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Trust the Connection: 20-Day Yoga Retreat Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 9

Day 8: Courage to Receive

60 min - Practice


To meditate is to listen with a receptive heart. In Day 8, Alana continues our journey into Connection, beginning with Self. We feel into and open the heart space, find freedom in the hips, and access the foundation of the core and legs as we play into Ustrasana (Camel Pose). You will feel a greater sense of connection to and intimacy with self.
What You'll Need: Mat (2), Block (2)

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Welcome, thank you for being here. Welcome to day eight of Trust the Connection. What does Trust the Connection mean? More importantly, what does Trust the Connection feel like in the body? What does Trust the Connection feel like in your body, in your being?

So in week one, we explore the theme of relief, right? Creating space in the body, relief from the tension that keeps us from feeling connected. So in this week together, we're opening to connection. And as Arturo so beautifully put, connection starts with our self. So connection with self and then rippling out to our loved ones, our community and beyond.

So in our practice together today, we'll start seated. So just propping yourself up on something comfortable. You'll want two blocks for this practice or a block and a couple of blankets or a bolster. And we'll start centering for a few moments. So getting to really hone our skills of interlistening and developing this intimacy with self.

The Sanskrit word swadhyaya, self-study or self-inquiry, self-investigation, one of the niyamas. So find yourself in a comfortable shape. We're going to start kind of mellow to begin with. And then we'll turn up the heat. Find some fluid, vinyasa, familiar shapes.

Ease our way down, find some inspiring opening backbends and then shavasana. So comfortable seat. And as you find your seat, go ahead and rub your hands together. Oh, it's a chilly morning here and might be where you are or chilly evening and just rub. And as you rub the hands together, just allow for a exhale, kind of waddling into your seat here, softening the face and the jaw.

Beautiful. And then just bring one hand onto the heart and one hand onto the belly. You begin to let your awareness rest on the breath. And as Suniti once said, I remember this, she said, what is how the breath changes the shape of the body, moment to moment. And as you bring your attention towards the breath, the quality of the breath might change.

Spreading your awareness evenly between the hand on the heart and the hand on the belly. And while you do this, can you feel and sense the presence of your back body? I mean, still a little bit more fullness in the back ribs and the support in the back of the heart. And somehow, allowing the inner ears to open. How the base of the skull can gently float back and up.

You might allow for another exhale, a sigh. You so often notice what has you, what has your attention, your energy. Gently tethering your attention to the breath. And the sensation of the breath in the body, the hands, heart, the belly. Beautiful.

More inhale here. And as you're ready, exhale. Just releasing the hands. And from here, we'll transition into one of my favorite kind of supported chest and heart openers, called this impressing the heart. So if you have two blocks, pull them out.

It's great. If you have one block only, bring that block at the lowest setting. This will go directly beneath your shoulder blades. If you have a second block, you can bring it up on the highest setting or the second setting, or a couple of folded blankets or a bolster under your head. As always, customize it for your body so it feels just right.

And ease our way down. And you can see here, the block is supporting the shoulder blades. The shoulders are really saying, let's go ahead and start with our knees bent. So our feet on the floor, you might bring your feet just slightly wider than your hips and let your knees fall towards each other. Make sure the position of the block under your head feels just right.

We're taking your time and feel how you might begin to draw your shoulder blades down your back. What would it feel like to let your palms open towards the sky? Receptive. Tuning. And then allow for a deliberate exhale.

Let's see what that does. Let the back of the eyes soften. Let the back of the body receive the support beneath it. Personally, I find receiving is much more difficult than giving. I don't know if that feels true for you.

You might be able to find a little bit more length for your lower back. Again, if it doesn't feel right, it's not right. So trust what you're feeling here. I think Dr. Schiffman once said, self trust is the advanced practice. Allow for the kind of wiggling, wobbling movement so that it feels just right for you.

Now you might keep your legs right where they are. This might feel nice and supportive on your back. You might have a great experiment with bringing the soles of the feet together, knees wide into the shape of vatakonasana. You might even stretch your legs out on the floor. Draw your attention towards the breath.

You might often allow for a deliberate sigh and exhale. You might keep your arms right where they are. You might experiment with reaching your arms overhead. You can find a little laying through the spine and then maybe bend your elbows, finding a little bit of a cactus opening here through the shoulders. You might even let the head gently rock from side to side.

