Yoga for Trauma Artwork
Season 3 - Episode 4

Vitality, I'm Still Here!

20 min - Practice


Like a tree releases dead leaves to the earth for recycling, let the things you don't need drop to the support of the ground beneath you. Kyra leads a nourishing practice to help us release stuck energy and increase vitality. We move through tapping, massaging, bouncing, and Cross Crawls to show appreciation for the body, stimulate circulation, release stagnant energy, and coordinate the hemispheres of the brain. You will feel energized, present, and steady.
What You'll Need: No props needed


Read Full Transcript

Hi, welcome to this practice about vitality. This is one of my favorite practices, I really like this and I use this frequently. I use this not only as a psychotherapist with my clients, but I also use this in my own daily life and with my general yoga students. So use what works for you, leave what doesn't. And you are welcome to start this seated or standing, okay?

When you are ready, I want us to just, again, make some connection with your environment. Notice how you are here in this moment, you might take a moment to open the eyes and notice what you see in the larger space around you, and please don't go looking for the things that are out of order, all the dust bunnies, right? Look just for the spaces or the objects that might give you some feedback of like, oh, I'm here, that's a beautiful color, okay? Try to sense how you're on the floor, on the earth. You might begin to move or sway your body a little bit forward or back, side to side, and just bringing the mind's awareness down into the support of the earth, right?

And now as you look at the earth here, this big massive globe of steadiness that holds us, let's just say hello to the earth, right? And I'm going to say hello by lifting my feet. I was in a class once where the instructor said to give the earth a high five, and I thought, that's so great. So let's just go ahead and give it a little bit of a high five, right? Might be a high five with the fronts of your feet or with your heels or the whole foot all together, but play around.

Just for another five, four, three, two, one, yeah. And unlocking the knees a little bit, letting yourself be steady here. Now turn the attention to your hands. See if you can just start to move your fingers and sense the fingers touching each other. I mean, really, these are the original digits, right?

How we move and feel through the world. And then let the rub and connection begin to open. I want you to look down at your hands, right? And just see the hands, the lines on your hands. You might turn them over, notice the color, the veins moving through.

And just acknowledge like all that your hands have done in this world, all they've probably done today, amazing. And now choose one of these hands, either a right or left, and I want you to say it out loud. I'm going to choose my left. Okay. I'm listening.

You got to say it out loud. Okay. So now when you choose the left, go ahead and start to palpate that hand, meaning just rub it, make some connection to it. And maybe the touch is really gentle and maybe it needs a little extra massage. That's okay.

Go through each of the fingers. Each of the fingers, you might stretch it or make connection, but notice you might say out loud, particularly if you're feeling kind of disconnected, you might say that these are my fingers. This is my left hand. Now go to the other hand and say it out loud, right hand. I'm asking you to say it out loud as you touch the hand, right hand and fingers, because as we speak, we bring the neocortex back online.

And when we've been in disconnection through trauma, fight, flight, or freeze, that front neocortex, the logic, the perspective, the empathy goes offline. Using our words to describe our actual present time experience can bring us back. So as you touch the hand, yeah, now open and close, open and close, a little sparkles. I want you to flick your fingers now, not just sparkling, but like kind of flick things away. There you go.

Flick them away. And as you do this, you might notice what is starting to activate or get warm. I'm feeling my forearms, and I'm feeling my shoulders get a little tighter. So if you notice the arousal of the activation, can you also plug yourself back into this earth that's holding? Create a little space in the belly for softening.

Okay, for three, two, one, and shake that out. Nice. Now I'm going to have us bring a big old clap in. Okay. Ready?

Okay. One, two, three. Yeah. Feel that. Hear that.

Let your sensory awareness plug into it. Okay. Good. Now rub your hands. Yep.

Make some heat. Make some heat. I'm talking about coming back into connection, right? Feel the tingling and the pulsing of that. Once your hands are a little warmer, there's some circulation.

For me, I've got to rub it a lot to get some good circulation here. I want you to come into tiger paws. Here's a mudra. Tiger paws. Okay.

