Body of Breath Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 2

Breath in the Belly

40 min - Practice


Your lower belly is the center of your universe. With keen attention to the breath, Zubin shares a delicious practice to open our awareness of our entire pelvic bowl.
What You'll Need: Sandbag, Round Bolster, Square Bolster, Blanket, Strap

About This Video


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So we were talking earlier about the breath about how simply we can observe it How one of our main goals is to just get ourselves out of the way of observing the breath We're going to build on that a little bit now. We're going to look right now at the belly We're going to look at a few different asana We can do to help bring more awareness to our belly But also begin to open up some of the holding patterns, which is so common in our lower belly So remember your lower belly is the center of the universe. It's the center of your body It's one of the places where you hold a lot of experience a lot of your history a Lot of the immediate feelings you're having can appear in your belly so unraveling some of these Protections we have in our belly can be a very very powerful thing Sometimes when you do a practice involving the belly a lot it can bring up a lot of emotions. So be prepared for that and Don't think there's anything anything bad about that anything has gone wrong It's you getting in touch with your feelings, which you can see is a really great thing So June and I are going to show you a few poses and I'm going to ask you to start in supported child's pose taking a bolster being in child's pose knees quite far apart and making sure your front body is long as you bring yourself down onto the bolster So he said we're talking about the belly and It may seem odd to start with the back body but of course the pelvis is all around us and Quite often the lower back can get very tight a lot of us have lower back pain and that's often a great place to start Opening up the lower back if we want to look at our whole pelvis look at our belly So I like to place a sandbag on the lower back Getting a sense of Relief the sense of the back of the pelvis widening And then also a sense of the spine getting a little bit longer So each time you inhale your spine in fact does get long a little bit of space between each vertebrae and In a supported pose you can begin to sense that So as your body settles into this pose Bring your awareness into your back body to start with just the whole back of your body from the pelvis spine between your shoulder blades the back of your neck and the back of your skull And notice any movement in your back body as you're breathing Junior do you have a sense of movement in your back body? Where do you where do you not feel much movement? In my lower back in your lower back. Yeah So most most of us have a part of our back that we have less sensation in for me It's much more between my shoulder blades so when I'm in this pose I bring a lot of attention to the space between my shoulder blades and For juna, she's saying her lower back. So as you are in this pose yourself Bring your attention to the spot that seems the quietest the spot that Maybe is looking for a bit of your kind attention And I can see in juna's body even in the few minutes She's been here that a little bit more movement a bit more evenness It's a greater sense of calm So you can pause here for a bit and stay in this pose a bit longer if you like and We're going to move on now. I'm going to remove the sandbag Sandbag is not the easiest thing to put on yourself But with a little bit of practice you can and of course it doesn't have to be an official yoga sandbag You can find anything with a little bit of weight or even just placing a blanket there It's not quite the same, but it brings your attention and that in itself can be very useful So using your arms gently push yourself up to sit So we're going to remove the props remove this blanket and You know if you could lie down in constructive rest And very gently begin to rock side to side Keeping your attention on your lower back the back of your pelvis Now just where the sandbag was before if you can remember the sensation of the sandbag rocking your legs left to right Getting a sense of the back of the pelvis widening and Increasing that sense of openness and ease in the lower back Okay, bring your legs to center pausing there for a moment And now bringing your left knee in folding the knee taking hold of the thigh And then bringing the foot up for happy baby so pop sole of the foot facing the ceiling holding the outside of the foot and Bringing the foot towards the ground, but don't put a lot of effort into this You don't want to bring yourself to your limit You want to bring yourself to a range where you still have a great amount of sensitivity and that's not to the last four or five percent of your range of motion You might want to back off a little bit pull the foot a little bit closer Just explore the sensations in this left side of your pelvis the left side of your belly the left hip Again Again these explorations you do in your body and never going to be the same you can't replicate this Tomorrow you do the same pose and there will be different sensations. We're saying the belly Holds a lot of our history whatever may have happened between now and tomorrow your belly will be in a different state It's always in a state of change in a state of flux So releasing that foot now and taking the other leg Same thing using this as a sense of exploration Noticing the difference between this hip and the other hip does this how does this hip feel in comparison? Yeah, it looks it's closer to the ground. Yeah, it looks it looks more open So if you are very aware of a different balance between your hips, you know For example with Juneau, she would spend a little more time on the left side It's not don't do the right side but spend a bit more time on the left side pay a bit more attention to that and See gently over time if you find yourself coming into greater balance Okay releasing that leg Pausing in constructive rest and Again feeling your belly seeing the difference between the left side of your belly the right side of your belly And As we know Juneau has more constriction in the left side as we go through the sequence keep looking back see if that is changing So we're going to do soup the particle stars in and now so take the strap and You're going to bring your right knee into your chest taking a strap across the sole of the foot the middle of the foot and Extending the right leg into the air having your arms straight And Have the leg vertical to start with So the leg is being held in place by the weight of the arms. There's no real effort in her arms There's no effort in the legs. The weight is Aligning the bones of the leg letting them settle into the hip joint And as you do this you may really feel this sense of settling of the leg Sinking in and the hip joint maybe creating a little bit of space to receive the leg Does that feel calm sense of calm there extending the other leg Keeping that foot strong keeping that foot flexed Pushing this leg down into the ground as this leg is held up feeling this Tension between the top the two different actions of the leg And there's a tendency in this pose for the side body to shorten on the side of the raised leg So can you drop that hip? Do you notice the change in the sensation there change in your breath?

