different ways to work with a strap if you feel like you need a little bit more length you can create a smaller loop with a longer bit of length to work with on the strap reach it on back and then you can pull the strap over your shoulder so a couple of different ways that we can extend our arms basically and extend our reach so hips melt forward open the chest take a huge breath in and as you exhale just gently encourage your heel a little closer to your hip if your back right on top of the kneecap it's not going to be so comfortable so try to shift your hips forward and enjoy one more breath here and then exhale slowly release just leave the strap in the center of the mat and let's shift our right foot forward for a half split lift up through the heart as you inhale exhale melt forward fold and that one cycle of breath here and then slowly let's step back into our downward dog and you can just leave the strap right where it is bicycle pedal through the feet and knees and let's enjoy a vinyasa here so we have lots of vinyasa choices maybe we revisit the zigzag vinyasa as you shift a plank set your knees down take a visit to child's pose watch out for the buckle inhale back up to hands and knees curl the toes exhale back to down dog and now let's go right into that quadricep opener on the second side so I'm actually going to slip my right foot into the strap right here where I can see it and then step my left foot forward from here you can gather up the strap in your hand draw the heel close to the buttock make sure your hips are melting forward and then strap can reach over your shoulder or you can reach back and hold on a little closer to your foot so let's enjoy a couple of breaths here this is a nice long strap so I've got plenty of options to work with here with each exhale sink your hips a bit with each inhale back off a tad exhale sink the hips and usually the quads need a little more time a little more patience to open up so if you're feeling kind of like okay when's this one going to be over with you're probably not alone try to just breathe with it hang out with it fill it up with your breath and then slowly release yay shift your hips back let's straighten out the front leg you can even off your hips and your leg and then melt over the left hamstring let's enjoy a couple of breaths here the last breath here really flex the foot of the front leg and let your next inhale take you forward step back into downward dog as you exhale and let's move through that zigzag vinyasa again inhale shift to plank exhale lower the knees back to child's pose inhale hands and knees exhale downward facing dog so from downward facing dog walk your hands all the way back to your feet let's come up to standing with our strap and toes so as you inhale reach out and up and exhale draw your hands to your heart we have just one more visit to our royal dancer with the strap so take the loop and place it around the sole of your right foot I like to step to the middle of the mat for this and just really feel myself grounded here eyes steady just like we did in the lunge you can loop the strap over your shoulder and you're welcome to keep your hand on your belly and start to press your foot back into the strap or you can take both hands on the strap bring it behind your head and start to walk your hands down the strap towards your foot any amount what is any amount it's any amount so it doesn't have to be very far or some of you might walk your hands all the way to your foot that's not going to be me today but lift through the chest and press your foot into the strap and just feel that sense of kind of a bow and arrow inside of your body drawing your bow and arrow lifting up through the heart if balance is a little squirrely you're welcome to stand near a wall and place one hand on a wall take one more breath and then exhale slowly release let the straps slide through your hand and then change sides right it doesn't have to be dramatic you can calm steady right balancing is all about building focus and concentration so draw your heel to your buttock strap goes over the shoulder you can stay right here or you can bring both hands behind your head and start to walk your hands towards your foot press the foot into the strap and just get really calm and steady inside and if you're bouncing around trying to keep your balance just it's better to just come out of the pose and start over right start from a grounded place so nice deep breaths here just feel that opening that sense of drawing your bow and arrow when you come out of it come out slow right yeah and then set your strap to one side we'll step up to the top of the mat and we'll inhale our arms out now full breath in just kind of putting a period on the end of the sentence of our standing posture exhale forward fold lift the heart halfway and let's step our left foot back runners lunge lower your back knee down and turn the right foot open ground down through the left hand and let's see about reaching back and taking hold of our back foot without the strap it may or may not be there just see if it's there if it's not hand can rest on your sacrum but otherwise you can grab your foot anchor the hips open the chest take a full breath in and as you exhale just draw your heel in any amount it's one last little bit of love to the quadricep release your foot let's curl the back toes under lift your knee pivot your feet and come into your skandhasana and it can be a high skandhasana or turn the toes out and low skandhasana we will eventually sit down so if you're coming out of that high skandhasana make your way to grounded and draw the sole of the left foot to your inner thigh let's reach the arms up on an inhale as you exhale a gentle side bend towards the long legs you can bring the right hand down and just reach up on a diagonal kind of almost like side angle pose the root down through your left hip and just enjoy a little easy oscillation through your head and neck a little clearing of your mind and return to your breath notice how you feel inside relax the inner state with the outer state let's release both hands down towards the long leg take a bow for a