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Season 3 - Episode 3

Gift of Support

45 min - Practice


Muscle resistance helps keep the joints safe, bringing a quiet expansiveness to the poses. In this class, we learn that we can create more structure and stability in our poses by moderating their scope and using our muscles as strength and support. We begin mobilizing and heating the body in seated stretches, then explore lunges, standing poses, and back bends, playing with activating the muscles in the legs, arms, hips, and abdomen and creating greater support for the joints. You will feel stable and expansive.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Strap, Block

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Hello and welcome. Great to be with you here today as we take another look at the principles of alignment. In this session we're going to be taking a look at the gift of support and how resistance in a pose, how using your muscles in the poses can really help keep the joints very, very safe and set up again that scaffolding of the poses where we can build and open into a really beautiful quiet spaciousness. The gift of support again is really crucial in helping to protect and bring health into our joints as we do the practice. I have a folded blanket with me today. I have one block and a strap and we'll use those at various points in the practice. So why don't we get started. We're going to start seated and I'm going to take the blanket away. We don't really need it too much here. We'll flip that off to the side and we'll start by taking both legs off to the right side. This is actually taken from Pilates. It's pose called the mermaid pose and we'll start here first by turning to the left and gently walking down, walking down and stretching the spine. We'll take the right arm a little bit further. No need to go too far and then come back up. We'll do the opposite side reach where we take up the left arm over the top. One more time reaching off the left side of the mat. Right arm goes a little longer. You could come down a little bit further this time if you like setting your lower abdomen closer and closer to your left leg. Come back up and over the top reach with the left arm and all we're doing right now is mobilizing, getting some heat in the body before we dive in deeper to the principles of alignment, the gift of support. Release your stretch, switch your legs the other side. Legs are swept off to the left and we're going to reach over to the right side. This time my left arm slides along the floor as I dive down. Soft easy breathing through the nose. Come back up. Right arm this time up and over.

Easy side bending. Come back again. Reach across. Left hand reaching longer. Right arm supporting and this time again if you'd like to go a little further take the lower abdomen closer closer down onto your right thigh. Come back up reaching over the top with the right arm. I'm actively lifting this left hip so I don't try to jam it down on the floor. That can create a pinch in your left hip. No good. No pinching in the hip joints allowed and then letting that go. Next extend the legs straight out. We're going to take the right leg off to the side in a little bit of a right angle. Similar idea we're going to roll the right hip up and again stretch off to the side. Focus here more on the lower abdomen dropping down dropping down dropping down and then coming up. Second side. Right leg forward. Left leg back and we're going off to the right side. Left hip comes with us. Let that come along as the left hand stretches further. Lower abdomen softening softening softening down towards the floor. And then coming back. We'll take a cross leg position and side bending. Now if you find that your hips your knees they just reside up here that means you need to sit up on a block or folded blankets for this one so you can get a much easier bend into the pose. Left hand down and I'm going to keep my solar plexus right over the top of the middle of the pelvis and I'll take the right arm over top of the head. Side bending. Take a few nice easy slow breaths always in and out through the nose. Come back up and other side. Right hand down solar plexus stays more or less right over the top so in other words I'm not leaning way off to the side. And this helps us get a good stretch to the spine but it starts to set up the concept of a little resistance where I'm not allowing the lower back L4 L5 if you've ever heard of those to take too much stretch. We'll put the stretch where it needs to be right in the middle spine. And then come to center. Forward fold now over the legs and if you have trouble forward folding if this is really tough for you then all I suggest you need to do is just use the hands and lift a little out of the hips. If you can come forward come forward. Allowing the lower abdomen to soften down toward the legs. Soft easy breaths through the nose. Come back up let's switch the leg lock and once again either using the hands to just lift and roll the pelvis a little forward or if there's more mobility available for you you come on into the full fold. Slow easy breaths again letting your lower abdomen be the target of your descent here rather than pushing the shoulders or even dropping the elbows. See if you can let your lower abdomen soften a little bit more down. And coming back up we'll turn to the side and if you'd like a little support for the knees I love a little cushion for the knees you can bring your blanket back into play. Knees the width of the yoga mat feet together we're going to take thread the needle. We'll bring the right arm under first sliding across and then shift your trunk towards the left side of your yoga mat more and more. And more specifically bring your lower abdomen closer to your left thigh. Lower abdomen closer to your left thigh. Now begin to turn. Soft easy breaths through the nose and then come back. Do the other side sliding the left arm under shoulder down head down and then move that left shoulder and torso closer and closer to the right side of your yoga mat but specifically bring that lower abdomen a little bit more towards your right thigh and then we're twisting by rolling the right shoulder backward a little. And then unwind. Hands and knees about hip width and you can continue to keep your blanket if you like for this. Right foot forward we're going to take a kneeling lunge. Hands on the front knee. This is where we really begin to introduce the concept, the principle of alignment of support. And specifically I'm going to talk about the hamstring, back of the calf and the very back edge. I call it the sharp edge of the heel. I want you to pay attention to those three things. Start by leaning a little into your lunge. Coming forward with the knee forward with the hips.

