Yin Yoga and Mythology Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 7


30 min - Practice


Our hearts are spacious enough to hold the agony and the ecstasy. Kelly tells the tale of the creation of Patanjali and his gift to Shiva, as we find space in the legs, hips, and side body in Anantasana, Sphinx, and Half Saddle. You will feel spacious and wholehearted.
What You'll Need: Mat, Square Bolster, Strap

About This Video

Feb 03, 2023
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Welcome. We're going to begin this practice with some breathing, coordinated with our hands starting in a lotus mudras. It can bring the heels of your hands together, the thumb sides of your hands, the pinkies touching, and the middle three fingers of each hand are opened outward so that it looks like a blossoming flower. That's going to come right in front of your heart. Eyes can be open or closed. Let your whole body get soft. Skin soft, face gentle, throat soft. And as we breathe, imagine that you're breathing in the center of this flower as you inhale. And as you exhale, you're going to fold your palms together, point them forward and down. Then the backs of the hands come together to bring it all back to the lotus so it makes a circle. I'll show you that again. It's an inhale with the open flower. And then trying to match the whole exhale with this turning of the hands, fingers down, invert backs of hands together, and then all the way back to the flower. So I kind of think of it like a game, trying to match the breath out with this movement of the hands, but it's also a really wonderful meditative movement. So at your own pace, you can begin inhaling into the flower. And then exhaling as you turn the wheel. You can even challenge yourself to go a little bit slower on the exhale so that you lengthen the exhale and your hands slowly turn in that circle. Imagining that these hands are your heart. And if these hands were your heart churning, churning the waters of your heart, what would they bring up as they churn? Our big hearts that hold so many complex feelings and emotions, all at once, joys and sorrows, longing and excitement, joy and terror. What comes up and can you make yourself spacious enough that there's room to hold it all that whatever comes up, we don't have to push it away. We can welcome it even if it's something challenging or uncomfortable. Perhaps if and when something uncomfortable comes up, we could just get bigger, we could get more spacious. So there's room for it. So it doesn't have to take up all the space inside of us. I can live there with all the other wonderful things. Let's do this another couple of rounds at your own pace, matching it with your breathing. Inhale, you smell the scent of the flower. Then exhale, you turn the wheel churning the heart. Perhaps even a thank you to this heart for holding so much. And then as you finish your next turning, you can release your hands and we're gonna come down onto our sides to begin with. I have two props here, a strap and a bolster. You don't have to have those, but you might want to use them. If you don't have these things, you can always make up something. You can use a bathrobe belt, you can use a pile of pillows. It all works. And so we'll start on our right side, actually. So coming on to your right side, you can bend your knees and also bend your bottom elbow, your right elbow so that you bring your hand to your head for a nice place to rest your skull. And then I have my knees bent and you can decide how bent you want them or how straight you want them as we move through the practice here. We're gonna come into Ananta Asana because our story starts with Vishnu lying on his snake, Ananta. And so Ananta Asana, we bring the leg up here. And if you can happily grab your foot or your toe or the back of your leg somewhere, your ankle, go for it. If you want to use a strap, that can be really helpful. You loop the strap around your foot, climb your hand up as close to the foot as you can.

