Yoga for Mobility Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 9

Core and More

30 min - Practice


In this core practice, we will work the abdominal region, strengthen the back, and open the front body. You will feel strong and present.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket, Block (2)

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Hello, everyone. Thanks for being here to practice today. I've got a class today for you that is more than your average core practice because we're going to do tons of great back strengthening moves as well as things to open your front body and then get into all the core stuff in between. So for our practice today to dive in, it'd be great to have two blocks of blankets. And we're going to start with a blanket and a block. And as I often do my classes, we start on our back to get a little bit more connected to our core. And if you will have a flat block for your head and a blanket rolled up. And if you have a thick blanket, you might roll it halfway. If you have a kind of a thinner blanket, roll it all the way. So it's kind of like a small little bolster, a round bolster that we can lean back into. I usually put my elbows down and then I try to place the base of my shoulder blade on the blanket and then feel for where the block is for my head. So then if you slide the block underneath your head, your arms will drop down between that block and your rolled blankets. Somewhere along the way, it should feel like it helps you get a fuller stretch across your chest, front of the upper spine. And I always think it's wise to start with your legs bent and give yourself a moment to adjust here. See how your lower back feels before going into potentially straight legs. And if you check out straight legs, don't feel that great. Please go back a step to the bent knees. So as you settle with your arms wide for just a moment as wide and whatever angle may be up towards your ears feels helpful for you to feel that early stretch across your chest and into your inner arms. And as our eyes may be closed or eyes look down towards the lungs, maybe we can start feeling the breath generally move down in that direction as we separate from whatever you've been doing today to come more into your practice time. And as you feel your breath move in and down towards your lungs, can you also kind of imagine that your breath as it goes towards your lungs also spreads out into your arms and into your hands as you breathe in and that your breath and your awareness gathers back in towards the center line of your body as you exhale. Breath goes in and down and spreads out into your arms and hands as you breathe in. Since the return of breath awareness energy back towards your center as you exhale. One more just to kind of feel and imagine your breath going out towards your hands as you breathe in, in towards center on exhale. Now imagine maybe the arms or the breath is going a little further down towards your base of the rib cage diaphragm upper belly. And as you're breathing in that sense of breath spreading out wide, expanding the base of the ribs and exhale bringing your awareness attention in towards your center. And then we're expanding wherever you feel your center expand from that place as you breathe in. Feel the three dimensional shape of your body. Exhale awareness channeling back into center. Now if we continue perhaps paying some attention to your breath in that way as we slide the legs together down in a straight line if that feels okay with your hips, bend your arms out more at 90 degree angles and then slowly start to squeeze your arms in towards center. And your elbows may or may not touch we're just heading that way and then the arms go out wide and then squeezing back in towards center. Maybe your hands touch above your forehead. Go again wide and as your arms come in towards each other cross your left arm over your right arm and see if you can reach around and feel for the opposite shoulder blade and maybe massage along the inside of the shoulder blades just to make a little contact. Now let the arms open out straight open out wide and remember now to put your right arm over the left arm and then bend the elbows give yourself that hug. And see this way can you feel for the shoulder blade and then that inner seam in towards your spine. And then let your arms go up, lace your fingers, turn your palms towards the ceiling, stretch your arms back as you press your legs down and that fuller stretch for the front spine. It's a bit of a back bend so if it feels too much press the back of your ribs into your blankets. One more breath here. Now let's re-bend your legs, unlace your fingers and reach your hands forward to catch your legs this first time as you pull yourself up. The next time it might be more graceful as we reach our arms forward remember there's a blanket and a block behind you. So we're going to try to lean back, meet your blanket, meet your block and then arms swing back by your ears. Now maybe more quickly swing forward with your feet on the ground, curl up and then come down. Head on the block, arms by your ears. You can always grab your legs again or curl up developing a little bit more core strength. Arms by the ears, curling up. Imagine you have little sandbags on your feet so your feet aren't moving as you're going back and forth. And then that last time we've curled up. So now let's stay up and let's get rid of that blanket out of your way and come down onto your back. And when you come down onto your back for just a moment here, let your arms be down by the side of your body. So we're going to stretch from here your right leg down to the floor. Put your left foot on top of your right thigh and let your arms open a little bit out to your side. We're going to start doing a little tip over to your right. Just letting that outer left buttock lift off the floor back to center. Get a little kind of warm up twist to the right and the back to center. Now let's see if we can take the foot up towards the ceiling and then let that left leg tip over to your right. Roll onto your back, leg up. And again, tipping that left leg over to the right. Come back to center. Put maybe both feet on the floor, neutral spine. And the left leg straight, right foot on top of your left leg. And see if the little warm up twist is a good place to stop. Roll onto your back. Tilt towards your left so you're peeling right buttock off the floor on your back. Let's see what it feels like with your right leg up. The leg doesn't have to be all the way straight. Tip that right leg to the left. Center. We're keeping the foot from touching the floor to try to engage a little more core muscles as your leg tilts to the side. Leg can be bent. Now back to center. Now with both feet on the floor, arms at your side, kind of sense your heels are under your knees and slide your left foot, one whole footprint forward. Then flex your left ankle so your left heel is on the floor. We're going to press into your left heel and right foot to lift your pelvis up and then slowly come down. Stretch your left knee forward as you lift your hips and then come down. So as we warm up back and forth, we're asking a little bit more of that right buttock to lift us up. That left hamstring and glute to kind of stabilize us when we're lifted. And then lower. Let's do one more. Bringing a little more strength into our backside, opening our front side. And then come down. Slide your left foot in under the knee. Slide your right foot, one whole footprint forward. That's a mouthful. Flex your right ankle and then get ready to firm your arms into the floor as you lift your hips up. Press into your right heel and lower down. So you can push into your right heel enough to get that feedback in your right hamstring and glute that those muscles are engaged. Lower down. And then notice what's happening in your left foot. Can you press down firmly enough to get feedback that your left glute is engaged? Lower down. One more.

