On the Verge 10-Day Yoga Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 8

Day 7: Levity

30 min - Practice


Lifting off requires a bit of letting go. This class is inspired by birds, and will help us take flight in body and mind. We begin warming the body and finding space in the hips, move through a progressive standing sequence floating into Bird of Paradise, challenge the balance in Flying Pigeon with the help of blocks, and come to the floor for a playful core practice before cooling forward folds. You will feel cheerful and buoyant.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block (2)


Read Full Transcript

My friends, you're here. It's day seven, levity. Our quality for today is levity. I hope you have a good color combination on to start. That's number one. You'll also need two blocks. And today we're going to get a little bit lighter, right? So we flowed a little bit. You've stoked the inner fire. You've gotten grounded. You've understood that you have everything you need for this wild ride that we call life in our culture. I think gravitas is sort of overprivileged. Levity is often neglected. So today we're going to feel what it is to tap into that inner sense of just taking flight. The sequence will feature a few poses inspired by birds. And hopefully we'll also find a sense of play. I like this Toni Morrison quote. I'll paraphrase it. Sometimes you have to give some of that stuff up that's weighing you down in order to lift off and to take flight. So let's try to do that. Grab your two blocks. Pause. Find your color combination. And then we're going to start in a reclined position. So you'll lie down on your back. You will lie down on your back. You'll take your time and be playful even as you find a position on your back. Draw your knees into your chest to start. Step your feet to the floor. And then right away cross your right ankle over your left knee. Send that right thigh bone forward. It's a figure four. Maybe you know and love this shape. And already maybe you're feeling some opening of the hip there. Let's open a little more by drawing that left thigh bone towards you. So you'll lift the left foot off of the floor. Interlace your hands behind your left thigh if that's accessible. And draw that thigh bone towards you as you press the right thigh bone away. So two counter actions that help us find and access a little release for the hip. And while you're here holding. Finding your breath. Finding your breath and letting that breath expand a little bit. With every breath in you feel the ribs expand. Maybe the legs move a little bit away from you. And with the exhale you can draw your legs a little closer towards you. But of course you know cooperating with breath. Finding an expression of this that allows you to breathe fully and completely. So not bracing or holding. And then friend go ahead and step that foot to the floor. Let's bring the arms. Let's bring the arms out to the side. Soften the elbows. Palms are facing up. Shoulders are nice and spacious. You'll step that left foot a little forward. And then as you inhale you'll press into your left heel to lift your pelvis up. Keep pressing that right thigh bone now towards the floor because of how we're oriented. And then lower down. We'll do this twice more. So you'll press into your heel to lift your hips up. You'll feel that left glute working as you also feel that right hip opening up. And then you'll lower your seats. Again like that pressing into the heel to lift up. Breathing in. Riding that exhale as you lower the pelvis. Let's do that one more time. Keep pressing the right thigh bone down towards the floor as you press the left heel down and lift your hips up. And then exhale. Lower down. Draw that thigh bone, left thigh bone in towards you once more. And then let's switch sides. So uncrossing carefully with lightness and with ease. Cross your left ankle over the right knee. Flex the foot. Press the left thigh bone forward away from the hip. Draw the right thigh bone towards you. And breathe here. Cooperate with the breath. So you are witnessing this conversation between your breath and your body. And you're interjecting by drawing that thigh bone a little more towards you in a way that doesn't ruin the flow of the conversation. So take a couple of breaths there just like that. And just noticing whatever sensation might be rising. Gentle deepening of the stretch in a way that is responsive to the body. Reality of the body responsive to the breath. With your next exhale draw that thigh bone, right thigh bone a little closer towards you. And then release so you can step the foot to the floor. Once again soft elbows extend the arms. Press into your right heel to lift your pelvis up. Breathe in. Let the inhalation help you find that expansion of the chest. And then as you exhale you'll lower your pelvis down to the floor. Keep pressing that left thigh bone towards the floor and a little bit forward. So breathing in to lift the hips up. Exhaling to lower. Inhale, lifting up, pressing into the heel. Exhaling to lower. Twice more like that, pressing in to that right heel to lift the pelvis up. Figure four. Exhale, lower down once more like that. Press into the heel. You lift up. You exhale and you release. Draw the right thigh bone towards you. So taking a nice full breath in there and a breath out.