It will depend on the height of the support under your head. Trusting what you're feeling and sensing. I'm going to stretch the legs out and reach the arms overhead again. Opening out through the shoulders. With the exhale, letting the front ribs soften.

Feeling the weight of the bones dropping. Just a few more moments here in this supported chest and heart opening. Taking your time. You might stay here a bit longer. This might be your practice today.

When you feel ready to transition from the support, go ahead and bend the knees. The transition from the blocks can be a little bit awkward. Just roll onto your side. Use our arms to press ourselves up for a moment. Bring your props off to the side.

We're going to come onto our back for a momentary Shavasana. As Arturo said yesterday, Shavasana is a pose, a yoga asana. Sinking into the shape of Shavasana wholeheartedly. Let the weight of the bones drop. Feel the presence of the back body.

As you come into relationship with Earth. Feeling sensing and trusting the support beneath you. Softening and letting go requires a willingness to trust. Again, you might stay here a bit longer. When you're ready, go ahead and bend your knees and just gently hug the knees.

Maybe a rock would feel nice from side to side. Feeling into the back body. You might rock and roll a few times on your spine coming up to a seat. Or you might roll to your side and use your arms to come up. Come into a Baddha Konasana.

More of a yin style to begin our practice seated. You might sit up on support. Bring the soles of the feet together, knees wide. Typically in the yin practice the feet are further away from the pelvis. More of a diamond shape.

Just allow yourself to kind of wobble and feel into the body. Little side to side here. And tuning our skills of inner listening, you might stay right where you are. If and as it feels good, you might begin to fold forward and in. Of exploring the landscape of sensation as you lean from side to side.

And then eventually you might offer yourself towards a bit of stillness for a few moments. Notice the quality through your hands, your face. Relaxing through the belly. Finding that appropriate edge of sensation for you in this moment. The invitation is to breathe into where you feel it.

And with your exhale, soften and release. I find letting go is a continual practice. Easy through the eyes. And most likely there's a kind of a warm or maybe a burning, dull, achy stretch through the body. Right up through the hips, sacrum, spine.

Through the neck. Find one of the most useful definitions of yoga. From our teacher Ravi Ravindra, yoga is breaking the bonds with suffering. And this comes out of the Bhagavad Gita. And the text suggests that, the yogi suggests that suffering arises from a vidya, ignorance.

Not seeing the self, others, the situation, the world, clearly. It's the first of the five kleshas, a vidya. Therefore, the remedy is to begin to see more clearly. Take your time as you're ready, just slowly begin to round and roll your way up towards the sea. Experience the breath, that wave of breath. Exhale.

Feel better already. When you're ready, just scoop your knees up with your hands. Lean back, stretch your legs out, side to side shimmy, releasing the spine and the hips. We will pick up the pace in just a few minutes. From here, first, as you're ready, go ahead and bring the sole of the right foot towards the inner left leg and stretch the left leg out at a diagonal.

Coming into our revolved side angle, my favorite shapes on the planet these days. Take a moment to pause. And then as you're ready, let's inhale, stretch the arms up towards the sky. Feel like you can find length and space, not only through your spine, but support from the back body, back of the heart. Inhale, feel the length.

Exhale, twist to your right and bring your left hand onto your right leg, your right hand behind you, reaching the fingers down. And inhale, lengthen your spine. Feel like you can draw the spine into the back, kind of lift the kidneys into the body, might flex that left ankle. And then with your exhale, gently twist to your right. We allow the twist to arrive and arise from within, from the base of the spine.

Feel the gentle turning of the ribs to your right, maybe even the gaze. Last few moments here, notice if there is any hardening or rigidity in the back body and can you find some kind of fullness there in the back ribs? Beautiful. Now stay in the shape of your hand, just slowly rotate your head forward and maybe towards your left leg, stretching the neck. Allow for an inhale.

And then exhale, let the body unwind. From here, kind of slide the left hand down the leg and with an inhale, reach your right arm up towards the sky and feel you can ground through your right sitting bone and hip as you find that awesome length through the right side body. And you might stay right here. You might begin to take it up out and over towards your left leg, feeling a bit more sensation through side body ribs down into the low back, checking with your neck. So you might roll the torso down towards the floor, feeling kind of a new sensation in the back body or maybe even spiral the lungs, the heart towards the sky.