Then back of the calf down to the back edge of the heel. Push down into the floor so that you feel a little support underneath your hamstring. Come back out of the pose. I'm going to repeat it again. Repetition is the best way to learn this stuff. Once again coming a little forward I push the back edge of my heel. Good analogy is a bird's talon. You know how they've got a talon on the back? As though you had a talon on the back of your heel you're going to push it down. You'll feel that that even draws up your arch. Good to have very strong lifted arches in our world. And then glide back. We're going to do it one more time and add arms. Come forward. Press down from the back of the calf to the sharp edge of the heel. Press your talon into the floor. You've got the support of that hamstring in place. Take your arms above the head. Hold there. And if you want to see what the gift of support really is all about, let your leg just relax a little. And again you just feel you fall right into your joints. We don't have enough resistance to keep us out of the ligaments. So here we create that support. And we get the gift of keeping the joints healthy. Release your arms. Second side. Left leg forward. Let's go through it again. Three times. Come just a little bit forward. From the back of the knee. Down through the calf to the sharp edge of your heel. Press into the floor. Almost like you're taking the heel back and down. Feel the support of your hamstring. Glide back. Let's do it again. Gliding forward. Press down to the back of the calf. Sharp edge of the heel. Feel your hamstring is alive. And then come back. We're going to add the arms this time. Gliding in. Same idea. Press down to the back of the calf. Back of the heel. Talon strongly into the floor. And your arch is well lifted. Now with the support of the hamstring in place, arms up. Hold there. Take a few easy slow breaths in and out through the nose. And then come back out of the pose. Pause just a minute in a kneeling posture. Let the legs relax and recover. And once again we'll take right leg forward. We're going to add a twist to this. But with support in place. Lean a little forward into your pose. Press down to the back edge of the heel. You've got the support of the leg in place. Then left hand down to the floor. Right hand on your knee. And turning into that right leg. Keep that support. That's the challenge. That's the dharana. The concentration that the alignment principles give. Building that ability to keep focus. Right arm up into the air. And then release. And come back. Second side. Lean into it just a little bit. From the back of the calf all the way down to the sharp edge of the heel. Press. Feel the support of the hamstring. Then keeping that the dharana, the concentration of keeping those things in place. Right hand down. Left hand on your thigh to help you turn a little bit. Low abdomen. Close to your left thigh. And then arm up. It's very common for us in yoga classes to just sort of go as far into things as poses as we can. Yes, we feel a stretch. But remember that stretch is your body's way of saying you've hit the edge. Be careful. Here we support the body just outside of that edge. And now we can get into things a little bit more safely. Then release your pose. Take away the blanket. Let's take a quick child's pose. Knees apart. Feet together.

