Yin Yoga and Mythology Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 5


30 min - Practice


There is power in being different, in asking for what you want, and in appreciating your own wildness. We start with a few Yang poses to express the fierceness of the Greek goddess Artemis, before moving into animal and moon Yin shapes honoring the things most beloved of the Wild Woman of the Forest. You will feel supple, bright, and free.
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video

Jan 20, 2023
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Hello, welcome. Today's practice is going to be all about Artemis, and it's a class for anyone who's ever felt a little bit different, maybe a little bit like the black sheep or the rainbow sheep of the family, because Artemis chose a very different life than all of the other gods and goddesses in the Greek pantheon. So I'm going to tell you all about it, and we're actually going to start a little bit differently today. We're going to start standing up. So coming up to standing, you can stick your feet about hip-width apart or whatever feels most comfortable for you, and just take a moment to let all of your joints get really soft and watery, inviting all of your muscles to loosen, inviting a sense of really spreading out into your feet, widening through the bottom, and then climbing up through the top of your spine, making yourself long and elegant and noble. And then from here we're going to start to really melt, so letting everything be super soft. Drop your chin towards your chest. You can let your shoulders round forward. Imagine your fingers here, like there's water dripping from them, just the softest, longest fingers. And then start to pour your way down, little by little. It might take you the whole time that we do this pose just to even get into the pose, and that's fine. Where we're going is a really soft forward bend here. And so if there's anywhere that feels really sticky in your back or wherever, if there's any place that you want to stop and linger and snuggle around a bit, go for it. Eventually you'll make your way into whatever is your deepest version of this forward bend with soft knees, soft elbows, joints, all watery like oceans. And you might have blocks or some support underneath you. You might take an arm variation, like clasping your elbows or forearms, anything at all. You could just let your arms hang and dangle like the softest ragdoll here. You can let your out breath grow longer. It's a great way to connect right into your body, your heart, just following that out breath all the way out. So Artemis, Artemis is the goddess of all things wild and free. She's the goddess of sacred wildness. She's the goddess of activists and disruptors, non conformists. She's a kindred spirit, a spirit of introverts. And she's somebody who really knows who she is, asks for what she wants, and stands in her truth and her power. From here, we're going to widen the feet as much as it feels comfortable for your body to come into a squat with the hands interlaced and the palms pressing forward. And this is called a bear pose, because there's loads of bear imagery in association with Artemis. Artemis loved bears. She loved deer. She loved all little childlike creatures, men, children, animal children, all the babies, all the most vulnerable beings in the world. She was a fierce protector of everyone she loved. You can start to slowly press into your feet. We're going to come up to stand real slow motion, keeping the hands interlaced as you come all the way up. Once you arrive, bring your feet back underneath you. We're going to take the right foot, cross it behind the left, almost like a little curtsy, and then taking those interlaced palms, press them up and over to the left side, coming into a side bend here. So starting with perhaps a little more young than I normally do in a class here, because Artemis is fierce. Artemis is, I think, of her like a lightning bolt, more like, yeah, just wild and fierce. And then go ahead and bring yourself back to standing tall in a mountain pose, arms by your side, and pausing just to connect into your center to feel. Let your joints get soft again. Let your knees bend. Let your elbows be soft. Let your chin drop towards the notch in your collarbones. We're going to go all of that, starting it over right from the beginning. So you can start to melt down into yourself, drop by drop, pouring your upper body out over your legs here. You can invite gravity here into your spine, into your upper body to help unpack any tension in your spine.