Notice if you prefer to stretch and lengthen through your top arm or even bend the elbow and open up through the chest as you support the neck with your hand. Just a few more moments here, finding what feels right for you. When you're ready, take your time on your inhale, reach with that top arm, release it down to the floor and you might on the inhale lift the hips lift the arm up, releasing, and then exhale release. Lean back free your right leg, shake it out. Lean back and bring the soul that left foot towards the right in her leg. Take a few moments to settle in.

As you're ready and how let the arms reach up. You know how you can lengthen and lifting the rib cage up away from the pelvis. Feel an inhale exhale twist to your left right hand finds the left leg, left fingertips behind you might flex your right ankle and inhale, lengthen up through your spine. And with your exhale you might begin to twist towards your left. You feel that inner spiral moving up from within.

And find a place where your neck feels good. Maybe a little bit more fullness or awareness in the back body if there's again hardening or rigidity there. Breathing into where you feel it. Beautiful stay in the twist and if you'd like just slowly rotate your head forward let it unwind. And then maybe stretch over your right shoulder as you breathe in.

That feels nice. And then exhale. Let the upper body unwind ground through your right hand and maybe on an inhale you're lifting up through the hips and stretching the left arm up towards the sky. A little funky transition there. Exhale release again lean back free that left leg shake it out for a moment. From here let's transition into our table top. So however you'd like to get there.

Coming up onto your hands and knees and again take care of your knees. You might bring a blanket underneath for extra padding and support. Warm the spine with Cat-Cow. Spread the fingers nice and wide. And let's start by dropping the belly lifting the heart. And with the exhale round your back and spine you might tuck your toes under as you draw the hips back towards the heels.

Finding an active active kind of child's shape here. Cat shape floating the shoulders over the wrist. Drop the belly inhale lift the heart nice and wide through the sitting bones collarbones. And then exhale curl and round finding your own pace and rhythm for a few moments. Now dropping the belly arching exhale rounding you might circle out for your hips your ribs.

Finding any sticky areas through the shoulder blades up through your neck. Drawing the gaze inward. And then finding neutral spine here as we make our way towards plank pose. You might keep your knees on the floor. You might lift the knees and feel you can reach back through your heels and lengthen forward through your heart.

Drawing the deep low belly up and in. Good and then exhale let's stretch back and up into our down dog. Usually in the first dot down dog of the day it feels good to walk it off. You might bend the knees and stretch the calf to the heel a few times walking it off. Let the weight of your head release here feel the connection the commitment through your hands.

From your down dog inhale come back into plank pose flip the shoulders over the wrist strong through your legs reach back through the heels forward through the heart. Press the hands into the earth. Feel the buoyancy of the lungs. Good we'll lower the knees and lower onto the belly nice and slow stretching the arms out for Sphinx pose. We played with this on day six with Wade beautiful heart opening practice.

I'm coming into Sphinx pose here with the elbows just forward of the shoulders. And here feel how you can draw the shoulders down the back and we'll explore more active Sphinx. Attractioning the heart forward a bit here. And then begin to relax the effort using into a more passive of a yen like Sphinx relaxing the effort through the legs the arms letting the belly the organs release down. Here I tend to feel a dull pooling of pressure around the low back and the sacrum in the passive backbend.

You might keep your head right where it is you might release the weight of the head or even support the weight of the head. Allow for a exhale here. You might stand your Sphinx you might experiment with a more finger pressing up into a little bit of a seal action or seal play palms might fan out a little bit arms straighten and dropping into the shoulders here. And if it doesn't feel like the right thing for your spine and your back trust that information come down and Sphinx or lower onto the belly. If and as you need to feel more in your spine and your low back you might experiment with walking the hands in a bit closer almost like a little upward dog play you find this tends to bring the sensation more into the lumbar spine the low back.

And allow for a exhale softening face and jaw. Might stay here a bit longer. If you're in seal lower back down onto the forums and Sphinx and then releasing completely bring the forehead down slide the hands underneath the shoulders hug your elbows into your ribs tuck your toes under and then press your way up onto your knees and round your way back into an active child's pose, finding a counter pose to the back then here nice and wide through the back ribs. You get a sense of breathing into the kidneys. You might enjoy this active child's both you might release and sink the hips, all the way back into your child's pose.

