This episode is part of a course.
Yoga and the Somatic Experience Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 2

Day 1: Touching

45 min - Practice


What would it be like to move from the curiosity and desire of the skin? In Day 1, Suniti leads a class to explore touch and being touched internally and externally. We are asked various inspiring questions as we move through familiar asana poses feeling how our bodies touch ourselves and the space around us, making curious contact with the body through brushing and patting, and bouncing to feel the contents of the body moving. As homework, Suniti asks us to go outside after this practice and pick up and feel things with the eyes closed.
What You'll Need: Mat


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Welcome to day one. In today's class, we're going to focus on touch and being touched. And I'll speak more to the theme as we move along. We're going to start seated. So if you would please find a comfortable seat. I'm sitting up on a cushion. You might want to sit up on a blanket. You can sit on a block. Bring your hands out in front of you. And begin to massage your own hands. Touch your own hands. Say hello to the skin of your hands. And as you touch your skin, in a way, you're touching your depths. It's like when you put your hands on the surface of a lake. You are simultaneously connected to the wholeness of the lake. Can you connect to that in your own body? As you touch your own hands, what kind of touch would feel good to you right now? So skin responds to many kinds of touch. Soft and delicate. Firm and direct. What kind of touch would feel good to you right now? And notice the listening inside of that. The listening to yourself. The listening to your own experience. And now bring your hands up to your arms. And do the same for your arms.

Just some sweeping gestures. Some firm squeezes. Again, letting there be lots of kinds of touch. And being inside that question of what would feel good to me? What kind of touch do I like? Okay. And then let's release that and let the hands come forward. And simply turn your palms up towards the sky. And notice how they feel now. From that little bit of contact. I feel more alive. Okay. Lay down on your back and come into what is called constructive rest. So you'll lie down, bend your knees, and place your feet on the floor. We're going to stay for a moment and experience the skin. Our skin covers our whole body 360 degrees. It's semi-permeable. There's an exchange of inside and outside. There's a dialogue between the inner life and the external environment. So notice the parts of your skin that there's some soft touch, maybe like the touch of your clothing or the touch of your hands. And now notice places where there's more firm touch, like where your body is touching the floor.

We are noticing our extra receptors located on the skin. And now bring your attention to breath and feel the inner landscape, the movement of your body because you're breathing. Now we're noticing the interoceptors located in the blood and the organs and the cells. Bring your knees into your chest. Bring your hands to your shins. Gently feel the weight of your arms and the weight of your legs. As you're ready, lift your feet up towards the sky. Reach your arms back overhead. Let the backs of your hands touch the floor and bring your knees into your chest and your hands to your shins. So nice and easy like that. So we'll inhale, lift the feet up and the arms back. Exhale, bring your knees into your chest, hands to your shins and keep going like that. And as you move, feel your body's position in space. So where are you located? How can we tell where our legs are in the air? Where our arms are reaching? So the inhale, the feet go up, the arms go back, the exhale, our knees come into our chest. Couple more times. And as we locate ourselves, as we feel our body in postures and shapes, we're stimulating our proprioceptors located in our joints and our tendons and our muscles. And the most important thing that I'm getting to here is that the sense organ of touch is located throughout the entire body, both on the skin and inside. Touch and movement are experienced throughout the entire body. One more time. Inhale, feet up, arms back. And exhale, bring your knees into your chest. And then this time, experiment with lifting your head and your shoulder blades up off the floor. And then bring your hands to the backs of your thighs and roll up to your seat and make your way towards all fours. Here on all fours, we'll pause for a moment to feel the touch of the mat or the floor that's beneath you. Let your hands kind of rub against the mat for a moment, both hands.