Glide the hips back. But we'll take active arms on this. Pressing the palms into the floor. We're going to create support underneath the arms. Triceps holding up the arm bones. If your head can contact the floor and you can keep that support, go for it. Touch the head down. If your head doesn't go down easily, no problem. Just let it cover. But the most important thing here is the support of the arms. Then come on up to hands and knees. Bring the knees to hip width. Tuck your toes. We're headed for down dog. Raise the knees up. And let's go in for that lovely little pedaling of the legs to help open up and awaken the legs. This is just to create a little space, a little mobility here. Enjoy that feeling. Back and forth. Ankles getting a little motion. Hips and knees. And then let's take a high heel downward dog. And we learned a little bit about this in the actions and strength. That by lifting the heels, we inspire the strong connection of the quadriceps to support the legs. To create that scaffolding of the dog pose. Then look forward and we'll take the right foot between the hands. Now, just like the kneeling lunge, we're going to use the same, what I call technology, the same principle of alignment here. We'll push down from the back of the calf to the heel and feel the support of the right hamstring in this pose. That's all we're doing. Holding here, creating a little bit more heat for our practice. And practicing the gift of support. And we can feel what happens if you let go of the pressure of the heel once again. That tendency to just fall right into the joints comes into play. Step back, right leg. High heel dog pose. Left foot forward. The action that we do, press down into the heel to create the support, the resistance in the left leg. Feel the hamstring. I like to think of it like a couch for your femur. You're just resting right on the support couch. And then step back. High heel dog pose. Activating the quadriceps, sharpening the crease of the thighs and pelvis. Right foot forward. We'll be taking a twist here again. Start with your support. Press down the back edge of the heel, lifting into the right hamstring. Left hand stays down. Focus on the support of your right leg as you turn. As before, we're going to keep the low abdomen and the chest close to your right leg as we turn up. And just to test, do this with me. Undo the pressure of your right heel.

And again, you feel that sink. You might even feel a little bit of the strain in the shoulders when that support goes away when we lose that gift of support. Dog pose. Raise your heels. Activate the quads. Lift them up towards the hips and then left foot forward. Let's take that support again. Pressing down the back edge of the heel, like I said before, feeling like you can hook that talon down. That raises your arch and gives you the support here. Right hand down and we're turning open to the left side. Keep your low abdomen close to your thigh, chest close to the thigh, and then turning up. Hold here. Hold your support. Soft easy breaths through the nose. Let it go. We're back to dog pose again. Raise the heels up. Let's take a little flowing movement here, coming into a plank. Take an easy drop to the floor. Point your toes. And a baby cobra, just to take the spine up a little bit. Release your chest down. Tuck your toes and let's go back to a dog pose. Once again, raise your heels up high. We'll take one more lunge and we'll add a few poses to it and build on our gift of support. Right foot is forward. Press down the back of the heel and we're going to feel that support right there underneath the hamstring. Roll your left heel down onto your mat and come up to standing. Now let's practice the support in some of the standing poses. Bend your forward knee, your right knee just a little bit. Press down on the back of the heel until you feel like by doing that, there's a little support underneath your right leg. Stretch your arms. We're going to take warrior two. As you slowly bend your right knee, keep that support into the ground. Keep that support. Keep that support. Feeling the hamstring. And as we do, every so often you want to practice, well what happens if I let go of the support? Boom, I drop right into my hip there and that's where we might get a hip pinch or start to press the ligaments of the hip together. We don't want to do that. So we have the support. Let's take one more pose with this version of support. Feeling the support under the hamstring. If you can take the hand of the floor on the inside of the leg, please do. If you're not, you can bring that arm up onto your thigh. Top arm over the ear. Still have your support in place and this definitely brings the heat in the body. And then let's come out of the pose by turning down into the lunge and back to your dog pose. Pedal out your legs a little bit. Let the blood flow back into the legs.