Lift and then lower. Slide that right foot in under the glute. The second one like this is to send your left leg in the air, arms at your side. Look towards your left foot and see your foot get closer to the ceiling as you press your arms down, lift your hips up and lower. Two more times. Press your left foot towards the ceiling. Come down. Left foot towards the ceiling as you lift up and then come down. Switch. So we've got the right leg going up. Brace yourself with your arms. Press into that left foot. Lift up and lower down. Look to your right foot so you get closer to the ceiling. Lower down. It's not a huge lift. And last time going up and down. Now when you have both feet on the floor, lift your hips to slide a block under your pelvis and a flat block. If you feel like that's too hard of a surface or too high, please go to a folded blanket instead. So now we're going to enjoy maybe a little bit more soft movement here. Reach your arms up in the air. Grab opposite elbow and let your arms start to float back towards your ears so your arms end up somewhat back by your ears, maybe holding opposite forearm or elbow. And in this way we let maybe that diaphragm area open more. Let's see if you bring your feet a little closer together. If you like the feeling of stretching your left leg straight down to the floor and we're firming the muscles of the left leg to the bones. So the left leg is actually quite strong as it's reaching forward. It's a way to get a fuller stretch through the psoas area on your left side here. And then let's bend that left leg and stabilize your pelvis and see if you like the feeling of your right leg straight. And again the leg is not on vacation. The leg is really engaged and working as we squeeze those muscles to the bones. Read on that right psoas area. So if you feel like you're stable in your back and it feels okay, a lot of people tend to like both legs out in front engaged. I always like to remind people try to narrow your hip points so you're doing a little bit of effort to shorten the front abdominal area. Make it narrow rather than wide as you potentially hold the pose. If it doesn't feel right, put both feet on the floor. One more second. Then we'll bend your legs, arms down at your sides and slowly lift your hips and slide, whatever you have underneath you, out of the way for a moment and set your block to the side. Okay, just be in neutral if you will without pulling the knees towards your chest. Anytime now you're ready, we're going to roll over onto any side and we'll go from your side all the way upright to the facing the floor. And when you're on the floor here, I'm going to have you grab your blankets and have your folded blanket about the center of your mat. And so if you had a blanket like this, the rectangle shape, I'm going to ask that maybe you fold it one more time so it's a little bit thinner and a little bit thicker. And what we'll do is put your lower abdomen on the folded blankets and then we'll keep your elbows on the ground in front of you under more or less the line of your shoulders and then point your toes down to the floor. Point your toes straight back. So one thing we might do for a moment is slide your elbows wide, stack your hands and just get used to this blanket for a moment and to use the blanket to get some feedback of where we might want to breathe. So see as you're breathing in, if you can feel your belly press into the blankets. And then as you exhale feeling your navel drift in and up towards your back. And try that a few more times and I always like to think of the breath as one of the missing ingredients when people talk about core. We often talk a lot about muscles. We often don't talk about the breath but I think breath is one of the most core things in our body. One of the deepest things that we might be tracking. And noticing what influence the breath has on your movement or mood. In this case it might be your state of mind. So let's see if we can track the breath and kind of feel again where on the exhale we feel connected to maybe core or pause. From that pause you inhale and expand. Release the breath starting our movements. So now lift your head up a little bit, slide your arms in and maybe you're holding opposite elbow here as we bend your right leg. Point your toes towards the ceiling and see if you can press your elbows down as you lift your head and get a little taller and longer through the crown of the head. And then maybe look down as you lower your right leg. As you're lifting your left foot, your left shin, look forward or down towards your forearms if that's better for your neck. But imagine you're lengthening through the crown of the head here. And then look down as you lower your left leg. Now try both feet come up, press your elbows down as you lift your gaze forward. So we're coming into a bit of a back bend shape, stretching front spine. Both feet down, lower your foreheads. Right now let's try with your hands beside your chest. Hug your elbows in towards your midline. And as you lift your face and chest bend your right leg and maybe we lift a little less so it's back strengthening. Straighten your right leg, lower forehead. Bend your left leg and lift your face and chest. A little bit of kind of cobra mixed in with this back bend here. Left leg down, forehead down. Now try both legs bending as you lift your face and chest, curling up and then lower down. Okay now maybe stack your hands one more time under your forehead. And now once your forehead is resting here, lift up both feet but do windshield wiper legs side to side just to release any tightness or gripping in your back area. Big breath into that blanket area. All right now let's put your feet down, slide your hands back beside your chest and then we'll come up and as you come up maybe undo your blanket if you like less padding to put your knees on and then we want to have both blocks. Okay if you will turn your blocks to the tall position, lift your torso up for a moment and then send your right foot forward up by the block. When you grab your tall blocks, try to be in a position where you can drape your left thigh towards the floor. And as you drape your left thigh towards the floor we're looking forward and now appreciating hopefully the feeling of a back bend here.

