30-Minute Vinyasa Yoga Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 4

Water: Flow State

30 min - Practice


This watery flow is designed to activate and open the front body while exploring what it means to be in the flow state, completely absorbed in your practice. We move through familiar standing poses, swimming seamlessly from shape to shape with intelligence and ease, bloom the heart in a supported King Pigeon pose, and settle into a brief visualization to close out our practice. You will feel calm, spacious, and held.
What You'll Need: Mat, Square Bolster, Strap

About This Video


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Greetings, friends. Thank you for joining me for this water element practice. It'll be helpful for you to have a strap and a bolster or folded blanket. Even a couch cushion works. It'll be handy for you in this practice. So let's dive in. We'll start on our backs. So go ahead and swing your feet around to the end of the mat. Roll down. Bend your knees and let your arms sweep over your head to reach back towards the top of the mat. And as you inhale, let your breath come in like a wave. Let your chest lift. As you exhale, soften the heart. Draw the tailbone under. Slowly roll up to bridge as you sweep your arms forward and down. And then roll right back down your spine on an inhale. Reach up and back. We'll move right into a simple but dynamic flow on the breath. As we exhale, we slowly lift the hips and sweep the arms forward and down. And then roll down on the inhale to reach up and back. So continue that and just start to notice the rhythm of your breath and the rhythm of your movement. And match the length of your breath to the length of your movement. So inhaling to the peak of the shape and exhaling as you transition into the next one. Just letting each asana pour into the next. And we'll keep that as a through line for our practice. We'll move through this dynamic bridge three more times. And what I love about water element practice is it really is an exploration of ease and effort. It's both challenging and releasing. So just continue to kind of notice your own flow, your own flow state as we allow ourselves to immerse in the movements, in the breath. And toning it up or dialing it down as it is appropriate for you. So come up to your bridge and hold for a moment. You can lace the fingers behind your back or take your strap and turn your palms up and just walk your outer shoulders in. Lift up through the heart center. Take a deep breath in. And then exhale while maintaining this shape. Shrug the shoulders down your back. One more breath here. Feeling the back body activate. Exhale.

Soften everything. Release your hands and shoulders. Dissolve down. And let's take thread the needle. So right ankle on top of the left knee. Pull that whole shape in. We just visited this shape many times in our earth element practice. Full breath here. Exhale. Set the left foot down. Cactus the arms in. Just rock from side to side from left hip to right while maintaining that thread and needle shape. Little mobility in the low back. Just rinsing off any tension that you might be holding there. And then let's change sides. Left ankle on the right knee. Draw the whole shape in. Relaxing and releasing in the hips and the spine. Release your right foot back down. Open up the arms and rinse from right to left across the hips. And just allow your spine and your ribs to go along for the ride. Coming back to the center. Draw the knees in. Start to rock and roll along the length of your spine. Forward and back a few times. Let this be a generous movement as if you were rocking and rolling underwater. And just kind of allowing yourself to go with the flow. One more time. Let's go ahead and come onto our hands and knees. Curl your toes under. Lift the hips. Press back to downward dog. And just ripple forward to your plank. Maybe adjust your hands. And then press back to down dog. We'll take this a few times for some bigger movements through the spine from downward dog. Rippling forward to plank. Hovering there and then pressing back. Just start to walk your feet up towards the top of the mat. Bending your knees. Taking your time to come to a forward fold. Bringing the feet close together if not touching. Soften the knees. Relax your spine. And then let's inhale to halfway. Ardha Uttanasana as we come up. And then exhale back into your forward fold. Uttanasana. Bend your knees deeply. We'll go right into a rhythmic Surya Namaskar B, Sun Salutation B. So sweep your arms forward and up into Chair Pose, Uttanasana. And as you exhale, sweep your arms back alongside your hips. Inhale, sweep forward and up like you're moving through salt water. Warm salt water. Exhale, sweep it back. Inhale, reach forward and up. Pause at the top. And this time as you exhale, pour it down into your forward fold. Release head and neck. Inhale to lift the heart halfway. Exhale, step back to plank. This is our first classic Vinyasa. So we'll lower either halfway or all the way. You can set your knees down. Coming through to Cobra or Upward Dog. And then exhale, Downward Facing Dog. So we'll take the right leg to sky on an inhale. Some variations here as you exhale. Bend the knee and just take a whirlpool, circling it from left to right elbow. Reach it back and up.

And then step all the way through between your hands, setting up for Warrior I. So back foot will go on a diagonal, a little to the left. Inhale to reach forward and up. And we'll stay with this rhythmic flow as you exhale. Release your hands. Humble Warrior. Lace your hands behind your back and dive down like you're going underneath the water. Come back up on an inhale. Warrior I. Exhale to plank. So we'll keep this kind of steady flow. Exhale, lower Chaturanga or skip it. Inhale, Upward Dog. Exhale, Downward Dog. Let the rhythm of your breath just carry you along like you're in a stream or meandering river. No need to rush. Let's inhale, left leg to sky. Exhale, create that whirlpool. Knee goes from right to left elbow. Reach it back and up. And then step all the way through, setting up for Warrior I. Inhale to rise. Exhale, release your arms. Lace your fingers. Continue exhaling as you lower into Humble Warrior. Inhale to rise. Warrior I.