And then releasing this, stepping your foot to the floor. Drawing your knees into your chest and then you're going to rock and roll along your spine forwards and backwards. Draw the knees in towards you and enjoy that as you're doing that. You're going to rock forwards and backwards and really enjoy it. I'm not kidding about that part. That's the most important part. And then you're going to roll all the way forward over your calves and come, friends, to a wide downward facing dog. So you separate your feet a little wider apart than usual, a little wider than hips width. And let's soften the knees a lot. Let's bend through the knees, drawing the chest towards the thighs. Shifting weight from left to right. So easing our way right into the shape. Take a nice full breath in there. And as you exhale, really soften the knees a lot. And then, friend, you're going to lift your right foot up, cross your right ankle over your left knee. And here we are again in figure four, but in down dog. Oh my goodness. The play, the level of play is just unbelievable. Then your left knee, and your left knee, send that right thigh bone back behind you as you reach the tail bone back behind you. Make sure the palms are spreading and you have a nice broad base of support in the hands. And you will really soften that left knee a lot. So you can get a nice full and expansive release for your outer right hip. You can play with extending through the knee and feeling as the bent knee variation sort of allows us to find a little bit more release for the hip. Inhale, friends. Keep the figure four. Keep the integrity of the figure four as you playfully come forward to plank pose. Lift the right thigh bone up. Press the knee up towards the ceiling. Look forward. Inhale. Exhale. Send your seat back to that figure four down dog. Let's release the foot. Reach the knee now up to the ceiling or the sky if you're outside. And then breathe in here. As you exhale, please step that right foot forward to the outside of your right hand. Lower your back knee. So coming to a lizard pose, untucking your back toes. Lift your chest up. Feel that quality of lightness inside of this lizard pose. Drag your back knee forward. You're going to reach your right arm forward and then take a twist. So options here. You can keep your right hand on your hip or you might like, if it's appealing, to bend your back knee, sweep the hand back behind and draw the heel in towards your hip. You're going to take a few moments here, all the while lifting that left hip point up towards your bottom ribs. Option, of course, to come down onto your left forearm but keep broad across the collarbones. Try to flex your left toes rather into your hand and you'll take a few breaths here just like this. Or shall I say like that? Inhaling broad across the chest. Great. As you next exhale, you'll release that. You'll bring your hands to the floor and then bring that right knee back behind you. Keep the knees on the floor. Spread the palms. Lift your chest up. Roll your biceps forward. As you inhale, you'll lengthen your spine more. As you exhale, just lower yourself halfway down. Inhale to press up. We're going to do that four more times. Lower yourself down using the power of your exhale. You'll inhale and press up. Lower down. Inhale to lift up. Twice more. Exhale, lower yourself down and hover. Inhale, pressing up. And then exhale, lowering yourself down. Lowering all the way down. Untucking your toes. Reaching your arms all the way forward. Getting as long as you can in your body. Crawling the hands forward. Enjoying maybe a little sensation of release in the sides of your body. As you inhale, you'll lift everything off of the floor. Lift the arms, the legs, and the chest, the back of your skull. Get a little longer and as you next exhale, you'll draw your elbows back. Right. Inhale to reach forward. Get long. Exhale, draw the elbows back. Lift the back of your skull up. Inhale, reaching forward. Exhale, drawing the elbows back. Lifting the chest up. Once more like that. Inhale, lengthening, reaching forward. Exhale, drawing your elbows back. And then lowering the palms next to the ribs. Lowering the chest. Lowering the head for a moment. Recovering your presence. Great. Are you having fun? I hope so. Tuck your toes under. We're going, friends, to pause in Chaturanga. You have the option of keeping the knees on the floor. We're going to take a nice full inhale here. We're going to press up and hover on the exhale. All right. And then as we inhale, plank pose. Prepare. Exhale, press into the palms. Lift the legs up and hover. As you inhale, pull yourself all the way up. Exhale. Downward facing dog. Once you're in dog pose, be kind to your body. Move the way a human might move when they're trying to bring a little ease and comfort.

