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Season 1 - Episode 5

Mars: Stoke the Power

25 min - Practice


Infuse the shapes with the energy that feels like medicine today. Ali leads a strong practice to stoke the Pitta fire of the Red Planet. After we charge the Mars energy with mudra and chant, we warm and prepare the core and back body, move through a Lunge sequence into Crow Pose challenging strength and balance, tap into the sense of sight to find steadiness, and explore Headstand from Crow. You will feel strong, light, and focused.

Please see the attached pdf for a breakdown of the planetary aspects.

What You'll Need: Mat, Block


Read Full Transcript

Namaste. Welcome. This is going to be our Mars class. Mars is a planet that is very pitta. So this is going to be a practice that you'll do when you want to fire things up a little bit, build a little heat in the body, get a little action going around the area of the third chakra, work into that core and get a little bit of that fiery Mars energy. We're going to start off with pran mudra, which means that your middle finger and your ring finger are going to bow in towards your palm and then your thumb will catch them like rocker. And you'll take your pran mudra and place it in your lap. This is an energy charging mudra. And the mantra for Mars is Om Kam Kujaya Namaha. We'll be doing this 12 times. You can close the eyes or keep them open. It's up to you. Take a full breath in. Exhale it away. Om Kam Kujaya Namaha. Om Kam Kujaya Namaha. Om Kam Kujaya Namaha. Om Kam Kujaya Namaha. Om Kam Kujaya Namaha. Om Kam Kujaya Namaha. Om Kam Kujaya Namaha. Om Kam Kujaya Namaha. Om Kam Kujaya Namaha. Last two, Om Kam Ku Jaya Namaha Om Kam Ku Jaya Namaha And take a full breath in and a big breath out. And then we're actually going to start on our backs today with a block in between your thighs.

So go ahead and take the block high up in between your thighs. You can plant your feet on the ground, knees are bent. Reach your arms forward, tuck your chin to your chest and slowly roll down onto your back. And then interlace your fingers behind your head and just for a moment let yourself drop and feel like disengaged for a moment and then engage. So squeeze in on your block and you've got two options here.

Either the feet stay on the ground or you can lift them up so that the knees are in line with the hips and the ankles are in line with the knees. Press your feet if you are doing that. Take a full breath in and on your breath out crunch up. Lift the head and the chest. Squeeze in on your block.

And then that's going to be actually our starting point. We're going to go up and down twelve times. So we go down up, that's one. Down up for two. Down up for three.

Down up for four. Down up for five. Down up for six. You're halfway through. Re-commit if you need to.

Squeeze in. Down up for seven and eight and nine and ten and eleven. One more time and twelve and give one more little good squeeze, squeeze, squeeze at the top and then release, release. You can take the block out for a moment, catch it in one hand and just swing your knees a little bit from side to side. Take a couple of fuller breaths.

And then block can go right back in between your thighs and press the palms down into the ground. Press the backs of the arms down and even press the backs of the shoulders down so you get a little bit more spacious across the chest. Push into your feet and lift your hips up and you're in your half wheel. It doesn't need to be a huge half wheel right here at the beginning. Just think of it more as an engagement of the back body.

Squeeze in on your block and then press the backs of your shoulders down and if you want to take it up a notch, you'll stretch your right leg forward and we'll take three breaths there. Inhale and exhale. Inhale, the heat comes and exhale. One more time, inhale and exhale and then place your right foot down. Take another breath if you need to and then squeeze in on your block and lift your left leg up.

Three breaths, inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale. One more time. You can do it. Inhale and exhale and then place your left foot down.

Squeeze in on the block, lift the hips up a little higher and then release your hips down and block comes off. Swing your knees a little bit from side to side. So we want that heat. We want that pit of fire. We just don't want it to burn us out.

So take these moments just to reconnect to your breath and then draw your knees in towards your chest. Give them a little squeeze. You can rock a little bit side to side and then hands can even come underneath the thighs. Roll a little forward and back and even here just a little loosening up for the spine. And the next time that you rock up, cross the ankles, come forward onto your hands and your knees and we'll step right back into a downward facing dog.

And then from your down dog, lift your right leg up and bring your knee in towards your nose as you come forward. Shoulders over wrists, press the ground away, lift through the navel. Swing your right leg back up on your breath in and step through, come into a lunge on your breath out. Still bend in your back knee here and then reach your arms up and you're in a high lunge. Keep the bend of the back knee.

It's just a little easier on the back knee and the front of the left hip. And then with the arms reaching up, stretch through the inner arms all the way up into the middle fingers. One time, straighten out your right leg and on the exhale, let it bend. Push off bringing your left knee towards your chest. Arms stay lifted here.