We're going to do the other side and you'll get to see me do this from the back view and see how that compares with what you're feeling as well. Heels up. Left foot forward. Let's go through what we know. Push down the back edge of the heel to feel the lift and support of the hamstring. Keep that as you roll your right heel down and come up to a pre-pose for warrior. Bend the left leg just a little bit and go on pressing your heel to feel like you're creating a little resistance underneath, underneath your left leg. Arms stretched out as we enter warrior two. If you still can, soft, easy breaths through the nose. Taking parjokonasana again either with the forearm on the thigh or arm over. And then turning down into lunge and stepping back to dog pose. We'll take a little vinyasa just to flow a bit. Come forward to a plank and what if we create support through the thighs? A little resistance so that we don't bow when we go to the floor and we protect the back. Let's do it. Thighs are resisting that bowing effect as we come slowly all the way down to the floor and then rest. Point your toes. Easy cobra, just a baby cobra. And then press to hands and knees. Let's take an easy child's pose then. Once again resting but let's keep the support underneath the arms. Press the palms, feel the forearms and underside of the arms support. What does that protect? Shoulder joints so we don't over press the joint into the floor and we can get the health into the shoulder. Let your breath calm down. Slow easy breaths through the nose. And then lifting the hands and knees. Tuck the toes under. Can you take that concept, that gift of support from child's pose that you just learned into your dog pose so that we have support from underneath and again protect the shoulders from too much stretch or impingement. Raise up your knees just a little bit off the ground. Press the palms into the ground. Feel the support, that gift of support underneath both arms. As you slowly lift up we're going to go with bent knees. Ever so slowly so you feel that you never press too much or lose the support from underneath your arms. Good. From here walk your feet forward to the front edge of your mat. Hands on the knees we'll call it half Uttanasana here. And tendency for the more flexible ones mind you but the more flexible ones you can see as I do I'm bowing backward into the legs. We'll call it hyperextension. To help with that we want to push the balls of the feet just like the palms in down dog. Press the balls of the feet so you feel that there's the gift of support behind the legs. A little resistance and that keeps us safe from hyperextending the knees. Then hands on hips and come all the way up. We're going to turn towards the long edge of the mat. This is a good time to grab your block for some of the standing poses that we'll do. You might need it, you might not, but it's always good to have it. And we'll start by taking the block behind the left foot please. Left foot. Wide legs and we'll do a triangle pose together with the idea of the gift of support. Right toes a little in, left leg out. And hands on the hips. And I'd like you to give a little sass.

What do I mean by that? Where you just kind of tip the hip off like that and you dip the thigh down and your sitting bone is swinging around. Your left foot, sitting bone is swinging around this way. And then undo that where we bring the sitting bone back up, thigh back up. One more time. Tip your hips. The sitting bone, left sitting bone is swinging down in this way. The thigh is dropping down. Very common way to go into a triangle pose where you reach and then take it down. Okay, let's reset. Now as we go into this pose, push down on both the ball of the foot and the heel and create a muscle energy, a gift of support behind the thigh so that that left buttock bone doesn't get to swing so readily, so easily off to the right side. And we're going to start to tip into the pose, but feeling like your left buttock bone is almost being held. There's resistance. There's an easy press of the break right there. Easy press of the break. The hamstring is alive. Holding, helping us. And when you're ready, you can take your support on the block. Let's just hold there. The mind and that feeling of the hamstring allowing motion, but not just crashing into motion top hand up into the air. There's energy in the legs supporting, helping the joint stay healthy, allowing that blood to flow. Come up, bring the block with you. Let's turn the feet to the other side. Block on the outside of the right foot. Just to get acquainted with it, let's do it one more time where you dip the hips easily and again, the leg drops, the sitting bone swings over to the left side leg and then let's correct that and reset. Push down on the ball of your right foot down on the heel and there you can see my arch is even starting to come alive. Connect the right buttock bone to your right heel. That's a feeling connection. And as we come down, you just keep your hands on your hips. You don't have to worry about them. We've got the break on the hamstring a little bit. Pumping the break there. Sitting bone feels like it's just holding on, just holding on a little bit toward the right heel. When you're ready, you can take your hand to the block. Hold here for just a minute before you take the top arm. Keeping that connection of support. Right buttock bone to right heel. Now top arm. Let your mind hold that connection, the support, the gift of support behind your right leg. And so if you tend to overstretch here or even if you don't overstretch, adding this gift of support can help protect the hip, can help from overbending the spine and then come all the way up. Turn your feet to center. Kneel toe together. This is just for a quick reset. Tadasana. We'll hold the block in front of the chest. Next pose is half moon pose. Wide legs again. And right toes off. In, sorry.

