Yoga for Our Nature Artwork
Season 4 - Episode 7

Earth and Air Balancing

30 min - Practice


Melina guides us in a slow class with a keen focus on precision, alignment, and breath. With the support of a strap we tune in to diaphragmatic breathing as we move through our postures.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block (2)


Read Full Transcript

Hello and welcome back to the practice. This class is going to be a nice slow class that's focusing on precision and alignment and breath and more specifically diaphragm breathing with the support of a strap for our practice. So for this class we'll need two blocks and a strap and if you will take a block for use to sit on in just a moment. I'm going to give you some time to make a non-sliding loop with your belt. So as you make your non-sliding loop make it big enough that you can put it over your body and to start to tighten it up below your chest and aiming to have it below your chest and supporting your lower rib cage. So it's not at your waist it's definitely more under your chest and make it snug but not so snug that you can't take a deep breath and then take your loose ends however much loose ends you have of this strap and tie it around so it's not hanging to a side or in front of you and then tuck that in. I'll give you a second to do that with your belt and to know that at some point the belts might soften and lower a little bit down and we'll pull it back up occasionally throughout the practice. So when you have your strap around your rib cage below your chest I'm going to turn sideways because it's easier to see. Sit on one block or two whatever you need for Virasana and come to the place where you're upright in the torso hands resting on your thighs and make sure your feet are comfortable knees are comfortable set quality of grounding in the legs while you give yourself permission to move your pelvis a little bit forward and back so that you can start to tune into when your lower back is in that position as if you're standing up where we have maybe we might think of maximum length in the lower back so sometimes when we think of sitting up straight we push the ribs forward when we think of sitting up straight and we can eventually create a lot of strain in the lower back so see if you can feel when you sit that your ribs are right over your pelvis and when that's true whether your eyes are open or closed we might be able to settle here and see what it feels like once you've moved your pelvis moved your ribs lengthened your spine to see what it feels like to breathe into the sides of the rib cage where you feel the strap and notice how much air you need to bring into your body to let your ribs expand what I think of as the east and west direction and spreading nice and wide and then also then what does it feel like to bring awareness to the ribs and open from front to back and see if you take a really big breath in if you can feel like you touch the back of the strap with the back of your rib cage most of the time it will be necessary to bring in slightly longer inhales so you're breathing way down to the bottom of your lungs to your fuller capacity and as you exhale you'll probably feel your rib cage become a little more narrow and the strap might feel like it's slightly dropping down it's okay if it does a little bit take a couple more moments to orient yourself to breathe into the three-dimensional shape of your rib cage and very specifically trying to breathe into the sides and the back where we're often a little bit less conscious see if you can hit the sides of the strap with your ribs and your back body so now with that orientation of breathing towards the strap if your eyes close let your eyes open and look forward and we try to bring one arm at a time up towards your ear and notice when your arm comes up towards your ear that you don't push your ribs forward into the front of the strap that you try to keep your ribs over your hips so here you can breathe into the back of the strap into your back of the ribs when you've found that position now add the right arm coming up towards the ear and see that you can breathe into the back of the strap here I know for me personally my arms need to be a little bit forward of the ears for me to truly have access to the back of my rib cage if my arms are back beside the ears I push my ribs forward and I feel the front of the strap and I lose the back so see where your neutral is ribs over hips a nice long spine so we're gonna try to keep awareness in that area as we take the arms down come up off your block for a moment set it aside and then come to tabletop all fours position so this is a place where we can often feel your ribs dropping towards the floor and we would feel more the front of the strap than the back see in this case if you can lift the front of the ribs high enough up that you have full access to breathing into the back of the strap and then take a moment just getting comfortable with how much lifting you're doing through your core through your belly through the ribs and maybe that creates a little bit more lightness in your hands a little more space in your wrist I hope it does and trying to keep again that awareness in the back of the ribs as you take one more breath so now we're gonna add the blocks I'm gonna keep going back to feeling where the strap is but now if you put your blocks out in front of you have your hands open on the blocks and begin to sit back towards your version of child's pose with your ribs coming down to your thighs and your arms stretched out forward so in this place where we bring the chest towards the knees ribs on your thighs now it might be a different experience to breathe into your back body that's your head drop down and see if you can access it's maybe easier to breathe into your back body when your ribs are pressed against your thighs and see if you can breathe out towards the sides of the straps here fuller