And what would it be like? This is an ongoing question for me. How can I refresh the action of touch so that I'm touching in present time in a fresh way without already knowing what this mat is like? Eventually, you'll find a nice hand placement for a downward facing dog and you'll come on into your down dog. And now bring some attention to the bottoms of your feet touching the floor. And again, just get a little bit curious. Where's your weight? Shift your weight to the big toe side and the pinky toe side. Maybe lift your heels and start to lower them and feel the contact. And let this be a dialogue so you're in a fresh relationship with the ground. Like you're getting to know the ground, getting to know your mat or whatever surface you're practicing on. Saying hello. Then begin to settle into your downward facing dog. And notice how this alive touch is shifting, relating to the rest of your body. So how is it affecting the rest of your body? As you're ready, let's transition to a standing forward fold. You can walk your feet forward, your hands back, folding forward over both legs. Release the weight of your spine, release the weight of your head. Again, check out what is touching the floor, really arriving for that touch. Bend your knees, drop your tailbone just a little bit and begin to roll up your spine one vertebra at a time until you rise all the way up. And then once standing, bring your hands together in front of you and then again rub them. Again, saying hello. And now we'll find some brushes against the whole body. So your hands will come up to the top of your head and then sweep down your skin. We'll do that a few times. So coming up to touch your head and then a nice gesture all the way down. And again, coming up, brushing down. Now as you do this, last time, feel how your hands move. So you're sensing the roundness of you. Roundness, how your hands have to change shape to touch your roundness. And then we'll come up to stand. So we know that muscles and bones move us through space, but what would it be like to move from the desire of the skin like plants turned towards sunlight? What would it be like to move from the skin's desire? And let's play with that in a sun salutation. So standing, when you're ready, lift your arms skyward. Feel the desire of skin reaching and rooting. Fold forward. Within halfway. And step your right foot back to a lunge. As you're ready, we'll come on up for high crescent lunge. And again, like a plant turning towards the sun, moving from the desire of your skin, reaching towards the sky, rooting into the earth. And as you're ready, we'll come down, push your hands into the earth and find your downward facing dog. Come forward to plank. And transition all the way down to your belly. Rise up into a low cobra. And let's pause here for a moment. What happens when you notice all of your skin all at once? Widen your experience of being here. Feel all of your skin in your low cobra. And lower down. Again, rising up into your low cobra. And lowering down. We'll come back up to plank. You can choose to keep your knees down or tuck your toes. Lift your knees. Push into your hands to find your plank. And then we'll head back to a downward dog. Lift your right leg up towards the sky. Pause here and feel the skin of the right inner thigh. And let it reach towards the right inner ankle and through the big toe and inner heel. Step your right foot forward between your hands. And once you're grounded, lift your arms up. Again, find the desire of your skin to reach for the sky, to know the ground, root into the ground. Release both hands down. Step your back foot forward to meet your front foot. Lengthen halfway. And fold. Rise all the way up to stand. Root down. Rise up. Arms skyward. And release your hands down. Pausing. Again, being with your covering, your skin body. And simply noticing what that does to your sense of being here. Okay, as you're ready, inhale, arms rise. And we'll fold forward. Lengthen halfway. Step your left foot back to a lunge. Rooting down. Lifting up with the arms. High crescent lunge. Release both hands down. Push down into your hands to find your downward facing dog. Travel forward to plank. And back to downward dog. Forward to plank. And back to downward dog. Do that a couple more times with for yourself. And again, considering this, what would it be like to move from the curiosity and desire of the skin? The next time you're in plank, we'll pause and then again, transition down to your belly. Rise up into a low cobra. And now begin to lift your legs up as well and reach your arms back for Shalabhasana. Now go ahead and feel the skin through the tops and the front of the legs. So can you feel your quads and the skin? Now begin to reach from the top of the quads, close to your hip joints, towards your toes. And then through the middle part of that skin and up by the knee. Reaching.

Feel the skin of your belly and can you let the skin of your belly go up towards your chest. Lower all the way down and rest for a moment here. You can make a little pillow with your hands if you like. Rock your hips a bit side to side and feel into the pressure, that weighted contact of your body against the floor. As we touch, we are learning about our environment. We've been doing this our whole lives. And we are learning about ourselves. Bring your hands underneath your shoulders, press up to plank and back to downward dog. So again, through your hands, can you learn about your environment? It's a nice reminder if you ever get to spend time with a child, baby. The way they touch objects so curiously. Learning about the world through touch. As you're ready, we'll lift the left leg up to the sky. Again, feel your left inner thigh and reach it through the inner leg into the inner foot. Step your left foot forward between your hands. From the skin's desire, rise up to high crescent lunge. Release both hands down. Step your back foot forward to meet your front foot. Lengthen halfway, Ardh Uttanasana and fold forward. Rise up to stand, rooting down, lifting up, arms skyward. And release your arms down. A moment to pause, a moment to notice, dropping into your own experience. Notice what you notice. Bring your hands towards the top of your head again. This time, we'll find a little patting movement. So you'll pat, pat, pat the top of your head. Almost like your hands are like raindrops. Then maybe pat your face, your forehead, your chin, and then down your neck and onto your chest. Notice how different parts of your body feel good with different amount of pressure. And you'll head on your body and see if you can pat every single part of your covering. Patting, patting. Every single part of your skin. And then once you're down, pat yourself all the way up.