And then you hold both ends of the strap in your hand. And then the last thing we're gonna do is drop the bottom arms so that you can rest your head on your upper arm and relax your head and your neck. And I love this post because it kind of looks like, you know, not that much is going on balance wise, but to stay here on your side to balance is really quite something. It really teaches you about finding your center. And so we'll stay here for a bit. And I want to tell you this story about Shiva and Vishnu and Vishnu's serpent couch Ananta. So Vishnu sleeps on this big coiled up serpent. And one day Shiva and Vishnu, they embodied as humans, they took human form, they went down to earth to cause a little trouble as they often like to do. And at the end of their day, after this big journey that they had on earth and human bodies, Shiva transformed back into his godly self. And Vishnu got the opportunity to witness Shiva do this incredible dance, the dance of ecstasy, the dance of bliss, it's called the Ananda Tandava. And Vishnu after witnessing this beautiful spectacular dance, he went back home and he curled up on his serpent couch. And you know, if you've ever been to like a really great concert or something, when you go home, you're still kind of vibrating, you have the energy of it in you still. And so Vishnu is trying to get comfy on his serpent couch, and he can't because he still has all this buzzing energy, he's tossing and turning. So let's turn, we're going to turn actually, the next step here, we're going to stay in the same shape with this leg up in the air holding on to the strap or the foot, but we're going to fall onto our backs. And so whatever it takes, you know, whatever kind of wiggling and maneuvering to get yourself onto your back here, and then the leg is going to open out to the side. And that's why I have this bolster, you could pile up things, you could put 10 bolsters here if you wanted to or needed to, so that your leg has some support, as you open it out to the side. If you're near a wall, that's another option, you could always put this foot on a wall, and that'll hold it up and you don't have to worry about using too many muscles that way. Right? So whatever it takes here, you want to use as little muscular energy as possible to be in this shape. So Vishnu is tossing and turning and he's trying to get comfortable and he just can't because he's buzzing with all this energy. And underneath him, Ananta feels it. And he says, Hey, Vin, you feel different tonight. What's going on? Vishnu says, Ah, Ananta, I've just seen the most incredible thing. Shiva danced and it was the most ecstatic dance. It was so beautiful. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen. And Ananta said what we probably all would say, I want to see that too. And Vishnu tells him, well, okay, you can do that, but in order to do that, you've got to fall from the heavens and you've got to embody as a human. And I hate to tell you this, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows. If you're going to become a human, you've got to take everything that comes with it. The good, the bad, the joy, the sorrow, the whole package. Then Ananta says, all right, sign me up. I want to do it. So let's release here. You can slowly release your strap. Or if you had one otherwise just release the foot, you can bend your knee that was stretched out to the side, start to gather yourself back into the center. Here after this one, I like to bring the feet about mat width apart, knees bent and let the knees fall together. So the knees form like almost a little TP shape and then letting the hands rest wherever they're comfortable just to stop and gather for a couple of breaths before we go on to the other side. So let's head into the other side of Ananta Asana. Going to roll onto the left side this time. Knees are bent, slightly bent or a lot bent as you like. You can start with your hand on your head to support it. So I'm going to move the bolster over to the other side for when we roll onto our backs and extend the leg up to the side. And then you can gather up your strap if you're using it or just reach for your foot or big toe here. Coming into an Ananta Asana on the other side. Starting by holding your head and getting situated and then when you feel ready to, you can drop your left arm, drop your head onto your upper arm and try to relax as much as possible. I know it's a little bit of an awkward shape but I love how these awkward shapes teach us that we can be both things at once. We can hold it all. We can be a little uncomfortable or a little awkward. But we can also be easy and free. It can all live together happily. So Ananta decides that he wants to go to earth and experience this dance of bliss. And so Vishnu tells him all about it. He says, okay, here's what you have to do. You've got to find this special clearing in the forest and you'll know it because the trees light up at night. They have this soft like velvety gray undersides on their leaf. And when the moonlight hits it just right, it looks like they're glowing from within. When you see that, that's how you know you're in the right place. So Ananta gets ready and falls. Falls from the heavens all the way down to earth trying to become a human, but only makes it about halfway actually and becomes a half snake half human. So he's got snake body on the bottom and a human head on top. And when he falls, there's actually a woman down on earth who's been praying her whole life for a baby doing all kinds of rituals and magic to try to make it happen. And finally, she's about to give up. She's like, this is it last chance. And she just picks up a little bit of water in her hands. The most simple offering takes this water in her cupped palms, offers it up to the gods. And at that moment, that's when Ananta's falling and plop, he falls right into her palms. Her name is Anjali. And so he becomes Patanjali. Pat means to fall in Sanskrit. So he's the one who fell into Anjali's hands. And Anjali is like the prayer mudra. And so we called Anjali mudra as prayer pose. And Patanjali the one who fell into the prayer.