Letting your arms dangle free. And at some point you can take an arm variation if you like as you come all the way into whatever's your lowest point here, perhaps a different arm variation than you took last time, or maybe it's the same. Doing what feels good to you, because that is what Artemis is all about. She knows who she is. I'm going to take the bear pose now so you can start to widen your feet as much as you need to. Interlace your palms. Maybe you press up or have the other thumb on top opposite interlace as you press your palms forward. You can let your head fall between your upper arms. Feel the power in your legs, the stretch through your arms. But where's the softness? Can you call in some softness in your face? Some space and ease around your heart. Wherever you might be able to relax here, invite that in. And then spreading out into your feet even more, pressing deep into the earth, start to come up. Slow motion, long legs. And as you come up, you're taking your interlaced hands with you up into the sky. Bring your feet a little closer together underneath your hips. And the left foot does the crisscross behind your right ankle. Press your interlaced hands up and over to the right. So you get this great opening and it looks perhaps like a crescent moon because Artemis is associated with the moon, with darkness, with all things kind of dark and wild and free. Let's take one more breath here. Empty it all the way out. And then we'll come back to standing mountain pose, feet comfortably underneath you, arms by your side, deep breath in and follow it all the way out into spaciousness all the way right. It's coattails all the way out. Okay, we're going to come down to sit for our next pose. So you can come right down onto your mat. Deer pose. Now, Artemis almost always pictured with a deer somewhere in the image. So I have my left leg forward. A shin is horizontal here and then right leg is back. Doesn't have to be exact. You know, it doesn't have to look like mine. You can pull your feet a little closer to your body. They can be further away. And then we're going to start with a twist here. So left hand behind your back, right hand to left knee, spiral yourself around to the left. And then once you find the shape here, gently relaxing your legs, your belly, your shoulders, your jaw. And then we'll untwist and turn this into a forward fold. And I love this one because you can do it so many different ways. You can walk straight out over your front leg, or you can go in any diagonal. You can walk towards your front knee and fold that way. You can walk away from your front knee and fold in that direction. So really anywhere that you feel is the most wonderful place for you to land. And if you want to put blocks or something underneath you in the front here to lean on, that's great too. I like to come to my elbows. You can always put a block or bolster under your elbows and then let the head hang. So my favorite story about Artemis is about when she was very little. And I say she was probably about seven years old. And Zeus was her father and she really had Zeus wrapped around her little finger. So one day she sits on Zeus's lap and Zeus says, Artemis, my daughter, what can I give you? I would love to give you anything you want. And she pulls out a list. She says, Oh good. I'm so glad you asked because I actually have a list right here. Here's my list. Number one, I don't want to wear any long dresses. Okay. I only want to wear short dresses, which was wild. These, all the other goddesses wore these big long tunic dresses, but she wanted to be free to play, to run, to frolic. That's the word. If there was one word that really kind of encompasses the energy of Artemis it's frolic. And so also on that list beyond just the short tunic was she wanted a bow and arrow. She says, why does my brother get a bow and arrow? And I don't, that's not fair.

So she asked for a bow and arrow. She asked for lots of nymphs to be her friends, nymphs and maidens. And she says, I never ever want to get married. My life is my own. My body is my own. So please, I don't, I want to keep my independence forever. And then she says, I want to live in the forest and the mountains and it's fine. Whatever. You can give me a city that's fine, but just know that I'm always going to be in the mountains with the animals, with the wild things. So she really knew who she was and she was not afraid to ask for what she wanted. Oh, and one other thing she asked for was the moon. And so you'll see often in Artemis images, the moon right above her forehead. So just do a scan, look all around your body, look from your skin to your bones, your feet to your crown, trying to find anywhere that there might be an opportunity to unravel, to soften and spread out, to move in the direction of the earth. And then let's climb it back up, walking your hands in, always in these moments in between to really attune to every little nuance of sensation for the inter-mediary here for our rinse off pose. I like to do windshield wipers between deer poses. If your body is asking for something else, that's fine. You can do whatever it takes to make yourself feel good, to wash that one off before we go to the other side of our deer pose. Take as long as you need. You know, the timings in yin yoga, I always like to say that they're just suggestions. If you need longer in between, take longer. If you're really loving being in the pose and want to linger, you can always linger. If you're ready to go with me, we'll shift it to the other side of deer pose. Right shin is in front, left one is back. The legs kind of look like a pinwheel, sort of. And then once you get situated, twisting to the right this time, left hand to right knee, right hand behind you. You can feel what touches the ground, let it sink down so that the rest of you climbs up this beautiful balance of being both grounded and also bright, effervescent-free. And then go ahead and untwist. As you untwist, you can start to find your way into your forward folding deer. Again, whatever that looks like for you today might be different on this side. Ever seen a deer in the woods, like if you're hiking and especially this deer with the antlers, they're so incredible and striking. And one time I was hiking and I saw this great big buck with these giant velvety antlers and I saw him and he saw me and we both just stood there watching, but I could tell that he was listening with his antlers with every hair on his body, right? Animals have that way of sort of deeply listening with their whole body. So I wonder if you could find that, you could call upon your own inner wild animal here, your soft animal body, as if you could listen with every hair on your skin, as if you could breathe into every pore, as if every pore of your skin was like a nervous system that you could feel so much, so deeply.