So draw the left knee up, press down into your right foot. From here, utkatasana, step your feet down, sink your hips back and reach up through the arms. And send the weight back into the heels. You can even fan out across the toes here and then back of the heart into the front body, reach up through the arms. You might even take the gaze up.

From here, stand all the way up, arms down by the sides. And then come right back into your katasana. Twice more like that. Push into the feet and stand up, arms swing back and bend the knees and arms reach up. Oh, let's do one more.

Why not? Straighten out the legs and then bend the knees and reach the arms up. And this time, keep your arms lifted, straighten out your legs and pop up through your heels. So you're perching up there, see if you can bring more weight to the base of the big toes here and then bring your hands back into your pran mudra, thumb catching middle finger and ring finger and take those pran mudra hands right to your heart. Keeping the heels lifted, begin to bend the knees.

And very slowly, we're going to lower down. Do what you can to keep the heels as lifted as possible here. And once your bum comes down towards your heels, draw in and up. Squeeze the inner thighs together, send the back of the head up. And then you can release that, bring your hands down to the ground and we're coming right into a crow pose.

Spread out through the fingers, bakasana, shift the body weight forward into your hands before you try to lift your feet. And then once your feet come up, squeeze the inner heels towards each other, rolling the elbows in, press into the hands. We're landing in a squat here, taking your feet as wide as your mat. Take your hands back into that pran mudra and then use the backs of the arms to open up the inner thighs. And let this be a very powerful position here.

So feel the knitting together of the sitz bones to give a little charge upward so that you're not dropping too heavy into the hips or the knees or the ankles. That internal lift that gives a little bit more protection and stability. And then one more time, bakasana, plant the hands down, walk your feet back and together. Tip the body weight forward into the tips of the fingers and lift the feet. Just wrap in.

From here, you can hop or step and take it back into down dog or come through your vinyasa, plank, chaturanga, to up dog, pressing back, downward facing dog. And then let's try the left side. Reach your left leg up. Step through and come into a lunge. Once again, a little bend in your back knee and reach the arms up.

The more you think of gathering the outer hips in towards the midline here, that will stabilize the pelvis and then build everything on top of that foundation. One time straightening out your left leg and then let it bend. Starting off with your exhalation, right knee in towards the chest without using your hands. Reach up through the inner arms, pressing down into your left foot. Utkatasana, step the right foot down, sink the hips back.

And go into the intensity of the shape. So often in our practice, we can make it as challenging or as soft as we need to. There's so much intelligence there within the design of the shapes. So infuse them with the energy that feels like medicine for you today. Push down into the feet, straighten the legs, bring the arms down.

Nice more, hips back, arms up, Utkatasana, standing all the way up. Squeeze the back body and sit back down. And then one more time, squeeze up and right back down, Utkatasana. And then this time come up to stand, arms above the head, reaching up long, push down into the feet and pop up your heels. Out of your gaze.

So third chakra is also associated with the sense of sight. So let your gaze be direct here. And then take your hands into pran mudra, right to your heart. Energy charging mudra as the knees begin to bend. Reaching the crown of the head, lifting, lifting, shoulders dropping, steady eyes all the way down and then once you've landed towards the heels, squeeze in and up, engage through the thighs, lift the pelvic floor.

Hands come down for crow pose. Reaching down into the tips of the fingers to lift the feet. Squeeze the elbows in, press into the hands and then your yogic squat, feet wide, toes turn out slightly, pran mudra, retract your shoulders here, keep your chest open, steady your gaze. Now you might come back to that mantra, om kom ku jaya namaha. So much strength and power.

And then we've got one last crow and I'm offering crow into headstand. So a little secret with this one. If you are going to work on the crow to headstand, check in the elbows widen out a little bit to the sides as you come down and that way it doesn't feel like the head has so far to fall. Check it in. Hands go shoulder width apart, I'm tipping my body weight forward to lift my feet and then I'm actually taking the elbows a little out to the sides and I get pretty close and drop the crown of the head off and then pull the elbows back in, shift the hips up over the head and stretch the legs up and there you are in your sasana B headstand.

And all of what we started off with, that work of the back body and of the center, find that here, pull the ribs in, reach up through the inner legs as if you have a block between your legs again. You've got options from here. You can lower right down into chaturanga, you can come back through crow, you can come back to a squat. If you're feeling a little spicy, it might be chaturanga right from here. Up dog to press back into downward facing dog and breathe.