Left leg out to the side. And we'll take the block just in front of the left foot for half moon pose. Here, the tendency to bow the leg backward to hyperextend is really prominent in this post, but we're going to do the same thing. We're going to protect by holding the sitting bone towards the left heel, bend your left leg, walk in your back foot a little hand on the block, take the block a little further, maybe even off the mat. And now I'm going to push that back edge of the heel into the ground. I feel the hamstring and now my mind can connect to that buttock bone. Walk in a little bit more, walk in a little bit more and feel from buttock bone to heel. There's a connection. There's firmness. And if you stay with that feeling, buttock bone to heel, you might find a stability in the pose that you may not have ever felt before. Buttock bone to the heel. Hamstring. Giving us support. Holding. We won't worry about the top arm here, just so you can concentrate on the support that we're creating. A little resistance. Then bend the knee, come down and bring the block. Let's go to the other side. Left toes a little in, right leg out, 90 degrees. Block just a bit in front. And here we go again. Same things. Bend the right knee. Press the back of the right heel into the ground. Take your hand to the block. Walk in a little with the left foot and stretch the block forward a little bit more. Feeling the right buttock bone. He's going to hold a little bit, or she's going to hold a little bit towards the right heel. Okay. A little bit further with the block as you walk in and then right buttock bone is connected to the right heel. All that old song, right? Leg bone connected to the hip bone, all that. I didn't know what they were talking about. And so we use the right hamstring as sort of a resistance. So I'm going to show you now if you can see me and balance, if I let it go and just dip into the hamstring, I feel that overstretch. My knee went too far backward and I don't feel the scaffolding of the pose that creates the spacious quietness within. And then slowly coming out, coming to center. And we can put the block away if you like. If you tend to be on the stiffer side, having the block here could be very helpful. But if you don't need it, and I'll just leave it there. If you don't need it, you can take the hands to the floor for prosaureta. Let's come up, start standing, and we'll use two legs now with that buttock bone resistance that we've been using in the previous poses. Press the heels, both of them down into the floor. And as you tip forward, pause about right there, about halfway down, and feel that the hamstrings have contact with those buttock bones. Coming forward, coming forward, there's a little resistance, both buttock bones to the heels. Again, if you need the block, please feel free to take it so you can feel what we're after here. Then as we fold completely into the pose, bending the elbows, walking the hands back a little, always that little bit of resistance so that the buttock bones aren't just turned way up into the air without a check there so that we don't overstretch the hamstrings. If your head contacts the floor, please do let it contact the floor. Maintain the connection, buttock bone to heel. And then slowly coming out of the pose, we're going to heel toe in just a little bit before we come out of the pose, and then all the way up. You can take the block away, we won't need it for these next poses. And we'll start, now feet together for chair pose. We're going to use the same alignment principle. Bend the knees just a little bit. Press down the back edge of the heel. See, it's always the same as we practice this principle. Press down the back edge of the heel, sink down just a little bit, but feeling that by pressing the heel, you have those hamstrings for you. Take the arms straight forward so we don't have to worry about them as you then bend a little bit further and allow the knees to come forward. Yes, it's okay to do that. Holding there. Now, just press the heels into the floor a little bit as though you're going to come up half an inch, maybe, or a little bit less, and you feel the energy of the legs. And then coming up, shake it out. We've got one more standing pose to do, warrior three. Facing the side edge of your mat, standing on the right leg, will bend into it almost like chair pose. And balancing most of the weight, see, I could take the back foot off, press the heel, start to lean a little forward and connect buttock bone to heel through the hamstring. There's a little connection there. In fact, there's a lot of connection there. And with that in place, with that resistance and support, my goodness, the stability really, really changes. And you can come fully into the pose. And then gentle release. We'll stay on this side facing the short edge of the mat. Left foot forward, right leg back. Bring your body weight forward over the left leg. Push down the back edge of the left heel. Feel that the hamstring is alert. Connect left buttock bone to the left heel as you begin to lift the right leg. You come into your depth, turning and tilting the pelvis over the leg. And this is my wobbly side. But with this support of the hamstring and buttock, I'm so much more stable. I can connect and then gently out of the pose. Okay. Feet together, front edge of your mat. Let's flow a little bit. Let your mind go. Arms up. Breathe in. Easy breath through the nose. Bend the knees. Fold. Take the hands down. From a plank, ease your body down to the floor. Let the toes point back. Curl your chest up. Chest down. One more. Chest up. Chest down. Hands and knees. Dog pose. High heels. Lower your knees. Child's pose. Again, with arm support. Press the palms so that the underside of the arm is supporting the shoulder. And then letting your head just hang down. Easy breath in and out through the nose. Lift up out of your child's pose. I'm going to take a hands and knees pose. Again, if you want a little extra support, why not take it? Take comfort where you can. Okay. And the hands and knees position. We're going to do a version of bird dog, but a new focus for our gift of support. And that is the abdomen supporting the spine. In this pose, if you do what we call cow pose, dipping the spine towards the floor, that would be where the abdomen is not supporting the spine. Then if we push down through the hands and knees a little and start to raise the navel up, ribs up and create a balanced spine, now we have the gift of support from the front abdominal wall.