Now releasing that leg bringing it back down to the ground Pausing here in this reclined Tadasana again coming back. What's the difference in sensation between your two hips? And then bring the other leg up placing the strap In the same place if you can remember where the strap went across the foot trying to find the same place in both legs Extending that leg letting the arms be heavy supporting the leg making sure again that there's space in the side body Getting that sense of the leg settling into the pelvis settling into that hip socket And straightening the right leg keeping the leg strong keeping the fat foot flexed And as the sequence is all about the belly keep bringing your attention back to the belly noticing the breath in the belly Noticing any sensations you might feel there see if you can find a bit more space here Great and releasing that leg now bringing it back down And coming on up to sit but as always take that transition with as much attention as you gave to the pose itself I'll take the strap So if you turn around and face this way going to have a belly blanket So taking your blanket out like this folding it twice and then putting a slight fold in the end like this And you're going to lie down and this is going to be in your belly either side of your hips and your pubic bone below the end of the blanket So you're not lying on the bone And start by letting your body settle into this If you feel a lot of tension in your lower belly doing this you may want to undo that one fold so there's less pressure in your belly But otherwise see if you can relax your body into this that sensation may get a little less acute And then begin to roll left and right If your left hip had more tightness in it perhaps on the left side you have more sensation in the belly here Feeling which side may have greater sensation greater tightness You can spend a little bit more time on that side So which side is it for you that feels tighter I feel it more on the left side So just stay there on the left for a bit This is a great way to observe that a lot of the things we're trying to do in yoga is to not do So when you feel this tightness and holding in the belly it's not an action that you do to release that It's not doing it's letting go of something So once you have settled into this for a little bit begin to direct the breath much more consciously deep into the belly So that doesn't mean the lower belly pops out You're trying to direct the breath deep into the pelvis So lying on the belly bolster having the lower belly a little bit restricted is a great aid to understand this better So start by just noticing where the breath is going And then you can more consciously direct the inhalation deep into the belly You can direct inhalation to the back of your pelvis where we started with a sandbag on the lower back on the sacrum And also bringing your awareness and inhalation into one side or the other Inhaling as it were into the right hip and then inhaling into the left hip So your pelvis is a whole bowl and whatever habits we have whatever tendencies we've built up through our lives There's going to be constriction in one side in one part often in many parts But we can begin with work like this to open up some of those parts of our pelvis that have been really ignored And your ideal is to get a sense of the pelvis as a balloon expanding evenly through its entire circumference on the inhalation So coming out of this very gently this can be quite a strong sensation on the belly So taking your weight in your hands and slowly pushing yourself up to sit Just come back to sit on your heels, sit in Vajrasana for a moment and notice how that feels in your belly So coming onto your hands and knees Do the same thing here in this position with directing the breath into the lower belly Feeling the front of the belly directing the breath into your lower back into the sacrum And into one hip and then the other hip Do you have a different sensation of breathing into two hips with the left hip having more congestion? I can feel it open more in my right hip I can't even feel the breath go into the lower hip So over time if you keep doing this kind of work that left hip will start opening up Wherever you find your own tension that will start to release So come now into Cat-Cow a little bit arching the back on the inhalation and rounding the back on the inhalation And using this too as a tool for your own awareness of your back Where are you finding the most movement? Where are you finding the tightness? And bringing the pelvis, the movement of the pelvis into this Dropping the tailbone in the arch of the back like this Inhaling bringing the sit bones to the ceiling And noticing with this movement how is that sensation changing in your pelvis? How is the breath changing there? So coming up now into Downward Dog Taking that very easy keeping the knees bent But doing the same with your breath directing the inhalation deep into the pelvis Into the floor of the pelvis So obviously with this inverted pose that takes a lot more effort But what this pose can help us with is on the exhalation The sense of lightness and lifting, that whole belly lifting up And you get this great hollowness in your lower belly with the exhalation Do you feel that sensation of the lower belly moving all the way up into your chest?