And so soft fingers, but we're going to just tap with these tiger paws into just the base of your rib cage where the diaphragm is. And you again can decide how intense this tapping is. But just waking up saying hello to the diaphragm, the muscle that helps expand the lungs, bringing in more oxygen into the system, the part that separates the lower gut area and internal organs from the lungs and the heart and that upper ventral vagal system. And if you haven't listened to the talk yet on social engagement, go ahead and do that maybe afterwards. Now bring the fingers, just the tips of the fingers, right up into the sternum, the middle of the breastbone.

We're going to just tap into the breastbone, the energy lines that run up and down the body, stimulating circulation. Here I am. And you might say, I'm here, I exist. And now bring the fingers right to the collarbones and I'm going right left, right left, but tap however you need. Consider checking into the breath now.

And if breath isn't too triggering or activating for you, let the breath deepen a little. Great. Now I want you to imagine there's a big basin of water right in front of you, like maybe beautiful cucumber, rose water, something that's gorgeous, and splash it onto the face. And then just go ahead and start to just massage the face a little bit. Wash the face.

Wash the face. I'm going to suggest taking the middle fingers and bringing them through the inner part of the eyes, up the bridge of the nose, across the forehead, and down through the jaw. Do that one more time. Stimulate energy, yeah, even into the face. And think about how much these facial muscles work to create expression, to communicate to the world, to detect what's safe and what's not safe.

All through the eyes, the ears, the mouth. So give it some attention and bring your hands now to the head. And if you need to wake up a little more, it might be light taps. And if you know that you've been a lot in your head, there's a lot of rumination going on, you might just hold it for a moment and say, oh, brain, yeah, head, brain, thank you for the work you do. Now let's bring these fingertips that are more awake to the base of the skull, right where those vagal nerves exit the brain, the neural pathways that help us create more slowing down in the body.

And this touch, I'm going to suggest, is really light, almost like you'd be touching cotton balls and not wanting to make a dent. That's how light it is. So we're kind of getting into the lymphatic system or your drainage system as well. But remember, the part of the body, that social engagement system, comes from the base of the skull, down through the larynx and the pharynx, trace it down into the heart, down around the lungs. It goes up into the ears, so that face-heart connection, cheeks, mouth, eyes.

Now we're going to come back to the tapping a little bit. Go to your right arm, I'm going to go to my right arm, and we're going to tap down the outer right arm, up the inner right arm, down the outer. And again, you might look at your arm and be like, this is my arm. And then go across the chest to the other side, down the left arm, up the left arm. That's right, down.

Up. Nice. Down to the chest. Now let's bring the taps to the hips, the outer hips. If you've been sitting a lot, you might actually use fists to do a little extra pressure here, otherwise light.

And then tap through the outer legs, all the way to the ankles, and then up the inner legs. So I've got closed hands for my outer legs. I know that the IT band is a little tighter for me, and I'm using a softer open hand on the inside. One more time. Ah, great.

And now to the back body, right around the lower back ribs. And if you, you might do little taps here, right, down to the lower back ribs, or you might just hold and do a gentle rubbing and connection into this space. These are your kidneys. The adrenal glands that have to pump and respond every time there's a big arousal or stress, or even play, right, that gets activated and often depleted right on top of the kidneys. Let your hands rub and make connection.

Sometimes I just pause and one of my practices is just to hold my kidneys, to feel my feet sense my back body, noticing your breath. Now we're going to take one hand, take your right arm, and bring it across to the opposite chest. Now switch sides. I'm going to tap my back, and then I'm going to tap the opposite chest. Now allow the arms to start to swing.

Yeah, little helicopters. And as you do this, be aware of if you want your eyes open or closed. That helps you stay more present, connected, and settled. You might open the arms for three, two, one, and then slow it down. Slow it down so the movement is almost imperceptible to the outside.

Slow it down. We're going to pause. Pause for the presence, and just notice what you notice from the top of the head down through the body, tingling, pulsing, acetylene. I sometimes think about a snow globe and how all the little flecks of snow inside start to settle, comfortable, uncomfortable, neutral. What's your response to this pause, the sensory experience?

Can you use your breath? Can you use the earth? Great. Now we're going to do just a little bit of a shakeout to release any sort of residual kind of tension, ick, stagnant energy. You might brush it off and do this for about 30 more seconds.