breath in and a full breath out and one more moment just knows how much air you need to breathe in to feel way down to the back of your strap and then from that position we're gonna try your downward dog with the blocks first spread your fingers wide lift your hips and you might need to adjust your hands depending on the kind of blocks you have spread them really wide and as we move the hips back and we maybe move your feet back this is another easy place where we might as people say dump the ribs towards the floor in the strap will give us some feedback so we can lift the ribs away from the earth enough that you can feel the back of the strap okay so I feel like I have to do a little bit of rounding shape initially then send the hips back and notice for yourself how many more core muscles you're aware of in your belly the front of the ribs to keep your ribs from pressing into the front of the strap and keep lifting your ribs until there's really a nice long line in your back body and downward dog okay so it's a harder pose to work on because we're using more muscles and so if you can one more moment lift the front ribs so that you can breathe into the back of the strap and then let your weight shift forward and spread your hands one more time and come into plank pose another place where we might fall into the front of the ribs let's see if we can lift the back strap towards the ceiling until you feel all the way around your ribs when you take a big breath in and you take a big breath out and one more big breath to fill up the back of the ribs and lungs and then keeping that sense of floating as we walk the feet toward the blocks and let's flip the blocks to a taller height for our first forward bend with straight legs a nice neutral spine maybe looking down towards your feet and see in the forward fold if you can breathe into the back of the strap take a big breath bringing your attention to your back body and it should keep the front belly and ribs moving away from the earth away from the pull of gravity and hopefully this helps you find your feet in your legs a little bit more okay press down into the feet and the front body lifts take one more moment here lifting your front body away from the earth while pressing down evenly into your feet when we come out we'll bend the knees leave the blocks where they are and come all the way up towards standing and again I'm going to stay facing this way so you can see my side body a little bit more as we try to access now our tadasana our mountain pose and notice when we try to stand tall are we pushing our ribs forward into the front of the strap and if so move your ribs back so they're right over your hips and if you take a big breath in please take a big breath in and try to feel the sides of the strap and the back of the strap with your ribs expanding the three-dimensional shape how much air do you need to breathe in you know please keep your feet completely settled on the floor without moving your feet we'll start again with one arm let the left arm lift up towards the ear towards the sky without letting your ribs push forward to get the hand higher so notice how much pulling in do we do through the front abdominal region through the front of the ribs to keep standing over your feet to keep your ribs over your hips when you can keep that one arm in place now let the other arm come up and notice again does that pull your ribs forward like you're a gymnast dismounting and if that habits there take a little time to feel your feet the weight is even front to back ribs over hips and this ability to breathe into your back body into your side ribs with your arms over heads again my arms are a little bit forward of the ears if I'm being really honest about keeping my ribs over my hips when I take them back my ribs go forward and the weight falls to the ball of my foot okay so trying to be more aware in this practice of the precision of where you are with your ribs and with your feet let your arms come all the way down and now we're going to try a basic pose of warrior two so I'm going to open the face this way and as you come to warrior two I'll invite you to open your feet in that three or three and a half distance apart if we start by turning your right foot out to the side and you bend your right knee toward 90 degrees try to notice before we do anything with the arms that your right and left foot are working 50-50 so if you had scales under your feet 50% of the weight in your left foot 50% in the right this will sometimes help your pelvis come up to that high neutral position automatically then let your arms reach out to the side maybe with your palms facing up today with the arms spread wide there can be a tendency again for the ribs to push forward in space notice in your position can you move your ribs in towards your back body so you have access with your arms wide to breathe into the back of your ribs 50-50 weights in the feet 50-50 work in your legs and just simply try to keep training your ribs to move in towards your back body there's a narrowing of the ribs that often happens and hopefully you feel it nice and long through the center of your spine like it's really easy to breathe let's take your arms down turn your right foot in and adjust your strap again a strap will continue to move as we do our poses so left foot turns out left knee bends and before we do anything with the arms shift more focus to your right foot that's the one that tends to get lighter in warrior 2 so you're 50% in your right foot 50% in the left pelvis again oftentimes it's going to lift a little away from the earth when you're truly working both legs evenly keep that good foundation take your arms wide out to the side and maybe just a smidge higher than your shoulder heights okay with that lift of the arms notice that your ribs don't follow the hands and your ribs actually move back away from the front of the room the ribs move in so that you have