Too Tight to Stretch Artwork
Season 3 - Episode 2

Stand Tall

30 min - Practice


Take up space in this class encouraging elongation of the spine, back body, and hamstrings. We use blocks to help us find space in the backs of the legs, and release the neck with the support of our strap. You will feel spacious and engaged.
What You'll Need: Mat, Strap, Block (2)

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Hello, friends. Thank you so much for joining me today on your mat. In this practice, we're going to focus on elongating the back body, all the way from the heels up the back of the legs, the back of the spine, all the way to the top of your head. And the hope is that you leave this practice feeling more open and spacious and elongated so that you're able to stand tall and give yourself permission to take up some space. So the props that we're going to use today are two yoga blocks and a strap. And you're just going to take your yoga blocks to the top of your mat facing tall, about shoulder distance apart. And then we're going to take our yoga strap, and we're going to hook it into what I like to call a lasso. So you're just going to bind your strap however your strap binds. And you're going to create this nice big loop lasso shape. And then we're just going to place this off to the side. We're going to use it a little bit later on in our practice. So join me. We're going to start at the tops of our mats, bringing the feet hip distance apart. And just take a moment to land and arrive. Closing the eyes if that feels safe and welcome for you. I'll invite you to roll the shoulders back gently. Let the palms face forward. Take a nice deep inhale through the nose and exhale everything. And as you land into your bones with your next in breath, let those arms reach up towards the sky, keeping the feet grounded. Go ahead and allow those palms to join one another. Interlace the fingers and come into what I like to call Charlie's angels mudra making a little pistol shape with the index fingers and then allow the upper arms to squeeze in a little bit closer to the ears as much as your shoulders allow. Take another nice big breath in here. And with our exhale, we're just going to gently lean over towards the right side, just a little bit of a standing half moon. And as we lean to the right, the invitation is to shift the weight a little bit more towards that outer left foot, outer left hip just to find a little bit more space through the side body through the ribs. Steady deep breaths here.

And with an in breath, come back to center. And with your next exhale, leaning to the left and allow that weight to shift just slightly over to the right, right foot, right heel grounded. And then with an in breath, come back to center. And with our exhale, open the arms wide, allow yourself to hinge forward from the hip. So we're bringing the hands towards those blocks. So go ahead and adjust the blocks to whatever height feels right for you. So to feel into the legs, and I want you to ground your weight down through that right foot, right leg straight and start to give that left knee a little bit of a bend. So that left knee is coming forward towards your block, feel into that outer right leg and hip. Start to awaken the IT band. And then we're going to switch, bring that weight into the left foot, left leg straight and strong, right knee bends forward. And just breathe into opening that outer left hip leg. And we'll just take that side to side a few times with your breath, your exploration side to side. And then the next time we come over to the right foot, so right leg is straight and strong, left knee is bent. I invite you to play with a little exploration of looking at your right foot, let the inner arch, the big toe side of the foot, start to peel up from the floor and begin to explore rolling a little bit more weight into that outer right pinky toe side of the foot, say hello to your IT band. And then rooting through that right foot, switching sides, left leg long, left foot solid. And then as you look at the foot, start to peel up through the inner arch of the foot and gently roll over to the pinky toe side of the left foot. Steady breaths. And then rooting through both feet, go ahead and allow the belly to soften towards the thighs, the heart and head to get heavy. We're going to release the arms here, bend the knees as much as your hamstrings need. And then we're just going to roll up gently to stand with those soft knees, one vertebra at a time, all the way to stand big shoulder loops as we get there.

With our next inhale, sweep those arms up to the sky. Interlace those fingers again, charlie's angels, mudra, let the index fingers point to the sky. Take another in breath. And with our exhale, leaning back again to the right, that half moon exploration. Inhale back to center and exhale over to the left side. Inhale back to center. And with our exhale, let the hands sway forward back to our blocks. From here, I'm going to invite you to step your feet back just a little bit so you have a little bit more space between your blocks and your feet. And then we're just going to play with bending the knees and lifting the heels gently away from the floor. So come down into the supported squat with your hands on the blocks as far as feels comfortable for your joint. So maybe your hips stay a little bit higher as it feels comfortable dropping the hips and buttocks a little bit closer to the heels. And then we're just going to play with a little front to back, rocking on the feet.