Again, finding a pressure that feels good. All the way back up. Gentle raindrop like pats on the face. Up to the head. And then releasing in a moment to feel what you feel now. What do you notice? Maybe a little bit more tingle or aliveness to your skin. Let's lift the arms out wide to the side. And bring your right arm underneath your left arm for eagle. Being with that touch. And bending both knees. Shift to your left. Hover your right foot up off the floor. And then maybe bring your right leg around for your eagle. And get close like I'm gathering in towards my midline. Maybe bring your elbows towards your knees. Mindful to lift the right hip just a bit so there's space in the left hip joint. Slowly come back up. Unravel. Reach your right leg to the side. And then set it out to the side. Open your arms to the high diagonal so you're standing in a star position. Lengthening through each fingertip. Rooting through the feet. And release your arms down. We'll head into the second side. So maybe bringing your feet a little bit closer together. And then wrapping your left arm underneath your right eagle arms. Bend both knees. Shift your weight into your right foot. Hover your left foot up. Cross your left leg over. Letting the left hip have some buoyancy. Outer right hip drawing in. And then a connection to your midline. Letting your inner thighs really meet and move back. Let the skin of your underarms move forward to the elbows. And if you like, we're folding in. And as you balance, what would it be like to widen your experience by being with all of your skin? So notice if you've narrowed your experience, be with all of your skin. And then if you're folded a bit, come up. Unravel your left leg. Unravel your arms. Reach your left leg to the side.

Release it down back to your standing star. Again, feel all of your skin. Bring your hands to your hips. Widen your legs. Preparing for a wide-legged forward fold. Prasarita Padottanasana. We're going to root down through both feet. And then find a bit of a backbend. As you're ready, tip your hips. Come forward. Bring your hands to the floor underneath your shoulders. Lengthen the front of your spine. And fold. Release the weight of your spine. Release your head. Be with your breath. Lengthen up partway again. Bring your left hand right underneath your chest, underneath your heart. And reach your right arm up towards the sky. Keep rooting through your left foot. Lengthen across your collarbones. Root through both feet. Again, get to know the ground. How does that inform the reach of the right arm? Release your right hand down. Place your right hand to the floor. Keep rooting through your right foot and lift your left arm up. And then again, as you push through your right hand, what does that do to your left arm? How does the curious contact, if your feet are curiously touching the floor, how does that affect the rest of the posture? One more breath. Release both hands down. And then again, folding forward. On this forward fold, bring your attention now towards the skin that looks in, like you're turning your attention towards the blood, your contents. Release the weight of your head. And feel the weight of your torso releasing towards the earth. Notice how your body is moving because you're breathing. And lengthen the spine halfway. Shift your weight back onto your heels. Bring your hands to your hips and come all the way up. Turn your heels in, your toes out, and bend your knees for the goddess. Find some bounces here. Little bounces. Imagine that you're like shaking water off your body. You just got out of that lake. You went swimming. And now you're just going to give a little bounce. I've definitely never dried my body after swimming this way, but attention to the skin. Little bounce here. And now push into your feet, reach your arms out wide, and we'll play with swinging the arms. So you'll bend your knees and let your arms swing down. And they kind of cross, and then they'll head back out to the sides. A few times like that. So the knees will bend, the arms swing down, then they go out wide. A few times. Down they swing, and out wide. Feel the air on your skin. Dropping down, knees bend, arms swing down and out. And again, feel air and momentum. Last time. Bending your knees, dropping your arms, swinging. We come out. Feel your whole size. And release your arms and wiggle your feet closer together. And we'll pause here, standing in Tadasana.

