30-Minute Yoga Flows Artwork
Season 6 - Episode 3

Playful Flow

30 min - Practice


Explore hand balances in this playful flow. We begin seated strengthening and releasing the wrists in preparation for bearing the body’s weight, move into Sun Salutes to warm and open the joints, and then play in Crow, Side Crow, and Handstand.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video

Nov 23, 2020
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Welcome, everyone. Today I'd like to take you through a flow that moves towards some playful hand balancing. And I'd like to take you through some wrist strengtheners and releasers just to keep the safety in the practice. And if you've got tight or weak wrists, this can be really helpful for you for beginning the journey of starting to play on your hands. I do want to mention that if you've got a thick yoga brick, you might want it for the standing forms that we'll be doing. And also if you have a wall nearby and you like to invert into a handstand, there'll be some play towards that. Of course, you don't need to do it. So we're actually going to start in a quadruped position so you can come on to your hands and your knees. And we'll just begin by coming into the breath. So just in this position, let's link the breath with shifting forwards and back. So I'm going to inhale forwards and exhale back, trying to keep my arms as straight as possible, my spine neutral. And maybe you just feel a little stretch in the underside of the wrists. If you use a sounded breath, bring that in. And the invitation is to allow the breath to be a little bit deeper and perhaps elongate your exhalation. Okay, let's switch our hand position so that our fingers point laterally. And this time, we'll bounce the body side to side. So it's like you want to press into the knuckles underneath the fingers and sway side to side. If you want more sensation, walk your hands closer together as you do this. Great. So now let's see if we can flip our hands all the way around. And then again, go forwards and back. Watch that you don't hyper extend your elbows, so create a little tautness around your elbow joint. And it could feel nice to actually shift so far back that you peel up off of your wrists. You might be moving, breathing with the movements or you might be breathing slower, which is always a nice option. Okay, let's come back to hands pointing forwards. And I'm just going to show you this way. We're going to pad through our hands so that we internally rotate through the shoulders and then pad through our hands all the way around until we externally rotate as much as we can. So kind of bouncing side to side as you do this, keep the breath going. Invitation is to breathe slow. Okay, now let's flip the hands so that the palms face up. And perhaps you'll take a little more of a bend in your elbows and then do that same thing. Pad all the way around and pad back and just sending all this information to your brain about your body weight coming down onto these wrist joints of yours. And moving this emphasis point around. So just getting to know this. And then you can shake that out. And we'll sit back on our toes. And for some of you might tuck your toes under and come up or you could have the tops of the feet down. And then let's take our hands forwards. Make gentle fists and roll the knuckles down towards the floor. And let's take a breath almost curling those knuckles in towards your abdomen. Okay, let's do the opposite of that. Flip the fingers up and press as if you're pressing a wall in front of you away or something. And see if you can get a 90 degree and take a breath into that. So fingers reaching up. And if you want to put your weight on your hands, it's a nice thing to be able to get this active 90 degree before you have your body weight coming on top. One more time, curl knuckles down and even curl them towards your abdomen. Breath there. And then fingers up and see if you can get that 90 degree. Feeling that spider web of tension up your forearms. One breath there.

I'm just distracting you from what's happening with your feet here. Exhaling, shake that out. Come off of your toes. Sit on the tops of your feet if that's available. And then I'll show you one more here. Let's widen through the knees. Take the right hand down, palm facing up, and curl your fingers towards the wrist crease. With your left hand, curl the fingers towards the crease of the wrist and gently press down.

And then maybe you slowly start to straighten your right arm. You might not get all the way straight. Take a breath there. If you're not feeling much, you might shift the weight forwards and back a little bit. Or even rotate the inner elbow forwards and back. Let's take a long breath into that. Shake that out. Switch sides. Left hand down, fingers curl in towards the wrist crease. Right hand supports that. Go easy on that. Slowly breathe into it. Maybe you straighten the arm. Maybe you rock back and forth.

Maybe you roll the elbow in and out. Okay, let's let that go. Take your arms out to the sides and start to flick out through your fingers. So it's a clench of the hand and then a flick. Keep breathing. And obviously you don't need to be reminded to breathe, but breathe a little more mindfully, maybe a little slower on the exhale as you go quicker with the flick of your fingers. Like you're trying to flick mud off your fingers. Let's go for 10 seconds. So you might feel your forearm muscles engaging, some tension, some positive stability tension around your wrists, which is kind of what you want when you invert onto your hands. So five, four, three, two, one. Shake that out. Exhale. Let's take our hands back into the quadruped position and shift back into downward facing dog. Reaching back. You might bend your knees. Notice your hands and how they're placed on the ground. Can you push them down and forwards? Either step or hop if you like to the top of the mat.