And then we're going to roll back towards the heels, straighten the legs, drop the head, bend the knees, rock forward to the toes, lift the gaze, and then exhale, rock back and straighten. And just explore opening up the soles of the feet, the ankles, the backs of the knees, all the while allowing the blocks to help support the weight of your upper body. One more, come back towards standing, straight legs as we fold forward here. Go ahead and let the arms release. We're going to bend the knees a lot. So let your belly get soft. Let the soft belly start to tuck itself towards the thighs. Sitting back in this imaginary chair, take the arms and we're going to interlace the fingers. As we interlace the fingers, tuck them behind the back of the head, bring the elbows in a little bit closer towards the heart and just start to gently open up the back of the spine. So feel the spinal column wide and rounded.

From here, keeping the hands behind the head, start to press into the feet, nice and slow and mindful and start to roll up through the spine ever so slowly as the legs get a little straighter the head is going to be the very last thing that lifts. And as the head lifts up to full extension, open up your arms. So elbows wide, feel the heart open and then gently lift the chin, lift the nose, gaze to the sky. Take another big breath in here and with our exhale, with our exhale, let those arms release and just pause for a moment into dasana and feel the effects. Take another inhale and with our exhale we're going to start to come back towards our block. So we're going to bring the hands forward and we're going to come into down dog on our block. So the higher block may be what your hamstrings need today or perhaps you flip the blocks down a level. And as you find a nice solid grip on your blocks we're just going to start to walk the feet back and start to explore a little bit of a long arm down dog. Feel into the back of the body and then with a nice big inhale we're going to lift up onto our toes, heels up off the floor and then as you take a big open mouth exhale, let the heels sink to the ground. In breath up onto the toes, nice big exhale to the earth. One more time inhale to rise, exhale to fall. Letting the left foot remain rooted, bring your gaze between your blocks, step the right foot forward and then we're just going to play with a little bit of supported pyramid pose. So I invite you to give a little wiggle to your hips and your pelvis and just see how things are feeling. And again feel free to lift up those blocks a little bit higher.

Take an in breath with your gaze lifted and then with your exhale allow the belly to drop, the heart to drop, nose towards the knee. Breathe into the long back right leg. Inhale lifting the gaze, bring the hands nice and solid to the block. Let that front knee bend, step it back, block supported downward facing dog. Lift the gaze, let the left foot come forward, start to extend back through that left hip, give a little exploration and play to the hips and your tail, almost like you're giving a little wag of your imaginary tail and just feel into that left side. Let an in breath lift the heart and the gaze and then let an exhale soften everything. Slow deep breaths into whatever's showing up here, soften the jaw, release any grip around the eyes. With an inhale we're going to let that knee bend, hands are solid on the blocks as we step back into downward facing dog. From here allow those knees to gently fall to the earth and then we're just going to walk the knees back a bit. Hands are still up on those blocks, go ahead and drop the tops of the feet and we're going to begin to slowly drop our hips and our buttocks back towards our heels. So towards the shape of child's pose as far as feels comfortable for you, pad yourself up with some blankets as you need but then we're just going to explore with walking the palms forward on those blocks. We get this nice big side body opening and then allow the heart and the head to drop. Feel the long line of energy all the way from your fingertips back through the hips and the sacrum. We're going to lift the gaze, keep the left hand on the block and then we're going to stack the right hand over on top of it and from there again release the heart and the head and I invite you to allow that right armpit to feel a little bit more weighted so we can get a little bit more sensation into that right shoulder.

