Wake Up with Yoga Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 6

Crisscross Play

30 min - Practice


Find mobility and space in the outer hips and lower back in this creative flow class. We move through a sequence of standing postures with criss-crossed legs and arms, explore backbends and balance shapes, and close in a forward fold and a gentle restorative twist. You will feel quiet, rested, and open.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block

About This Video


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Hi, everyone, and welcome. For today's class, I would recommend having a couple of blocks, and we are going to be doing a bunch of kneeling, so if you like a blanket for that, then maybe grab one and have it handy. And this class is going to be a lot of crisscross play with the legs and the arms, and some really nice IT band and outer hip space, as well as a little bit of spinal extension. So let's get started. I'm going to grab my block and come to lie down to begin. I'm going to bring my block between my inner thighs, bring my arms out to the side, and just pause and orient the touch of your body on the ground. And when you feel ready, you can start to move your knees a little bit to the right and a little bit to the left. Initially, move in a range that's comfortable, that you can stay centered through the back of your shoulders so your shoulders aren't popping up. And you might move your chin a little bit opposite of your knees, or you might choose to just keep your chin quiet. And then if you want to play a little bit with the integration through your core, you could hover your arms, which just adds a little challenge. So the tendency is that we brace with our arms. And by lifting the arms, we really ask our bodies to stay centered and oriented to the middle. Okay, a couple more just waking up our midline before we come into our more flowing part of the practice. Okay, find your center, take the block out, plant your feet, lean into your feet, lift your hips into a little bridge. Once you find your bridge pose, press down through your elbows, press down through your feet. Stay a few breaths. You can feel the play of leaning through the tips of your toes and your heels simultaneously. And then lower your pelvis down, bring your right ankle onto the top of your left thigh, bring your arms out to your side, and then same twist that we were doing, but now in your figure four, side to side, and then same option to hover your arms. You can move your arms a little bit opposite of your legs to stay centered. And then bring your legs to the center, bring your hands behind your left hamstring, draw the whole structure in towards you and maybe elongate your left leg as much as is comfortable. Releasing feet come down, press through your elbows and your feet. And then this time, dig into your heels and pull your heels towards your sitting bones or towards your shoulders. So you're activating the back line, release that lean through your tippy toes to elevate your pubic bone, roll down, left ankle, left ankle on top of your right thigh, legs up, lift your arms up, and move the structure side to side. If you want to keep your arms down, of course, keep them down. And as you move side to side, you can feel all the different fascial lines of connection through your pelvis.

You can move your arms a little opposite of your legs if you like. And then bring your legs to the center, hold behind your right hamstring, draw the whole structure in, widen your armpits, widen your hips, and then gently elevate through your right leg so your right leg gets longer. A couple breaths. It's early in the practice. So if your right leg wants to stay more bent, then of course, that's fine. Okay, slowly release. Last time, bridge pose, lean through your feet, lean through your elbows, roll up. Sometimes I waddle on my shoulders. I think of it like a little penguin walk. Waddle on your shoulders so you can move your elbows a little further underneath of you, and then cross reference just to find the center. So press through your right shoulder and your left foot, and then press through your left shoulder and your right foot, and feel the apex of your shape towards the space of your pubic bone. And then when you're ready, roll down at your own pace. Pause. And then we're going to roll up. So use a little momentum or roll to one side to come up, and we'll find hands and knees.