I often think of allowing the stagnant energy, the stuckness, the things that I don't need to be released into the earth, kind of like how trees drop their dead leaves and the earth recycles them. So letting some of that organic energy leave the body. You might just visualize it, of course. The head, places that haven't done any shaking for a little while, you might just like shake up that pattern for five, four, three, two, one, and again, slow it down. And I notice as I slow down, my body is still in a gentle sway.

Can that be okay? Whether it's a sway or a stillness. And is there any way you can release some extra gripping at the base of the pelvis? Maybe even through the belly. And now sensing the earth, let's just take the arms up.

Allow the shoulders to be soft and down. Notice the tempo inside of you. If I'm going too slow or too fast, you go with you, right. And then we're going to just start to let the arms kind of swing as if we're going for a walk. Notice I'm kind of like pulsing my knees.

This is if I'm going for a walk. Let yourself go into the right rhythm for you. You've got the earth under you, there's a midline of you, we're kind of swinging around and the arms are going for a walk. Now I'm going to ask you to slow this walk down a little and actually add the legs in. The opposite arm is leg.

This might have you lifting your toes all the way off the ground or it might have you keeping the feet on the ground, you can be doing this in a chair of course. The important part is that we're mindfully aware of both the right and the left sides of the body working in tandem. You can let this go big or go small, but these cross crawls are awesome for neural integration. Think about it, when we're born as babies, one of the ways we learn and we build brain capacity is by crawling, by moving around on the earth. And so we're upright, which is fine, totally fine.

I want you to take this for a little walk here, you might go to the edges of your mat, you might go around your room today, but really just being aware of how balance shifts, how the right and the left hemispheres of the brain are coordinating. This is particularly good for those folks who have had mild traumatic brain injury from traumas, to help bring back more focus, integration, and balance. Search suggests doing this about 200 to 400 times, we're not going to do that in this practice. But the mindfulness quality of it is the important factor. Take one more on the next side, and then we're going to pause.

Feet about hip distance or a little wider. Notice the impact of that. We'll take the arms all the way up. Lower them down, settling. As you're ready, we'll just take the arms up overhead, doing a few half salutes, reaching both down into the earth and up above.

And then hinging at your hips, unlocking the knees a bit or a lot, forward fold. On your in breath, look up halfway, you might bring the hands to the shins and just notice how the front body elongates your spine. Bow in. Rising up, the sitting bones turned down first, maybe flat back. Bring the hands right through the midline.

Come on home. One more time. Pressing down to lift up, bowing as you exhale. Elongating, sensing the front and back core muscles that help create space. Rounding or flat back to rise, and come on back to the center line, bringing the hands at the heart, you might make some connection of maybe hand on heart or hand on belly.

And sense in here, in the container of you first, if there were two or three words to describe what you're experiencing now, what might those be? Feeling more expanded, awake, settled. Those might be different words for you and that's entirely fine, whatever it is you're experiencing. But now orient your awareness out into your larger environment, maybe visually or with your ears, sensing the world behind, around, above. And see if you can notice two objects or parts of the room, whether it's a wall or the ceiling and the floor, and notice how you're in between two different objects.

Might be a certain shadow behind you or a speck of dirt on the floor and the other side of the room, but just notice that, that there's space out there and that you're here connected to it. I hope you take some of this vitality and connection throughout your day. Thank you.


Jenny S
1 person likes this.
My three words: calm, content, brave. Thank you Kyra ❤️
Jennifer E
2 people like this.
Thank you, Kyra and YogaAnytime; these new episodes have arrived at a time in my life where I really need them!
Kyra Haglund
1 person likes this.
Jennifer E Thank you for showing up, Jennifer.  I hope you know you are supported and not alone!
Sandra Židan
Great practice, Kyra! I feel better now! Regards!
Michelle F
2 people like this.
Thank you for this - better interested and hungry came to mind unbidden! 
This was so really usedful for me today -!
Kyra Haglund
1 person likes this.
Michelle F - interested and hungry *-* So good!  thanks for sharing, Michelle
1 person likes this.
Presence and grounding - loved this practice, which reminded me a lot of Qi Gong?
Leah K
1 person likes this.
My words were energy and centered. I love when my practice gives me both! Thanks Kyra 
Rachel S
1 person likes this.
Thank you! I am a therapist and a yoga teacher, too. This was great! :)
Rachel W
1 person likes this.
My words were vitality, hope, joy. Grateful you are sharing your wisdom with us again Kyra 💖
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