Wake Up with Yoga Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 2

Embodied Core

30 min - Practice


Move from within and connect to your center in this core-integrating flow. We begin awakening the core and making space in the hips and lower back, before playing in dynamic balance postures, moving through a lunge sequence, and exploring Side Plank. You will feel centered, spacious, and strong.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Block

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

Hi everyone, welcome. For this class you're gonna be happy to have a blanket and a block and we're gonna flow through a really nice sequence to warm us up with some core integration, embodiment through the middle that extends out to the periphery and then we'll move into some nice hip opening play to finish. Let's go. So I'm gonna start on a blanket. I've got my blanket rolled up. You can see so it's about one inch thick and then I'm gonna lie down onto it, bring my pelvis on top of the blanket and just set myself up so I feel well supported across the back of the pelvis, not under my low back. So I can sneak my fingers under and find a little bit of space there and then I can lift my legs up. And if lifting your legs up for lots of people, if there's tightness in your hamstrings or a little bit of clenching in your hip flexors, then I just ask you to bend your knees. You don't have to have straight legs. It's more important to access the deep belly that we're not gripping in our superficial body. Beautiful. And once you're there, you can lift your arms up, bring your fingertips together. Notice the touch of your body on the ground. In particular, you could feel the texture of your back body in contact with solid ground. And the core movements we'll begin with are such a nice way to bring some suppleness into our lower backs in the morning if you tend to have a little bit of tightness in your low back when you wake up in the morning. So we'll start by moving our arms and legs a little bit away from each other and then back towards each other. And I'm offering to start my knees are bent. And I'm going to do a few like this, just to find the rhythm and the pulse. It's like flossing the fascial matrix here, integrating the movement from the middle without creating a lot of superficial effort in the muscle body. And then when you feel like there's enough space, you could extend your legs a little bit and find the rhythm from there. And I just go so far that I'm not allowed my legs to go far enough away from me that I feel the energy in the belly, but not so far that I'm popping up or tenting up through my belly. And my ribs are staying contained and connected to the upper abdomen. Beautiful couple more like this. And then when you're ready, bring your feet down, take a nice spacious round breath into your hands on your belly. Feel volume and dimension. And then you can bring your right leg up, hold behind your right hamstring and bend and extend your right leg. This is like a flossing through the soft tissue in the back of your right leg, often we call the hamstring. And then you can also think that the fascial connection from your hamstring is also massaging your low back. So creating some space and width across the right side of your lumbar spine. Extend your leg as much as is comfortable, maybe feel a little bit of width across your toes, hover your left foot elongated away from you, maybe curl your chin up. Sometimes I'll hold my head here if the neck has a bit of tension in it, or you can release the arms here and just contract into the centre without holding your breath. Bring your hands back onto the back of your hamstring, lower your left foot, lower your head and release into the other side. So hold the back of your left hamstring, bend and extend your left leg. And there's no need to go too straight if that is feeling like you have to over effort. So let it be a really comfortable range. And the more that we do this, the more that range will expand. Okay, extend your leg as much as is comfortable, the weight of your hands supports the opening. Breathe a breath into the left side of your lumbar spine, hover your right foot, elongate your right leg keeping it hovering. You can tuck your chin if you want, you can hold your head and release, or you can release both hands, the energy of our limbs drawing into the centre of the centre. Hands come back, plant your right foot, plant your skull, pause, release. Again, breathe through the middle of the middle of the middle. It's like this experience of centre goes in and in and in. Let your legs come up, bend knees again to start arms up and we're just going to go for a walk on the ceiling. So a little simple walking motion, bend your knees more if that helps you to feel more ease in your hip flexors. The inner core of our bodies supports movement and it's like the part of the core that activates even when we don't ask it to activate. So we're just exploring movement here integrated from the centre of the centre through to the tips of our fingers, the tips of our toes. Take your time and just pause, draw your knees in, breathe through the width of your low back, almost like you could feel the back of your belly breathing into the concavity of your lumbar spine. And then let your arms come up and one more time walking on the ceiling but contralateral so you go left foot and right hand and left foot and then left hand and right foot. And then if you want to add your head just turn your head gently towards the arm that lifts. And rather than an isolated muscle in the core creating the movement it's like the whole body becomes the core itself. And then when you're ready bring your knees in, give yourself a hug, breathe into the back of your body, let your feet release. We're going to slide our blanket out to the one side and find our block. Once you find your block you can bring it between your inner thighs, bring your hands behind the back of your skull and just briefly rest here like you're resting in the hammock of your own skin. Breathe into the back of your body and then curl in elbows towards knees, uncurl arch your spine maybe look behind you, curl and uncurl. I like to cue here that it's not like trying to get out of the memory of high school sit ups and see if you can embody the wave motion of the ocean. So more about integrating into the spirit of a wave and less about kind of levering ourselves and hardening through the superficial belly. And take a break anytime you like, I'm going to continue going for a little bit longer and then stoking the fire of the inner body. And then when you're ready gently bring your feet down. I'm going to take my block out momentarily, we will use it again right away, but bring your hands to your belly. Breathe into the round space of your abdomen. And the round space of your abdomen goes up and down side to side top to bottom. As a little pause for the core, bring your hands to your knees, draw your knees in, open your knees, push your knees away from you, bring your knees back together and repeat. Knees come in, opening away from you back together. So the beautiful thing about finding the middle of the middle, the center of the center is the superficial muscles of the hips start to release. You can start to feel some space in the pelvis without having to have a tug of war with your hips. Switch directions, your knees come towards you back together and then away from you. Your femurs are circumnavigating your hip joints. Beautiful when you're ready, bring your feet down, find your block. Block comes between your thighs. Same as we did previously, arms out to the side. I'm going to start with my arms completely down just feeling the front of my armpits rest into the back of my armpits and the knees go to the right a little bit towards my right elbow and the knees go to the left a little bit towards my left elbow. And go slow to start and just find a range that doesn't compromise the feeling of being weighted in your armpits. And then the rhythm and pulse can speed up.