They support underneath the head. They like to wobble and sway a little bit. Beautiful, take your time, honoring your own internal timing and rhythm. When you feel ready, we'll meet back in downward facing dog and start to build a bit in Vinyasa. From your down dog as you're ready inhale reach your right leg up towards the sky, bend your knee and open up through your head, taking a few breaths here into the back of the left leg, releasing the back of the neck and just checking in. How does your body feel? What does it want? What is it needing? Now as we're ready stretch that right leg back up to the sky, we're going to find a little knee to nose core work inhale stretch the leg up, exhale knee to nose, hover shoulders over the wrist, pull the knee into the nose.

Inhale stretch the right leg up to the sky, exhale knee to nose, step it through for a lunge, wiggle back for the ball that left foot lengthen forward through the heart, ground for the left hand twisting lunge. So reach your right arm up to the sky, reach back through that left heel forward through the heart, find a place where your neck feels good. You might circle that right hand a few times, opening up through the shoulder, circling the arm overhead and then back towards the back of the mat. Breathing and then eventually releasing that back left knee down with an inhale. Let's draw the hips back, extend through your right leg, flex your foot and allow for a little half stretch here, breathing into the hamstrings. Take your time, slow bend your right knee. Again you might pad your back left knee with a blanket or support. We'll bring the hands up onto that right leg and settle here for a few breaths.

You might prefer to keep your back toes tucked or release the top of the foot. Breathing into the hip flexor, the thigh, moving into the psoas. You might stay right here, you might inhale, reach the arms up towards the sky, feeling that supported lift from the back of the heart. You might experiment with finding a few arm circles, loading the arms down, forward and up, down, forward and up. Next time you reach the arms up you might bend the elbows and find cactus, opening the chest, inhale, reach the arms up. Exhale, bend the elbows, cactus, opening, maybe one more, inhale, arms reach up. Exhale, cactus the arms, bring the hands together at the heart for a moment. Hands down around that front right foot and then draw the hips back again, half split, Ardha Hanumanasana. Allow for a lengthening. Good. Easing into our high crescent lunge, bend the right knee, tuck your back left toes under, lift the back knee, set up for your high crescent.

Stay low and strong in the legs as you inhale, rise up, a little wobbly today. Feel how you can draw the tailbone under and lift the deep low belly. Here you might inhale, stretch the arms up towards the sky, feel the energy in your back leg and feel that lift through the back of the heart. Beautiful. Arms might reach up towards the sky or you might bend the elbows, cactus the arms, opening up through the chest. Inhale, exhale, release the hands down and then extend your right leg towards straight a little pyramid play here. You might add a hug and draw that right hip back. You might inhale, lift and lengthen through the heart and the spine and then exhale, letting the forehead draw towards that right shin bone.

Take your time, bend that front right knee, step back and stretch the right leg back up to the sky again, just shake out through the leg. When you're ready, lower back down, downward dog, you might stay here, you might inhale forward into your plank pose, shift shoulders over wrists. Exhale, lower down, using into cobra. As you're ready, press down through the palms, inhale, lifting up through the heart, hugging the elbows into the ribs, finding your edge. Exhale, lead with the heart, lower down, tuck the toes, press up, back, downward facing dog, moments here to settle. Easing to our second side as you're ready, ground through the right foot, inhale, lift the left leg up to the sky, bend the knee, open the hip, easy through the neck, breathe into the back of the right leg.

Stretch that left leg up to the sky, inhale, exhale, knee to nose, hover, shoulders over the wrists. Inhale, left leg reaches up to the sky, exhale, knee to nose, step it on through for your lunge, kind of help that foot along, twisting lunge, ground through your right hand, inhale, left arm reaches up, reach back for your right heel, forward through your heart, find that ease in your neck. And you might sweep that left arm overhead, find some circles through your shoulder, breathing and opening, ooh, next time you reach that arm up to the sky, pause, sweep it down and lower the back right knee down into your lunge. Draw the hips back, half split, extend through your left leg and allow for a exhale. Take your time, bend that front left knee, hands come up onto the front leg, we'll settle here for a few moments in the lunge.