Inhale, elongate your spine. Exhale, fold in. Press your feet down. Come up, lift your back ribs. Maybe look up. Exhale, your hands down. Sun Salutation A together. Inhale, your arms up. Maybe look up. Exhale, fold in. Inhale, elongate and shift your weight into your hands. Straight arms. Exhale, step or hop your way back to downward facing dog and then plank. Take an extra breath here and exhale, lower all the way down to your abdomen. Tops of the feet down, hands forwards. Inhale, arch your spine. Press your pubic bone down. Exhaling, press your hands. Maybe come up into a plank and all the way back into downward facing dog where you might pedal out your feet. And again, put your mind in your hands. Notice if more weight is on the inner or the outer hand.

Use your hands to press your hips slightly up and back. Then you can walk your feet in, either step or hop to the top of the mat. Inhale, long spine here. Exhale, fold in. Press your feet down. Come all the way up. Exhale, your hands down. One more like that. Reach up, fold in. This time you might walk your hands forward. Come onto your tippy toes, press your hands into the ground, arms straight. Maybe coming on to point and then stepping or hopping back. From plank, exhale to maybe chaturanga this time. Roll over your toes into upward dog with strong legs. And exhale, press your hands down to shift you into downward facing dog. Reconnect with your breath.

Are you breathing in the back ribs? You might walk in a little bit to step or hop. Again, transfer of weight from feet to hands. Inhale and come off of your hands a bit. And exhale, let your spine fold forwards. Press your feet down. Come on up. Reach up and exhale, your hands down by your sides. Beautiful. Fingertips, graze the floor, hips back. Heels heavy into chair. Exhale, fold forwards. Inhale, elongate. Maybe play with transferring the weight into your hands and coming all the way down to chaturanga. Inhale, press the tops of the feet and upward dog. Then push your hands to take you back into downward facing dog. Right foot on the inside of your right hand, back foot plants. Inhale, come up to warrior one and exhale all the way down. As you lower to your chaturanga or to the floor, push the floor away from you. Roll over your toes, upward dog.

Exhaling, up and back, downward dog. Left foot into warrior one stance. Inhale, come up. Exhale, find the ground. Resist the lowerings. You feel that strength through your arms. Inhale into upward dog or cobra. And exhale, up and back, downward facing dog for a few breaths. Put your mind in your hands. Notice as you press down through the knuckles, you might find a lift through your armpits. Can you lengthen the side body from the press down and forwards of your hands. One more breath. In your exhalation, bend your knees, step or hop. Push the floor away from you. Inhale, elongate. Exhale, fold in. Bend your knees, chair pose or chair form.

Come on up and push to stand. Exhaling. Step your feet hip distance, hands on your waist, maybe a little squeeze through your shoulder blades. Exhale, fold in. Bend your knees if you need. Take a hold of your big toes or a forward hold that works for you. Inhale, elongate. Exhale, fold, letting your elbows go a little wide. And you could slowly start to move your legs towards straight by pressing into your feet. Inhale, long spine here. Exhale, let's play with taking the hands underneath the feet if that's available for you. Inhale again, stretch the belly and exhale, fold. And as you shift the weight into your feet, you might feel like you're pulling your hands out from underneath your feet for a little wrist traction. Put your mind in your wrists. Notice what's happening there.

Come on up a bit, hands back to your waist, squeeze your shoulder blades together. Come on up and exhale your feet together. We'll step out to the left for triangle. Turn your left foot left knee all the way out. Back foot in a little bit. Come up and over your left hip joint as you reach your right arm up. Let's take three breaths and the invitation here is to move around your wrist as we've been doing.

So you might make a fist and press out through the top of the wrist. Notice that. You might flip your fingers into that active 90 degrees so you can feel your forearm working and it's like you're pushing the sky up. Don't forget about your back foot here. Press into that back foot to help you come on up. Turn all the way around to your right foot, turning right knee out, left knee in a little bit. Come up and over, find your position for triangle where you might want to block as well. An invitation is to play around with the wrist and you might also internally and externally rotate your shoulder. Push the ceiling away from you and also internally and externally rotate the shoulder. One more breath. Back foot presses. Come all the way up. Turn all the way around to the back of the mat.

