The Ashtanga Practice Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 7

Backbending Flow

50 min - Practice
34 likes
Loading...

Description

Rosemary guides us in a dynamic heart opening vinyasa flow practice. With an emphasis on backbending and twisting, we find space in the thighs, hips, shoulders, and back body. This practice generates heat and builds strength and flexibility. You will feel energized, expansive, and cleansed.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video

Transcript

Read Full Transcript

(water rushing) Hi and welcome back. So today we're gonna be working with a really fun, juicy, a heart-opening, back-bending, flow sequence. Take care of yourself, take the back bends as deep or as supported as feels good for you today, and enjoy. So let's come to a comfortable seat to begin. Lotus, Half Lotus, or just an easy cross-legged position.

Let the hands rest up or down on the knees, let the eyes close, and let your gaze turn inward. Grounding through the sit bones, take a really tall spine, let the shoulders relax down the back. And begin to tune into the flow of your breath. Let that deep, full breath draw the energy and awareness into the body, beginning to soften the mind. And then intentionally shift your focus right into the center of the heart.

Our fourth Chakra, Anahata Chakra, is of course home to love, empathy, devotion, the ability to forgive, the ability to process any challenging negative emotions, the ability to grieve in a healthy way. Such an incredibly, incredibly power energy center, so as you're moving through these deep, deep heart-opening, back-bending poses today feel the energy of the heart center to continue to deepen the breath right into that heart and see what arises. Keep the eyes closes, take the hands to prayer at the heart center, exhale, empty all the breath out. And together fill it up. Really big inhale.

Om. Let's keep the eyes closed here and with your next inhale float your arms out and up alongside the ears, and as you exhale take a soft fold forward. Your forehead might rest on the earth, it might just be suspended for a moment, either way is fine. And then gently spin the palms open to face the sky here and take a moment to align your practice with your intention. Anything at all you wanna clear out or call in, related to the heart center or not.

Just whatever resonates for you in this moment. Let the intention be very simple, very clear, let it root in the physical body. And as you're ready spin the palms down to the earth, let your inhale gently rock you forward up onto the hands and the knees. Spread your fingers really wide for a firm foundation, and with your next inhale lift the tailbone, drop the belly, lift the heart, melt the shoulders, and exhale, round the back, tuck the tailbone, tuck the chin, pull the belly to the spine, and again, big inhale, lifting tailbone, heart, gaze, warming through the spine and the back. Exhale, round, tuck the tailbone, tuck the chin, and carry on at your own pace a few more cycles.

Maybe circle the head and the hips, the neck, the shoulders. Just coming into the body, noticing where the space is, noticing where the breath and the energy flow freely or where things might be a little sticky or tight today. And then gently draw yourself back to a neutral spine. Keep rooting through the hands, with your next inhale extend your right leg straight back, pressing through the heel, keep the core drawing in and up, so you're really strong through the center supporting the low back. And then with the next inhale extend the left arm straight out, long through the spine, reach through left fingertips, reach through the right heel.

Feel free to release and rest, or if there are no issues with the low back bend that right knee, reach back for the foot with the left hand, and gently begin to kick back through that right leg, opening through the chest and the left shoulder, and bringing a little breath and warmth into the right quad muscles. With the next exhale gently release, hand and knee go back to the earth, soft through the neck. And then to center with the next inhale left leg goes straight back, pressing through that heel again, draw the low belly in and up, keep that, and inhale, reach the right arm straight out, long through the spine, extend in both directions. Again, you're free to stay here, release and rest for a moment, or bend that left knee, reach back, take hold of the foot, and then begin to kick back through the leg as you lift and open through the heart. One more breath.

And with the exhale release, hand and knee go back to the earth, again, just soft through the neck. And to center, root the hands, inhale, tuck the toes, exhale, press up and back, Downward Facing Dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana, five breaths, pedal the feet, shift the hips a little side to side, maybe shake something out a little, just whatever feels best, beginning to open through the backs of the legs, muscles of the back. One more breath. And then steady yourself in Downward Dog, and let's take three slow, progressive Vinyasas here warming through the upper body. So inhale, roll it forward into Plank pose, exhale, lower your knees to the earth, elbows hug in, come all the way down to the earth, and then inhale, just a soft Cobra, lift up through the heart, shoulders melt down the back, exhale, press onto the hands and the knees, and go all the way back into Downward Facing Dog.