Opening out through the right hip flexor, thigh area, so as, and finding that internal ease through the body. You might stay right here, you might inhale, float the arms up, feel how the ribcage can lift away from the pelvis, the support through the back of the heart, the spacious through the throat. You might stay here, you might find those circles sweeping the arms forward, open, down, forward and open, like you're finding back strokes in a pool or a lake. Next time the arms sweep up, you might bend the elbows cactus and open the chest. Inhale, arms sweep up, exhale, cactus, feel the shoulder blades hug into the spine, one more inhale, arms reach, exhale, cactus.

Bring the hands together at the heart, hands around the front left foot, draw the hips back again, half split, lengthen through that left leg. Allow for another exhale. Easing into our high crescent lunge, bend the front knee, tuck the back toes, lift the back knee up, find your stance, stay low and strong in your legs as you inhale, rise up. And then draw the tailbone under, hands might stay on the hips or reach up towards the sky. And feel that lift and support through the back of your heart.

You might cactus the arms here, steadying the gaze. Notice the quality of the breath. Inhale, as you're ready, exhale, hands release, press through the ball, the left foot, straighten the left leg a little bit as we play with our long pyramid pose. Well, you can kind of draw that left hip back. You might inhale, lengthen your spine and then exhale, bring your forehead towards the shin bone.

When you're ready, bend your left knee, step back down dog, stretch the left leg up to the sky again and just shake it out. You might stay on down dog or child's, you might inhale forward into your plank, draw the deep low belly up towards the spine, exhale lower in your own way down. Inhale, cobra, press through the palms, hug the elbows and lift the heart. Exhale, lead with the heart, lower down. Tuck the toes under, press up and find your down dog. Couple of breaths here.

From down dog, begin to walk your feet towards your hands, soft bend through the knees, forward fold. As you're ready, spread the toes, bend the knees, press through the feet and inhale, sweep your arms up towards the sky. Feel a length and space from within and then exhale hands together at the heart. Then taking a few moments to pause here, feeling your energy settle, feeling the blood settle, really coming into your relationship with the floor, with the earth. Moving into a sun salutation in some standing shapes. As you're ready with an inhale, sweep the arms up to the sky, enjoy.

Navel to spine, exhale, forward fold, diving forward and then releasing your head. Inhale, half arch length in your spine. Exhale, bend your knees, ground your hands, step back into your plank. Again, pause in your strong, beautiful plank. Then lower the knees or lower chaturanga. Inhale to cobra or maybe it's an upward dog for you. Again, listening to your body. Exhale, we'll meet in downward facing dog. Building on, as you're ready, inhale, reach your right leg up to the sky, bend the knee, open the hip, stretch your right leg back up to the sky.

Inhale, this time exhale, right knee to right elbow, hover, shoulders over the wrist, draw the belly in and up. Inhale, right leg reaches, exhale, knee to nose, step it through between the hands for warrior two. Move it onto the outer edge of the back foot, stay low in the legs, inhale, reach that left arm up. Here we are, warrior two. Check down with your feet, right heel in line with the left inner arch. We'll dance a few times. Inhale, press through the ball of your right foot, straighten your right leg, arms reach, exhale, warrior two. Sign two more, inhale, arms reach, exhale, warrior two. Last one, inhale, arms reach, exhale, warrior two, pause, and then reverse, slide the left hand down the back leg, inhale, right arm reaches, and then exhale, side angle, right forearm onto the right thigh, sweep the left arm over the ear.