Exhale through your vinyasa. You can always skip vinyasas if you like. Modify with your knees down. Inhale, open your heart. Exhale, Downward Dog. Hanging out here or feel free to come to Child's Pose. Couple of breaths. Relaxing through head and neck. Shaking a couple nods yes or no. Rinsing off with your breath. Let's inhale to the toes. Bend the knees. Look forward. Step or lightly hop. Top of the mat. Lift the heart halfway as you inhale, creating a strong spine. Exhale, Forward Fold. Bend the knees. Come to Utkatasana. Chair Pose. Looks like a chair. Doesn't feel like a chair. Exhale, sweep the arms back. Inhale, reach forward and up. Exhale, sweep the arms back. Once more just like that. Inhale to the peak of the posture. And then stand tall. Let yourself rise up through the surface. Tadasana. Release your arms. Take a deep breath in and sweep your arms forward and up. As you exhale, just relax the hands down like a wave. We'll step the right foot forward and on an inhale, lift the left knee coming into a standing balance. Just pause here for a moment. Feel yourself supported. As we exhale to transition to Warrior III, bring your hands to your hips. Soften your standing leg. Start to thread your left leg back to Warrior III. Maybe straightening standing leg. Maybe keeping it bent. And then swim the left arm forward, the right arm back. So there's lots of asymmetry happening. It's challenging. And then we back stroke to Warrior II. Weave your arms like we do in Eagle Pose, like jungle vines. And lift up a bit. This will open the back of the heart and shoulders. Let it lean back and then exhale circling down on the ocean floor and then coming up through the surface.

Really nice hip and shoulder opener here as we just move through some circular patterns letting go of the hard edges and angles and allowing a little fluidity. And then unwind back into your Warrior II. Reverse your Warrior. Take a deep breath in. Top arm circles in front of your nose and dissolves. Straighten the front leg and take the opposite arm over your head for Utthita Trikonasana. So Utthita just means extended. And then let it release back down. Bend your right knee. Inhale, reverse your Warrior. Just swimming from one shape to the next. Exhale, straighten the front leg and reach. Removing with strength and purpose. Soften but also with ease. Finding that balance of ease and effort. Exhale. Straighten the front leg. Inhale through your Trikonasana. And then exhale, Runner's Lunge. Step back to Down Dog. Take a breath here. Exhale. So a little bit of a different vinyasa for this cycle. Let's lower the knees down. Tops of the feet will go flat and we walk our hands back to either a low Virasana variation. Fingertips can plant behind the feet and you can lift through the heart and the thighs. If this doesn't feel good on your knees, a great option is just to walk your hands to your hips and take a High Camel Pose. As you exhale, reach forward. Come all the way through to Sphinx. I'm gonna slide my hips back a bit and readjust. Elbows under the shoulders. Lift the chest. Nice foundational backbend. Exhale. Curl the toes under. Lift to Dolphin. We just keep moving fluidly. Let the river, let the current take you here. Relaxing the chest back. And this is definitely a challenging shape. It's feeling like it's a little too solar. Child's Pose is right there. It's feeling like it's too lunar. Option to lift one leg at a time. This will turn up the volume and the potency. And then from here, we come into our Downward Dog. And let's take the second side. So left leg rises on an inhale. Exhale. Step it forward. Right foot follows. Forward fold. Inhale. Lift the heart halfway. Exhale. Release. With the flat back, come all the way up. Circle the arms wide. Exhale. Re-centering your gaze, your focus, your compass. Shifting your weight into your left foot. Lift the right knee. Finding your balance. Feeling buoyant and light. Hands to the hips. Start to thread your right leg back to Warrior III. Finding that balance. Bottom leg can be bent or straight. Swim right arm forward. Left arm back. And then backstroke to your Warrior II. Continue to weave your arms like jungle vines. Lean it back and then circle down. Feels so different on this side. Up and over. Exhale. Massaging in the hips. Inhale. Opening the back of the shoulders and heart. And just moving with a different way, a different perspective. Opening up through the chest. Reverse your Warrior. Reach up and back. Exhale. Circle the arm in front of you. Straighten your leg. Come up and over into Triangle. And a lot of these shapes will go back to that reverse Warrior as we swim through the space. Reverse Warrior to Trikonasana. A lot of these shapes are familiar. It's nothing that's, you know, crazy or so complex, but maybe the way that we're moving in and out of them feels a little different and offers us a different perspective.

