Awaken to You: 30-Day Yoga Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 21

Day 18: Clear the Space

30 min - Practice


Welcome to Day 18! Today we revisit some familiar patterns with variations moving through Zig Zag Vinyasas, Sun Salutations, and balancing and twisting postures to invite fresh energy to the body and mind.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Namaste, greetings friends, welcome to day 18. We're going to be revisiting some structure and practices that you've already experienced in the earlier part of the challenge, but with some variation, so I hope you enjoy. And as we get further in this challenge, it's really important to remember that it's called a challenge for a reason, because it's challenging. If you feel kind of, you know, like, oh, difficult to show up, stay with it. I really encourage you to stay with it.

You're doing fantastic. And we are, we're getting really close to culminating the whole thing. So let's come on to our backs to start, draw your knees into your chest. And just like we did in our very first practice on our very first day together, come into your restorative, relaxed child's pose on your back and just rock a little bit side to side and get into the breath here. And notice if you can just drop right into the state of inner listening inside, and perhaps that's a little easier for you now, a little more accessible.

And as you start to find your way into your rhythm of your breath, you can just gently rock the knees and hips side to side, let your head rock a little bit, almost like you're in a canoe just floating on the ocean, gentle little shifting here, calming to the nervous system, calming to the mind and grounding to your body. And then in your next exhale, just open up your arms wide, let your knees drop all the way over to the right side of your mat. Take a deep breath in as you open up across your wingspan and then exhale, left arm circles all the way down past the hip, coming through a twist. We've experienced this one before and just one or two big circulations here to open the shoulder. Exhaling as you reach towards your other hand and beyond it.

And then inhaling as you trace the circle up and over your head. Let's do, let's do one more because things are pleasing in threes, inhale up and over. And then as you exhale, draw your knees through the midline and float them all the way over to the other side of your mat. And make sure your knees are level with the angle of your waist. Deep breath in as you expand through the wingspan.

And then exhale, circle the right arm down, past the bottom hand, inhale, clear the space around your head. And as you take that next circulation and exhale, reaching past the bottom hand, inhale, clear the space around your body energetically. And one more time, reach past the bottom hand and inhale, clear the space in your mind and float the knees back to the center. And this time we'll just rotate from the waist down as we pour the knees over to the right halfway, hovering above the floor, exhale center. And then pour the knees and hips over to the left and exhale back to the center.

So feeling a little dynamic core work as we warm up and twist through the spine. You're welcome to do this with straight legs if you'd like a little more. Or you can keep the knees bent. I'm going to keep the knees bent today. Maybe oscillate your head the opposite direction.

And again, some of these patterns, a lot of these patterns and movements hopefully are familiar to you now, like old friends. But one of my teachers would always say, every time you show up to your practice, show up to it like it's your first time and your last time. And that's really a nice thing to remember, especially when we get into the repetition of a daily practice and the consistency of a daily practice. So just a couple more twists here. Exhaling into the twist. Inhaling back to the center.

Exhaling into the twist. Inhaling back to the center. And one more time to the right and the left. Noticing if your core feels a little stronger now, this feels a little easier maybe. And then come back to the center, draw the knees in, hold on behind your knees. And from here, start to rock along the length of your spine back and forth.

And allow your spine to be nice and round so it feels like a massage on your lower back. And if it doesn't feel like a massage, you can always just roll to one side and then come on up and balance. And let's meet up, balancing in our floating child's pose. Half boat, shins are parallel to the floor. Let your knees come apart and then float the arms.

And notice how that feels if it feels a little more comfortable, a little more familiar to you. You can straighten the legs if you like and just enjoy a breath here, feeling that energy channeling in the center of the body. And then as you exhale, cross the ankles and let's flip over to our hands and our knees. Coming into a simple cat cow for a few breaths, inhale to arch your back. And then as you exhale and round your spine, option to hover the knees like we did a few practices ago.

And set the knees down and inhale. Exhale, round the spine, coil up through the belly, maybe lift the knees or not your choice. And once more like that, open up across the chest. Exhale, pour the head and tailbone down and lift up. And then from here, knees wide, big toes touch.