Keeping your spine nice and steady there, thanks to the abdominals, slides your left hand forward. No change in the torso. No change at all. However high you can raise the arm, you do. You don't have to force it. It doesn't have to go level with your ear. That just happens to be where this arm goes. But your main support, main focus is the support of the abdomen and then bring it down. Second side, but start with the little lift of the ribs, navel and sliding the right arm out. How high can you bring your arm and maintain the gift of support to the spine? And then letting that arm down, slide your left, left leg back onto the toes, right arm forward onto the fingers. Lift the ribs, lift the navel. Okay, bigger challenge here. Can you lift arm and leg and keep the support of the abdominal wall? Holding there, don't have to lift very high. The higher you lift, the more the tendency, the bow, the back will come. And then let down. Second side, leg back on the toes, arm forward on the fingertips, support the spine and then lift. And then bring it down. We're going onto our back now. Please turn onto your back with knees bent. We're going to take that abdominal support concept a little further. First, reach down and grab the sides of your mat with your hands and grab strongly. As you now bring your legs up into tabletop. And without the support of the abdominal wall, if we drop the legs, the spine goes into a big sort of rainbow arc. We're going to resist that by holding the gift of support right there in the abdominal wall. Two legs in tabletop and your challenge is how far can you push the legs toward a 45 degree line without losing that abdominal position. Bend the knees and return. Let's do it again. Press and return. We'll do a few more, feeling what it's like to hold strongly the abdominal wall and support the spine, giving the gift of support to the spine. Two more. And return. One more time, press the legs and return. Let the feet drop. Now, if you feel like that's your level for today, I want you to stay with that for one more round. Or if you'd like to take it a little bit further, we're going to do straight leg drops to see what we can do there. Hold onto the sides of your mat strongly. Check the abdominal wall, nice and steady, front ribs a little held down and then tabletop. Stretch your legs straight up. Again, if that doesn't work for you, go to the bent knee version. That's perfectly good version. And then holding steady, ribs and abdomen, slowly lower the legs to where you feel any further than that. And I cannot keep the gift of support steady. And then legs return. Let's do five more. Return. Four. Return. That focus concentration, dharana on the abdominal wall. And two more. And then one more. And bend the knees, set your feet down on the ground. If you've got a strap with you, let's reach and grab the strap for Supta Padangusthasana. As our closing up our series here, we'll start with the right leg with the strap. Keep the right leg bent.

Send the left leg down onto the mat. And our focus is going to really be the left leg that's on the mat. Stretching the left leg, see if you can contact most, if not all, of the hamstring and calf on the floor. There'll be a little space underneath for pretty much everybody near the buttock, but that's okay. That's going to be our resistance, our gift of support. Now straighten the right leg to about 45 degrees as you see I've done here. We're going to take the right leg closer to us towards our face, but only so far as we don't lose connection of the left hamstring. This creates a very energetic pose. It's not just a pull and see what happens. We have the support so that we can effectively and safely get our stretch. Holding here. Feeling again that hamstring support. Always on. And then bend the knee. We'll take the strap away. Second side. Keep the left leg bent, right leg flat. And how do you have to adjust your pelvis? Do you have to curl it or do you have to elongate so that you can get most, if not all, of the right hamstring of the floor? Then press that left leg, your left leg to 45 degrees. And let's start our journey into the stretch. Right hamstring is the focus. How far will the left leg come? Right hamstring is the focus. The resistance. The gift of support. So we don't over stretch the low back or over do the left leg. And then release. Good. We'll take the strap off to the side and take an easy bridge to finish. Hold onto the side of the mat again. Both legs bent. Roll the hips up. And just holding here. And coming back down. This is just to take the body the other way a little bit. Rolling up. Rolling down. And last one. Press the feet. Lifting up. And coming down. We're headed into Savasana now. If you'd like to grab a blanket for your head, please do grab that comfort. And then gently tuck your shoulders a little underneath your upper back. Stretch one leg down and hold it there for just a minute. Even in Savasana we can start by creating a little support for the body and then we can allow it to release into that support. Followed by the second leg. Legs are still just a little bit active.