So we're going to take this pose and turn it on its back now falling like Patanjali onto your back. You can let your right leg open up to the right left leg long using support under your leg or a wall if you like. And then settling in for a bit here, living in the shape, what would it take to live here and make it sustainable? So Patanjali hangs out with his mom for a little bit. And then he says, hey, I gotta go. I'm here for a purpose. I've got to go see this dance. And he snakes away. He snakes along the ground into the forest and snakes and snakes and snakes through the darkness of night through the weeds and the brush and the undergrowth until finally the longest journey. Finally, he sees he sees in the darkness of night in the moonlight these trees that look like they're glowing from the inside. And he knows that's it. I found the place. He snakes his way into the clearing. And when he arrives, he sees there's an altar there. And on that altar are the most beautiful orchids you could ever imagine. So fragrant, so vibrant pink and purple and just incredible. And he gets frustrated. He says, you know, I'm just a stupid snake. I didn't have legs. I can't climb up to get these beautiful flowers. How am I going to offer anything that good to this altar for Shiva? And he gives up. He hangs a snake head and he sort of dejectedly starts to slither away. And then he realizes as he's slithering, he's looking at the ground because he's so low to it that there's all kinds of magic on the ground. There's herbs and there's crystals and there's beautiful mosses and mushrooms. And so he thinks, OK, let me gather those things. He starts to gather them and he brings them to the altar and puts them on it. And as soon as he does, there's this crack of light. And suddenly in front of him is Shiva dancing this Ananda Tandava dancing like the most incredible magical being, just just like a ball of light in ecstasy in front of him. And Patanjali is watching in amazement. And as he's watching, he looks and he sees that Shiva is actually crying too. He says, Shiva, why are you crying? I'm the one that should be crying. And Shiva says, I'm just so touched by this offering that you made. You brought your best to me and it's so beautiful. You can go ahead and let go the whole shape. Now we'll release the foot, bending your knee, coming back to center, taking a few moments to feel, to feel your hips, your legs, your chest. So many things were spread wide open here. So if it feels good to kind of come back together, you can let your knees fall together. It's even nice to cross your arms over your chest here. It's sort of a sweet way of holding yourself, of calling yourself back together. Let your out breath get long and slow and soft. So let's come on up into our next pose. We're going to become slithering snakes as we come onto our bellies in a sphinx pose. And as we come up, you can come onto your front side, placing your forearms and palms on the ground and sending your legs back behind you. And you can really have this sense of almost like gripping the earth for a moment as if you could feel the soil underneath your hands or fingertips sinking into the earth, forearms nice and heavy. And then seat relax. That's the hardest here. I think for me anyways, dive to keep checking in and say, okay, release your seat, release your legs. You don't have to hold on so tight. Your spine hangs like dangles like a string of beads here, nice and easy through the spine. And then imagining a pool of energy in your lower back, this glittering, alive, vibrating pool of energy. And your body just loves that your body loves compression, just drinks it in. It's like nectar to your tissues. So let that feeling of compression that you might find in your low back, imagine it spreading out, spreading into every tissue of your body and your body just drinking it in and loving every second of it. So there's so much in that story. So many little gifts and treasures, I think that help point us in the direction of really welcoming everything into our hearts. Like Brene Brown talks about whole living wholeheartedly, but not pushing any of it away. Because if you try to numb out the hard stuff, you end up numbing the good stuff too. So if you want to be a human, if you want the whole package, if you want to experience the dance of bliss.