Let's revisit our zigzag vinyasa. So coming from child's pose, coming from our home base. And as we move through this pattern today, we can add a little visit to cobra. So on your next inhale, rise up to your hands and knees, even out the thigh bones and then exhale lower down through chaturanga to the belly. Inhale, lift up to a low cobra, really stream back, reach through your legs.

Exhale, release and then press through hands and knees to downward dog. And bicycle pedal through the feet and knees, stretching into the soles of the feet, calves, achilles, finding the rhythm of your breath as we move through this zigzag vinyasa a few times. So inhale to plank, set the knees down, exhale, child's pose. Slide through hands and knees as you inhale and lower to the belly. Exhale, inhale, easy cobra.

Exhale, back through hands and knees, downward facing dog. Let's do it again. Inhale to plank, set your knees down, exhale, child's pose. Inhale, pass through hands and knees, lower to the belly. And then take an easy cobra, open up through the heart, reach back through the legs as you breathe in.

Exhale, release, press through hands and knees, downward dog. Let's do it one more time just to continue warming up through the shoulders. Inhale to plank, set the knees down, exhale, child's pose. Inhale, hands and knees, exhale, lower through chaturanga to the belly. Inhale, open your heart, reach back through the legs, cobra.

Exhale through hands and knees, downward facing dog. And let's bicycle pedal and tread through the feet, through the knees. And as you tread, just start to saunter your feet all the way up to the top of the mat, feeling into the hamstrings and the hips, coming to a forward fold and releasing down. You can hold onto your opposite elbows if you like. You can keep the knees bent, whatever feels supported and therapeutic to the back body.

And let's enjoy a few breaths here. So enjoy one more breath here and just open up through the crown of your head, head below the heart, empty the mind and feel into that inner state of yoga, any inner intention or dedication. Sometimes just an offering of gratitude for the day, this beautiful day. And then release your hands. And let's bend the knees and roll up our spine with a lot of awareness through the core.

So draw the belly in to support your spine, bend the knees and let the hips melt down a bit and just stack up your bones, coming up to a nice, open, beautiful tadasana. And we'll move into our surya namaskar. Inhale, circle the arms out in that. Linger at the top, take in a little more air and then exhale, swan dive through your forward fold. Knees can be bent or legs straight.

Inhale, lift the heart halfway, fingers to the mat or the shins, always lots of options. Exhale, let's step back to plank and we'll go through that same zigzag vinyasa with cobra. So set your knees down, relax back to child's pose. We'll move through one breath, one movement. Inhale to come up, hands and knees.

Exhale, lower. As you inhale to cobra, feel your heart pulling forward, your hands pulling back. And then exhale through hands and knees, press back to downward dog. Let's inhale to the toes. Exhale, bend the knees and step to the top of the mat.

We'll stay with a one breath, one movement rhythm. Inhale, arda uttanasana halfway position. Exhale, uttanasana forward fold. Come all the way up to standing with a flat back, breathing in to reach the sky. Exhale, hands to your heart.

Good morning or whatever time it is. Let's do it again. Circle out and up, take a deep breath and linger at the top. Breathe in a little more, stretch through the roof to the sky. Exhale, swan dive forward fold.

Inhale, lift up halfway to your degree. Exhale, step back to plank. Lower the knees and melt into child's pose, just folding into the hips and knees. Inhale, hands and knees. Exhale, lower to the belly.

Inhale, pull the heart forward, drag the hands back. Exhale through your hands and knees, downward dog. Let's take two breaths here in our downward dog and just check out your feet. Check in with your alignment of the body, heels a little wider than the big toes. Check out the hands, hands about shoulder width apart.

Just refining and then go into the breath here. Listen to your breath and empty your mind. Let's inhale to the toes. Bend the knees, step up to the top of the mat. Take as many steps as you need.

Inhale, halfway position. Exhale, forward fold. Come all the way up with a flat back. Inhale to reach. Exhale, hands to your heart.