Lift the gaze, right hand comes back to its block, left hand stacks on top of it and then with an exhale dropping the heart, softening the head and neck. Let the jaw unhinge as you sink through that left armpit. Inhale, let the gaze rise, bring both hands back to the blocks. One more time just let the heart and the head release. Inhale slowly rising up towards that tabletop position and then we're just going to move our blocks off to the side and as we move our blocks off to the side finding a tabletop position we're going to take our right foot back, toes curled under, press from that right heel, feel the length through the back of the leg and then inhale lift up through the heel towards the height of the hip. We're just going to sway that leg a little bit from side to side and then we're going to drop the right toes to the left side of our mat so we're creating a little bit of a c-shape as we look over our left shoulder towards that foot and then inhale lift the leg back behind the hip and exhale you're going to take that right leg over to the floor on the right side to feel into the groin to deepen the stretch we're lowering to the elbows dropping the heart and head and just breathe into that stretch. With an in-breath lift the heart hands back under the shoulders lift that right heel back behind the hip with the gaze down core engage let the left arm now lift and extend sunbird pose. Take another in-breath and exhale hand to the floor knee to the floor and we'll switch side so left leg comes back we curl the toes under press back from the heel lift that leg up to the height of the hip give it a little bit of a side to side sway and then we'll bring it across the mat so over to the right side look over your right shoulder and feel into that c curvature of the spinal column a little opening for that iliopsoas and hip flexors inhale bring it back up behind the hip and then exhale extend it all the way out to the floor and as you extend it out to the floor to take a little bit deeper stretch for this groin start to drop down towards the elbows let the heart sink breathe into that inner thigh inhale rising up hands under the shoulders bring that left leg back up behind the hip gaze is down spine as long as we reach our right arm out in front of us right arm left heel pressing take another in-breath and with our exhale hand and knee to the floor go ahead and sweep your knees over to the side and now we're going to take a hold of our lasso strap so again it's just in this nice big circle shape as we come onto our backs and as we come onto our backs we're going to just hook that lasso first around the sole of the right foot so take a moment to allow yourself to land wiggle into the spine wiggle into the pelvis we'll lift up that right foot and hook the lasso around the foot and as we bring that foot up to the sky one hand holding each side of the strap so my right hand has a little grip my left hand has a little grip and i'm just going to invite you to experience a little bit of a pulley sensation so i'm pulling downward first on my right hand so that the pinky toe side of the foot rotates more to the floor and then pulling down more through my left hand so the big toe side of the foot rotates more to the floor and just here to wake up some of those intrinsic muscles through the foot and through the ankle all of those connection points if you've dealt with plantar fasciitis this is a really great little exploration big breaths and then we're going to bring the straps together into your right hand find a little gentle side-to-side sway of that right leg all the while keeping the pelvis nice and rooted and grounded to the floor we're going to open that leg to the right side just slightly we're not trying to get to the floor we're trying to keep more the pelvis rooted and grounded more the pelvis rooted and grounded and just breathe into those sensations bring the leg back to center we're going to switch hands so left hand comes up to the strap and we're just going to angle the right leg now slightly to the left and again we don't want to go so far that our pelvis lifts so if you try to bring the leg too far over that right hip and buttock are going to lift so try to keep everything nice and neutral and then bring your gaze to that lifted right foot and we're just going to cook the foot over again so that the big toe side of the foot faces the floor and the pinky toe side of the foot faces the ceiling and breathe into that yummy stretch for the outside of the right ankle the calf and shin steady breaths come back to center from center we're going to release that lasso strap and we're going to just going to extend the leg all the way forward and down my foot is still nice and actively flexed and then just take a moment to let that right leg land on the floor press the heel forward as if you're trying to press forward towards the wall out in front of you or wherever you are practicing today and then soften the ankle soften the knee step that right foot back to meet the left foot and we'll switch sides so taking that lasso strap around the left foot bring it up to the sky we're going to hold on to either end of the strap so right hand and left hand and then we're going to play with our little pulley system again so left hand pulls down pinky toe side drops right hand pulls down big toe side drops just take that side to side and then bringing the strap lassos together so that the left hand can grip a hold let the right arm rest give a little sway to that left leg mindful of keeping the spine and the pelvis nice and neutral and then open the left leg to the left side as much as feels welcome deep belly breaths inhale that left leg back to center and we'll take it up as we switch hands a right hand now grabbing the strap as we bring it slightly cross body let your left hand come down to check in with your left hip is it still rooted to the earth and then bringing your gaze up softly to that lifted left foot and we're going to crook the foot over by turning the pinky toe side of the foot towards the floor or rather pinky toe side of the foot towards the ceiling big toe side of the foot towards the floor big breaths inhale back to center press with that heel as we remove the strap and elongate that leg nice and slow and controlled all the way back to the earth and as the leg lands press the heel forward as if you're trying to press through the wall big breaths and then we'll step that foot back to the floor we're going to lift up that right foot again go ahead and hook your lasso and here's where you may need to adjust your lasso length so a nice general rule is that you want that lasso as you lift your leg a little bit closer to the sky to kind of touch easily towards your forehead so if you need to shorten or lengthen your lasso now's a good time to do that so just kind of check in with that and as we find that make sure it's a nice solid hook and then it's a little bit more comfortable if you slide the hook side or your buckle side up closer to your foot because this lasso is going to come around the back of our head so as you're ready begin to lift the head chin to the chest we're going to hook that lasso around the back of the head it kind of lines up right with the top edge of your ears you're not pinching your ears and then just feel into that make sure it feels safe and comfortable for your cervical spine and then the invitation is to allow the arms to rest soften the jaw close the eyes as that feels safe and welcome for you and feel free to give yourself as much time as you have available as feels correct to your body to just sink into the sense of being cradled to just sink into the sense of being cradled and held and then to come out safely the eyes open we look up towards the foot we reach the arms up and you're going to try to bring your hands as close to the foot side of the strap as you're able and you're just going to pull towards your head and as you do that you'll feel that it gets slack around the back of the head so then that allows us to remove the strap without any tension to the neck slowly lower the head to the floor again release the strap extend the heel forward and lengthen lengthen lengthen all the way until the heel finds the ground and take a big breath in and a cleansing breath out we'll step the right foot back to the floor and switch sides so now hopefully your lasso's in the right length for you hook it around the left foot bring the buckle into the strap up closer to the foot so that that buckles not behind your head lift the chin to the chest bring that strap around the back of the head line it up roughly around top of the ears without pinching the ears make sure that that feels safe and comfortable before you release your arms to the earth soften the tummy be spacious in the mouth surrender any holding or gripping through the leg and really trust that this will hold you again feel free to stay here as long as it feels good for you can be really yummy and restorative to come out safely the eyes gently open we look up towards the strap take a hold with our hands pull from the foot end towards the head with the strap until you feel it get slack and loose behind the head go ahead and release that lasso allow the head to come back to the earth lasso comes off the foot as we flex the heel come down and lengthen heel touches the floor four big breath in full breath out and we'll step the left foot back to meet the right foot and do a neutral spine take another big breath in cleansing breath out and allow yourself to extend the legs to long and begin to prepare for shavasana letting the arms extend out palms turning to the sky begin to settle and release your grip through the throat and the jaw complete and total surrender and again please give yourself as much time as you have available here just to simply rest and be coming out wiggling the fingers and toes stepping the feet back to the earth we'll gently roll to the right side pressing into the floor to rise nice and slow keeping eyes closed as that feels comfortable or at least heavy to keep that focus on the internal realm hands joining at the heart all right just take a moment to set an intention to bring into the rest of your day to allow yourself to stand tall and take up space namaste


