Yoga for Our Nature Artwork
Season 4 - Episode 3

Core and Joint Stability

35 min - Practice
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With the support of a block, Melina shares a practice designed to stabilize our joints and strengthen our core. This is a great practice to balance vata.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block

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Hello and welcome back. We're gonna be jumping into a class now that uses one block and all the poses to help us stabilize our joints a little bit more in our practice as well as engage our core. So let's jump into the practice if you will. Lie down on your back and as you start to come to the floor if you turn your block the flat position and we're gonna put the feet together up on the block with the knees wide. Everyone will need maybe a different distance towards the block or away from the block as you come on down to find what's that right position that allows your legs to drop out to the side comfortably and not be overwhelmed with sensation. So in this way with the feet lifted for some it might help us direct our awareness a little bit more clearly into the hips. The arms come somewhere out to your side wherever they're comfortable and in this first pose your head's on the ground, shoulders on the ground. We're just trying to make contact with the floor and just take a moment to ease on back and feel the stable quality of the earth beneath you and what would it be like to try to absorb some of that stable quality deep into the center of your bones, deep into the center of your being. Then taking a few deep full breaths as we transition from whatever you've been doing earlier today and coming into this moment with slightly longer exhales. I invite you to exhale any way you're comfortable through the nose or through the mouth. Maybe three more breaths here just getting settled appreciating that stable quality of the floor and the fullness of your breath. The first move that we're gonna make now is to bring the hands behind your head and lace your fingers together to support your head. Slowly bring your knees together and we're gonna have the knees touch and let your feet stay on the block. With your feet up on the block we'll lift the head and shoulders and look forward towards the thighs and then roll the head back to the floor as your knees go back out to the side and we'll a little bit more quickly now curl forward, bring the knees together, feet stay on the block, inhale roll back and again exhale curl forward with your thighs touching knees touching and then back on inhale exhale curl up. Let's see if we can use this to identify the full length of the breath and keep working into those long exhales. So we might consider this a pranayama practice as much as a abdominal core engaging practice. Let's do one more curling up and then roll back to the floor. When you're on the floor now maybe you can use your feet to lift the block up and transfer the block now into the middle of the thighs. We'll keep the feet floating as high as your knees and then put your arms straight out to your side in line with your collarbones or shoulder line. Squeeze your block and let your legs fall to the right about halfway over to the floor and then turn to look to the left and press your left shoulder down. Come back to center legs go to the right left halfway over and look to your right as your right shoulder presses down. Come back up to center. Let your legs fall to the right now three quarters of the way and look to your left. Legs come on up gaze to center and legs go to the left three quarters. Look over to the right come on back up to the center. Turning ahead doesn't feel good skip that part. Let your knees drop over to the right and touch the floor. Look to the left come on back up and then legs drop over to the left and look over to your right. Let your knees touch the floor and then come on back up. One more in your rhythm knees to the right head to the left. Come back to center knees to the left head to the right and then back up to center. All right we take the block in your hands now raise your feet up in the air and turn the block into that narrow position. Take the block all the way back to the floor behind your head. If this is difficult with straight legs we go for bent knees. So your variation now as you exhale lift your head and shoulders and reach the block to the outside of the legs on the right. Take everything back to the floor. Exhale reach up and twist to the left. Come on back to center separate the legs wide and then exhale reach that block through the legs. Keep the long exhale back to the floor. Again head to the right lift both shoulders as you twist. Inhale back and head to the twist on the left exhale back to center legs apart reach the block forward long exhale back to center. Last time we'll head to the right as you exhale reach to the side. Inhale back to the floor. Exhale reach over to your left side. Inhale back to the floor. Open the legs exhale send the block through the legs both shoulders up and then inhale back with arms by your ears. We'll pause and put the feet down on the floor about hip distance apart like you would for bridge pose. Take the block up in the air above your chest and turn the block the wide way so you've got as much width as possible so your hands may be about as wide as your shoulders. Keep lifting the block towards the ceiling now press into your feet and raise your pelvis off the floor and your spine and make little adjustments in your feet so it feels comfortable in your lower back. Okay we're gonna keep this version of bridge and then as we exhale we're gonna bring the spine and pelvis down while stretching the block to the floor behind your head. Press into your feet again lift your hips lift the block in the air above your chest. The spine comes to the floor buttocks to the floor as we take the block back behind your head. Lift up come to the very top of your shoulders hold the block