Adjust your stance back foot in a little bit. Right arm forwards. Exhale hips back as you come down for revolve triangle. Your hand can be underneath your nose or to the outside of the foot. Maybe hand on the pelvis or up. An invitation again is to work with different areas in the wrists. Two more breaths. One. Two. Exhaling into your back foot. Windmill yourself up all the way around to the front. A little bit of space in between your feet. Left arm reaches. Exhale revolve triangle. Might feel a little weird to do this at first and it might feel really welcome. Like, oh my gosh, I never give attention to this part of my body. And I text all day. Just kidding. And then inhale. Let's come on up and exhale top of the mat. Let's come back out to the left. Come into our warrior two to the left leg and then extended side angle. So maybe the elbow comes to the knee or the hand to the outside of the foot.

You might play around with that top arm a little bit. Also working with rotating the shoulder into internal and external rotation. Nothing's wrong here. Just working with different areas of movement variability and then press into your back foot to come up. Turn it around. Exhale extended side angle to your right leg. You might also have your hands straight up or over your ear. Playing around with this, noticing there's little rice krispies in your wrists or being still. Press into your back foot to help you come up. Turn all the way around to the back. This time you can come up onto a pivot on your back foot and come across for your twist, which might be elbow to the outside of the knee or maybe shoulder fits to the outside of the knee. And you're opening up into T position with the arms or maybe that arm sweeps over the head. If your top arm is up, invitation to play around with the wrist joint there. One more breath.

And then using the strength of the back leg to help you come up all the way around to the front. Maybe you're working with some space in between your feet coming across. Maybe you're fitting that knee in the armpit. Two more breaths. So really exploratory, make it playful. And maybe you love stillness and just take that part out. Move like you. So we'll windmill it up and exhale to the top of the mat. Let's take our hands behind us, interlock them or you can have your forearms or elbows and reach the elbows or hands behind you without arching your spine. And then we'll take turn to the left again, turn all the way around towards a pyramid shape with a leg, so not too far apart. And exhale, fold forwards over the front leg. Let's take three breaths there. You might grab with your fingertips in the clasp if you have it or you could try to extend out through your fingers and notice the difference of that.

Two, then I'm counting the breaths but really breathe in your own way here. Three, let's keep the clasp. Come on up by pressing into the back foot. Turn all the way around to the front and you might let your arms go or keep them here. Exhale, hips back, come over your right leg, breathe there for three breaths. You're welcome to let your head go. Two, orienting your hips straight back.

Let's press into the back foot to come up, gratefully let the arms go and step to the top of the mat. Inhale, your arms up here. Exhale, fold forwards. Inhale, lengthen out, transfer the weight into the hands. Notice how that feels as you cycle through your vinyasa or you might stay in downward dog. Upward dog, downward dog and then let's hop to a toe squat here and lift up through the seat, plant the hands, bring the knees as high up into the armpits as you can and start to shift the weight forwards and with the intelligence you have in your wrists and your hands, press the floor away from you. Maybe lift one leg up, maybe lift the other leg up, maybe think about dragging the knees up into the armpits as you straighten the arms any amount more. Let's take one more breath or come out. Now you might hop back if that's in your practice or pop back into a squat. However you do, you might cycle through upward dog and downward dog or find your way to downward facing dog. Bend your knees and hop back into that toe squat and from there come on up, we'll twist the same thing. Maybe the elbow comes to the outside of your left knee, maybe your shoulder fits into the outer knee, outer armpit to outer knee and we're going to play with falling into the hands. So as you fall into the hands, I'll show you this way, think about your feet as a little tail flicking upwards. So you fall into your hands, try not to dip through your shoulders, press the floor away from you and flick your feet up into a side crow. Take a breath there, come on down and you might roll out your wrists and figure eights or interlock them and roll them out and we'll play with the other side.