Float your arms forward out in front of you like you just dropped into a cloud. And you're going to let the arms be supported by this imaginary cloud. Float your arms out wide to the side. And float your arms up to the sky. Release your arms back down. We'll do that a couple more times. So your arms will float forward. And then float them wide. Float them up. And float your arms down. Again, floating arms forward. The arms are moving in symmetry. They open wide. And up towards the sky. And down. So now, we'll play with improvising. So you'll move your arms in your own way. But let them stay in symmetry. You can bend your wrists and elbows. Curl your arms in. And expand them up and out. So you're moving in your own way. Letting the arms be mirror images of each other. And now when you know the form is a little bit looser, come back to moving from the desire of skin. How does this body want to move? How does this skin want to reach for sunlight? How does this skin like to touch the air with more momentum or floating? What kind of touch, what kind of movement feels good to me right now? Notice what it's like to move. And to be present for touch. And to feel that. So you're feeling the movement. Feeling the touch. Feel simultaneously. And we'll return to that sun salutation. So a little more familiar perhaps where we can rest inside of a form. As you're ready, we'll lift the arms up towards the sky. And fold forward. Lengthen halfway. And step your right foot back. Include your breath. Down into the ground. Reach your arms up high crescent. Release your hands down. Push into your hands. Step back to downward dog. When you're ready, come forward to plank. Now this time you have an option here for upward facing dog or come on down for your low cobra. So you decide, take your time. And as you're ready, meet back up in a downward-facing dog. So following your own desire, curiosities, making contact to this familiar shape like you're in a brand new relationship. Lift your right leg skyward. Step your right foot forward between your hands. Root down to rise up. Release both hands down. Step your back foot forward. Both feet touching the floor. Lengthen halfway. And fold. Rise up to stand. And release your arms down. Bend both knees. Find a little bounce here. And like you're shaking all of your skin. And then dropping your attention more to the inside. And have a sense of shaking all of your contents. Push down into your feet. Extend your legs. Reach your arms skyward.

And fold forward. Lengthen halfway. Step your left foot back. Rise on up for your high crescent lunge. Release both hands down. Step back to downward dog. Come forward to plank. Again, letting yourself be held by this familiar sequence. Find your cobra or upward-facing dog. Downward dog. Bringing attention to your skin, your covering, and the sense of touch. Lift your left leg up towards the sky. Step your left foot forward between your hands. Rise up for high crescent. Release both hands down. Step your back foot forward, standing forward fold. Lengthen halfway. Fold again. Rise up to stand. Release your hands down. And then one more time, bend your knees in a little bounce. Noticing the place of light touch, the air, your clothing, and be with that firm touch of your body meeting the earth. Now turn your attention to inside. And feel the movement of the contents, all of the touch, the experience of touch on the inside. And push down into your feet to extend your legs and pause. Again, noticing. Lift your arms up. Fold forward. Step your right foot back.