up. Everything comes down as we lengthen through our body and we touch the floor. Let's do two more lift your hips take the block up lower your spine as you reach the block behind your head. Last one hips up the block up and then we come on down with our spine and then with that block. Now if you lift your block up and lift your pelvis up we're gonna take that block and insert it underneath your sacrum area under your hips maybe that medium height that's too high go to the flat. Take your arms down to the side of your body and brace yourself here. Bring your feet a little closer together and take your right leg up towards the ceiling and as you keep that right leg up let's bend your knee and then kick your leg back up bend your right knee and kick that leg back up. One more time bend your knee and then kick that leg up. See what it's like to press into your left foot press into your arms and imagine you're gonna lift off the block for a moment and if you don't actually do that you can also just imagine you're lifting off the block and continue again to focus grounding left foot. Let's go ahead and release that right leg to the floor take your left leg straight up in the air flex the ankle and three times we'll bend the knee kick the leg back up and your knee kick the leg up and the knee and kick the leg up. Pause now and as we did on the other side ground your right foot and you might consider coming off the block as you brace yourself or imagine you're coming off the block and press into that right foot a little bit more. Okay last moments let's go ahead and release that left foot to the floor raise your heels come up to the ball of your foot to get that block out from underneath you. Let's turn on to your right side take the block with you and let's turn the block that medium shape so not the skinny version not the wide but maybe something the middle shape and with your head on the floor or if you need head on a blanket keep your knees bent we're gonna do is lift the block up away from the floor and try to follow the block with your eyes up towards the ceiling and then bring the block back down and try to feel as we're lifting that block up that we're moving into that middle thoracic part of the spine take the block up follow it with your eyes come on back down inhaling going up and then coming back down so we're keeping the shoulders nice and stable and trying to move specifically through so maybe some new joints in the spine or maybe even through your deck and then come on down so let's go ahead and take the block up roll onto your back and separate your feet to get a little bit wider and turn your block the wide way the wide way take the block to the floor behind your head and then adjust your hands so that you can slide your pinky edge of your hand to press against the side of the block put your palm on the floor spread your fingers wide and squeeze slightly into the block with your pinkies and then notice that might help you bring your elbows in a little closer together keep your elbows as narrow as possible and see what it would feel like to slide your block back a few inches away from your head and then bring your block back in towards your head so the hands feel like if you've ever done full wheel pose or dvadhanurasana your hands are in that position and now slide the block back again a few inches away from your head and just looking for that maybe deeper stretch into your shoulders maybe engaging the core to keep your ribs from pushing up towards the ceiling bring the block back in one more time squeeze elbows in close and let your elbows go wide grab the block lift it back up in the air and then we're going to turn over onto the left side and do what we did on the first side turning the block that medium height with your knees bent let your hands hold the block and take that block up into the air maybe above your chest and take the block back to the floor follow the block with your eyes so you get some specific movement in your thoracic spine upper mid back up through the neck and just seeing what this feels like as we go side to side so in a sense we're keeping the shoulders nice and stable and trying to move through the joints of the spine next time that we come on down so we last time we touched the floor and then let's come on all the way up with the block roll onto your back and then from here we're gonna come up to sitting so you might rock on up or roll to your side and come on up when we're up in this seated position let's pause I'm gonna flip around so you can see me better in that seated position let your feet be hip distance apart and the block in the wide position we'll take the arms up above your shoulders and like we did on our back we'll turn to the left and lower the block down toward the height of the knees as you lower your spine towards the floor a few inches come on back up to center look straight ahead and then a little turn to your right lower the block toward the height of your knees and then take your spine toward the floor come on back up to center and then we go straight back lower the block right above your knees as you go towards the floor come on up to center raise your block turn to your left squeeze the block and then lower on back lift your arms in the block turn to your right exhale take the block down lower your spine keep the feet on the floor come on up and then take the block right above your knees pause feet on the ground and then come on up right so from here we're gonna slide your feet over to the right and then we'll transfer up to stand on your knees when you come up to stand on the knees set your block over onto the left side maybe in that medium position and then have your knees be about hip distance apart once you're settled on the knees take your right leg out to the side maybe at the height of your hip with the toes facing straight ahead let both arms come up to the side up as high as your shoulders and we're gonna do two things so once we keep the shoulders out to the side reach as