Again, on your inhale, roll it forward into Plank, exhale, lower the knees, come all the way to the earth, if the back is warm and ready for it, inhale, take the Cobra a little bit higher, and exhale, release down, press back to the hands and the knees, all the way to Downward Facing Dog. Last one here, inhale, roll it forward, exhale, knees first or Chaturanga, inhale, stay with Cobra or full Upward Facing Dog, and exhale, go back, Downward Facing Dog. Take a breath here. As you're ready, with the next inhale take the right leg straight up, and then exhale, simply step that foot forward for a simple twist. Ground the left hand and inhale, reach the right arm wide open, keep pressing through that back heel, reaching out through the heart, and extend the right arm up and over.

And take another breath here. And with the exhale release the right hand down, go ahead and lower the back knee for a low lunge, beginning with the hands on the front thigh ease the hips forward, draw the belly in and up, so you're strong and engaged through the core. Keep that steady foundation, inhale, arms up, and then exhale, interlace the hands behind the head, very gently begin to ease back into the clasped hands. Keep the legs strong, keep the belly slightly drawing in and up, offer the heart towards the sky, one more breath. And with the exhale release, take the hands to the earth, open the right foot a little, take the right hand inside.

If this is your edge, stay here. If possible, release down onto one or both forearms and elbows. If that's your edge, stay here. Otherwise, keep resting on that left forearm, bend the left knee, take the right hand back, and then open through the heart and the right shoulder, gently gazing back, and breathing into the left quad muscles. And one more breath.

And with the exhale release. Let's walk it back up, take the hands either side of the front foot, step back to Plank, and through the Vinyasa of your choice. Back to Downward Dog, right into the second side. Inhale, left leg up, exhale, step it forward, ground the right hand, and the inhale, simple twist, extend the left arm up, keep that back leg strong, open through the chest, maybe the left arm eases back a little wider. And with the next exhale release the left hand down, lower the back knee, simple low lunge, draw the hands to the front thigh to establish the foundation.

As you ease the hips forward lift from the low belly, and then inhale, take the arms up, and with the exhale interlace the hands behind the head, keep the strength of the center as you ease back. Could be just a little, could be pretty deep, whatever your back feels warm and ready for. One more breath. And as you exhale release the hands to the earth, take them inside of the front foot, stay up on the hands, or release to one or both forearms or elbows, keep this, just breathing into what you've got, or bend the right knee, reach the left hand back, take hold of that foot, and gently easing open through the heart, open through the left shoulder, breath into the right quad muscles. With the exhale gently let the foot go, and then walk the upper body back in and up, hands either side of the front foot, tuck the back toes, lift the knees, step into Plank, big inhale, exhale, Chaturanga.

Inhale, Upward Facing, and exhale, back Downward Facing Dog. Take a couple breaths. And then slowly as you inhale, walking the feet forward towards the front of the mat, just an easy Standing Forward Fold, Uttanasana, any variation that feels good for you. Hands can draw, they can brace on the legs for a little support, you can take hold of the elbows. Three breaths.

Letting it all unwind. And then keep the head heavy, soften the knees, hands release, if they haven't already, and slowly inhale, roll the body all the way up to stand, exhale, roll the shoulders down the back. Step the feet together, take the hands to prayer at the heart center. One breath here. And two cycles of Surya Namaskara A.

Inhale, reach the arms out and up, exhale, bow out and down. Inhale, halfway up, and exhale, hop or step back, take the Vinyasa of your choice. Three breaths and Down Dog. And with your exhale take a soft bend in the knees, hop or step to the front of the mat, inhale, halfway, exhale, bow and fold. Inhale, rise all the way up, and exhale, draw the hands to prayer at heart center.

Once again, inhale, out and up. Exhale, fold it forward. Inhale, halfway, and exhale, float back and through. Three breaths. With the exhale, soft bend in the knees, hop or step it forward, inhale, halfway, exhale, bow and fold, and let's come right into Utkatasana from here, bending the knees, inhale, scoop it up, really strong through the legs, really strong through the core, palms press or open, gazing straight ahead or lift it to the sky for three breaths.

With your exhale reach it back, interlace the fingers, then inhale, lift up through the heart, and exhale, let the legs lengthen and fold forward. Deep, deep breath into the upper back, neck, and shoulders. One more breath. With your next inhale, just for a moment bend the knees, inhale, scoop it up, Utkatasana, exhale, sink down into it a little, then inhale, rise all the way up, exhale, open arms, open through the heart, inhale, come back up, and exhale, bow, go right back down into the fold. Inhale, halfway, exhale, hop or step back.