And sometimes that ecstasy comes with a little agony. It's just part of the package. But if we try not to feel, we don't want to feel the difficulty, then we don't really get to feel the full experience of the bliss. You can lower out of your sinks pose, we're going to release it in a moving cat cow. So I'm taking my hands under the shoulders and climbing up onto all fours to do a little dance of our own bliss here. What would feel like bliss to your body? What are your bones crave? What are your tissues crave? Do you want to do cat cow? Do you want to circle your spine around like a jump rope? Do you want to ripple? Do you want to shift back and forth? There's so many things you could do. None of them are wrong. Anything that comes out of your body here, anything that emerges as a longing from your body is just right. So take as long as it needs, as long as you need to come back to feeling clear, to feeling pretty neutral. And then we're going to come back onto our side one more time. This time, actually we'll start on our front. So coming right back down to your front once again, taking a cobra, we're going to snake again cobra. That's pretty wide. I'm bringing my fingertips way out beyond the edges of the mat so that I can press into them and come up with this really broad chest. At the last moment, I'm going to lift my chin and then pour back down like a waterfall, the heart coming down, the head coming down. We're going right back up chin to chest to start with so that you roll up and the head is the last thing to emerge a couple of times like this, waving the spine, water falling the spine up and down. And then we're going to add some side to side movement here. So as I come up next time, I'm bending the left knee and I'm going to come up and reach the toes anywhere they go behind and over to the right and then back through center for a little rest. And then other side pressing into the fingertips, reaching the right toes back and over to the left. And we'll do that a few more times. And there's some options here. So you can stay like this. You can keep doing a bunch of these if you love this movement or we could transition it into a, I'm kind of like a fallen dancer. It's like a Shiva dancer pose that got tipped over on its side. So I think I'll show you first on my right side so that you can see what my legs are doing. I'm going to stretch my right arm out so that I can lie on it. And my bottom knee is bent for support. It's more helpful for balance. And then I'm going to try to reach for my left foot if you can find it. And if you can't, it's no problem. You could let your leg rest anywhere you like. You could use a strap here again and then holding onto that foot and gently re-relaxing the whole body. And that could be a really happy place for you to live and stay. It's like a dancer pose that got tipped over onto the ground and onto its side. Or some of you might feel like you want to take this one step further. So the top of my left foot is going to be coming towards the floor behind me. And as I roll backwards into a half saddle pose, I've got my seat hip just to the inside of the left heel. The left heel is just outside of it. And here you could always stack a bolster under your back, something under your seat. And this is totally optional. If you want to stay on your side holding the foot or any other variation, go for it. So wherever you choose to land in this one, loosen muscle from bone, let your body empty into the ground, invite gravity to come in and help you drop and soften. So I think about that offering that Patanjali at first thinks he doesn't have anything good to offer. Look, everybody's already done it. Everybody's already made the most beautiful thing or taken the most beautiful photograph, written the most beautiful music. Who am I? What do I have to offer? And then in the slithering through the weeds, he manages to find the perfect thing. I think that many of us, myself included, doubt ourselves or we think we need to be so perfect. And in trying to be perfect all the time, we miss out on a lot. Don't turn your back on your gifts. Let's come out of this. I'm gonna reach both arms overhead, makes it a little easier to roll out of it as you roll out, freeing your legs from whatever position they're in to come back to the front where we do just a couple more of those rocking side to side kind of cobra like things. I don't know what to call it. Reaching twisty, fallen twisty dancer, maybe side to side until we land happily on the other side. So this time I'm rolling onto the left side. When I get there, stretching the left arm forward to lie on it and then maybe reaching right hand to right foot, bending my bottom knee so that I have more stability. Again, you could use any prop here or you could even just lie here and just let your legs be bent and happy on the ground. I'm gonna hold my foot for a moment and take this dancer tipped over on its side. And if you're feeling like it's the right thing for you to do, you can keep going tipping even further over landing on your back body in a half saddle and anywhere your arms want to go is great. Any props that you want to use if you got them and then dropping in, settling like sand to the bottom of a glass of water, you settle and get quiet. Getting quiet and settling until you're, imagine your waters becoming clear. And I think about that offering too. I think about the offering as being all the treasures that we find in our difficulties as we snake our way through the weeds of being human through the brush and the growth and the muck. What treasures do we find in our difficulties? What beauty can be found even in the painful moments that we can hold up as an offering? And it doesn't mean one doesn't erase the other just because we went through some pain but we found beauty in it. It doesn't erase the pain, it doesn't negate the pain, but they both live together because we have these big soft white hearts that have room to hold it all. I'm not going to release this one to come right into resting into your Shavasana. So if you need something else on the way, I'm going to scoot. I fell off the mat a bit, so scooting back over onto the mat. If there's anything you need, if you want to hug your knees, maybe even a happy baby could feel nice here. You can reach up for your feet and then eventually finding a place to rest, allowing yourself a few moments here, a few precious moments of deep body rest, of bone deep quiet and stillness.

You can begin to call some movement back, slithering around again with your sneaky body soft and flexible, earthy and low and keeping some of that, right? Even as we come up and go about our day, can you keep some of that sweet earthy low feeling, that groundedness? Any way that you like to come up is welcomed. Once you do come up, you can come back to sit and bring your hands one more time into that Lotus Mudra in front of your heart, taking a breath in, slowly turning the wheel one time as you exhale, turning our big hearts and letting whatever comes up live there because we are spacious enough to hold it all. Fold your palms together in a prayer. Anjali Mudra, thank you for practicing with me.


Diane C
3 people like this.
Thank you Kelly. This was one of my favorite classes. This opened my heart to release so much emotion. The poses were so powerful during this emotional release. An amazing journey. 
2 people like this.
This practice is so tender and inviting, we more easily surrender to more challenging awarenesses and sensations. I appreciate these practices so much, Kelly. Thank you.
Jenny S
2 people like this.
Such a sweet, grounding and nurturing practice…Patanjali’s story really touched me, especially the story of how he got his name ❤️ Thank you Kelly for these profound offerings 🙏🏻
6 people like this.
I can not thank you enough for this healing practices Kelly K Although I've been teaching Yin Yoga for about 8 years, I always struggled with being still and practicing Yin myself. Your classes and storytelling opened a whole new world for me.
I hope there will be at least 100 more seasons of this show here on YAT. 
Kate M
1 person likes this.
Another beautifully reflective yin class. I love your way of embodying thematic material! So we really LIVE it. Thank you : )
Kelly K
1 person likes this.
Katrin omg you made me cry! thank you SO much! I hope there's 100 seasons too!! xoxoxo

Kelly K
1 person likes this.
Kate M thanks love! xoxoxo!
Sandra Židan
Thanks, Kelly, for sharing with us this beautiful and interesting practice! Namaste! ❤️🌼🌹
1 person likes this.
I loooove your practices, I get totally taken it by your stories and your voice and it makes me so calm and happy. Thank you!
Kelly K
Wynter thank you so much! xoxo ~k

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