Bring your back heel down. Rise up into a warrior too. Brief moment here. What happens to this posture when you feel all of your skin all at once? It really wakes up my back body and the shadowy parts of my body, like the underarms and the inner thighs, the parts of my body that are in shadow. Release both hands down. Step back to a downward facing dog. Right into the second side. Step your right foot forward, your back heel down. Rise up into warrior too. And then again, this moment inside, Virabhadrasana V, to wake up all your skin all at once. There's that saying, to be comfortable in your own skin. What would that be like right here? To inhabit, be with, and be comfortable in your own skin. It changes something. Release both hands down. Travel back to your downward facing dog. And lower your knees down. Bring your hips back to rest in child's pose. Again, showing up for the contact of the floor and your clothing and the air. Be with your breath and all of the movement present in this moment. And slowly begin to walk yourself up and make your way to your seat. We're going to approach Ardhamatsyandrasana. And for me, that means I need to sit back up on my cushion. You can sit on a blanket again or a block. And let's externally rotate the right leg and bring the right knee in front of us, like right in front of the midline and cross your left leg over, or you can choose to have it on the shin side. Bring your left arm back behind you. Reach your right arm up towards the sky. Feel into all of that length through the whole right side body. And bring your right elbow to cross over your left leg or you can hold the leg. So a pretty dynamic shape in our bodies. A lot is happening. Notice the places where your body has that firm contact with the ground. Root into that. Get curious about that. Include your breath here. Notice how there's some movement. And allow there to be that little bit of movement, like you're oscillating a little bit towards the posture and a little bit away from the posture. Being in a process. Gently release your twist. Bring your hands back behind you. Unravel your legs. And then we'll head into the second side. So externally rotating your left leg. Left knee will come forward. And then the right foot will cross over. Bring your right hand back behind you. Reach your left arm up towards the sky. And we're twisting. We're twisting from behind the navel. Crossing your arm as you're ready. And then again look for the movement. That oscillation. Moving a little bit towards the posture and a little bit away. Notice that spreading of the right upper chest. Where the skin is getting wide. A couple more breaths here. Gently release from that. Bring both hands back behind you. Bring the soles of your feet together. Let your knees open up wide. Root down through your finger pads. Lengthen the whole front of your body. And gently release that. Come back into constructive rest. So your feet will come to the floor. Take your time and roll down. Feet down. Knees bent. And bring your hands to your hips. And again kind of that initial check in that we did of being with the skin and how we sense and learn about our external environment. And there's an exchange. Gently a dialogue. That brings us to our inner life, our internal environment. Turn your gaze to your skin that looks in. Or you're turning your attention to the skin that looks in. Notice how that shifts your entire experience of being here. Notice your breath. All of the movement that's here because you're breathing. And as you experience touch and movement. Notice what that does to your overall map of your body. Sometimes our map can get really limited. Notice what being with touch and being with movement does for your overall experience of living in a body. And let's prepare ourselves for shavasana now. You can extend your legs if you like. Extend your arms. Ask yourself, am I comfortable? If you want to make any adjustments to be a little more comfortable, please do. Releasing into the touch of the earth. You might choose to stay here a bit longer. If you'd like to transition with me, then bring your attention to your breath and start to move through your hands and your feet. Again, with this curiosity of what's the desire of my skin to move?

What are my desires for touch and for movement? Eventually you'll allow this movement to bring you all the way up to your seat. And once seated, a moment to pause. A moment to notice, a moment to listen. Bring your hands together. Feel your two hands touch. Let's close with a bow. Rising up to release your hands. Thank you so much for being here with me. I have a short homework suggestion for you. If you like, go for a walk and find some objects to touch and touch them with your eyes closed. Simply experiencing while letting the sense of sight rest and let me know. Let me know how it goes. Okay. Thank you.


Michelle F
6 people like this.
Hi Suniti,
Thank so much for this wonderful exploration of touch! It was most touching indeed! The phrase "effortless effort" came into my head- the bounces are such a great shifter. Your voice and pace are perfect -encouraging spaciousness and ease. What a great start to the series- looking forward to completing homework assignment and joining you in the continuing exploration.
Have a beautiful day!
Jenny S
8 people like this.
This was a dreamy sequence for me. Your use of imagery and some mind-blowing concepts (feel your skin from the inside/from the blood side) I was able to go way inwards and feel the familiar postures in a whole new way. I loved this 🙏🏻❤️
7 people like this.
What a beautiful practice! I adore your teaching and feel reawakened through my skin this morning. Such a poignant way to reconnect with our oh so subtle experiences. With love and gratitude, thank you ❤️
Michael S
6 people like this.
Thank you for offering a second season, Suniti! I really appreciate how subtle and thoughtful these practices are. 
Fern S
4 people like this.
Oh Suniti, this was just lovely. Thank you for always showing me how to be curious in my own body. You help me move in ways I didn't know I could. I did most of this practice with my eyes closed and it was heavenly. I also loved your little giggles. I wish I could be giving you one of my rocks like I used to before class.  So much gratitude :)
2 people like this.
Michelle F  What a beautiful share. Thank you. I'm so glad this resonated with you and I love that "effortless effort" bubbled up.
2 people like this.
Jenny S Yes!  I love how a simple shift of perspective can deepen our personal experience of the postures. It's lovely that you were able to travel in.  Thank you for sharing!
2 people like this.
Hi Summer, Being more present for the skin body can be quite profound. I'm so glad this resonated with you. Sending love. 
2 people like this.
Michael S Wonderful!  Hi again... I just wrote you to tell you the 2nd season is out and here you are!  So glad these classes are meeting and supporting your practice.
2 people like this.
Fern S , Oh yes, I love practicing with my eyes closed. Sounds lovely. I too would love to receive one of your special gifts. I imagine that we will practice together in person again. Sending love.
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