From Downward Facing Dog with your inhale take the right leg to the sky, with the exhale step that right foot forward between the hands, root your back heel, and inhale, rise, Warrior One, Virabhadrasana. Take a big inhale here, then exhale, reach it back, interlace the fingers, inhale, lift up through the front body, and exhale, fold forward. Let the head drop inside of that front knee, reach the arms up and over, and breath into the upper back, neck, and shoulders, warming that whole area in preparation for back bending. Another breath. Press through the feet, inhale, return to Warrior One, exhale, hands to the earth, step back, Vinyasa, or let it go.

With the next inhale left leg to the sky, exhale, step it forward, root the back heel, and inhale, rise, Virabhadrasana A, take a big breath here. And with the exhale reach back, clasp the hands with the other thumb on top, inhale again, lift up through that front body, and exhale, fold it forward. With the next inhale take it up again, and exhale, hands to the earth, step back, take the Vinyasa. And back into Downward Facing Dog. Take a couple breaths here, really long through the spine.

And in a moment we'll link that all together, building the pace a little. If at any point you wanna slow it down feel free. If at any point you wanna just drop and rest in Child's Pose feel free. As you're ready, inhale, right leg to the sky, exhale, step it forward, root the back heel. Inhale, Warrior One, exhale, take it back, interlace the hands, inhale, lift the heart, exhale, fold forward, drop the head, inhale, come back up, Warrior One, exhale, hands to the earth, step back, Vinyasa is optional.

Inhale, left leg up, exhale, step it forward, root your back heel, rise on the inhale, Warrior One, exhale, take it back, the other thumb on top, inhale, lift the heart, exhale, fold it forward, inhale, back up, exhale, hands to the earth, step back, Vinyasa or skip it. One breath here. And one more cycle. Inhale, right leg up, exhale, step it forward, root the back heel. Inhale, Warrior One, exhale, reach back, interlace, inhale, lift the heart, exhale, fold forward, inhale, back up, exhale, hands to the earth, step back, push it away.

Left leg inhale up, exhale, forward, root the back heel, inhale, Warrior One. Exhale, take it back, interlace, inhale, lift the heart, exhale, fold, inhale, back up, exhale, hands down, step back through the flow. Finding Downward Facing, take a few breaths, just gather the energy, come back to your center. And as you're ready inhale, take the right leg all the way up and back, exhale, step that right foot forward, and on the inhale come straight up into High Lunge or Crescent pose. As you exhale, take the hands to prayer at the heart center, then inhale, lift the belly, lift the heart, and exhale, twist, hook that left elbow outside of the right knee, spiral the spine, and gently lift the gaze.

Feel free to lower the back knee, feel free to open the arms, even bind or half bind, any variation. Just really working on the twist, opening through that mid and upper back. One more breath. Inhale, return to your High Lunge, exhale, open into Warrior Two, Virabhadrasana B. Take a couple breaths, strong through the foundation.

And with the exhale, side angle, resting the forearm to the thigh, left arm up and over, or release that right hand down to the earth, inner or outer edge of the foot, and maybe a bind or a half bind here, breathing three. And two. Inhale, come on back up, and with the exhale lengthen that right leg, reach out and then down, coming into Trikonasana, left arm goes straight up to the sky. Take just one breath here. And then with the exhale wrap the left arm behind the back, find the hip crease or the sacrum, and take an inhale to roll that left shoulder open, then exhale, turn the gaze to the earth, creep the back foot in, Ardha Chandrasana, Half Moon, reach out, plant the right fingertips, left leg goes straight back, keep that leg awake and active, flex the foot, will help your balance.

And then stay here, or release the left hand to the hip or the sky, or Chapasana, left hand holds left foot, wide open through the heart. One more breath. And then with your exhale gently, quietly float back into Warrior Two. Take a big inhale, and exhale, hands to the earth, step back, through the Vinyasa. And Downward Facing Dog, one breath.

Left leg, inhale to the sky, exhale, step it forward, inhale, rise, High Lunge or a Crescent. Take a breath here, tall through the spine. Inhale, and exhale, draw the hands to prayer at the heart, take a big inhale, lift again through that central channel, exhale, twist, hook the right elbow outside of the left knee and spiral open through the spine. Any variations. One more breath.