3 people like this.
loved the tip to use the whole loop behind the head for the hamstring stretch - really great to do it in a way to allow the arms to be free. thanks Kari. :)
Kari Sims Anthon
Matthew thanks so much for joining me! I am so happy that you enjoyed this variation, another tool for your tool belt! 
Jenny S
3 people like this.
Prop Lovers Unite! This was a gentle and effective stretch from top to bottom. The blocks and strap give such a nice boost to the poses…thank you Kari! ❤️🙏🏻
Kari Sims Anthon
Jenny S yes, please bring on ALL the props! I am so glad you enjoyed it! Looking forward to practicing together again!
Lina S
3 people like this.
I've learned a new way to stretch the IT band! Thank you!
Kari Sims Anthon
Lina S Yippe! Thanks so much for joining me! 
Rachel H
4 people like this.
That was amazing. The psoas muscle released and lengthened beautifully after the last stretch with the belt. The slow controlled release of the leg to the earth facilitated the release of the psoas muscle and the hip and the deep space inside the buttock with ease.. Thank you Kari.
Kari Sims Anthon
Rachel H I am so glad that you enjoyed it and found some release! Thanks so much for joining me ;)
Erin C
3 people like this.
This was an incredible way to end the day of sitting and unwind for the transition to evening! super yummy class, Kari!
Kari Sims Anthon
Erin C thanks so much for joining me online! I wish you peaceful rest. 
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