even pressure all the way around the strap take a big breath in and just feel the back ribs in touch with the strap he takes a little bit of training if the ribs tend to push forward to wake up that core and hold yourself a little bit more accountable now for this posture that ideally gives you more access to your breath and then let your arms come down at your side turn your left toes in and let's go right out to the second pose we'll do like this is triangle pose so with your right foot turned out this time the legs straight sense before we do any moving of the torso that your front ribs are in and that you're working both legs evenly arms out to the side and as you angle yourself tilt your pelvis to the left your body lengthens to the right and we take that right hand down and take the left arm up we'll take that left hand and just simply hold on to your waist so we focus on this chest opening and now with the chest opening do we tend to push the ribs into the front strap and if so bring your front ribs in towards your back and in my case I'm going to slide my hand up to the knee to truly access the back of my strap a little bit more so we try to get out of maybe in this case triangle pose from being a back bend and use it more as a lateral stretch or a stretch for your inner right leg take one more moment keeping your front ribs from pushing forwards slide your hand up your right leg turn your right foot in adjust your strap if it's moving with your left leg turned out to this side establish your feet 50-50 let your arms go out to the side and as you reach over to the left slide your hand down your leg right hand to your hip just notice that tendency to push the ribs forwards and today can we bring them back narrow the front of the ribs so that you have access to the sides and access to your back and notice what's happening in your feet are you noticing that you're putting more weight in your right foot I hope you are to help hold you up so this right leg is your support to help hold you up as you find your back body if we go too far down that left leg we lose this back leg support and we rely a little bit more I have found in my back muscles to hold me versus using the legs and the standing pose to hold me okay so coming up to that place where we're being a little bit more interested in alignment precision and then your breath from here slide the left hand of your left leg turn your toes in heel toe your legs and feet together and then come back to would be Tadasana for a moment okay one other pose where it can be quite common to move the ribs I'm gonna turn sideways again it's easier to see is our tree pose so if you stand on your right foot and turn your left knee out to the left perhaps slide your foot to your inner right leg line or somewhere above the knee and take a moment to simply have your arms out to the sides or maybe a little bit higher than shoulder heights and this typically is a good place to be aware where's the weight in your right foot is it falling onto the heel is it on the ball of the foot or can you even it out and spread the whole right foot into the floor okay from that place notice as your arms might come up a little bit higher or hands in front of your chest are we pushing the ribs into the front of the strap and can we ease our ribs back and as we go back we might notice that our our senses our awareness go more inward and downward so the practice actually becomes a little more meditative when we settle into the breath the diaphragm breathing let your arms rest at your side put your left foot on the floor and then look straight ahead as you shift your weights adjust your strap and then we'll slide your right foot potentially up your leg or keep the ball of the foot down and whichever variation you do arms might start wide and start paying attention to your right foot sorry left foot can you put more weight into the inner edge the front edge until you feel like your whole foot all the bones of that left foot are on the floor evenly and sometimes that does a lot of corrections up above so it makes it harder for your ribs to go forward when your whole left foot is on the ground and we know because we're trying it right now okay you bring your ribs in and you can keep your hands in front of your chest or let your arms stretch up towards the sky whichever version helps you feel your ribs are over your hips and your whole left foot is on the ground can you feel your practice going more inward as you bring your attention to your bones and then to your breath last moment now let your arms come down bring that right foot to the floor and allow your feet now to be hip distance apart we'll try one more common pose just to play with this idea of chair so as you bend your ankles your knees not going into the deepest variation and let your arms be out in front of you maybe not all the way by the ears but somewhere out in front of you and as you sit down to notice the tendency would be to maybe push the ribs forward and stick the butt back and to come to a place that's maybe not quite so extreme where you're really consciously working both feet both legs and your spine is nice and long as your arms reach forward away from the shoulders see if you can access this back strap area and as you access that back strap area with your attention your breath can you feel your maybe your eyes look more inward maybe there's more of the senses looking inward and almost like you could close your eyes and meditate here for a few minutes that there's that quality of alignment that makes this really stable so it's not a pose where you're getting heated or emotional just quite simple actually when your feet are on the ground and we're working at the right angle okay let the hands now come down your legs and we'll go without the blocks towards the floor so you might be holding your shins we might have the feet on the ground sorry hands on the ground and you might even bend