As you listen, also looking, using your mind's eye to wander through your joints, to wander between your bones and around your bones, to wander through your heart and your belly, just looking, listening, feeling, not looking for anything in particular, just noticing. Noticing if there's any story in your mind that keeps coming up and does it create any tension in your body. Just noticing with tenderness, compassion for yourself. Then you can begin to pour your way back up, walking your hands back, raising your torso and coming to a shape that helps you undo it, that helps you feel neutral. Again, I'm going to do windshield wipers one more time and just wash it off. Wash it off. So Artemis, right? She ruthlessly defended everyone that she loved, the animals, her friends. There's a story about a man coming into the forest where Artemis was bathing with all of her nymph friends and he was watching them and she did not like that. She was having none of that. So she turned him into a deer. She loved to turn people into deer. She turned him into a deer and of course he has a pack of hunting dogs with him and you can imagine what they did. Chase that deer away really fast by his own dogs. We're going to come into a banana pose next, banana asana, but in this practice I'm going to call it Artemis crescent moon asana here. So stretching out long on your back, reach up through your arms, reach down through your legs and take your right leg and slide it over to the right. Keep it on the ground, but just slide it over. Not that much, really like six or eight inches is plenty here. And then left ankle can cross on top of it. See how that feels? You can always cross it underneath or you can just have your legs next to each other. That's fine too. And then the upper body is going to bend in the same direction over to the right side. And then I like to hold on to my left wrist here with the right hand. So the arms are just extra here. If the arms are too much, you can bring them down. You can put them on a bolster. And then one other little thing that can be nice here is any kind of weight on top of you, a blanket over your ankles, a blanket anywhere, really a bolster leaning against your left hip on top of it can be really nice. So once you find your place, softening, settling and spreading out into the ground like a puddle on the earth here, loosening any knots, looking for any resistance trying to encourage every drop of yourself to spill towards the earth. Sometimes in this pose, the outside of the crescent moon. So here it would be the left side wants to coil up away from the ground. So you can invite earthiness into the whole left side of your body, especially your left side of the pelvis, left rib cage. Can your left rib cage be a little heavier? I love Artemis too, because she's this kindred spirit of people who introverts, I guess you would say people who have friends, she has friends, she has plenty of friends, and she has her animal friends and her human friends, but she much prefers solitude. She remembers who she is in darkness, she comes back to herself in solitude. And I don't know if you're like me, have you ever dreamed about living in a little moss covered hut in the woods? It's just your books and your animal friends and, you know, just that that kind of energy is there. Do one more body scan here, looking for anywhere that muscle is squeezing onto bone anywhere. You know, we all have sort of habitual places where we hold on, we grip, we keep our tension or perhaps it's the belly or the seat or the jaw, throat, just to notice, try to locate anywhere in your body where you're working, but you don't need to be.