She looks straight out beyond your nose. And now let's curl your back toes under and start waking up that back foot. Okay so this is the part where we're opening the front body and now let's do a little strengthening as we press into our feet and hands and float your pelvis up towards the height of your right knee and look down. Lower your left knee back to the blanket. Look forwards. That's our back bend. And then the core strengthening as we press into the feet to float your hips up as you look down. One more time lower the left knee. Look forward. Press into your hands, your feet and hold your hips up for a moment the height of your knee as you look down. Firm the front of your back thigh up towards the hamstrings. Left knee down. Hands off the blocks as we put your right knee on the block. Let's transfer when you're ready and bring your left foot forward. Grab your blocks. Adjust your angle so your right thigh is draping a bit towards the floor. Look straight ahead for a moment. Get oriented. And notice if the side feels different than your first side. Throw your back toes under. Wake up your back foot. And now let's press into the feet. Float your hips up and look down at the floor. That's the strengthening part. And then drop back into the stretch with your right knee down. Look straight ahead. Press into your feet and hands as you lift your hips up and hold as you look down. Right knee back to the floor. Look forwards. And then the last one, we'll do that extra hold of a cycle of your breath as you firm your right thigh up towards your hamstrings. Look down. And then let's step your left foot towards your blankets so then it's easier to step your right foot forward. We've got that forward fold where you might turn your blocks flatter. Bend your knees and take a moment to enjoy folding over your legs. Be sure to really give yourself permission to bend your knees and ankles as you're folding forward. Right now, when we're in this forward position, if you can reach back, grab your blanket. Let's make use of this transition.