far over to the left as you can go drop your hand down lightly to the block bring it under your shoulder line if it's not and then take your right arm down towards your ear stretching long through that right side and you'll come on back up shoulders as high as hands as high as your shoulders reach again over to the left pause left hand down right arm across the room inhale back up to center again one more time reach out to the left left hand to the block reach across the room and then when we come on up let's take the block with us bring the right knee to the floor and transfer the block to the right that left leg goes out with your toes facing forward take the arms as high as your shoulder heights reach out to the right and lightly touch the block lightly emphasizing lightly reach left arm across the room and then come on back up reach over to the right pause take your hand to the block lightly touch as left arm drops across inhale back up one more time reach over to the side pause lightly touch the block reach across the room and then up we come back to center the arms relax bring your knees to the floor curl your toes under and then take the block and slide it down right in front of the knees so your toes are curled under getting a little stretch squeeze the thighs together bring your hands in front of your chest and try to lengthen the curves of your spine here to squeeze the thighs in squeeze your ankles in if you want to go for a little balance we could try to lift the knees off the blocks and try to engage a little more of the legs the core this spine as we grow a little taller knees down is the more stable variation take one more breath here lifting up and then with the knees apart let's hold onto the block slide it forward so you can for a moment come to stand with your feet mount as wide as the block and turn it taller if you need to have access to that height to straighten your legs or take it to the medium position and think of looking back through the legs just for a moment to deepen into your legs we'll bend the knees then and slowly get ready to come up towards standing okay from here if you take the block the medium height and we're going maybe a little bit wider than how we often practice but keep that wide medium width that's what I call it and come up to stand we're gonna do a little sequence where we take the arms up over the shoulders reach up for your left wrist and then arch over to your right sides while grounding the feet please look down towards your outer right ankle come on up to center hold your left wrist arch over to your left and look down to your outer left ankle then coming up to that center position let your arms be parallel and begin to explore your chair variation where ankles bend and stop coming down when your ankles stop bending squeeze into the block as you reach all the way up through your arms and come down reach for your knees your shins or the floor in front of your feet and squeeze the block as you come forward and down and then try to go into a deeper chair as low as you can go here squeeze the block reach your arms forward and then keep your legs bent but take your torso slowly up squeezing the block then up we go to straight legs hands down in front of your chest now notice the difference when we turn the block that narrow way and go closer with your feet closer with your legs same practice just notice which one feels more interesting for you come on up catch your left wrist and arch over to your right side looking towards your outer ankle come on up to center hold your right wrist arch to the left and look to outer left ankle come on up to center with your arm stretching up start to bend your ankles knees and stop lowering when your ankles stop bending just kind of pause in that space drop your hips back as you squeeze the block reach for your knees your shins your ankles or the floor as you come forward and down and then while squeezing into the block slowly drop into that deeper chair reach your arms forward come all the way up as far as you can go squeeze the block and then we launch up into straight legs let your hands come down and we'll release the block okay turn your feet now a little bit wider wiggle your feet wider and turn your toes out maybe 10 15 degrees it'll be a little different for everybody with the block in that wide position take your arms up overhead and think of coming down to what would be your squat position so we might come down to a place where hips are higher than the knees some might come down where your hips are all the way down towards the floor so as you sink down we reach up and then as we lift up we're gonna drop the block down so we're gonna take the block above the head or shoulders as you come toward the floor so that you settle into those joints easily and then launch up as you bring your arms down you bring your arms up as you come down slowly and carefully into the joints of the knees and ankles ground the legs as you come on up so try to really access your feet here ground your feet as you sink down and really ground your feet as you come on back up I'll show options again coming down your version where your feet are really stable come up the spine is neutral let's do one more making sure your spine isn't launching forwards okay so just being mindful of coming on up in a good way all right now we're gonna turn a face the small edge of your mat and let's go ahead and start with your left foot forward and your right leg back into your warrior one footprint so the feet just need to be wide enough short enough step that you feel the qualities of stability and ease and we'll keep holding the block the wide way let the block come up into the air above your head or maybe arms are beside your ears and just feel when you squeeze into that block how that brings your shoulders maybe in a little closer towards the joints maybe helps you lift your shoulder blades as you lift your gaze slightly up and straighten your left leg and take the block down to rest your