Stay low and strong through the legs, inhale, come back into your warrior two, reverse, right arm reaches up, exhale, side angle, right forearm onto the right leg, left arm sweeps. One more time, inhale, reverse, or peaceful warrior, exhale, side angle, pause, and side angle for a few breaths, feel that turning and opening of the ribs. Your right forearm might stay where it is, you might lower it down to a block, or to the floor, find that ease in your neck, and that energy from the outer right edge of your left foot, all the way up through your fingers. Beautiful, stay low and strong for the legs, as you're ready, inhale, rise up warrior two, press through the ball of your right foot, reach that right arm up, reverse, bend the right knee, cartwheel the hands down, spin onto the ball of your left foot, and step back, downward facing dog, and you might stand down dog, you might inhale forward in the plank, exhale lower the knees or through chaturanga, inhale the cobra or maybe an upward dog would feel yummy, as Arturo said, exhale back into downward facing dog and take a few moments to settle. Second side as you're ready, inhale, stretch the left leg up to the sky, bend the knee, open the hip, easy through the neck and the head, left leg stretches back up to the sky square the hip, inhale, exhale, left elbow, left knee to left elbow, have our shoulders over wrists, inhale, left leg reaches, exhale, knee to nose and step it through for warrior two, pivot onto the outer edge of your back right foot, stay low in the legs, use that right arm to sweep you up into your warrior, settling in, finding your foundation, inhale, press through the ball of your left foot, straighten the leg, arms reach, exhale, right knee bends, warrior two, inhale, arms reach, exhale, left knee bends, warrior two, last one, inhale, arms gather and reach, exhale, warrior two, pause and we'll reverse, right hand slides down, left arm reaches up, peaceful warrior, exhale, side angle, right forearm on the left leg, right arm sweeps overhead, inhale, reverse, exhale, side angle, one more inhale, reverse, left arm sweeps up, exhale, side angle, left forearm on the left thigh, right arm sweeps over the ear or you might release the left hand to a block or to the inner or outer edge of that left foot, feel like you can open up through the ribs, the lungs, the heart, so you feel the energy from the outer right edge of the foot, the fingers, breathing, stay low in the legs, inhale, warrior two and then reverse, slide the back hand down, the back leg, left arm reaches, press into the ball that left foot, straighten the leg for a moment, bend the knee and cartwheel the hands down, spin onto the ball of your back right foot, shape of the lunge, step back downward dog, stand your down dog, lower to child's or move through a vinyasa, inhale plank, exhale lower knees or chaturanga, inhale to cobra or upward dog, exhale downward dog, few moments to pause, whatever shape you're in.

And then walking the feet towards the hands, nice and easy, bend the knees forward fold, Bhutanasana, soft bend through the knees on an inhale, sweep the arms up, press through the feet, circle and reach and exhale hands together at the heart and taking a few moments here, noticing the internal pulsations, circulatory rhythms, sensations. As you're ready, let's go ahead and step our feet out wide, coming into horse stance or goddess pose, usually call it goddess pose these days, turn the toes out the heels and root through the outer edges of the feet. So the knees are tracking over about the second or third toe, and just see what happens as you sink down a little bit and feel the support of the abdominal muscles as the tailbone sinks down. Nice. Yeah, it's a lot of burning and sensation through the legs is float the arms from here, wrap the right arm over the left giving yourself a bit of a hug here. And then you can draw the fingers back towards the shoulder blades and you might stay right here, you might find a bind here with the hands as you move into the eagle wrap, and you might explore a little bit by rounding and drawing the elbows in, releasing the head and maybe lifting up through the back of the heart and the throat or maybe even kind of circling around, feeling those sticky areas through the shoulder blades and breathing into where you feel it.

It feels like it's too much in the legs. You can straighten the legs for a moment, and then bend. From here, let's in how sweet the arms up, release that stretch the arms out and bring the opposite arm in front. Maybe that's the left arm, giving yourself a hug here. You might stay here, you might wrap the hands, the arms, make an experiment rounding and lifting, or maybe circling around, breathing. Again, if it feels too much, just straighten the legs, and then re-bend. Last moment here, and then sweep the arms up, press through the feet, extend through the legs, turn the toes forward parallel, and we'll roll the shoulders forward by the interlace.

Fingers behind the back, inhale, lift the heart, and then exhale, forward fold, hinging at the hips, releasing the head towards the floor and maybe stretching your arms up out and over, trusting the support of the legs. Breathing, easy in the neck, gently releasing the hands to the sacrum and down to the floor. Let's walk the hands out for hammock. Walk, walk, walk the fingers out, and then shift the hips back away from the hands as you soften the heart towards the earth. Breathing into the back of the heart. Beautiful. And then just slowly bring your hands underneath your shoulders, and that extension in length through the spine, you might bring blocks underneath your hands here, that might be really nice.