Now walking your feet to your hands and pausing there for a moment in Uttanasana Getting that sense again of the back of your pelvis Perhaps you can direct the breath there And the sense of the back pelvis being broad The hip points in the front moving together and space around the sacrum Now coming on up to stand So pausing here for a moment in Tadasana And instead of trying to find this perfect alignment Starting with the feet, hips, shoulders, there's nothing wrong with that Today let the alignment be guided by your awareness in the belly Where does it feel that your belly is perfectly centered? Where do you get the most sense of freedom? And from that inhaling your arms up overhead And finding length through the side bodies, taking the right wrist with your left hand And before coming into a side bend Just extend that side of your body as long as you can Feeling the length of the side body But also inside this right side of the pelvis lifting up And then coming into the side bend So we're concentrating on the belly in this class But of course the side ribs, really important for freeing our breath So use this pose to find space between each of those ribs Directing your inhalation strongly into where you feel a sense of tightness Now inhaling back to vertical, releasing that hand And keeping both arms up straight Taking the opposite wrist, finding the length once again So this foot is firmly grounded, the leg is grounded, rooted down And as you find that length You're bringing a lightness to this side of your pelvis as you go into the side bend And again, using this pose to open the space between the ribs And how does this feel one side to the other? Does it feel more open? It feels fairly equal Good You're doing your yoga practice well And coming back to vertical and releasing the arms Pausing there for a moment So coming to the front of your mat Folding forward into Uttanasana Pausing there for a moment, again getting the sense of the wideness of the back of your pelvis Remembering to observe your breath here Using that extra effort to breathe deep down into the pelvis And seeing the sensation of this lift and lightness on the exhalation So step back to downward dog for a moment And find again that sense of the effort to inhale deep into the belly And the wonderful lightness and lift you get on the exhalation You might want to pause here for a moment if you are able to find that lift in the lower belly It can be such a lovely sensation And the more familiar you get with it in a pose like this The easier it is to find it in a sitting pose, in a standing pose So stepping your right foot forwards between your hands Bringing the back knee to the ground Very gently make some circles with this right hip Get familiarity with the hip joint once again Checking in to see how this hip feels See if there is a greater sense of ease in it after the practice you have done so far Now bringing both hands inside the foot And coming down onto your elbows Or if that is too much for you, you can come down and put your elbows on a block Again with a pose like this, take your time getting into it If you have been in it for a few minutes and it feels very agitating You have probably gone in too deep, too fast So you can start with your elbows on the block And once that has, once you feel a little bit settled there This hip feels like it is beginning to open up You may want to take the block away For Juno that is probably fine But you may not, but using the block may be your limit for today So as always, as we are seeing in this class, bring your breath deep into your pelvis Noticing how this extreme hip opening here may make it easier to direct your breath into your pelvis At the same time, don't forget the back leg, so the back leg is streaming long And this pose gives you a nice stretch, a nice opening of the floor of the pelvis A lot of us hold a lot of tension in the pelvic floor And this can be a nice way to release that So bring your hands either side of the front foot, stepping back into downward dog Pausing here for a moment, noticing the breath, noticing the change from one side of the belly to the other I'm going to pause here for two or three breaths And then step the other foot forwards, bringing the back knee to the ground Take a few circles with the pelvis, exploring that right hip And then bring both hands to the inside of the foot, coming down onto a block Or if you know you are very supple, you may want to come straight down onto the floor But I really recommend coming down in stages, finding that halfway point, finding maybe 50-60% of your effort Settling down there, feeling the sense of opening, keeping the sense of exploration, keeping the sense of where my breath is going in my belly And then maybe you want to come down a bit lower, or maybe not How does this pose feel in your belly? Is it a little bit strange, the sense of breathing in such an extreme pose? My belly is the only thing that feels totally relaxed Oh, that's great And remembering the importance of the transitions, the importance of the observation in the transitions is just as important Perhaps more so, because we associate the poses with a sense of release, a sense of ease And then we go back to everyday life and we suddenly start tensing up again We don't think we are doing yoga anymore So being aware of where your breath is going, where the sensations are, bring your hands both sides of that front leg Stepping back into downward dog And then bringing the knees to the ground and sitting back on your heels for a moment Connecting with the breath If you want to sit up for a moment, I'm going to place the blanket across your legs, bring your feet a little bit apart And use this blanket to keep the legs in a neutral position, so sit back down So in this pose when we sit down, often the heels spread out And we can use the blanket to keep the legs in this very neutral position, holding in the outer ankles And that neutral position for the thighs helps the breath come evenly into the belly So bringing your breath down deep into the pelvis, all the way to the floor of the pelvis And after that very brief pause, sensing the lift and the lightness in the exhalation How does that feel in your body, do you get the sense of the flowing, the movement in the belly?