And then rolling out into plank pose, drop your knees. You can cross your ankles or swing your legs back around, grab your block again and we'll place it back between the thighs. High up, squeezing the inner thighs around your block and lower yourself all the way down. And then once you come down onto your back, take your arms out in a big T with the palms pointing downward, press the backs of the shoulders in and lift your legs back up into that kind of tabletop on your back position. Press the lower back down and then keeping the legs as they are, squeeze in on the block, drop your legs off to the left and hover them just off the ground and do what you can to keep the knees up moving towards the left wrist.

Bring the legs back up and drop them off to the other side. Pressing the left shoulder down, squeeze in on the block and bring your legs back up and again drop them off to the left, right shoulder presses down and lift back up and this is incredibly good for your digestion and then drop the legs off to the right for stimulating your digestion. So that's something that you need a little help out with, this will be very helpful. And come back up and then legs drop off to the left again and squeeze in to come back up and legs drop off to the right and squeeze in to come back up, let's do one more, left, squeeze your breath here and over to the right and a nice strong exhalation to come back up and then take your block and hold it in your hands and I'm taking it the widest way and stretch your legs up. Now knees can stay bent here if you need or stretch the legs straight up towards the ceiling flexing the feet almost like you're in Dandasana on your back.

Take a full breath in and on your breath out lift up your head and your chest and see if you can take the block to touch your toes and lower back down and come right back up. That's our starting point, lower down, back up, this is three, you know where it's going, this is four, this is five, this is six, this is seven, this is eight, this is nine and ten, two more, eleven, last one, twelve. Hold it up, hold it up, hold it up, push into the feet, lift through the arms, lift through the head, lift through the chest, one more breath and then let that go. Block can move off to the side, swing your knees, take a good sigh there and then stabilize your feet back down onto the ground and for this one take your feet a little bit wider than your hips, push down into your heels and lift up through your bum, interlace your fingers coming back into your half wheel and think of this now more as an opening for the front of the hips and a release for the belly and then you can change the interlacing of your fingers, maybe lift up a little higher, if you're still feeling spicy, kick your leg up, place it back down, try the other side, kick it up and place it back down, one more breath in, lift a little bit higher and on your breath out release yourself down and come into constructive rest, hands rest on the lowest part of the belly, knees knock in, give some deeper breaths into the whole circumference of the waist, even feel the back body expanding and contracting and then you can let that all go and come into Shavasana stretching out through the arms and the legs, turn the palms up and let the feet splay and let some of that heat that we built around the center disperse itself out where it's needed. Okay.

And then if you need a little bit longer in your Shavasana, you'll stay there, otherwise you can begin to make some little movements with your fingers and your toes. You might take your arms over your head and give yourself a little stretch. Feeling that flood of breath, energy through the body. And then walk your feet in, roll over onto your side and use the hands to come on up to sit. Finding your seat and we'll close with Om Kon Kud Jaya Namaha three times.

You can take your hands back into your Pran Mudra. You know what? Reach your arms up and then close your eyes and feel that nice openness across the chest, a big V for victory. Here we go, three times. Om Kon Kud Jaya Namaha Om Kon Kud Jaya Namaha Om Kon Kud Jaya Namaha Thank you so much for sharing your practice.



Kate M
I felt this really did "stoke the fire without burning us out!" I think that is super important with āsana practice in general and especially with a sequence focused on the core. Really sweet. Thank you, Ali.
Ali Cramer
1 person likes this.
Kate M thank you so much! That means so much to me. Namaste. 
Sandra Židan
Great practice! Thanks, Ali! 💝
Ali Cramer
1 person likes this.
Sandra Židan thank you! Namaste.
Michelle F
Hi Ali,
This was short and sweet - I do feel stoked-though the crow to headstand eluded me this time! I love (grrrr) all the chair poses in this series  Thank you - it has always amazed me how challenging this pose really is! I already said the mantras and mudras just seem perfect for the day! 
Have a wonderful day

Ali Cramer
Michelle F thank you so much. It’s definitely a Grrr practice! 🤣❤️🙏🏽
I loved this practise. I’m doing this on my phone and so couldn’t quite see how the mudra was held at your heart. Loved the energy 💖
Ali Cramer
Treena thank you so much! Namaste ❤️🙏🏽
Marina N
I live in Germany, but my all Family is in Ukraine , in war. I didn‘t know what to do with all my fury, but After this practice i feel Peace inside. And your „V“ victory in the end - i cried. Thank you, Ali
Ali Cramer
Marina N I am so touched. Thank you for sharing. Sending prayers for peace and safety to you and your family. So thankful for the Gifts of Yoga Community. ❤️🙏🏽
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