Once you're on hands and knees, we're going to flip our wrists. And if flipping your wrists all the way around doesn't work, sometimes just flipping them this way to just give our wrists a slightly different orientation the way that the weight falls into them. So I'm going to flip mine all the way around. We're just going to do circles one way, and then circles the other way. And flipping the wrists also creates a little bit more space across our collarbones, a little more volume in the upper lobe of each lung. And then we'll flip our wrists back around, tuck your toes under, lift up into our first downward facing dog. Downward dog takes short and wide downward dog to start. And what this does short and wide, you can bend your knees and lean from your fingertips to your pelvis and shift the weight back over your legs. So it's a little lighter in our arms and our shoulders so we don't get so congested around the neck. And then keep pressing into your tippy toes, slowly lengthen your legs as it feels comfortable. When you're ready, drop back down to your knees. Knees come down tops of your feet to the ground, curl your spine back, uncurl your spine forward, upward dog on your knees. And if you feel like you need to lengthen after the short dog, you just walk your knees back a little. So you have as much space as you need to curl and uncurl your spine. Last one. And then we're going to come back to hands and knees, bring your left knee to the middle, bring your right knee up and over behind your left knee, open your feet a little. So I'm just peering through my arms and my right foot is touching the left side of my mat and my left foot is touching the right side of my mat. And then I'm going to do counterclockwise circles in this crisscross. And your range of motion when we crisscross the legs, we have a little bit less range of motion. So we have a little bit less range in our hips. So it might feel a little bit sticky or like you have some places that are a bit stuck. And then come to the center, shift your hips back almost like you're going to put them down between your calves, but not quite. And then come forward like you're just pressing into your knees and your hands arch your spine. And then come into center, tuck your toes under and lift and lift up into a crisscross the dog. So in crisscross the dog, keep your knees quite bent and imagine you're moving your sternum towards your left knee cap. So you're still staying centered in your spine, front of your spine in the middle of your body. Attempt to feel your left hip moving left and your right hip moving right. And then you have this metaphorical third foot right at the crisscross of your legs like your pelvic floor is the third foot. Okay, when you're ready, uncross this dog pose, come down onto your knees and we'll go the other way. So this time right knee in the middle, left knee behind clockwise circles.

Stir it up, feel for the little sticky parts of your fascial matrix around your pelvis. And then go back like you're going to place your hips down almost, but not quite. And then come forward, arch your spine, tuck your toes under, lift up. Now your sternum comes towards your right thigh. It's a pretty short crisscross dog. It allows you to keep your knees bent and still lightens the weight of the load on your arm lines. Press through your right foot and widen your right hip a little bit further to the right and press into your left foot and slightly move your left sitting bone to the left. So you keep the periphery wide and then feel for this metaphorical third foot, the connection from your pelvic floor to the crisscross of your legs. Uncross your dog. From uncrossing the dog, step your feet forward to your hands, uttanasana standing forward fold, dangle if you like, cross your hands behind the back of your neck, hang, shift your weight slightly forward and slightly back and orient to the center of your circumstances right underneath the view. Somewhere between what's behind you and what's in front of you is the present moment. Land there. From your hang, when you're ready, release your arms. If you're holding the back of your skull, bend your knees a little bit more and roll up to standing. And once you come up to standing, you can take a moment to clasp your hands and press your palms forwards. And with your palms pressing forward, just pause for a moment and notice the space in the back of your heart. Slide your arms up. Get taller by pressing down into your feet and you might even just momentarily bend your knees and then slowly straighten your legs to get taller all the way from your feet. Release your hands as you fold forward. Take a breath in, press your feet into the ground, a breath out, feel the center of your belly. And the next inhale come all the way back up. Release your arms down, clasp your hands the non-habitual way. So the way that feels a little bit funny, press your palms forwards, slide your arms up. Again, bend your knees a little bit to feel the anchor of your body in the earth and then get taller by pressing down. So go down to go up and fold. Take a breath in, take a breath out. Next inhale, come all the way up, lengthen up through your arms. Exhale, release your arms down. Garudasana arms, arms out to the side, right arm underneath your left arm. Same thing we did, bend your knees a little bit to get taller. Go down to go up, lengthen your arms up. Exhale, fold. You can keep your arms in Garudasana if you like as you fold or release them if that's more comfortable for you. Take a breath in and a breath out. Inhale, lean down into your feet to come up. Exhale, release your arms. Other side, left arm under your right arm. Bend your knees a little. Feel the charge of the ground as you press down, get taller. Front of your spine stays in the middle of your body. Exhale to fold.