Let's do one more together. Inhale, reach to the sky, linger at the top. Breathe in a little more air. Exhale, forward fold. Inhale, lift the heart.

Really complete each breath, each movement. Exhale, step back to plank. Same exhale, lower your knees and fold into child's pose. Inhale, hands and knees. Exhale, lower chest and hips at the same time.

Inhale, maybe a bit of a higher cobra. Lift up just a bit more. Exhale through hands and knees. Downward facing dog. Let's enjoy three breaths here.

And as soon as you align your body, just start to get really quiet inside, listening to the breath. If your mind starts to get distracted, come back to that simple intention, offering or sound of the breath. So, as much as attention as we give into the discipline and diligence of training our outer body, we also give that same amount of attention, if not more, to the inner body as we start to develop a keener practice. So, one more breath here. And then inhale to your toes.

Bend your knees, you can step or lightly hop to the top of the mat. Lift the heart halfway on your inhale. And then exhale, forward fold. Inhale all the way up to standing. Exhale, hands to your heart.

Let's take a nice wide step, turning the feet out. Bend your knees and take your hands to the inside of your knees, coming into a high malasana. Sometimes we hear this referred to as goddess pose or temple pose, but press the knees open. And you'll notice my shoulders are kind of sinking up by my ears. You can do that too, just allow your weight, the weight of your hips, your spine to drop down into the legs.

And if you'd like to go a little deeper for adductor opening, you can take your elbows to the inner knees and press open. Maybe even press your hands against your shins and elongate from the tailbone to the crown of the head. Allow your weight to shift a little bit from side to side here and just getting into the inner lines of your roots, your legs. Powering up through the hips, take a couple more breaths here. And on the last couple rounds of breath, let's come back up to our hands and just drop one shoulder to the midline, opening into a really beautiful, yummy twist in the mid to low back, pressing your hand against your inner knee.

And then come back through the center, opposite direction. Really press your hand into the opposite knee. Let your shoulder drop to the midline, hips reach back, crown of the head forward and take a therapeutic breath into the back body. And then slowly come back to the center, backs of the hands, rest at the inner knees, powering up a little bit more through your roots. And simply inhale, straighten the legs, turn the feet parallel.

As you reach over your head, you can look up and then exhale hands to your heart. And let's step back up to the top of the mat for our first standing sequence. Allow your eyes to become steady on one point. We always do that in our balancing and just shift your weight into your right foot and catch the left knee at the chest. Draw your knee up in towards the left shoulder, almost like you would do lying on your back and just feel your head, your shoulders, your hips all in one long line as you draw the knee up and in.

And we're about to step back to a high lunge, but as we do that, let's pass through almost like a baby warrior three shape. So soften the standing leg, start to tilt the hips over the standing leg and reach your left leg straight back behind you parallel to the floor. Hands can be on the hips or reaching wide. So feeling into the warrior three shape and then lightly slow as you can land on the ball of the back foot, coming into your high crescent pose. Reach your arms to the sky on an inhale.

And then as you exhale, you have the option to take a simple twist with your left hand down and your right arm to the sky. Or you can come into a prayer twist, bringing your hands together, elbow tricep to the outside of your right thigh. Back knee can be down or up. As you inhale, reach forward through your spine, through your heart, through your head. As you exhale, perhaps take a look over your right shoulder.

And let's enjoy one more breath here. On your next exhale, release your hands and then go ahead and step up to the top of the mat. Lift your back leg as if you were going to go into a standing split, but just step left foot to the right. So we come right out of that transition. Inhale to rise all the way to standing. Exhale, hands to your heart, focus your eyes on one point and shift your weight into your left foot.

Right knee comes to the chest, lift and squeeze it towards the right shoulder and stand tall. Notice if you're kind of hunched over your leg and maybe that means backing off a little bit with the degree of how high your knee is. Really try to stand tall here. And then we make a mindful transition, soften the standing leg. Hands can come to the hips, slowly thread your right leg back. Just working kind of patiently and diligently, feeling into warrior three as its own shape, as part of the transition and then pouring back and down to land into your crescent pose. Inhale to reach and exhale to your twist, either a simple twist or a prayer twist. Reach forward on your inhale, lengthen the spine and as you exhale, turn your spine and see if there can be a little internal dialogue, a little internal conversation between the spine lengthening towards the crown and the back leg lengthening towards the heel. If you choose to look up just go slow, steady.