moment and then roll up through your spine from here walk your hands towards the back of the mat come back into down dot and step your left foot forward runners lunge we'll go right to the second side here as we lower the back knee down turn your left toes out and anchor through the right palm from here sweep your left arm back and just see about grabbing your foot and your hamstring sometimes might give you a little cramp as you lift your leg but you can just relax it down and place your hand on your sacrum or you can grab your foot your choice one full breath here deep inhale as you exhale draw the heel and just give last little bit of love to the quadricep and then slowly without slingshotting your foot release pick up the back knee turn your feet towards parallel come into skandhasana on the second side right knee bent and you might turn the toes out and start to sink all the way down and have a seat however you get there's fine bring the sole of your right foot to the inner thigh and reach your arms up on an inhale exhale pour your weight over the left leg turn the chest open exhale oscillate through the head maybe close your eyes just dropping off anything that you don't need in your mind with your exhale turn over the long leg a little bowing in your inhale to sit tall as you exhale take your hands over to the right and let's lower down to the belly from the belly let's lift the chest lift the gaze reach your arms back lift your thighs fill locust pose and if you'd like you can bend the knees putting it all together reach back and grab both feet both ankles and start to lift your chest lift your thighs literally stringing the bow and arrow coming into bow pose dhanurasana and you can feel how royal dancers inside of this all these different shapes quadricep opening really all for this moment to open the heart and to really feel into your intention so close your eyes and just take three good breaths here pressing the feet into the hands feeling your heart your chest open that quiet center point the center of your mind drop it down into the heart take one more breath and exhale just let your body pour back into child's pose from here slowly releasing the feet slowly pressing up through hands and knees child's pose is the counter pose to the backbend so enter into it with grace and ease and a nice big exhale last couple of breaths before we transition into our shavasana so slowly make your way to your hands and knees tuck on to the back and if you really were enjoying the feeling of back bending inside of this practice you can take a gentle backbend in your shavasana by placing the block right behind your heart center you can also use a rolled up towel or a pillow and when you recline back for certain you want your head supported by something if it's not on the floor put another blanket or towel pillow under your head but you can enjoy your shavasana in this supported backbend this doesn't feel good to you then just leave it out and come into a typical classic shavasana let's close our eyes and breathe feeling into that open space emptying out the mind relaxing the body and just allowing your mind to rest allowing your body all the layers of your body to integrate your practice physical body the energetic body and the layers of the mind all in harmony start to deepen your breath and send a little bit of movement to your fingers and your toes reach your arms over your head and stretch through your legs on your next inhale exhale bend your knees and gently roll off onto your right side and press yourself up to a comfortable seated position yeah bring your hands together at your heart congratulations thank you so much for joining namaste see you in the next practice


4 people like this.
HI, I thought the push up on the chaturanga was a big jump from yesterday's. Maybe it's because I have weak triceps and I am still working on my chaturanga pose, I had to modify that part . I put my knees down on the ground when we did the chaturanga (push up) . And it was three reps. So, I will be working on refining my chaturanga today and tonight to get it better. I found the part on the quad. very easy. I guess that's probably because I had a rest day from jogging yesterday and didn't use my legs so my quads were pretty loose today. Nice session. Thanks!
Jeannie S. Greetings! Yes, good to just keep the knees down for a bit longer until you feel stronger in chaturanga, you are still building strength even with the knees down, and focus on keeping core alignment strong while lowering and lifting torso. Some of the quad openers are more potent feeling than others, it can depend on the day 😃 or the alignment, too.. def work to keep pelvis tilting towards posterior, and thighs in neutral alignment! Keep on rocking it!
2 people like this.
Thank you Shelley Williams! Another amazing practice. Namaste! :)
Tracy Thank you so much. You are doing a great job, Day 10 already! Awesome :)
2 people like this.
Really appreciating these thoughtful sequences. Have been practising at the same time every day AND looking forward to that time! The rhythm of today,s flow was lovely. I have been incorporating my aha moments from each day into other aspects of my life. Shelley, your style and queuing are really clear. 🙏
M M Angela hi there! Thank you for the nice note and feedback~ that is fantastic that you have been able to carve out same time each day, it makes a huge difference in consistency! Good for you 💜
2 people like this.
Really enjoyed this. Thank you.
2 people like this.
Loving your sequences; great to have this to look forward to when arriving home from work.
Christel That makes me smile.... thank you! 😊 Nice gift to give yourself at the end of the day...
1 person likes this.
Dear Shelley, I am very much enjoying your elegant shapeshifting. It’s interesting to me that I’m also getting a qigong vibe while following your practice — a feeling of clearing the auric/subtle body with flowing rhythmic movements as well as building strength and flexibility. And I felt like a royal dancer today :))) Thank you for your warm encouraging presence. Much love and light 🦋
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