It feels very light, the breath feels very shallow and relaxed after that So after doing this sequence I quite like to sit here for meditation 5, 10 minutes, maybe a little bit longer If you want to do that, please do, otherwise we'll move along and we'll set you up for Shavasana So we're going to use a bolster for the Shavasana under your legs, under your knees This is a slightly elaborate Shavasana set up, but using the blanket to keep the legs in that neutral position So if you lie back down, extending the legs, and then using the blanket to wrap your legs I find this is nicer than the strap, it keeps the tension all the way around the legs rather than in this one point where the strap might be Taking your sandbag, placing it on your thighs And we know Juna has a bit more tension in the left hip rather than the right hip So as I'm here with her I can put my pressure here, put a bit more pressure on the right, put a bit more pressure on the left side But you can also put a bit more of the weight of the sandbag on the left side, or simply keep the sandbag even And notice where your own imbalance is, give that side a bit more attention And perhaps after doing this sequence you can feel a bit of change So sometimes we think of Shavasana as this pose that we just do at the end of yoga classes, we might not think why or we may be just exhausted from doing a lot of back bends And we just want to rest for a while But in a sequence like this you can really use this moment to dial back into the observation of your breath To remember the work you've been doing, to become more aware of where you're trying to unravel some of these unbalances Address the issues of congestion in one hip or perhaps your lower back, your sacrum So if you know you're working on something you can bring your attention there Or you can simply have noticed in this one practice today where the imbalance is Where you want to give more care, more kindness to yourself You can see how even Juna's breath is And that ease in your breath creates an ease in your nervous system It helps you remove a lot of these busy thoughts and allows you to connect more with your natural breath As we were saying before, you're already a perfect breather It's simply all these layers of our life that we put on top of it that get in the way So when you feel ready you can remove the sandbag Roll over to your left side Just pausing on your side for a moment Connecting once again to your breath Feeling the different sensation in your belly In this side lying pose, your belly will obviously be leaning over to that one side Just noticing how that sensation feels And then gently pushing yourself up to sit This observation of your belly is something you can do all the time, every day It's something to work on in a sequence like this that we just did You can always come back to it And use it as, as I said, the belly is the center of your universe So you can connect back to yourself, connect back to a center, to a sense of grounding Any time, you notice I keep putting my hands on my belly when I talk about my belly And I often will sit like this if I'm feeling a bit agitated Simply sitting with your hands on your belly can be very calming


Kate M
1 person likes this.
The savasana setup was lovely. The sandbag on the thighs was very grounding. And the use of the blanket was quite effective in keeping legs parallel. Beautiful! Thank you.
Tara M
2 people like this.
lovely thoughtful inquiry by this teacher... this is whats missing from yoga today.
Elisabeth C
1 person likes this.
Thank you, excellent classes, good pace, not superficial. Authentic exploration... 🙏
Elisabeth C
Very well balance, please more of this kind of Yoga...

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