Last breath here. And then release your hands to the front of the mat. Let's push off the back foot, lift your back leg any amount and step to the front of the mat. Inhale to arise, come all the way up to standing. As you bring your hands to your heart, step wide and set up your base for proserita, padottanasana c, so lace the fingers behind the back. Open the chest as you inhale and then exhale, fold over the hips, knuckles reach to the sky. You can use a strap here and hold a strap with your hands hips width or wider or you can send your hands up and over while your fingers are clasped. Just hang out, relax your head, lift the shoulders a bit, create some space between the shoulders and the neck. And let's release our hands to our hips and then inhale to rise. As you come up, reach your arms to the sky and let's open up into warrior two. So we've been here before many times but arrive into it like it's your first time again. It's like, okay, warrior two, I feel you today. What feels different about it today? So breathe into it, sink into it. You can check out your alignment, your knee over your front heel, your back foot slightly, just slightly pigeon-toed. Full breath in and then as you exhale, let's go to parsvakonasana, side angle pose, but maybe we go a little deeper and take our hand to the floor and the top arm along the sky. We've got just one breath here, turn the chest towards the sky, stay for the exhale. One more inhale, maybe take a peek up at your palm and then exhale, transition back to prasarita, turn your feet in, plant your right palm and lift left hand to the sky. Exhale, bring it down, we'll flow back and forth from this twist. Inhale, right hand reaches to the sky. Exhale, bring it down. Once more inhale, left hand. Exhale, inhale, right hand. Exhale, from here hands to the hips, come all the way up to standing, reach your arms up on an inhale and let's open up the left foot coming into warrior two on the second side. Adjusting your feet as you need to, finding a little heel-to-arch or heel-to-heel alignment, press the knee open and sink down. Let's enjoy a deep breath here and then exhale, come into your side angle pose. Maybe your hand goes a little deeper towards the floor or a block if you prefer to stay on your elbow like we've done in a lot of the previous practices, that's fine. So breathing here and hopefully by now you're starting to see this trend of options. Whatever works for you on a specific day, take that option. Every day is different, every time we show up to our mat it's different.

One more breath here. Exhale, sweep the top hand through the center, turn the feet, we'll plant the left hand and inhale, right hand to the sky. Exhale, bring it back down. Inhale, left hand to the sky, a little flowing twist. Exhale, bring it down. Once more each side, right arm rises as you breathe in. Exhale, release. Inhale, left arm rises. Exhale, release. And just hang out here, you can walk your fingertips forward and let the shoulders open. Pitch a little tent with your hands so you're high on the fingertips and breathe into the shoulders and back of the heart. Walk your hands in, lift your chest and from here we'll come to a seated position. So you're welcome to walk your hands to either side of the mat and just tuck one knee in and have a seat. Yeah, super technical transition there. So from here let's come back down onto our back. You can just roll down, walk your feet out of it and as you roll down you can drop right into that awareness in your core and let's bring the right knee into the navel and float your left leg. Revisiting yoga bicycles, hands behind your head, elbow to knee and then changing sides.