Fold your blanket. Slide it out of the way. And leave your blocks here at the top of your mat. Turn in the tall position. Come up the best way for you to stand. It could be rounding. It could be lengthening. Then we get up to the top of the mat and circle your arms back a couple times. Let's take a step back with your right foot and a pretty short step for Warrior I where you're wide and stable facing the short end of your mat. Let's swing your arms up by your ears on the inhale. And then as you exhale, swing your hands back by your hips as you tip a little bit forward. Swing your arms up on inhale, opening front body. And the little strengthening is we swing the arms back and look down. Swing up and exhale forward as you look down. As your arms come up, let's keep from here your left arm tucked into your lower back. So a hand in the lower back. As we reach down with that right hand and grab that tall block and maybe slide it a tiny bit forward if you want a fuller stretch to look down towards the floor or the more part of the class. As you're maybe looking down and looking at your back heel, consider straightening your front left leg if you're looking for a little bit more in this core practice. Otherwise, one more moment with your front knee bent. Then slide your block back in, press into your feet and reach your right arm forward and take yourself all the way back up to standing. And then drop your right arm down to your side, bring your right foot forward, plant your feet, bend your legs and swing your arms up into chair. Then from chair, swing your arms back as you look down at the floor. Come back up from chair, arms up, swing your arms back, look down. Arms swinging up chair, exhale, look down. And then come all the way up to straight legs, arms down at your sides and then we'll switch out and take your left leg back. And again, does not need to be a long step, but one that you do feel stable. And then let your arms come up and we're not holding. We're just going to let the arms swing back as you tip forward, look down, swing your arms up, kind of moving towards that full arch, swing the arms back, look down, a little forward fold, open front body. And then we do a little back strengthening as you look down. Come up and this time stay up and allow your right hand to slide into that lower back space. Now as you exhale, reach forward with your left hand and grab your tall block as you look down. So this could be a perfect amount of stretch and engagement for your legs. Your front ribs are trying to lift into your body versus drop down towards the earth. If you want more stretch, slide your left hand block forward and slightly straighten your right leg. So generally you'll feel a lot more from your left side of the body to the right if you are not already feeling enough. Take one more moment, kind of finding your edge. It's the right amount of effort and tension to feel, attention to your breath. Slide that left hand block in, reach your left arm forward and take your body all the way back up to vertical, left arm down, back foot forward, swing both arms back up into chair and then tip forward with your arms back beyond your hips. Swing your arms up chair, exhale hands back as you look down. One more time, come up chair, this time into straight legs and hands down in front of your chest, arms down at your side. Then we can leave those blocks there. I'm going to turn and face the long end of the mat and maybe you're turning a different way here. So we can do a few little joint movements. So if we start at the top and we do a few little circular movements for your shoulders, in case that's an area we're getting a little bit tense or stiff. And then we're going to do a little rotation work where you turn to your left and then to your right and your arms kind of swing along and go for the ride. And think about tapping a little bit down by your hips, turn your gaze, turn your shoulders. And then we're going to tap a little bit more around your waist area, tapping along the side of your body. And you feel your core muscles engage as they stop you from spinning all the way around. So your core muscles kind of stop you and they engage as you find your full range of motion. Now bend your front arm and the back arm so you're tapping upper chest, back of rib cage. Feet are grounded more or less. Pelvis pretty stable, but it moves a little bit. And then go back down towards your waist, side of the legs, and then arms at your sides. Now let's do a few little hula hoop circles. Again, your upper body just kind of goes along for the ride. I'm going to feel your edge again, how your core, all the organs of the body, the torso are moving. And it's organic movement. There's no way to do it right or wrong. And after wiggling around here, let's bring your legs together. And with your legs together, slide your hands maybe just above your knees and do a few little circular movements. So you're moving knees and ankles, but when we're doing this enough, we start to feel a little bit of maybe back strengthening as you're tilting forward. And definitely we'll start to feel your quadriceps engage. Let's circle the other direction a few times. Ankles and knees.