Great. And then come to center. Down dog. Find a quality of balance, right, that you are now well established in. Cross your left ankle now over your right knee. Soften that right knee. And I should say bend the right knee. Bend the right knee deeply as you press that left thigh bone back. Flex the left foot strongly. I'm going to take just a couple of moments of exploration here as you breathe. You may have to, I'm having to adjust the placement of my ankle just so I feel a little more clarity in the shape. Softening the knee as you press the left thigh bone back. And then as you inhale, keep the figure four as you come forward to a plank pose. Lift that left thigh bone up. Lengthen your tailbone. Breathe in there. As you exhale, soften the right knee. Shift your hips up and back. Free your left ankle. Reach the knee up towards the ceiling. So opening the hip in this way, take a breath in there. Use your exhale to step your left foot to the outside of your left hand, lowering your back knee. Pausing here in Uttan Pristasana, lizard pose. Shift slightly forward on that back knee. Take a twist to the left. Hand maybe stays on the hip. You can bend your back knee. You can marvel at the difference in sensation on this side of your body. Or maybe I'm just projecting. And you reach your left arm forward. And as you breathe in, you'll sweep the arm back behind you and draw your right heel towards your hip and continue to marvel. Lift your right hip point up towards your bottom right rib. Option, of course, to come down nice and gingerly and easily onto that right forearm, if it's interesting. If it's accessible. But remember, lightness, ease, play. You know? What are we letting go of? Sometimes, you know, that letting go can mean just doing less and letting things be easy. So let this be easy. Take a few more moments there, just like that. Just allowing the release to happen and enjoying it. Enjoying the release. And then please release your foot. Float your left hand to the floor. Come up onto your right palm if you're on your forearm. Step that left knee back behind you and pause, pressing the palms down, lifting the chest up. Roll your biceps forward. Get broad across your collarbones. Lengthen the spine. Lift the chest. Breathe in. Use your exhale to drag back on the mat. So it's like you're dragging yourself forward as you hinge forward. Elbows stay close to the body. Once you are there, untuck your toes. Press the tops of the feet down. Beautifully clear and elegant bhujangasana. Lift the chest, the back of your skull. Exhale, lower yourself down. Press up beautifully and elegantly and playfully through tabletop to downward facing dog. Pressing through the palms, descending those inner heels. I keep saying that. I don't know why I'm so fond of that cue, but it feels good to me. And then, friends, step your feet a little bit forward. Let's play, shall we? Let's levitate a little bit. You will soften your knees. So options here. You can just bounce. You can just bounce. Or you might like to actually find some hops. Hopping in your from dog pose, landing lightly. Once more like that. Excellent. And then pausing for a moment, softening the knees, sort of being in the echo of that little moment of levity and play and lightness and ease. As you inhale, lift your right leg up. Exhale, draw your knee to your nose. Curve your spine. Tuck your chin. Again, inhale, straighten the leg. Exhale, knee to the nose. Lift your navel up towards your spine. Press the floor away from you. Once more. Inhale, reach the leg back. Exhale, knee to nose. Step your foot forward and come to high lunge, breathing in, sweeping your arms around and up, lengthening your tailbone. So space in the lumbar spine. Inhale, lift the chest. Extend the arms out to the sides.

Turn your palms to face back behind you, so thumbs to the floor. And then either hold opposite elbows or come to a reverse prayer here. Broaden across the collarbones. Inhale, lengthen the spine more. As you exhale, shift forward, lowering your torso halfway. Shift your way forward. Lift your back foot up as you straighten your bottom leg. Free. Very gently and playfully your hands and your arms. Reach your arms forward. Breathe in. As you exhale, palms to prayer. Inhale, float your right hand to the floor or block. Reach your left arm up to the ceiling, opening your chest. And you'll take a couple of breaths there like that. Take a full breath in here in half moon pose. And then my friends, we're going to float back to warrior two. So slowly bend that standing leg. As you float that left foot down to the floor, coming to warrior two, extending your arms. As you inhale, reverse warrior. Exhale to a little modified side angle pose. Reach the left arm forward. Extend both arms wide. Reach your left arm up to the ceiling, right fingertips down towards the floor. Wrap your left arm back behind you, finding a half bind. If it's accessible to you, you'll find a full bind. Wrap your right arm underneath the leg. Turn your gaze to the floor. It's going to get funky and playful here now, friends. So you'll lift your back heel up and you're going to use a little momentum. So you'll bend your back knee and then step yourself forward. And you're in this little preparatory version of bird of paradise. If it calls to you, you might lift your right heel up and slowly lift the right foot off of the floor as you straighten the left knee and lift your chest. If it calls to you to extend the right leg, have at it. Otherwise lengthening through the crown of your head. We'll take one more breath in here. As we exhale, we're going to exit the same way we entered. So slowly lowering that right foot to the floor and really the same way we entered. Lifting your left heel up, maintaining the bind if you can as you step that foot all the way back, lowering the heel and returning to that bound side angle pose. Extend your arms. Inhale here. Use your exhale to come all the way up to warrior two and pause. Straighten your front leg. Parallel your feet. Bring your hands to your hips. Standing firm. Feet are parallel. Sweep your hands behind you. Interlace your hands the awkward ways. We're only doing this once. We want to get out of those habitual things. We do elbows together. We now lift your chest. Extend the elbows. Exhale to hinge yourself forward. Heart towards the floor. Keeping your spine long. Releasing the head and neck as you send the hands, that fist forward. You take a few breaths here in prasarita padottanasana. See. Inhaling, feeling as the chest expands and maybe lifting up to accommodate that. And as you exhale, a little more of a forward fold. This time as you inhale, reach your heart forward. So we'll exit this the same way we came out. Great. You'll release your arms and then you'll turn your toes towards the left. Turn your feet towards the left. Bend your left knee. Find a high lunge and pause in the high lunge. Sweep your arms out to the side. Bring the palms either to reverse prayer or holding opposite elbows, whichever suits you. Lift the center of your chest. Breathe in. As you exhale, hinge forward. Lower your torso halfway. Shift your weight forward. Straighten your standing leg as you lift your top leg up. Don't forget to broaden the collar bones. Keep the neck long. Reach the crown of the head forward. Free your hands and arms. Reach them forward. Bring your palms together. As you exhale, hands to heart. As you inhale, slowly open to artachandrasana, floating the left hand down, the right arm up. And we'll take one breath in here. Use your exhale to float yourself back to warrior two. So slowly bending that standing leg as you float the top foot back down to the floor. Extend your arms. As you inhale, a little reverse warrior.