We're going to move towards a twist grounding through the left hand. Now bring the right hand to the hip, maybe stretching it up to the sky, or a wide-legged twist, and feel into your neck. Where does it feel good? Inhale, and then exhale, just slow, de-rotate your spine, bring the right hand down to the floor of block, and then left hand finds the hip. As you turn and rotate to your left, maybe stretching that left arm up to the sky. Breathing.

Inhale, take your time, exhale again, de-rotate the spine, and then just heel-toe the feet a little closer. We're going to find a melasana, squat pose, sink down, allow for a... hands might stay where they are, you might bring the hands to the heart, you might bring blocks underneath your sitting bones. And then uttanasana, toe-heel the feet under the hips, soft bend through the knees, and together let's roll up nice and slowly, chin into the chest, press through the feet, kind of unfurling the spine, feeling the heart, feeling the shoulders, feeling the head, and pausing here. Feet might be just a little wider apart, pausing into the asana, and you might bring one hand onto the belly, one hand to the heart, and wide through the sacrum, the low back, and spreading your awareness evenly between the hands. Here in this standing meditation, feeling the base of the skull gently lifting and floating up, the presence of the back body.

Now here, and exhale, making our way towards the top of the mat, sun salutation down towards the earth, spreading the toes, hands together joining. With your inhale, sweep your arms up, feel that length as you ground through the feet, exhale, hinge at the hips, forward fold, uttanasana, soft bend through the knees, releasing the head. Inhale, slide the hands up the shins, half arch, feel that length in your spine, exhale, bend your knees, ground your hands, let's step back into a down dog, just nice and easy here, downward facing dog. Our last plank, inhale forward, if you like, plank pose, shift shoulders over wrists, press the hands into the earth, feel that buoyancy up through the lungs, the heart, drawing the deep low belly in towards the spine, lowering yourself down nice and slowly, setting up for a few rounds of shalabhasana locusts, forward finds the floor, sweep your arms down alongside the body, find that internal rotation through your legs. From here, as you're ready on an inhale, begin to lift up through the chest, you might add the legs, reaching the arms back, feel how you can draw the back body into your spine and you might lean a little bit from side to side.

And then explore, investigate, the inhale lifts you up, the exhale lowers you down, then you might bring the forehead or one cheek and ear to the floor, nice full exhale. You might stay right here, you might join me in a second round as you're ready, let your inhale inspire the lift, drawing the back body into the spine, feeling the energy and a twinkle through your toes, your fingers, looking down so the neck can lengthen. And the inhale lifts you up and the exhale lowers you down, forehead or maybe opposite cheek and ear to the floor, releasing. You might stay where you are, you might find one more round of locusts or shalabhasana or you might join me moving towards Bhopost on your asana as you bend your knees, reaching back for your feet. Find your knees in line with your hips, finding that internal rotation. Now before you lift up, feel the action of drawing the navel towards the spine, low belly lifts, tailbone descends, and then inhale begin to kick your feet into your hands as you lift the chest.

And drawing the knees in as you lift and open, find a place where your neck feels good, breathing here and finding that appropriate edge of lift and sensation. And now as you're ready, exhale, slowly lower, allow for a bringing the hands underneath the shoulders and take your time in honoring your own internal rhythm here as you ease back towards a momentary child's pose. And then slowly set up for camel ustrasana if you'd like to join. Again, you might be in shavasana, you might be making your way there will rise up onto the shins and the knees and you might incorporate two blocks into this first step is to feel that internal lift from the base of the spine. Feel that lift up through the spine, the heart, feel the lengthening of the tailbone lifting of the low belly, and you might stay here and just really work this action feel the strength and integrity through your core.

Right back bending is all about lengthening the front body. Here you might bring your hands together at the heart and just feel how the heart can rise up towards the thumbs, lifting, lifting and lengthening and then maybe, maybe you're easing towards who strasana or a variation. And then lead with the heart as you're ready slowly come on up, and maybe lower the hips, the sitting bones back down onto the heels for a moment and pause your body's wanting a child's pose. If you like to join me for one more round we'll add on coming up onto the shins now your hands might stay at the heart. You might bring your hands behind you under the sacrum fingers pointing down, drawing the elbows back as you open the chest. I like to feel the sacrum kind of drawing down and in here, lengthening up on the inhale and exhale opening up through the chest.

