Beyond Binary Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 4

Structure and Form

30 min - Practice


Honor your efforts. Miles leads a class exploring structure and form, effort and ease, in Tadasana and Savasana. We begin in a centered seated meditation and chant, move into gentle side body opening, take a nourishing calf stretch with the help of blocks, enjoy a Qi Gong bounce, and explore the rigor of Tadasana, before counterposing in Savasana. You will feel grounded, quiet, and clear.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block (2)


Read Full Transcript

Hi, everyone. I'm Miles Barrero. I'm super happy to be here with you on Yoga Anytime. Today's practice we're going to explore the yogic ideas and experience of sthira and sukha. Sthira being steadiness and sukha being ease or sweetness. So we're going to really explore form and what it means to be in a form. And we're going to do that by kind of discovering two of yoga's most essential poses, tadasana, mountain pose, and shavasana, corpse pose at the end, rest pose. I'm really excited about being able to sort of dig into these a little bit deeper with you. You'll need two blocks. So have them have one of the blocks nearby but not if you were to lay down on your mat you don't want it where you can extend your arms and then the other block you can sit on. You can sit in a supported virasana the way I'm doing but if your knees are punky or you wouldn't like to sit that way then sit cross-legged. Totally fine. Let's get started. So come into your seat. Take a nice tall seat and then feel your sit bones on the block. Close your eyes and let your hands rest somewhere on your thighs where they're not really pitching your spine forward or pitching your spine back. What I mean by that is you can move your arms forward so that your hands are closer to your knees and you'll feel how that pitches your spine forward and then start to slowly draw your hands back back back back back and you'll feel how the elbows will land at some point dangling right under the shoulder girdle and that's where you want to be where the shoulder girdle is like a hanger and your elbows can release under that your palms can be at ease on your thighs. Close your eyes if you haven't already. Take a deep inhale through the nose. Exhale out the mouth. Inhale through the nose. Exhale out the mouth. One more. Inhale through the nose. Exhale out the mouth. This time inhale through the nose. Seal the lips and make that a similar sound as you exhale through the nose and then you're going to keep that sound as you inhale and keep that sound as you exhale. So always through the nose. Keep going. This is your ujjayi breath. Some people would translate that as victorious breath but really for me it's that sound that's like the ocean that gives me an experience of my own hearing. So it's a reminder for me and also for my neighbors to breathe and that way we keep each other in check and we co-regulate together.

On your next inhale reach the arms out and up. Get nice and tall through your side waist and then as you exhale walk the right fingertips onto the mat and you can walk them away from you. Keep your left sit bone plugged down into the block. Reach, reach, reach and imagine that the fingertips are reaching away from the left sit bone. So you're breathing into that whole length of your left side waist. Two more breaths. One more. The inhale brings you all the way up. Plug that left sit bone down. Get really long through the right side waist and on the exhale you're coming over to the left. Same thing. You can walk your left fingertips over. Keep letting your right sit bone get really heavy, heavy, heavy toward the block or the floor if you don't have a block. Reach through the fingertips. Let the fingertips somehow connect with the sit bone so you're really trying to lengthen the whole side waist as if you had a rubber band connecting from your sit bone up. One more breath. Inhale, lift yourself all the way up. On the exhale the palms come down onto your thighs. Now we're going to work with the pelvis, the base of your spine basically just to gain a little bit more nuance. So as you inhale you're going to kind of stick your bum back behind you. You'll notice that you can't quite really see a huge shift in me. And then as you exhale you're going to roll toward the backs of the sit bones like you're curling your tail bone under you. And then as you inhale again expressing the sit bones back, back, back. That's going to feel like it's opening your chest as well. And then as you exhale rounding, rounding, rounding. You can close your eyes if you've found the movement and you're feeling it and you can practice it at your own breath. The inhale sliding the sit bones back and the exhale sliding you onto your tail bone. Now make the movement smaller and smaller at your own rate with your own breath until it's almost imperceptible except that you still know it's there. There's an echo of the experience even though it's still happening but it's just so much smaller that you'd have to be inside your own body to know. Maybe that somewhat still point is a place that we would call neutral or the sort of ground of your postures today, the base. Beautiful. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth and one more inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. You can keep your eyes closed. We're going to chant a little bit together. The chanting is really about an experience of deep listening to yourself, to the world, to others. If you are shy and don't want to chant today, that's totally fine. You can simply listen. I'll say the words, don't feel like you have to get them right and then we'll do them together. The words are Sri Rama J Rama, JJ Rama, Sri Rama J Rama, J J Rama, Sita Rama, Sita Rama, Sita Rama, Sita Rama. I'll I'll do it once and then we'll do it together. I'll do it once and then we'll do it together. I'll do it once and then we'll do it together. One last time.

I'll do it once and then we'll do it together. I'll do it once and then we'll do it together. I'll do it once and then we'll do it together. Right at your sternum, the center of your chest, take a deep inhale. You might still feel the ajapa.

It's the absence of the vibrations of the singing. And it sometimes can keep reverberating through your body for a while. It's neat. All right, we will start on your bellies. So go ahead and find that.