Release your arms or not. Stay for a breath in and out. Lean down through your feet. Inhale, come all the way up. Get taller. Exhale, release your arms and full Garudasana. Stand on your left leg, bring your right leg up and over, maybe hook your foot. Bring your right arm under, maybe hold hands with yourself. Stay a breath. As you bend your standing leg a little more, you might lift your elbows and then keep your arms crossed and just bring your right foot down across and in front. Get taller and exhale, release your arms. Inhale, your arms up. Right hand holds your left elbow up and over to the right like a crescent moon from your left foot to your left fingertips and then come up into the center. Exhale to fold. Lean through your feet, breathe in and breathe out. Lean through your feet. Inhale, come all the way up. Exhale, release. Let's try the other side. Stand on your right foot, bring your left leg up across. Maybe you hook your foot, snuggle it behind your right calf, bring your left arm under, maybe hold hands with yourself. Bend your standing leg and then get taller with your elbows, like you're holding the center line of you, the middle of the middle of the middle. Gently release your left leg across and in front. Press down into the earth to get taller.

Exhale, release your arms. Inhale, your arms come up. Exhale, left hand holds your right elbow, come up and over to the left. Inhale to get tall. Exhale, fold down the center. Check in if your pelvis is left or right and see if you can land your pelvis in the center of your universe. So between your left foot and your right foot, between what's in front of you and what's behind you, take a breath in and a breath out. Inhale to come up, lengthen up through your arms. Exhale, uncross and we'll make our way to a wide legged forward fold. So you're going to step out to the long edge of your mat, turn your feet to point forward. Inhale, your arms up. Exhale, right arm underneath your left arm. Pause, release. Left arm underneath your right arm. Pause, release. Inhale, arms come up. Exhale to fold. Fingertips on the ground or hands on your blocks. You can curl your spine, tuck your chin, look behind you, uncurl your spine like a cat cow curl, widen your armpits, look in front of yourself. Find the middle, front of your spine in the middle of your body, hands to your outer ankles, outer shins, outer knees, fold inward. Release through the center of the roof of your mouth.

So if you bring your tongue and just touch it on the back of the roof of your mouth, it's soft. You can try it. You make a little funny face and feel that the roof of your mouth is releasing down into the center of your skull. And when you're ready, gently walk your hands around to the front of your mat, step back into downward facing dog, lean hand, hand, foot, foot, four points of contact. Notice the touch of your body on the ground, the touch of your breath on your body. From downward facing dog, we're going to come forward to plank pose and lower to our bellies. Once you get to your belly, you can reach your arms out in front of you. And if you tend to get a little bit sticky or tighten your neck, then bring your arms a little wider. I'm going to have mine a little bit out in front. And then we're just going to press down through your right foot and your left hand and hover your left foot and your right hand and then switch. So you bring your right hand and your left foot down, hover your right foot and your left hand and just continue a few times on your own, almost like you're a four legged creature going for a walk in the forest. In the middle of your body is pretty quiet and you're just creating a little spinal extension from the core to the fingertips and the core to the toes.