shoulders bend your left knee squeeze your block and just feel again arms hugging in toward the joint it feels good look up while lifting the block and come on out one more time focusing on squeezing the block bend your knee and then lift the block up feel how that brings your arms in a little closer towards your head or your midline and we release out and we'll step that back right foot forward and step your left leg back into your warrior one footprint so it's short typically it's wide enough that your shoulders face the front of the mat when you bend your front knee make sure you have full access to your back leg so we press that left heel down and try to bring the block above your head or with the arms beside the ears if it feels good we look up squeeze the block and exhale as you come out inhale going in sink into your feet lift the block which lifts your shoulders lift your ribs exhale out and then one more squeeze in the block in that way lifting up squeezing in and then last time as we come on down turn to face that wide edge the front of your mat okay now with your feet in this wide position let's go ahead and drop the block down to the floor what might be underneath the line of your chest or collarbones so with the feet wide enough that you have access towards straight legs let's take the left hand to the block which might be under the line of your chest and swing your right arm out to the side parallel to the floor look to the right hand this could be your version of the twist or start to turn more from the waist and lift your right hand higher up towards the sky and bring that right hand back to the block right arm goes again out to the side we do our version of the twist turn from the waist exhale out one more time inhale turning and then release now the left arm goes out to the side shoulder height look out to the left hand and that could be the twist keep lifting belly keep lifting chest away from the floor we make a little turn and then bring your left hand back to the block two more times inhale follow your left hand out to the side or slightly up come on down and one more time left arm goes out to the side and up and then exhale back down all right let's take that block with us as we wiggle the feet closer together come all the way up towards standing and now let your right foot turn out with your legs straight for triangle as your base take the block up above your head and actually lift the block up so you feel or see or sense your arms all come in towards your ears really going up towards the sky let your pelvis tilt to the left as your body reaches to the right and keeping both elbows straight and your chest facing forward come on up and just notice what side waist muscles start to wake up as we squeeze the block and go to the side come on back up and one more time ground your feet engage the core we're stabilizing those shoulders come on up and then relax your arms turn your right foot in and then turn your left foot out all right one more side to go up with the block shoulders ground your feet please swing your hips slightly to the right as you go to the left straight elbows yourself that little check come on up and again chest facing forward come to the side usually we don't need to go very far to feel that work in your side body come up last one heading to your side and then come on up let your arms come down let your feet heal toe their way back in shake everything out okay now with your feet hip distance apart and we're gonna do one little movement for your shoulder to stabilize as you squeeze the block take your arms up and then hold on to the block and reach behind your back and let your palms squeeze into the block just turn around real quick so you can see this action of squeezing the block with your hands and then trying to go towards straight arms straightening your elbows squeeze way up high between your shoulder blades and then notice that you're still blinking and breathing as you do that work that's actually quite difficult as you hold that block all right go ahead and release roll your shoulders all right this is a little bit playful work this is helpful for moving the shoulder joint and all its range of motion I put the block in my right hand like I'm holding a tray so as you hold this tray this block with your hands with your hand move your hips to the left to make room to move this block in towards your waist and then your hips follow the block out to the side so the palm is facing the floor the arm is straight and then from here we bend the right elbow hold the block and draw a huge circle with that block in the air until you come back to what I call the serving position okay we're gonna try that again hips move to the left as we bring the block in the hips move out and follow the block as we go to the right bend your elbow keep your knees bent hold the block and draw a huge circle around until we're back to standing one more time hips move with you as you go to the left we got to the right stay here bend your knees look up and then draw that huge circle holding the block you come back to serving position okay let's try your left hand come to our serving position hips to the right we make room for the block and then we look out to the left straight arm and the block is about shoulder height bend your knees more bend your top elbow take the block back and draw that big circle come back up to serving hips to the right make room hips to the left the block is out bend your knees look up and take the arm all the way back to center one more time hips to the right hips to the left straight arm holding the block bend your left elbow toward the ceiling hold your block and then reach on back okay so kind of playing around with that full range of motion in that shoulder while steadying your focus on this block all right thanks for playing with that now we're going to come down to the floor and finish in a dandasana like seat as we come down to dandasana stretch the legs on out and let your block rest on the top of