As you exhale, modified side angle pose, reaching through the fingertips. Inhale to broaden across the collar bones. Extend both arms wide. Sweep your right arm back behind you, maybe finding a little half bind. If it's comfortable or accessible or interesting for your body, find a full bind. So wrap the left arm underneath you, if you like. No pressure. And then slowly start to look forward. Slowly start to lift your back heel up. Bend that back knee. Use a little springy action to step yourself to that opposite end of your mat. And then you can stay here. This is interesting enough. Or you might lift your left heel and slowly start to drive that right heel down into the floor. As you lift your chest, as you lift that left knee and leg, you might feel called to extend through the knee or not. Take a breath in there. As you exhale, exiting the same way we entered. So slowly bending the standing leg as you float the left foot down. Maintaining the bind if you can and slowly lifting your right heel up and stepping your right foot back. Lowering the heel, coming back to that balance side angle pose. Extend your arms. Come back to warrior two. Hands to your hips, straighten your legs, parallel your feet. And step your feet together and come to stand at the top of your mat. Alright, so here we are back at the top of the mat. You're going to now grab those two blocks that you have handy and you'll step a little bit towards the middle of your mat and you will set your blocks up about shoulder with a part on their lowest height. We're going to take flight now, my friend. So come to stand behind your blocks and a few inches behind them and then please bring your hands to your hips, lift your right knee up, cross your right ankle over your left knee. I'm noticing that I actually need to shift myself over a bit. So cross the right ankle over the left knee so you're familiar with this shape. Press that right thigh bone away from you. Slowly begin to bend your standing knee as you bring your palms to prayer at the center of your chest. So we're in a little standing figure four. So you can stay here. This is plenty interesting from my viewpoint. Or you might float your hands down to the blocks. You may have to reposition them so you want the hands to be underneath the shoulders.

Please hook those right toes onto that outer upper left arm and maybe you stay here. This is also plenty. It's a pretty deep forward fold, pretty deep release for your outer hip. If you are wanting to progress a little, take the train a little farther, you're going to shift your weight forward. You can lift your left heel off of the floor some amount if that's interesting. If it's interesting, you might be able to take a little bit of flight and lift your left foot off of the floor. If that's interesting, you may really hook those right toes onto that outer left arm. You may play with extending through your left knee some amount. But whatever you're choosing to do is perfectly okay. Keep pressing down. Stay present. Stay playful, really. If you have taken flight, it's time to come home, my little homing pigeon. Lower your foot to the floor. Come back to ground. Bring your palms together if hands were on the blocks and then slowly you'll come up to stand. You'll release that. You'll shake your arms and hands out. Maybe give some circles to the wrists. And then let's go right ahead for the other side. So crossing your left ankle over your right knee, flexing the foot, sending that thigh bone sort of back and down. You orient yourself in your own body. Bring your palms to prayer. Slowly descend your seat as you lift your heart in towards your thumb knuckles there. You can stay here or next stop on the train is to bring the hands to the blocks. Hook the left toes around that upper right arm, something fierce. And maybe you stay there just like that. Maybe you're called to keep riding the train and shift your weight forward. Lift your right heel up and float the foot off of the floor. That might be interesting. It might be interesting to play on this side with extending that leg any amount. If the leg is extended, bend the knee. If you've taken flight, come home, foot to the floor, hands back in prayer. Slowly rise up, release, shake yourself out, shake yourself out. Great. And then let's move your blocks off to the side. Well, come to stand at the top of the mat. Slowly lower your seat down to the floor. So we're in, it's like malasana. And we'll pause here for a moment, bring those feet a little closer together. And then we're going to rock and roll again. So lower your seat.