And make sure your blocks are not off to the sides of your arms, so they're not in the way. But have one of the blocks handy. And then from there, just take a moment to rest your forehead on your hands. Then you'll reach your left arm straight out of the shoulder, so not down below you, not above you, but straight out of the shoulder in a T. And then use your right hand underneath your right shoulder to roll over onto your left side.

Once you get there, you can walk your left fingertips a little bit more to the left and think that you're really kind of widening from the sternum, which is the center of your chest, all the way through the fingertips. Press a little bit more through the pinky edge of your finger and roll your armpit chest, the front of the armpit up a little bit. Think of lengthening your spine and think of anchoring your tailbone toward your heels, so you're not sticking your bum out. One more breath. And then use your inner right thigh to roll up toward the ceiling to bring you onto your belly.

Walk the right arm out. Make sure it's straight out of the shoulder. Same, same to the other side. Rolling over to the right. Breathe, walk your right fingertips a little further to the right.

Think of lengthening, so you're finding that neutral base in the pelvis, reaching the sit bones toward the heels. You've got one more breath. And lift your inner left thigh to roll you onto your belly. Now grab your block that's somewhere next to you. You're going to bring it out in front of you at the medium width and bring your hands around it.

You're not going to grip the block, you're just going to press your hands into it like knives. And then bring your forehead onto the floor. Bring your feet together, big toes touch. And then from there, push into the tops of the feet and see what that does to your pelvis, like you're lengthening your tailbone back. And then release that and stick your bum out.

So it's the same thing we were doing on the block earlier. And then push, push, push through the tops of the feet and reach through the heels. And then one more, sticking your bum out. This time you're going to find that sense of pressing down through the tops of the feet and extending and lengthening those sit bones toward the heels. And then from there you're going to take a big inhale.

And on the exhale you're going to push the blocks into the hands and lift just the arms so that they're along the sides of your ears. Breathe, five breaths here. Try to keep the breath nice and steady even though you might be quivering a little. Push those hands into the block. Try not to let your bum pop back.

Two more. One more. And lower the block. Doesn't look like much, but it's exciting, isn't it? And then you're going to roll onto your back.

I'm going to move my pack here, but I will meet you there. You still have your block in your arms. And then we're going to start a little gently here. The block is going to come in between your arms and you're going to push your hands into the block. Lift your knees up off the floor.

And then try not to bring the knees toward your ears but bring them more over your hips. From there, push your hands into the block. Lift the block up. Curl your navel in toward the back and then you might press the toes down toward the floor and bring them back up. If that feels okay, you could always do this with the legs extended or you could keep going with the knees bent.

So your choice. Knees bent, legs extended. Lowering and lifting. Try not to let your bum pop back toward the floor so you're kind of lengthening the low back. Toes down and lift. We've got two more.

Toes down and lift. And I'll do the legs extended one with you so you don't think I'm slacking on you. And then down. And lift. Super nice. Take the block out to the side.

Bend your knees. Wag the hips a little bit. And then you'll roll onto your right or left side. It's up to you. Then come up to sit.

You're going to take one of your blocks at the medium height. Sorry, at the lowest height. Medium width. And set it on your mat. Then you're going to take the other one and set it at the highest height.

And then you'll bring your left foot onto the ball of the foot onto the edge of the block. The heel onto the floor. I have really tiny feet. So if I can do this, chances are you'll be able to as well. It's not super pleasant.

But that's kind of par for the course with yoga. And then you're going to fold forward over your legs. From there, you're going to extend the left leg as much as possible without slamming your knee back. Walk your front block forward and lean your way toward your toes. Lengthen your spine.

And on the exhale, fold. You know, we all think that yoga is, you know, those old Yoplait commercials with someone dressed in white, sitting, loving their Yoplait cup. But really, the yoga is the work. And what you get out of it is the sense of ease. And then from there, bend your knee a little bit.

Again, lengthen your spine and lean forward. Chances are you were feeling that first one in the hamstring, the top of the leg. Now you might be feeling it in the calf, the bottom of the leg. Nobody ever thinks about the calves. So the calves get kind of angry, mostly due to neglect.

One more breath. And then from there, lengthen, step your right, sorry, left foot down. Bring the ball of your right foot onto the block. Same, same. Heel is on the floor.

Lean forward a little bit. Lengthen that leg as much as possible. You don't want to pop your knee back. You just want to extend it. Lengthen.

And on the exhale, fold. Ooh, that's charming. Take a few breaths. Bend your knee. Lean forward just a smidge.

Lengthen your spine. And on the exhale, fold a little deeper. Now it goes more into the calves. Most of us don't think about our calves, but we carry a lot of tension there. They can get really sticky.

This also helps you open up the sole of your foot, the padabhandha, the arch. And then step your foot down. Ooh, beautiful. Take your blocks, one to each side. You might find that you want to use them later.