your thighs all right I'm gonna wiggle my feet a little closer to that long end of the mat so as the legs stay straight take your arms up above your head with that block and then lower your block towards your thighs as you bring your spine slowly to the floor and the head lands softly and take that block behind your head big full breath we're gonna try to catch a little wind momentum as we take the block up reach towards your feet and if you don't try and make it on the first time keep trying come on up raise the block above your head as you exhale bring the block towards your thighs come down slowly into your spine head drops last arms take the block back one more reach forward towards your feet with the block and then up towards the sky exhale take the block down towards your thighs as you meet the floor pause bend your knees and insert the block flat position underneath your sacrum okay so from here with your arms steady bracing you at your side take your left leg toward the ceiling your right leg toward the ceiling and just for a moment stretch the heels up and relax the shoulders back and down so we might work at keeping the legs up and as if your legs are up against the wall but this does a little bit more work in the legs a little more work in the hips so just simply hold the legs up a little partial inversion so for some of you keeping the legs up will feel better and for some we might enjoy bringing one leg to the floor and then the other leg to the floor and then spreading your arms a little wider so it's like you're making a big X shape if you were looking at yourself from the top view keep the legs strong so the legs aren't passive this doesn't feel good at your back please go back up to straight legs we'll take just an extra moment maybe in your big X shape here with support for the front of the hips to open and for really your whole entire front body to open as we stabilize that sacrum joint keeping the legs strong bring your arms down to your side put your feet on the floor and as we lift off the block going to put it right on your belly and then if you work into Shavasana with straight legs go straight legs if you need bent knees do bent knees and let your legs separate wide take up lots of space your arms wide and as you feel the floor underneath your body try to let yourself feel heavy here see if we can tune in to where your block is on your belly and encourage the belly to help move the block closer to the sky and as you exhale to feel the belly weight the block weight help your belly fall slightly more towards the earth let your belly help move the block towards the sky as you breathe in and the block helps the belly fall in toward the back as you breathe out moving the block up on inhale and letting in the block help you relax your belly down and back if it's not happening right away just keep trying to bring your attention into your abdominal area and try to use those muscles a little bit more to help you breathe might not be automatic maybe three more breaths just consciously working with your breath your belly to create a little bit more awareness of abdominal breathing if you comfortably relax into Shavasana again just keeping mindfulness of the breath not altering your breath just let yourself land for a few moments without any effort to hold your body any particular way not trying to breathe any particular way simply sharpen your attention and interest or curiosity in this moment and the next so you feel like you're floating in that quiet space between breaths and between thoughts you can explore with while still receiving the support of the ground the belly engaging again and pushing the block slightly up on inhale feel the block helping your belly settle down and back on exhale a few little movements with your fingers your toes wrists and ankles and then when you're ready bend your knees with your feet on the ground take the block off the belly turn to a side and then from your side after you've had a little rest let's come on up to a seated vertical position and I want to encourage you to use your block turn maybe the medium height to slide back where your feet will go and the knees come forward so if you look back your block is the middle height between your ankles and we sit down if that's okay in your knees on the block for Virasana having that moment to settle the pelvis in the way so your spine has the ability to lengthen through all the curves take a moment with your eyes closed or relaxed to perhaps bring your palms together and rub your palms together quickly to get a little bit of heat a little bit of heat in your hands cup your eyes just to bring that quality of relaxation a little bit deeper into the eyes relaxing all those muscles across the forehead temples cheeks mouth let's try to keep the eyes and the face completely relax like this as your hands lower right down in front of the heart center and finishing our practice with a little bit of gratitude for our bodies moving well enough today to go through all these shapes all these postures thank you so much for practicing together with me I hope that adds some value to your week namaste

Comments

Brett Williams
Value to my week - and more. Namaste.
Elissa P
2 people like this.
That one gets filed in my favorites. Felt therapeutic for my very tight shoulder, in all the ways that are challenging but good. I particularly loved the "teacup" move from qi gong (balancing the block like a platter while moving)... that's one of my favorite movement patterns anyways, and so interesting with the block addition.
Nancy F
1 person likes this.
Oh my goodness, what a lovely quiet, yet strengthening practice this was! I love this one. I'm so glad I found it. My waist perked up as did my shoulders. I'm so glad I did this one and I'm saving it now. 
Sandra Židan
Thank you very much for this great practice, Melina! Kind regards!
Gina G
1 person likes this.
A really great practice, I will rely on this in the future

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