And then if you feel quite centred, you can hover your arms and you won't go as far because we even subconsciously will be bracing with our arms. But hovering your arms sort of without language asks your centre to keep you grounded. You just go side to side. Sometimes I'll play with going to the left side, maybe straightening the right leg and then going to the right side, straightening the left leg. And you can play. You can add or pause any time. And then take your time, come to the centre, take your block out and put your block out to the side. Last time here, a nice round breath into the dimension of your belly. Notice what you notice. And then we'll roll up for some Navasana. So use a little momentum or roll to one side and we'll come into Navasana. So Navasana play. So we're not just going to take the pose, we're going to play with it a little. So start by holding the backs of your thighs, get a little taller, release your arms. Just find space. If you want to have your legs a little bit apart, feel free. Then play with just shaking one arm out and then shaking the other arm out. It's like, okay, I can stay here without holding my arms too tight and then pause. And then you might play with actually shaking your legs out. It's like, oh, I don't need to grip my legs. That's kind of nice. Hey, I like it. And then see if you can extend your limbs with the memory of the relaxed superficial body. Beautiful. Okay. Well, pause, bring your feet down. Maybe just hold your knees, curl in for a moment. And let's try it one more time. So come up, let your legs hover. Pause. You might hold the backs of your hamstrings here. And this time you might extend one leg, extend the other leg, kind of feel what that feels like. And then you might play with bending both knees, arms out, extend one leg, extend the other leg, and just feel how it feels. The legs don't have to come all the way straight, same as when we were on our back. Just seeing if we can integrate from the center of the center to the tips without gripping our superficial body. Last play is to come a little bit back. Find it's almost like someone ice cream scoops your belly. Pause, shake your arms. Shake your legs. Just find that little sweet spot between trying too hard and not trying at all. And then sometimes I come a little further back. Pause. Use a little momentum to roll up. And we'll come up through seated on two hands and knees. Nice work, everyone. Trying to bring some joy into postures that sometimes we hate. Curl your spine back. Uncurl your spine forward. Little upward dog on your knees.

Curl your spine back. Find that memory of the ocean which is inside of you because we're made of mostly water. And the memory of space which is inside of us because we're also made of mostly space. Curl and uncurl. Tuck your toes under. Lift up into downward dog. First downward dog, just notice how it feels after all of the integrated work through the belly to the periphery. Walk out through your legs. Let yourself be guided by the joy of being in a body and moving. So move towards pleasure. And sometimes that means taking a rest. When you're ready, come down onto your knees. And you can either kneel on a block or come to a comfortable seat. We're going to take just a short sequence of Kapalabhati breathing and if you're not sure what that is, I'm going to guide us through it. But it's a pumping breath that really focuses on stoking the internal fire of the belly. So it fits well with this class. We're going to do two times 20 pumps. And Kapalabhati translates as skull shining. So the intention is to kind of move the heat we've created in the belly a little bit up into the area of the heart and the skull. It typically translates as skull shining breath. But I like to just feel where does that energy move and we'll see. So I bring two fingers a couple inches below my navel and then I just take a couple of quiet breaths in and out through my nostrils. And I might close my eyes. I'm not going to do that here because I'm guiding you. But if you want to try it at home and when you exhale, feel where there's a natural compactness in your belly. So try that now. Exhale, you'll feel a little compactness in your belly. Inhale, space, do it one more time. Exhale and just feel where that compactness is. It's like a little dimple on the inside of your belly. So that's where the pumping action comes from. So we'll do 20 of them. You can follow my rhythm, which can be helpful because I find that most people tend to go too fast at the beginning. And keeping it slow and rhythmic, we really focus on the compactness of the belly and then the space of the belly. Okay, let's try it. So full exhale to the end and then just join in 20 pumps. Exhale, all your air. You might drop your chin, look down, end of your exhale, pause. Inhale halfway, chin floats up. Inhale all the way to the top. Briefly pause your breath. And then exhale, smooth, gentle exhalation and just linger for a few moments between sets, between worlds. Linger in the space between. It's a beautiful Sanskrit word named turia, which means the sound after the sound or the residue after the pose or the shape or the breath. Second round when you're ready. So you exhale all the way to the end, feel the memory of the dimple in your belly. Inhale, join as you like. Inhale all the way to the end, pause. Inhale halfway. Inhale all the way to the top. Feel a little space between your inner ears, pause. And then exhale when you're ready, back to the touch of your body on the ground. And again, briefly linger in the turia, the sound after the sound. Beautiful, everyone. Let's take Downward Dog when you're ready. Downward Dog, invite a little bit of movement. When you're ready, walk your feet forward to your hands. You can bring elbows to your knees, or if you're feeling quite open already, hang in your forward fold. Feel the muscles hug the bones. Let your feet hug the earth. And the quality of the hug is like the type of hug where you want to linger. So it's not so tight that it suffocates you. It's breathable hug that feels like you want to stay in it for a little while. From your standing forward fold in your own time, lean into your feet and come all the way up to standing. Exhale your arms by your side, three half sun salutations.