Keep the foundation as you inhale, unwind the torso, take it straight up into High Lunge, exhale, open into Warrior Two, ground for a moment here. And exhale, side angle. You could rest the forearm, or ease the hand to the earth, maybe even bind or half bind. A few breaths. Pressing through the feet, inhale up, Warrior Two, exhale, lengthen that left leg, reach out and then down, Trikonasana, Triangle pose.

And reaching through the right fingertips, big inhale. With the exhale wrap that right arm behind the back, find the hip crease or the sacrum, take a big inhale to roll the heart and the right shoulder open, then exhale, look down to the earth, creep the back foot in, Ardha Chandrasana second side. Plank that left hand, and float it up. Right arm as is, hand to the hip or arm to the sky, or if you took Chapasana find it again here. Reaching back through the leg, reaching out through the heart.

And then quietly, gently exhale, float back into your Warrior Two. Take a big inhale, exhale, hands to the earth, step back, Chaturanga Dandasana. Inhale, Urdhva Mukha, exhale, Adho Mukha Svanasana. Big inhale, and with the exhale release the knees to the earth, sink the hips to the heels, Child's pose. In this variation you're free to have the knees together or wide and the arms reaching out or back alongside the body.

Forehead resting on the earth. Three breaths. And with the inhale lift to the hands and the knees and let's shift from here into Anahatasana, so keep the hips in line with the knees, energetically drawing back through the sit bones, as you exhale walk the arms way, way out, and then melt down either onto the forehead or the chin, over time maybe the heart center itself rests on the earth. Anahata is named for the heart Chakra and you can feel here that deep, deep release of the heart towards the earth, taking the breath right between the shoulder blades into the back of the heart. One more breath.

And with the exhale just sink back into Child's pose. One breath. Take your time, as you're ready, inhale, come back up onto the hands and the knees, and exhale, press back into Downward Facing Dog. Take a breath here. And then inhale, roll forward into Plank.

Slowly with control elbows in, strong center, exhale, lower yourself all the way to the earth. And then draw the arms alongside the body, rest the forehead on the earth just for one breath. Salabhasana, inhale, lift the legs, lift the upper body, chest and head, backs of the hands can stay on the earth, or the arms rise as well, lift the gaze, holding three. And two. Exhale, release, take a breath here.

And then this time clasp the hands behind the back and with your inhale take it all the way up again, legs up, heart up, and the hands rise up off the tailbone, soft through that neck, holding again for three. And two. Exhale, release. Take the hands outside of the rib cage, tuck the toes, take a big inhale, and if possible as you exhale press straight up into Plank pose. Big inhale, exhale back to Downward Facing Dog, take a breath.

And then as you're ready, soft bend in the knees, come all the way through to sit, and go ahead and lie down on your back. Bend the knees, plant the feet on the earth about hips distance, and rest the arms alongside the body. So we're gonna move into three back bends from here. They can be as deep or as gentle as you like. You're fairly warmed up, from prior back bending, so if you're ready to come right into full Urdhva Dhanurasana feel free, otherwise we'll start very gently, press through the feet, scoop the tailbone, lift the hips.

Hands can interlace, walking the shoulders in and under, five breaths here. You can even take this entire finishing back bending sequence on the block if that's what the body's feeling for today. With the exhale release and come all the way back down. Just take a breath to rest. Stay with that gentle variation or plant the hands under the shoulders, press deep into the earth, and inhale, rise all the way up.

Wide open through the heart, take the breath right into that energy center. And three. Two. With the next exhale gently release, coming all the way back to the earth, again, simply rest for one full breath. Third and final back bend here.

Again, stay with that gentle bridge or come up into full Urdhva Dhanurasana, rise on the inhale. Now if this is your edge, stay here. You can play with it as much as you'd like. If you're fairly warm and like a deeper back bend we're gonna play with it a little with the Viparita Dandasana, so release the forehead down to the earth, take the forearms and the elbows down, clasp the hands, and then begin to walk the feet in, if possible, lift the head up off the earth, send the heart to the wall in front of you. And breath.

One more breath. You choose, if you're ready to come out of it feel free, if you'd like to walk the feet out getting long through the legs that's also an option. We'll do just three breaths here. If the legs are extended, gently walk them back in. To come out a Viparita release the crown of the head back to the earth, mindfully release the clasp of the hands and plant them back on the earth.