One more time each side and then just gently come down and rest. You can move your hips a little bit side to side, give yourself a little wiggle and then we'll add to that sequence a little bit. So come back onto your fingertips. You're going to hover your left foot, bend your left knee, and you might even just peer around it and see that it's there and then bring it down. Hover your right foot, bend your right knee, maybe peer around it, see that it's there, bring it down. And then you're going to do the same thing with your left leg again. You're going to hover the left arm and bring it around and maybe just tap your left heel and then bring it down. Bend your right knee, hover your right arm, bring it around, tap it, release it, and then we're going to play with trying to do it across in the crisscross. So you're going to hover your left leg, bend your left knee, hover your right arm, and see if you can reach it and tap your left leg. Bring it down, bend your right knee, hover your left arm, bring it around, maybe tap your right foot and bring it down. Come all the way down, pause, maybe wiggle your bum a little bit side to side. An option for Dhanurasana here. So we're going to come to fingertips, bend your knees, pause, and you could stay here. You don't have to go further. If you like, you can hover your arms and come to wrap them around. Hold your feet, hold your ankles, pause, lean your feet into your hands, your hands into your feet, and you know sometimes I like to just move my shoulders a little, let it be breathable. Sometimes I'll press my thighs down, bring my feet together, and see if I can bring a little more space across the chest. Maybe you press out through your feet and lift your legs away from the ground. Let it be spongy and breathable. Release your legs down, pause, notice what you notice. Bring your hands under your armpits, come up over your knees, do a few nice hip circles on your hands and knees. You can tuck your toes under, lift up downward dog. We're going to try one more belly sequence. So come all the way down to your belly. You're going to come up onto your elbows and bring your shins up crisscrossed and pause. Get longer through the front of your spine.

Release it, bring your shins up other way crisscross, so one shin in front of the other. Slowly release it, come all the way down, come up over your hands and your knees, downward dog. Downward dog, step to your knees or bring your knees down. We're going to bring our right knee behind our left knee like we did earlier in the class. Open your feet. And this is where some people might be happy to use blocks. So if you're going to use a block, you're going to bring it under your hands and just press into your block and come up onto this. It's like you're standing on your third foot. You might come a little higher and you might come all the way up and just pause in this kind of peculiar balance shape. So it takes a little getting used to. Give yourself time. There's no rush. This might be a lot. So this might be a place to work. Something to notice is your belly wants to turn right and just see, can you center yourself looking in the direction that you're going? And if you want to add something, you could add the eagle or Garudasana arms, left arm under your right arm, holding hands with yourself, go down into your legs to get taller. And your pubic bone starts to move forward slowly, slowly, gently release your arms to dismount.

It feels like a dismount. You move your hips back to bring your hands down slowly. I like to take crisscross dog pose, uncross the dog, come down to your knees and try the other side. So right knee to the center, left knee up and over, open your feet, move a little forward and back. When you feel ready to play with the balance, bring your hands onto your block. Initially, our hips are really far back, so you're just going to start to move your hips forward. Maybe you can press down through your shins to get taller. And again, this time you're going to be turning a little bit left. So center yourself so that the center of your belly is looking in the direction that you're going. Right arm underneath your left arm, hold the center, go down into your shins to get taller. You can feel a little tone like your inner thighs are hugging the center of yourself. So the inner thighs are hugging each other into the middle. Get taller, release your arms to dismount, move the crease of your hips back to bring your hands down. You can move your block out to the side, lift into your crisscross dog pose, uncross your dog. Wiggle out through your hips. You might feel like the some tension in the outer hips has shifted slightly. Walk your feet forward to your hands. Forward fold, last forward fold of the practice. Drop down into a squat. And once you come down into your squat, you can sit your bum down and lengthen your legs out in front. Nice work, everyone. Bring your left leg a little bit. So my left heel is going to come to the center, and I'm going to bring my right leg over top. So I'm just sitting in this crisscross, which is kind of the theme of the day. So right hand to the inner right shin, knee, or foot. And I'm just going to gently spin open. You might open your left arm behind you. Bring it up and fold. Fold over the center and then come up and then uncross and go the other way. So bring your right heel to the center. Bring your left leg over top. If you flop your legs, they're going to flop apart. You have to hug a little bit the center line to keep the frame of the pose. Left hand to the inner shin or inner ankle or inner foot. Spin open. Maybe you have your hand on your sacrum. Maybe you open your right arm, bring it up, and then fold over the center. Pause. When you're ready, come up, uncross. We'll take one more forward fold right down the center. So I'm going to bring my right hand to the outside of my left leg. Spin. Left arm comes up. Fold. Right hand to the outside of my left knee, shin, ankle, foot. Spin open to the right. Bring it up and around and fold. And then I'm just going to uncross my arms and fold down the middle.