Exhale your arms come up. Exhale to fold. Inhale to lengthen from pubic bone to back of your throat. Exhale, end of your exhale, feel the memory of your dimple in your belly. Feet go down. Inhale, come all the way up. Exhale, Tadasana, the mountain. Again, feet go down, arms come up. Exhale to fold. Inhale, wide armpits, wide hips. Exhale, compactness in your deep belly, middle of the middle. Lean into the floor, inhale, come up. Exhale, Tadasana. Last one, feet go down, arms come up. Exhale to fold. Inhale, wide ears, wide eyes. Exhale, lean into the centre of the centre of you. Press into your feet. Inhale, come all the way up. Exhale to release. We're going to stand on our left foot and just do a little balance play here. So standing on your left foot, just play with a little bending and extending of your left knee joint. Then if you want to add to this, you can sort of bounce a little bit and even try to do a little jump on your left leg and sort of feel the resilience of where you are in time and space and maybe you fall, that's fine. Okay, try one more, a little bounce, bending and extending, hop. Feel the buoyancy of this body, this beautiful body. Okay, try the other side, right foot, bend and extend. Sometimes I like to think that all my joints are wearing life jackets and I'm just floating in the middle of the joint space. You can add to this jumping work by trying to land quietly. So lots of layers, beautiful. One more balance play. We're going to stand on our left foot again and just play with reaching our right foot back, maybe tapping the centre of your mat behind you, coming up and then reaching your right foot back, tapping your right big toe just off to the left side of your mat and then coming up and then reaching your right foot back, tapping the right side of your mat just off the mat and coming up and you play with how far back you want to reach your foot. Okay, we'll try the right side. Reach your left big toe back, tap behind you, reach your left big toe back, tap to the right side just off the mat on the right side, behind you. Beautiful. I try to go slow with this. I'm like hovering and finding all those places where I might tend to collapse. Left big toe taps just off the mat and comes back. Beautiful. We'll make our way down to the floor. Arms come up, exhale to fold, inhale to widen, exhale stepping, hopping, walking back, downward dog, downward dog to plank, plank from hands or knees lowering halfway or all the way. Inhale over knees or toes, upward dog or cobra, maybe both, and then roll over your knees or your toes, lift up into downward dog. From your downward facing dog when you're ready you can drop down onto your knees and we're going to come up onto our knees. If you have sensitive knees you might bring your blanket and just lay it under your knees here because this next flowing sequence will be on our knees a bunch. So you're going to stand on your left knee and step your right foot forward and then just rock forward and back and some people like to do this with hands on the ground or on a block. I'm going to do it without hands just to work with the integration in the middle but I totally support bringing your hands down a few like couple times forward and back and then I'm going to come forward and I'm going to lift my back shin and just pivot it so it comes behind me and then I'm just lining up my front heel, my right heel with the inner line of my left knee and then I might do a few more times just rocking in and out and eventually I'm going to find my knee over my ankle, elbow on the top of my thigh or hand on the inner shin, inner ankle and left arm along your left ear and here I might a few times just sweep the arm up and around just to feel the whole range of motion of the shoulder joint. I might turn my chin down and then spin and nuzzle my chin into my armpit. Beautiful and then exhale you can look forward or down to come up and I'm going to turn my right toes to point towards the long edge of my mat, bring my left hand down outside of my left knee, lift my right arm up, supported Vashisthasana and if you want here you can press into your right foot and bring your left foot to join your right foot so you're in Vashisthasana. Here I like to play with just bending my knees and extending just to feel the breathability of the shape and then whenever you're ready from here you can spin to downward dog, downward dog pause, drop to your knees, same sequence on the other side so now you come up to your knees, adjust your blanket if you need to, step your left foot forward, rock forward and back, hands on the ground or on a block or without, forward and back and eventually I'm going to find my way forward, I'm going to lift my right shin, bring it behind, line up my left heel with the inner line of my right knee, I might again rock in and out, kind of feeling the lateral space of the pelvis, it's essentially like a warrior two shape on the back knee and then you're coming into your warrior two lunge with your back knee down, you can open your arms and then bring elbow to the top of your thigh, hands to the inner shin, inner thigh, elbow or arm along your ear, beautiful and then same thing, sweep your arm up and over, you're just feeling the range of motion of your arm bone and your shoulder socket, spin your chin down and then maybe spin it and nuzzle it into your armpit, beautiful look down, exhale to come up, same thing we did before, turn your foot forward, bring your hand down, lift your arm up, beautiful Vashisthasana option, if you like you just press into your right hand and your left foot, sneak your right foot to match with your left and then just bend and extend, feel the front and the back, it's like your feet are the back of the lunge and your hand is the front of the lunge and eventually maybe you find the shape for a few moments and then you bring your hand down and your back facing the front of your mat and downward facing dog, nice work everyone, when you're ready come down to your knees and we're going to come onto our backs for a little closing hip opener into our relaxation, so you can take your time to lower, we'll come all the way down to our backs, lift your legs up, we're going to lift our legs up just like we started but no height under the pelvis, open your legs to start, I'm just going to hold my outer thighs and just reach a little bit through the big toes and the inner line of each heel and then sometimes I just kind of rock this whole structure, it's like Supta Konasana, so Kona in Sanskrit is an angle, so it's angle pose, wide angle, you can keep this place, sometimes from here I'll reach and hold the big toes, maybe you just hold your shins or your calves, feel the tenderness of the way your back touches the ground and breathe into the tenderness of that touch, maybe let your eyes close, feel the contrast of dark and light, feel the circumference of each nostril, the tip of your tongue, the root of your tongue, just momentarily allow yourself to be swallowed by the moment and then when you feel ready from here you can bring your hands to your outer thighs, gather your knees, draw your knees in, give yourself a hug, if you feel like you need a little twist you could just plant your feet and just do a little rocking and rolling side to side to just flush out that little hip release and then extend your legs, extend your arms and it may offer here just momentarily that you bring your hands to your belly, even rub your hands on your belly, take a breath into your belly, say thank you to your belly and then turn your palms up and rest. Good! Welcome you to just gently take a deeper breath, wiggle your fingers and your toes, and sometimes before I come up I'll just bring a thumb to my left nostril, breathe through my right nostril for a breath, thumb to my right nostril, breathe through my left nostril for a breath, and then roll to one side, coming up, you can take a breath through the center like your breath is threading the needle between the two hemispheres of you right through the middle of the middle of the middle between the sun and the moon central channel thank you so much everybody it's a joy to practice together see you again soon.