Really the back bend is happening more through the upper back rather than the low back. And if and as a good maybe it's a part of your practice you might begin to reach back for your heels. Again two blocks are helpful here. And then feeling that lift, the buoyancy, the opening, listening to your neck you might keep the chin into the chest. You might if appropriate begin to open up for the throat, dropping the head back and breathing here and your back then there's strasana. Your head is dropped back slowly draw the chin into the chest and then mindfully bring the hands onto the sacrum and lifting out lead with the heart, pause and then settling back down. Use our way into a seated forward fold Paschimottanasana to release the back stretch the legs out here.

Inhale to lengthen and then exhale just sliding the hands down the legs any amount might be on the knees the shins here or if there's another forward fold that you prefer find your way there. And then it might feel nice to release your back release the spine, and maybe even release the weight of your head. Breathing into the back of your body. Your softening belly and face easy through the eyes and drawing the sensory awareness inward in this forward fold. Making your time just slowly, making your way up.

We'll roll on to our back, the transition. As you come on to your back, go ahead and interlace your fingers behind your back. I mean behind your head, and then press the elbows down into the floor and feel the essence of the backbend here as you lift the lumbar spine up. And then with your exhale curl your tailbone under manual manually lift your head up off the floor, like you're doing a sit up as you draw the elbows towards each other. And then lower down elbows wide arch the back open the chest, exhale lift your head up curl the tailbone under elbows towards each other. Let's find three more like this elbows wide inhale the arch exhale lift the head up and curl.

Then at your own pace elbows wide, feeling that extension as you arch the back. Exhale curl the tailbone under draw the elbows towards each other. Be one more together elbows wide inhale arch and exhale lift and curl the tailbone under slowly lower back down. Nice. From here let's bring the right ankle on top of the left thigh stretch the arms out, and just rock a little bit from side to side. Be that right knee or foot falls towards the floor. You might pause on one side or the other. You might draw that left knee and towards the chest. Maybe weaving the right arm through the window there, finding the back of the left leg, coming into our figure four, the eye of the needle.

Breathing into where you feel it and allow for exhale to soften. And release grounding that right foot, bring the left leg across reaching side to side here. You might stay with this you might draw that right knee and towards the chest. Maybe weaving that left arm through the window finding the back of the right leg, eye of the needle. Breathing.

Might stay with this a bit longer. Might slowly begin to release using your way into Shavasana. Taking your time. It's any last movements you'd like to do any shapes. And here I'll transition up towards the seat. Thank you so much for taking this time today for yourself for practicing together. You're welcome to stay in Shavasana as long as you'd like.

Joining your hands together with me at the heart. Thank you and Namaste.


1 person likes this.
Dear Alana, practising with you feels like coming home. Your phrase “explore the inner landscape” is going to be my mantra. With love and deep appreciation, Ali
Alana Mitnick
Dear Ali, It truly warms my heart to hear from you and feel your presence with us. I am so happy to hear this and know that you are experiencing Yoga. Grateful to be exploring the inner landscape together.  Love, Alana 
Beth F
1 person likes this.
Thank you for this lovely practice Alana.  I feel so happy and relaxed.   I appreciate YogaAnytime’s support of the community with this retreat and am so glad I can catch the practices here that I can’t catch live.  
Alana Mitnick
Wonderful, Beth! So happy to hear from you! Thank you for being here and joining us on this retreat... live and recorded. We appreciate your presence and the opportunity to come together... Yoga is Magic. Stay close. Love, Alana  
Jennifer Mance
I have an important meeting this week and this practice was great for my mind to get me ready 🥰❤️
Alana Mitnick
Jennifer Mance, So glad to hear this! Thank you for being here and joining us in Yoga. The techniques really do work wonders! Love, Alana 
Julie M
1 person likes this.
Thank you Alana, I loved the introduction to Camel pose and will use this consious stretching of the front body again.  Lovely practice.
Alana Mitnick
Wonderful, Julie M! Thank you for joining us! I love the little GEMS that surface with each practice. May this support you in your day. Love, Alana 
Sandra Židan
Beautiful practice! I really loved it and enjoyed doing it! Thank you for sharing it with us, Alana! Kind regards!
Alana Mitnick
Sandra Židan, thank YOU for your presence and dedicated practice. I love knowing that we are practicing together! Enjoy your day. XoA
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