Just for one inhale lift again into full Urdhva Dhanurasana and then exhale, chin to the chest, and release all the way down, Supta Baddha Konasana. Soles of the feet together, right hand to the heart, left hand to the low belly, close the eyes. And notice how you feel. Tune into the breath, the flow of energy throughout the body, any shift in resonance in the heart center. More and more awareness of your entire experience.

A few more breaths here. And gently, as you're ready, draw the knees together and draw the legs in towards the chest, wrap the arms around the legs and rock yourself a little side to side. So we'll take a twist to the right, you can keep the legs as is, you can wrap either leg on top, really any preferred twist, and then you drop the legs over, take that right hand to the left knee or the left thigh, extend the left arm out to the left. Gently follow the left arm and fingertips with the gaze, so the neck follows the twist. And take full five slow, deep breaths here.

Slowly on the inhale draw the legs back to center, if the legs are crossed wrap the other leg on top, move the hips to the right a little, and then ease the legs to the left. That left hand can come to the top knee or thigh, the right arm reaches out to the right, and then follow the right arm and fingertips with the gaze. Maybe let the eyes close. Again, five deep, slow, steady breaths. Right down the length of the spine into the low back and the sacrum.

So important after deep back bending to counter with twists or Forward Fold. Give the low back and the sacrum time to release and reset. And nice and easy, inhale, draw yourself back to center, hug the legs in towards your chest again, wrap the arms. Very soft rock from side to side. And a little more release for that low back, let's come into a Happy Baby, taking the outer edge of the feet, knees wide.

You can keep this neutral or you can rock it a little side to side. Really any variations that feel good in your body. Another breath or two. And from here draw the legs together again, hug the knees in towards the chest, and then curl yourself up into a little ball, the knees come to the forehead, the eyes close. Gather all that energy into one singular focus, take a big inhale, and exhale, release, Savasana.

As always, be as comfortable as possible for your final rest. Release your hair, release any clothing that doesn't feel good, maybe prop up the knees, maybe cover the eyes. And then just complete surrender. The legs drop, the arms drop, the eyes close, the gaze and the awareness go deep, deep within. Keep the entire body really soft and relaxed, and let's take one big inhale together, fill it all the way up, hold your breath in at the top.

And then open the mouth, exhale, let it all go. Rest the body, rest the mind, and the heart, and the subtle body. And allow for the integration of your practice. Gently draw your awareness back to your breath. If you'd like to stay in Savasana always feel free.

Otherwise on an inhale, extending the arms up and over, and reaching through the fingers and the toes. Exhaling, bend the knees, feet to the earth, gently roll the body to the right, and guide yourself all the way back up to a comfortable seat. We'll take just a couple moments of stillness here together, rest the hands for now, close the eyes. Find a tall spine. And then place the left palm right on the heart center and take the right hand on top of the left.

And take a soft bow of the head down towards the heart. And move your awareness there, noticing anything that has arisen through your practice. Sometimes it reveals itself immediately, sometimes there can be powerful reverberations later in the day or even the following days. Just paying attention to your heart center, allowing space for anything that may arise. And we'll keep our hands here as we close the practice together with the sound of om.

Together a big inhale, om. And gently inhaling, with your exhale a soft bow forward. Namaste. So again, thank you so much for sharing the practice, go gently with yourself for the rest of the day, the following days, paying attention to anything that arises in the heart. Enjoy, be well, namaste.

Comments

I loved this class, Rosemary! Such a nice and challenging backbending practice.
Thanks Sarah! So glad you enjoyed it. Many blessings, R
2 people like this.
Yet another brilliant class, thanks so much Rosemary! I can't wait to practice more with you. Namaste xxx
Thank you SO much! More classes are coming soon… If you love back bending, there's gonna be one that's just perfect for you! ; ) Have a beautiful day. Xxo.
1 person likes this.
LOvely, just lovely. Superthanx from Sweden
Thanks Johanna! Enjoy...
2 people like this.
Excellent. So opening. Balanced energy throughout the body.
Thanks, Eric. So happy to hear this... Peace, peace, peace.
2 people like this.
Magnificent!
1 person likes this.
Sweet flow, Rosemary. Lovely balancing to some sitting-down-work I was doing earlier. : ) Thank you!
1-10 of 16

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

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