All right, now if we come up to straight legs and separate your feet about shoulder distance apart and take an inhale as you sweep your arms up a little backbend. As you exhale, bend your legs like you're doing chair and press your hands on your thighs as you exhale round your back and see if you can squeeze your belly in and up towards your back before dropping your belly towards the ground and then sweep up to standing maybe look up backbend. Exhale all the breath out, hands pressed against the thighs. Round your back as you pull your navel in, look towards the floor. Soft belly as we come back straight legs, sweep up. All the breath out, exhale, hands pressed against your thighs. Belly in as you're looking towards the floor. Last one, belly soft, inhale, sweep up. All the breath out, hands pressed against your legs. Stay in that slightly rounded shape for a moment. Belly in and soften your belly. And now let's tip all the way forward and put your hands on the floor with really bent legs. Just for one more moment, letting the top of the head point more towards the floor. When you're ready, let your legs bend one at a time to put a knee down and the other knee. Now if you can see where your blocks are, if we can take your blocks and send them one and then the other into a flat wide position and that's going to be where we sit. Some of you might bring your knees forward for what we classically call Virasana and you sit up on your tall stack of blocks. So if that works for you, please come into that position and if you need one block or need to sit in a chair to do the sitting work, please make a comfortable seat. And similar to what we were doing when we were standing this center tending to this central belly area. So one of the pieces I love working with is this breath work called Kapalabhati. So as you exhale, you pull your belly quickly in towards your back and then you would soften your belly into your palm on inhale. You breathe through your nose, pull belly in on exhale, soft belly on inhale. So it's a little pumping action that gets us to wake up a bunch of muscles at the front wall of the abdomen and bring a little bit more warmth and lightness up through the lungs, maybe help our mind be a little bit brighter and more clear. So let's try a few more pumping actions. Exhale through your nose and then take an inhale through your nose, put the hands down. As you exhale, all the breath out for a moment. Let the belly stay slightly pulled in toward the back as you lower your chin towards your chest. Like you're trying to seal all the energy in between your pelvis and the top of the chest. Soft belly as you look straight ahead if it's helpful the hand on the belly area. Let's do one more cycle of Kapalabhati where you do quick, sharp exhales through your nose. Just to feel that belly area move and gauge when we're doing enough of these quick, sharp exhales. You might even start to feel a little fatigue if you haven't done this in a while, engaging those front belly muscles. Let's take a big breath in, exhale all the breath out. Just a moment sealing the energy we've cultivated between the pelvis and the top of the chest. Lower the chin down, pause. Soft belly as you raise your head back up towards the sky. And take a moment just feeling the energy move in and down the center of your body towards your hips and the energy moving from the hips up towards your head, crown of the head on exhale. Maybe we enjoy the feeling of being centered, grounded in that way, feeling connected to some of the strength that we've created in our back to help support this great posture to build some more confidence as we meet whatever we're going to meet this new day. Thanks so much for practicing with me and may others continue to benefit from our practice. Namaste.


Nina G
3 people like this.
Thank you for this practice. It is lovely - namaste.
Jenny S
3 people like this.
Loved this subtle yet effective core and back and everything else practice! This whole season was creative and fun - here’s hoping for Season 2 ☺️ In the meantime, thank you so much Melina and Yoga Anytime. Have a Blessed Holiday Season! 🙏🏻❤️
Jean B
3 people like this.
Melina, I loved this session. I really needed some back stretching, and this helped me a lot. You are a great teacher, and I look forward to all of your new sessions. Namaste!
Melina Meza
Great to see your comments everyone! There will for sure be a Season 2 of this show, including some of your other favorite YogaAnytime teachers. In the meantime, I hope you keep this Season in your regular rotation. Happy holidays.
David G-
3 people like this.
You added one of your greatest hits on this one—the rotating arm twists. I was super sore last night. This helped a lot! 
Sandra Židan
Thanks for this wonderful practice, Melina! Namaste! 💖🌹🌼
Debbie Kephart
sweet subtle practice
Erin C
1 person likes this.
Such a great way to end the day of sitting-- love this Melina!

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