Keep your feet separated, hips distance apart, and slowly, slowly round yourself all the way up to stand. Ooh, and it might feel like you have a new situation, which is great. Now from here, we're going to keep the feet separated, hips distance apart. We're going to soften our knees, and we're just going to bounce a little bit. This is a kigong practice that helps release energy or move stagnant energy, so just bounce, bounce, bounce.

The idea is that you want the heels to hit the floor a little bit. I'm just going to keep it going for another 30 seconds. They can be big bounces or little bounces. If you need to let some sound out, you can go, ah, and let it go. If you're alone or you have space for that, you can always let it go through the breath.

Keep it going, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Stop. Try not to lock your knees. Close your eyes and experience the reverb. You might even feel that instead of it being your pelvis, that there's a natural, postural sway.

The inhale comes in and it kind of sways you toward your heels, and the exhale sways you toward your toes just naturally. You don't have to do anything. So now we'll come into tadasana, mountain pose. Our sides are nice and open, our chest is nice and open. Bring the big toes together.

Separate the heels just a tiny bit. And then from there, roll your shoulder blades up toward your ears, back and down without overexpressing your chest. So keep that feeling of the tailbone anchoring toward your heels. So you open the chest, but you're still long in the front of the body, long in the back of the body, open your palms toward the front. Feel your feet as they meet the ground.

Palms, much like our palms were in prayer at the beginning when we owned our feet are in prayer with the floor. I love thinking about that. So then it means we're always praying, which is kind of a beautiful thing. Feel the rigor of the pose and you've probably hardened, maybe your butt is hard like a rock, maybe your legs are kind of squeezing in toward one another. Can you keep the rigor of the shape now, but let in the breath?

So you're really allowing the breath to fill the shape from the inside out. So you soften your insides to make that happen. Beautiful. Now we'll work a little bit with this pose and movement. Come to the front of your mat.

Bring your feet together. Inhale, reach your arms out and up. Exhale, fold forward over your legs. Inhale your right foot back. Step your left foot back.

Now you're in plank here. Can you find that length of the tailbone back and the heart forward? Take an inhale. On the exhale, lower the right knee down to the floor. Spin your left heel down.

Reach your left arm up. Look down at your right arm, and imagine that you're trying to spin your right hand away from you. That's going to open up your armpit. You've got to stick your chest out, but anchor the tailbone to the heels. It's the same thing we've done all the time in the practice.

Bring your left hand down. Come back. Extend the right leg. Going to the other side. Lower your left knee down.

Spin the right heel. Reach the right arm up. Roll open. Think of dialing the left hand away from you. Breathe. Have a long spine.

And as you exhale, right hand down to the floor. Nice. From here, extend both legs. Come high up onto your tiptoes, and super slowly try to lower. If you need to lower the knees down, you can do that, but keep the spine nice and long, so I'll do that with you.

Exhaling down for five, four, three, two, one. Ooh, we did it. Cup your fingertips out to the sides. Point the toes. The feet can be a little spread out, hips distance.

On the inhale, roll your spine up. Exhale, ripple down. Inhale, roll your spine up. Kick the tops of the feet down. Think that the sternum lifts, then the head.

And ripple down. And one more, just because we can. Inhale, roll up. And exhale, ripple down. Beautiful.

Roll onto your back, team. We're going to set up now for Shavasana. Shavasana being the sort of active counter push, Shavasana being the ease. Come onto your back. Now let your feet widen, maybe even a little wider than your hips, and then you can press your head back and kind of roll the shoulder blades in toward one another a little bit.

Open your palms. And it might be that if you're not used to this, you might feel a little overexposed to have your front open this way. If it's too much, you can always do this face down. But if it feels okay, open your palms up toward the ceiling. Take a deep inhale.

And on the exhale, let it go through a sigh. Inhale through the nose. Exhale out a sigh. And one more like you mean it, inhale through the nose. And exhale out a sigh.

And one more like you mean it, inhale through the nose. And one more like you mean it, inhale through the nose. And one more like you mean it, inhale through the nose. And one more like you mean it. Deepen your breath.

Wiggle your fingers and your toes. Bend your knees. Slide the feet onto the floor. Roll over onto one side, you can choose. Nice and easy, the head is the last thing to lift up.

If you'd like to sit on a block, go for it. Sit up nice and tall to honor your efforts. Close your eyes and see how you feel. This is the litmus test right here. This is why we come, this experience.

Really allow yourself to have it, dive in. And now you know that you can own it. It's yours for the rest of the day. Palms gather at the heart. Feel that right palm pressing into the left, left pressing into the right.

Deep inhale. Namaste yogis, thank you so much. Thanks for exploring the rigor of shape with me. And I'll see you soon.


1 person likes this.
Thank you for this beautiful practice! I The signing is magical! Lots of love!
1 person likes this.
Ania thanks so much!! Glad you enjoyed! Happy 🎃
Jennifer L
1 person likes this.
Great practice...ahhhhhh :) Thank you!
Jennifer L yay! My pleasure! 
Nina G
1 person likes this.
Thanks for a fun class - I loved the kirtan and the ommmmm.
Nina G yay! Glad you enjoyed! 💜

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