4 people like this.
Lovely practice! I loved all the newness and the element of freedom of the body in this routine. Thank you!

Laura M
3 people like this.
Great core practice. I feel awake!
Jenny S
5 people like this.
I agree with Shawn and Laura M. I also really loved the way you described the movements using imagery and unique clueing that kept things fresh and fun. So happy to practice with you Sarah! 🌚🌝🙏🏻
Fern S
2 people like this.
YUMMY!!! This is my new favorite core class! 
With gratitude,
Sarah Manwaring
Thank you Fern S & Shawn & Laura M & Jenny S   for these kind comments. As a new yoga anytime teacher I am so grateful to be part of the community and look forward to more practices together soon. 

Wishing you all a wonderful day. Sarah
Sandra Židan
Sarah, you've done a great job in this practice- I don't like core focused practices but you've succeeded to make this practice interesting, challenging and not to hard for me! I've enjoyed doing it! Thank you very much! Namaste! 💖
Christel B
2 people like this.
Really enjoyed this practice. Namaste.
Sarah Manwaring
Sandra Židan What a lovely comment. I'm so glad the core work felt engaging and accessible.  

with kindness, sarah
Sarah Manwaring
Christel B thank you so much, be well!
David G-
2 people like this.
Great way to begin the day. I love core work and this was perfect for the morning. The subtle cues—center of center and space between ears—were new and resonated. Thank you! 
1-10 of 18

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Yoga Anytime Logo

Just Show Up

Over 2,900 yoga and meditation practices to bring you Home.

15-Day Free Trial