And sometimes actually lift my kneecaps in this forward fold. Like I'm lifting my kneecaps towards my armpits to create a closer relationship between my thighs and my belly. So you can play with that. It also keeps a little integration and connection between pelvis and feet. Listen to the sound of your breath. Notice the space between your breaths, the space between your thoughts, and the gift of time, the gift where there are moments in our day where we aren't in a rush. At the end of your next exhale, pause and inhale. Let yourself come up and come into Navasana sitting on your pelvis supported to start. Hold the backs of your legs. Tuck your chin in like you're looking at the center of yourself from the inside. Release your arms. And as you lengthen your legs, widen your gaze. Pause. Find a place where you're not holding the pose with the outer shell. So the outer shell is breathable and even transparent, but the inner body is supporting you. And sometimes we actually have to hold a little bit to support ourselves. So we're not over gripping. Come down a little bit. Pause a little bit further. Pause and slowly come all the way down. You can plant your feet. Let your head come down.

Take some really nice deep belly breaths with your hands on your belly. And I do this after Navasana to just really let the different layers of connective tissue and organs feel the breath. So there isn't this hardening of the outer shell around the life force of our middle. And then we'll take a twist to close our practice today. So turn your toes out and even have your toes a little bit off of your mat. I'm just going to bring my arms out to the side for a moment. And then you're just going to tip your knees to the left. And as you do, your right hip is going to lift and then go to the right and just let your left hip lift. And go a few times side to side, but just kind of get the feel of it. So as you go right, your left knee goes forward, your right knee goes right. And as you go left, your right knee goes forward, your left knee goes left. And then just pause on the right side. Take one breath and reach your left arm really far behind you. Stretch from your middle to your tips and then come across center. Knees go left, right knee goes forward. Reach your right arm behind you. Long, long, long reach like you're reaching from your diaphragm to your fingertips and your diaphragm to your right kneecap. And then come back to the middle. Lay your body down. Open here to a quality of listening that doesn't really have to do with sound. So quality of listening that allows us to feel the sensations and the textures of a forest, the moods of someone that we love. Open to a quality of listening beyond sound. You might swallow a couple of times and when you swallow, you can feel the pressure in your ears shifts. Maybe you yawn and then roll to one side and make your way up to seated. Once you arrive in seated, bring your palms together and even look to the space between your palms like there's a little seed in there. Hold it for a moment and then take your seed and like you're planting a seed in the ground, a seed of potential or an offering, the gifts of yoga out into the world of life. Have a really wonderful day, everyone. Thanks so much for being here and I hope we see each other again really soon.


Michelle F
3 people like this.
Hi Sarah
What a great wee practice - wow the crisscrossed kneeling was quite something - thank you
Have a beautiful day!
David G-
2 people like this.
This practice is poetry. The seed between the palm, listening beyond sound, finding another footed purchase… Thank you for expanding and strengthening my center again! Very warmly, David 
Christel B
2 people like this.
Loved all the criss crossing! Wonderful class!
Sandra Židan
Thanks, Sarah, for this interesting and creative practice! I really loved doing it! Namaste! 💝💖❤️
Sarah Manwaring
Christel B I'm glad you enjoyed the criss cross play. Have a wonderful day. 
Sarah Manwaring
Sandra Židan So glad you enjoyed it! Namaste!
Sarah Manwaring
David G- The pulse of centre is so elusive and yet everywhere simultaneously. Glad the conversation felt relevant and connected for you. 
Sarah Manwaring
Michelle F So happy you enjoyed it. The criss crossed kneeling experiment is quite a journey. Slowly, slowly and there is really not a goal beyond the exploration. Have a wonderful day. 
Rachel S
1 person likes this.
Oh, that was fab! Thank you! Sometimes I just choose a class intuitively - good job intuition! Just what I needed today! 
Sarah Manwaring
Rachel S Nice work intuition, glad it was a good fit for your day. I look forward to practicing together again soon. wishing you a wonderful day.
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