Start by relaxing your diaphragm. Your shoulders. The middle back. Your neck. And now dial back all of the work in the legs so that they fall gently from side to side. We've been focused on creating support and at times a little resistance so the body can safely go into our pose. Now you have a good contrast to know if there's any tension anywhere you can let it go. Want the blood to flow fully into those muscles. Oxygenated blood. And release into the muscles so the cells can build and grow. Slow, soft, easy breaths throughout the nose. And dialing down the breath until even the fine hairs of the nostrils don't even feel the flow of air. And focus. Thank you. Thank you. If you would like to stay in your Shavasana for a little longer, please do.

If you're ready to come out with me, you can start by wiggling your toes, bringing your hands toward your tummy. Take a stretch over your head and enliven your body just a little bit. And then bring the hands back down and gently turn over to your right side. Pause there on your right side with your head on the blanket or an arm. And then gently press yourself up to sitting.

And if you like, you can bring your blanket under your hips for just a moment as we complete our practice together. Thank you for joining me in this practice as we explored a principle of alignment called the gift of support, where sometimes we use muscles to hold a certain part or even create resistance so that we can make sure that the joints stay happy, supported, never pinched. And more importantly, even than that, is we creating a deep, strong structure that will help support mind, body, and create a wonderful spaciousness as we continue to practice. Thank you so much, and I'll see you in the next practice.


Christel B
4 people like this.
So thankful for going deeper into this "gift of support". A few years ago I wasn't aware of the importance of this and used to get misaligned and hurt but since participating in earlier classes of yours I started paying attention to the importance of supporting the body in the poses and what a difference it has made.  I have not had the pain since paying heed to supporting and aligning  properly. Amazing!
Nathan Briner
Christel B! I couldn't be happier hearing that these adjustments are helping you eliminate pain. That's the best! These principles have deeply transformed my practice and it so cool to be able to see how they are impacting others :)

Eden M
4 people like this.
Ah, more Nathan! So happy to have a new season of Aligned and Awake.  Always so many great cues that I keep with me for all of my yoga practices.  You are such a gifted teacher to be able to explain the nuances of the poses so effectively.  Thank you for the gifts of support!
Jenny S
4 people like this.
I so agree with Christel and Eden! Particular to this practice, I had a “whoa!” moment doing your take on Figure 4 in the beginning - my goodness that felt good. I also loved the supine leg-lowering movements…quite revealing and quite exerting (in a good way) 😊👍❤️🙏🏻
Nathan Briner
Great to be here with you, Eden M! I’d love to hear what you’re discovering through these new lessons :) 
Nathan Briner
Jenny S, that’s really what shifted for me when I started using the alignment principles. The poses not only felt open, but really connected and “good” as you say. I found that, even though there’s work and extension involved,  the stability and comfort call forth an unlocking rather than a stretching. 
Fabian H
3 people like this.
beautiful practice :))
Nathan Briner
Thank you, Fabian H!
Kate M
3 people like this.
Interesting work! I found that in order to maintain a strong focus on the muscular engagement meant sacrificing some of the ease/fluidity/flow. But I can see how eventually I will find a more balanced experience with practice and awareness of these principles. Sthira sukham āsanam.
Nathan Briner
Kate M, I totally understand what you’re saying. In the beginning, this kind of work can feel like “grunt work”. Like you almost have to grit your teeth to maintain the focus or action. But I can promise you that with steady practice (a few weeks), the actions become more and more ingrained. Kind of like driving a car. At some point it all gels. And when it does gel, steadiness of the poses opens up an incredible ability to feel deeply within the body. I hope to hear more from you as you continue the lessons :)
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