your knees it's appropriate when you come down and slightly look back as you relax your neck when we fold forward now we want to feel it's probably easier to access your back body so take a moment appreciating that ease and breathing into your back body with your head down full enough breath that you breathe into the side ribs right now we're going to try if you look forward keep your hands down step one leg at a time back and come into plank pose now without the blocks and try to catch your ribs if they're sinking towards the floor and lift the back of the strap towards the ceiling that notice maybe your legs and pelvis come up as you lift the back of the strap and hopefully again you feel like you have more space in your wrist not quite so intense in the shoulders as we wake up the core and use our legs a little bit more and now can you find your breath filling up the back part of the strap and then take that awareness into your downward dog and come into downward dog with your feet as close or as wide as you like in order to stretch the legs stretch the arms and this is that tendency if you're really back bend prone to sink the ribs down towards your thighs or arms towards the floor and then today to notice how it feels to breathe when we lift the back ribs and we create more length more neutral spine and just noticing the quality of attention and focus that's enhanced perhaps when we're waking up a little bit more in our back body take one more moment in down dog trying to create that lift into your back body walk the feet in a little closer so we can bring the knees down to the floor and then when your knees come down if we sit back for a moment and we are going to release the strap from around your rib cage area and hopefully keep track of that area as we set the strap aside so keep track of that area that we've been focusing our attention on and we can set the strap and the blocks aside and just take a moment sitting if that's okay on your feet over your heels and try to orient your ribs so that you could feel into where we have that strap try to feel the back of the ribs and how far back you need to be with your torso and then after observing again that posture we're going to do a different version of diaphragm breathing where we come down onto our belly with the elbows wide and it gives us this opportunity when we're on the floor with the elbows wide the forehead down to really let now the front belly area relax into the floor and hopefully as we create that full inhale you can feel the diaphragm almost stretching in this way to the east and the west so out to the sides take a few more moments just allowing again the breath to try to travel toward that center of the body and not only moving down towards your navel but out to the sides as you exhale maybe feeling your breath gathering in towards the center line of the spine let's do two more breaths in this position all right so that's for the front of the diaphragm and then we'll flip over and finish with a little short Shavasana just observation when you come down onto your back a short observation with your legs on the ground or bent to see what it feels like to encourage that back body to drop a little bit so imagine then we had the strap still on the back of your rib cage and try to feel when the breath comes in that we orient our focus to try to connect more of your back body to the earth even though we know not all of the ribs are going to be on the floor so having the intention to move your awareness towards your back body see if you can feel how that pulls your senses a little bit more inward downward I like to think of it as guiding me a little bit more towards that idea of Pratyahara where the senses move in away from external stimulation dropping back ribs relaxing the diaphragm as you're breathing in so the center of your body feels wide spacious wait over the next moment or two let's go ahead and bend the legs one at a time and when you're ready please roll over to a side and come up from your side up toward a seated position and when you're sitting all the way up if you need grab more supports and try to sit maybe in the cross-legged position and try to orient your rib cage so it's not forward it's not back it's somewhere right above your hips and what's it like to sit up nice and tall in that way take a big breath down toward that diaphragm area front side and back as if the strap we're still attached to your rib cage and in closing this part of our practice let the hands perhaps come up in front of the heart center and may others benefit from our practice thanks for the sincerity you bring to your practice namaste and hope to practice again with you soon thanks so much


Jenny S
Very cool that I still feel the strap around me even after the practice...perhaps I will be consciously breathing diaphramatically all day!
Melina Meza
how lovely, enjoy your day with this new awareness.
Peter Ferber
1 person likes this.
Thank you, Melina. Your use of props, in this case a strap, to create greater awareness of whichever part of the body on which you wish us to focus is truly inspired.
Thank you for this! I needed a little diaphramatic inspiration today! This was a blessing!
Peter Ferber
Dear Melina: 

< div>I have been maintaining a steady yin practice in San Francisco; and I just moved to El Cerrito, coinciding with my studio opening up another branch in close proximity to you.  You may remember I attended one of your classes; and you said I am more familiar with your sequences than you are!    At the very least, I would love for you to meet with kindred spirits.  If interested, please text or contact me, at 415 407-8327, for more information.  Sincerely, ~ Peter Ferber 
Sandra Židan
Great practice! Thanks, Melina!
Kathryn T
Really appreciated the grounding effects of this practice. Thank you, Melina!

Gal P
1 person likes this.
great practice! loved it 

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