It may not be the most elegant thing, but you'll lower yourself down. You'll rock a few times. Hold the backs of your thighs this time. Enjoy this. That's the most important part. Rolling forwards and backwards. The next time you're upright, find navasana, a little half navasana. You might like to hold the outer edges of your feet and extend your legs. Some expression of navasana. The arms can reach forward. Play, play, experiment. And then from here, friends, open the knees, hold the inner heels, and then lift your chest up and slowly extend through your heels, lifting your chest. You can pull against your heels to lift the chest up. You can stay here. You might like to bend one knee and then the other. You can play that way. Another way you can play is by rolling forwards and backwards. Quite fun. So you can enjoy that if you like. If you are rocking and rolling, this next time you come up, stay up. Good. Everyone bring the soles of your feet together and then lower the soles of your feet onto the floor. Come into baddha konasana. We'll forward fold a little bit so you can draw your feet a little bit closer to your body. Hold the outer ankles. As you inhale, pull against the ankles to lift the chest up. It's a little active. Stay a little active as you start to hinge yourself forward and then walk your hands forward. Relax your head and your neck. Allow the spine to round some amount. Allow the head to descend. It can feel quite fantastic to put a block on top of the feet and let the head rest on top of the block if that's interesting. Taking nice full breaths in and long breaths out wherever you are and allowing those exhales to draw you nearer and nearer to the center of yourself, bringing with you this widened, brightened quality of levity and play and ease and pleasure. Slowly roll yourself up, draw your knees together and then come to lie down on your back for shavasana, the final resting pose. And there's even a little bit of levity here in this pose that is essentially you like communing with gravity. When you find the ease here, and friends, you can stay here for as long as you like.

Forever is an option. I'm going to come up for a seat. You can stay resting or you might join me in the seat if you like. But finding breath wherever you are, whether you're reclined or upright, breathing freely, fully and completely and actually without effort. So really just witnessing breath and letting breath wash over you, letting every inhale expand your capacity to contain the fullness of you, your wholeness, every exhale, a little more integration. Hands come together at the center of your chest, beautiful heart center. Bow your head to your hands. Thank yourself for practicing. Honor your body, your breath, this beautiful connection between them. Namaste.


Tracy S
5 people like this.
Thank you! Sadia for a wild New Year's Day Challenge. Taking flight into 2022 was a great way to start my year. Peace and Light!  Tracy Strickland :)
3 people like this.
loved the blend of clear instruction and levity. made my hopping and straining to attain flight easier to accept! :)
Lina S
3 people like this.
It was fun. That reminds me to practice more often some poses. I haven't done bird of paradise and flying pigeon for a long time
2 people like this.
I find the instructions super hard to follow and this constant referring to me as a “friend” kind of annoying… there was little levity for me, unfortunately, but I appreciate the beauty of Sadia’s movements.
Sadia Bruce
Juval Interesting take. 30 minutes doesn't leave a lot of room for the most thorough explication, but my clarity is my superpower. Note that this is a Level 2/3 class. Luckily, one of the gifts of my own practice is that I'm always thrilled to encounter new perspectives— even and especially when they oppose my own.

That which we would like to experience in the body— in this case levity— can and should also be cultivated in the heart and mind. Happy New Year and be well, friend. 
Kelly B
5 people like this.
I got the bind and bird of paradise for the first time today! And was able to laugh about how silly I looked I got sick and had to take a few days away (#thanksOmicron) and am very thankful to have this particular challenge to return to ❤️
Sadia Bruce
Kelly B So proud! (And glad you’re feeling better!) That laughter— that’s the sweetest fruit of the practice… 
Jenny S
5 people like this.
What a difference a couple of days has made for me…while doing episode 5 I was feeling tired and sluggish and thus incorporated props to ease me along (a great help!)…upon seeing today would be a 2/3 I got everything ready, and this time the difference was the “levity” factor. I still used props, but I felt a lightness that came with not taking things so seriously. Some postures willl never be achievable in this lifetime, but it’s okay and fun to give them a whirl anyway ❤️🕊
Lillian M
2 people like this.
I love this!!!!!!!!
Sadia Bruce
1 person likes this.
Lillian M Fun, right?!
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