And as you work through this rhythm, you're welcome to change up the rhythm. You can go super slow and really hold into one twist or you can start to pump the rhythm a little bit quicker, maybe even shorten up the length that the legs are reaching out. Sometimes I like to just move in and out of different rhythms, alternating a couple slow with a couple quick ones, little fast twitch, slow twitch, muscle fiber activation and just continue to breathe here. Just a few more rounds. Any rhythm that works for you, just try to stay engaged, give them a little core love back to the center of the body and then draw the knees into the chest and relax your head down. Let's set the feet on the mat and go right into the back core, tailbone, tilt, center, lift up to a bridge pose. Go ahead and lace your fingers behind your back or you can take a strap and hold it with your palms face up but scoot your outer shoulders in underneath you and notice you can kind of shorten up the distance between your shoulders and your heels and lift up through the hips, lift up through the heart and allow this pose, this shape to be a full body offering. So opening your heart to whatever's happening. You can close your eyes here and breathe and sometimes it can sound so try it to say that, open your heart to whatever is happening but when you feel into this shape as a metaphor, it takes tremendous strength in the back body. It takes tremendous effort to open the heart. So breathe into that, breathe into that idea, that space, that feeling, whatever's going on and just rising up to it fully, press into the feet a bit more, lift the hips and then as you exhale, go ahead and separate your shoulders, separate your hands and roll down. Ah, feels good. Draw your knees into your chest and let's rock up or roll to one side and come up for Baddha Konasana. So bring the soles of the feet together, open up your knees like a diamond and draw the heels in close. You can sit up really tall here, really lift the heart. It's again a very open-hearted posture even though it has a forward fold aspect to it.

So keep the back body active, pull the elbows back and send your heart forward into your Baddha Konasana. And just breathe and be here and every time I come into this shape, it always reminds me of this really lovely poem from a little yoga poem book called Lines to Unfold By by Lisa Lowitz and it talks about perfectionism and really celebrating whatever's going on in your life, imperfect or perfect, celebrating what it is as perfect right now in this moment. So take a few more breaths here, keep your heart reaching forward, keep the back body active. One more breath and slowly release your head and neck and roll back up to a tall seat. And let's make our way to Shavasana. So just come onto your back, make yourself comfortable when you roll down, separate your feet, hips width apart or wider, turn your palms to face up, close your eyes, drop in to the support of whatever you're lying upon, your mat, your carpet, your floor, the ground, what's beneath that. And as you rest here, I'm just gonna do my best to paraphrase, recall this poem for you, it's not verbatim, but the essence of the poem written about Baddha Konasana. If you could call it perfection, what would it look like, be like or feel like? And wherever you are right now, know that it is really enough as it is in this moment, it is perfect. Slowly bring your awareness back into your body. And if you're just dropping into a nice long restful Shavasana, you're welcome to stay there.

But if you'd like to come out and continue through your day, let's go ahead and reach your arms over your head, stretching long through the fingers and toes. And then as you exhale, draw your knees into your chest, open your eyes, slowly roll over to one side and press yourself up to a comfortable seated position. Let's bring our hands to our heart together, meet your friends and enjoy this day unique unlike any other day that you've experienced. Totally perfectly imperfect. Thank you so much for joining us, for joining me. I'll see you in the next practice. Namaste.


Glenford N
4 people like this.
I loved the simple flow of this practice, coupled with my breathing and the sense of going into myself to a quiet inner place. Namaste Shelley
Nancy W
3 people like this.
Loving all the variations in this challenge. Has been super helpful in loosening up the tight back. Thanks Shelley so much.
Gabriel W
2 people like this.
Thank you. You made me cry.
Shelley Williams
Glenford I always love reading your introspective responses... thank you so much for sharing with all of us
Shelley Williams
Nancy Yes, its so wonderful to know that you are really feeling a shift and some relief in your back. I occasionally have tight lower back, too, and I know how nagging it can be...keep up the good rhythm!
Shelley Williams
Gabriel Ahhhh, yes... its such a sweet release when the water flows. We have tears for a reason~~~hugs to you
Nadia I
4 people like this.
Shelley Williams do you have more classes/challenges on Yogaanytime? If not, please pretty please consider making more! 😍😍😍
Shelley Williams
Hi Nadia! I do have two other seasons already filmed on Yoga Anytime. One is under the Vinyasa Flow Show, one is under Peak Pose Show. I hope to have the opportunity to do more in the future :)
Kate M
1 person likes this.
Thank you again, Shelley! It's a sunny Saturday morning here, and this was a lovely way to start the weekend!!
Wherever you are, happy day - !
Shelley Williams
Hey Kate! Happy Monday, cool and moody here in Manhattan Beach. Hope you are having a great day :)
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