So maybe it's the elbow, maybe it's fitting that outer armpit in a little tighter twist, fall into your hands and think chaturanga in your upper body as you align your shoulders and flick your feet up for a breath. Inner ankles touch, maybe one more breath, push the floor away and exhale, come on out, take your hands down, step or hop back into a downward facing dog or cycle through chaturanga, upward facing and downward facing. Bend the knees, hop forwards or step of course, lengthen and fold, inhale come up, exhale hands down. I'm going to turn to you so you can see this part. So we'll take our right leg across, step into it and fall into a little squat with the back heel up and then come back up and step back to mountain posture. So come across with the left leg, pop up onto the right toes, sink down and some welcome work for the legs. Now let's come across to the right again, pop up onto the left toes, come across and maybe it's elbow or outer shoulder, finds the outer right knee and then again fall into the hands, same actions. See if you can sink down into that and maybe the feet come off and maybe they kick out for a breath. Back into that toe squat, stand up and step back. Let's try it on the other side. So left leg across, pop up onto your right toes, sink down, exhale find a twist, any amount, find your hands, push the floor away from you. Maybe that allows you to let your feet come up, maybe reaching out through your legs for a breath. Exhaling, knees bend, come on up back to mountain shape and let's take a cycle of breath, inhale, exhale, arms up, inhale and fold. Lengthen out, step or hop back. Either downward facing dog or if you feel strong in your hands and shoulders, upward facing dog, downward facing dog. Let's walk our feet in, bring our right leg up and then draw the abdomen slightly back to the spine. See if you can lift your right leg from the hamstring and the base of the glute. Find buoyancy in the bottom leg and let's do three hops. One push the floor away, two push and three push the floor away. Maybe you find both legs coming together and all the way down. Let your knees come wide, you're welcome to cycle through chaturanga, upward dog and downward facing dog or slump. Enjoy the slump. Let's roll on up, let's do the weird leg maybe for some of you. So hands forwards, right leg forwards, left leg up or the opposite one. Close the abdomen, lift the leg from the top of the posterior leg. Finding the strength, then buoyancy in your bottom leg, top leg straight ish, push the floor away. One, two and maybe you pause the video if you're a handstander and you play a bunch more.

Maybe both legs come up for a breath and then either cycle through or slump hands behind. Let the shoulders melt. We're going to meet on our backs, so however you like to get there, just a few shapes for closing the practice down, coming on to your back and you might interlock your fingers here and figure it out through your wrists, just noticing how you're feeling in the upper body. And for a welcome release to the upper body, let's switch gears into the hips, take your right ankle on top of your left knee and draw it in. You can curl up to clasp behind your hamstring or on top of your shin. Then you might, as you draw your legs in, you might aim your knee towards your left armpit. Let's take a few breaths. Staying with the breath invitation is to deepen and slow down the breath. Okay, let's let that come away from us a little bit and work towards stacking the knees, one on top of the other, and you can grab opposite knees with opposite hands and draw that in.

Or you might slide your hands down towards your ankles or your feet and draw that in for a couple of breaths. The invitation is to elongate your exhalation. And wrap that switch sides to the left ankle on top of right knee, draw it in, you might curl up to grab, aiming the right knee towards the right armpit, couple of breaths. Okay, letting that come away from you and you might stack the knees, hold on to opposite knees, squeeze that in towards your abdomen, or slide your hands down your legs and clasp more around your ankles for one more breath. All right, we're going to release here and if there's any little movements that you'd like to play with or continue on with your practice, feel free to pause the video and do those. We'll reach our arms out, let our legs go into shavasana, any orientation you'd like to take to find a sense of release through the musculature of the body.

Releasing here with the spirit of restoration, for a few short moments, you might close your eyes, feel your weight, you might feel the percolating of energy in the body, attending to your thoughts, your sensations. Invitation is to stay here for as long as you like, but if it's time for you to come up, wiggle your toes, wiggle your fingers, perhaps give yourself a stretch. You can draw your knees in and make any movements that you need to to help you come up to a seat. I'm so grateful you're here with me in this practice, hope to see you again soon. Thank you so much, namaste.


Kelly M
1 person likes this.
Absolutely LOVED this!  I've never tried some of those side balances, and surprised myself when I got them, even for a second or two!  
Lydia Zamorano
Kelly M Oh that is the best news Kelly! I love surprises like that! Warmth, Lydia 
Christie K
From the first down dog, I was surprised and impressed with how different my hands felt on the floor - well planted. Super fun.
Lydia Zamorano
Christie K Best news! I love the little nuggets like that in practice! Thanks for commenting Christie! 
Love! Lydia 
Morgan S
1 person likes this.
my first time being able to do a handstand without a wall! :)  it was short but sweet! My forearms and wrist needed this love and awareness after a day of climbing.  this video help stretch them out.  
Thank you so much for this practice!
Lydia Zamorano
Morgan S That's the best news Morgan! Smiles! Lydia 
Kate M
Great sequencing for arm balancing! Love. 
Lydia Zamorano
Kate M Thanks so much Kate! Thanks for commenting. Warmth always, Lydia 
David G-
This doesn’t feel like yoga ar all. Great workout and a big bite of Canadian Humble Pie. Will I ever be able to float like that? It’s like joining a pickup game with Lebron James. I like that Rice Crispies comment! I know you said it before, but today it hit the funny bone. Best, David
Lydia Zamorano
David Goldstein Haha! Sounds like you are laughing and challenging your edges! Fun! If you are connecting to your body, mind, heart, other beings and/or the land then I think you are practicing yoga! Warmth, Lydia 
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