This is a sneaky little pose, you know, might not look like that intense of a pose or even when you're in it might not feel that intense. I often find that this one, the intensity comes when you let it go, the after pose is often just as powerful, if not more even than being in the pose. So when we let it go to really pay attention to the sensation to move extra slow so that you can feel the after pose. So we'll undo it and come back to center. You can bring your arms down by your side. If it feels good, just to lay here, just lay here for a moment. Or if you feel like you'd like some movement, I like to come into a gentle bridge after a banana. There's a sense of kind of hugging everything back together after you've pulled it apart. So feet underneath, palms by your side, just a little lift up. That's nothing too strong or not for too long. And then coming down, you might do one or two or three of those until you feel like you're ready to take your Artemis crescent moon on the other side. When you're ready, I'll stretch your legs out, long arms overhead. Once again, if your shoulders are all right with that. And this time we go to the left with the legs just to slide over with the left leg. And then I'm hooking the right ankle on top. I'm going to take the upper body and start to scooch it over. And that same kind of gentle C curve here, I'm holding right wrist with my left hand. And then once you find your shape, softening, inviting in that sense of spreading out. Imagine here you're just like Moss, you are the Moss on the forest floor, dewy, soft, dark and quiet. Pour your awareness like liquid into the right side of your body and invite the whole right side of you to empty in the direction of the ground, the whole front of you to soften towards the back of you and the whole back of you to spread out into the earth to become one here with the ground underneath you as if there's no separation. When I think of Artemis, I often think of Mary Oliver who talked about our soft animal body. She said, let your soft animal body love what it loves. And that to me sums Artemis up. She knows what she loves. She's not shy about it at all. She's not shy about asking for what she wants. She's fierce, but she's also tender. She's like a mama bear, fierce when she needs to protect those she loves but also knows when to soften.

You might ask yourself, in what ways am I connected to my own sacred wildness? In what ways do I give my power over to others? Do I feel comfortable asking for what I need? Letting everything inside you soften one more time, one more long out breath that you can ride out into another layer of letting go here. And then we can start to bring it back in. Arms coming down, legs coming back. And as you feel into what you need here, taking any last moments, last movements, if you'd like a bridge, you could take a bridge, perhaps too. Another nice option is to bring the knees in and just do a little rock from side to side. You can move your knees around in any direction that feels good for them. And then we'll come to rest. So coming into your Shavasana position here, if you want to lie in your back or your side or your belly anywhere at all, snuggling your body into the earth as if you're laying down on a soft bed of moss in the dark forest under the shimmery silver moonlight. Take a couple of breaths and sink and sink and sink. Nice. Thank you. Next breath that comes in, you can let it open you wide.

As you breathe, allow the breath to expand you in all directions. You can start to gather yourself, either hugging your knees in or stretching really long any way that you want to come back up to sit. Taking your time, remind yourself you're not in a rush, we're still wandering through the dark for us, there's no hurry at all. When you do come up, you can come to sit in any way that feels comfy for you, taking your hands to your heart, to your belly, one on each, touching this body, this heart, this soft animal body that holds so much fierceness and so much tenderness. Thank you so much for practicing with me today.


Nadine R
5 people like this.
Kelly….I really enjoy your classes!…I especially love the combination of yoga and storytelling!…It allows me to stay very present in the moment!
Martha K
5 people like this.
A lovely practice. Gave me a lot to think about. Love what you love. So wonderful.
Jennifer E
6 people like this.
Thank you so much for these classes, Kelly! This one brought me extra joy. Artemis is my favorite! I even have this painting behind me of Artemis and Apollo when I teach classes from my home studio.
Jenny S
4 people like this.
Yummy practice 💕 I’m so inspired by the story of Artemis…love her spirit!
Oana P
3 people like this.
and so connected to the new moon in Aquarius, a very original and community oriented energy. thank you so much for your practice.the story telling part is so wonderful
Sandra Židan
Beautiful practice and interesting story! Thanks, Kelly, for sharing it with us! Namaste! 
Kelly K
2 people like this.
Sandra Židan thank you so much! xoxoxo k
Kelly K
1 person likes this.
Oana P thank you for your beautiful comment. I'm really glad that you're enjoying the practices. lots of love!!
Kelly K
1 person likes this.
Jenny S yeah!! Artemis is the coolest, right?! Sending you lots of love!
Kelly K
1 person likes this.
Jennifer E Whoa!!! That painting is amazing! Your teaching must be extra powerful when you've got that pair behind you :))
Thanks for much for sharing and I am really happy that you liked the class!!
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