Open into your Trikonasana for a moment. Take a full inhale. And then as you exhale, release your hands down. Step back to Down Dog. Take a breath. Relax. Coming down to the knees. Let's take this Virasana again. You can either take the high road, hands on the hips to lift or take the low road. Reach back and open the chest. Come forward through Sphinx. Sliding through. Inhale to rise. And let's go back to Child's Pose for a moment. Exhale. Rocking a little side to side. The hips. Massaging the frontal brain. Rinsing off. So you're welcome to stay here for a while and just kind of marinate in this shape. If you'd like to continue flowing, we'll come on up to hands and knees. Press back to Down Dog. And we're about to take a version of that same standing sequence, but just with a little more fluidity and a little less, not as many asanas. So let's inhale through the toes. Bend the knees. You can step forward or hop forward. Lift the heart halfway. Exhale. Release. Let's come up with a flat back. Circle the arms wide. Exhale. Coming back to center. Finding your focus. Setting your compass on one point. Sweep the arms up. Let's lift the left knee again. Feeling your balance. Draw the hands to the hips. We'll thread back to Warrior III. We won't be there as long. Arms reach wide. And then from here, step into Crescent Pose. And just take a couple big backstrokes, opening the chest. A little more lunar would be to lower the back knee down and continue to swim, opening up the heart. This time reach up. Take your left hand to the nape of the neck, right hand to the tip of the elbow and recline back into a little back bend here. Absolutely fine to lower the knee. We're going to end up here anyway in a moment. You're welcome to keep it lifted or lower it. Simple twist. Draw the left elbow to the outside of your thigh. Plant your palms. Turn the heart open. Full breath in. Exhale. Oh, that feels good. And then release. It's good to acknowledge. Release your knee down. Heel to the right foot open. And let's open up the quad of the left leg. So we'll reach back. Either grab your foot with your hand. You can always use your strap to lasso your foot and pull it over your shoulder. And just hang out here for a moment, checking in with the degree in which you can draw your heel towards your hip. Breathing with it and allowing a little fluidity. Sometimes when we get into quad opening, we kind of stiffen up and grip against it. But see if you can just soften and relax, remembering that all of your cells are constantly in pulsation and in motion. Feeling into that flow as you inhale, expand into the shape. And then as you exhale, just let it release. Super simple. Curl the back toes under. Let's step to the top of the mat. Exhale to lift the heart halfway. Exhale, let it go. With a flat back rise, circle the arms. Re-centering, exhale, hands to your heart. Second side. Sweep the arms up. Lift the right knee. Letting the current take you to warrior three. Hands come to the hips.

Your gaze will change to the earth as you thread back, arms wide. Maybe straighten that standing leg just to feel that buoyancy. And then dip back and down into crescent pose. Swim the arms up. Open through the heart. This might be my favorite part. Just this opening of the chest. One more time. Inhale, reach. And now take the right hand to the nape of the neck. Grab your right elbow and open up through the shoulders and heart. Recline a bit. Finding that fluidity like you're on the surface of the ocean. Let's move it into a twist. Maybe not get stuck anywhere. Reaching forward through the spine. Exhaling to turn your spine. One more breath. Release your hands down. Release your back knee down. Let's widen the front foot a bit. And then reach back for your quadricep opener. Opening through the chest. Pulling the heel in and out. Just exploring again. Getting curious. What feels good? What feels like too much or not enough? Coming back to that solar lunar question and answer. Being willing to look in. Self-study from time to time is good. Let's release. And then from here, we'll simply shift back to hands and knees and work with these props for coming into some options with pigeon, with royal king pigeon. So I love to use a bolster in the middle of the mat. If your knees are preventing you from coming into a classic pigeon, come onto your back and thread the needle will work just fine. And then you can take your strap as an option and just place it around the sole of your left foot. If you have one of these with a buckle, it's really nice to create a little loop at the bottom of the strap. This might be the hardest thing I ask you to do today. But you can do it. So we take that little loop, we put it on our foot, and then we can take the strap and just extend it forward. Quite simply, bringing the right foot around in front of the bolster all the way over to the left side and then drop the right knee forward and down. Oh, look at that. I've got a little seat in my pigeon pose. Back thigh, turn it in and down and lift through your chest. As you exhale, melt down. Take that again. Inhale, rippling up through the heart, pressing down through front knee. Exhale, exhale. Once more, we inhale to lift up and just again, check in with how everything's lined up. Hips square, shoulders square. This might be right where you stay. Option to take your strap, pull it over the shoulder and open up the quadriceps. This might be where you stay. You can even slightly lean forward if you're feeling your lower back compromised. Final option would be to take the strap behind your head and walk your hands down the strap towards the back foot. Breathing here, opening the heart, feeling the water element. Allow for a little ease and movement in the body, a little flow. And then exhale. We're out of there. Swing the back leg around. Coming into Janu Sirsasana, sole of the foot, the right foot at the inner thigh. We'll take the strap. It's part of us. Set it to one side and reach up. Exhale, counter pose, forward fold over the long leg. Hang out here and breathe. And just feel the effects of these shapes. Slowly coming up and let's prepare for the second side. So one of the things I like to remember when I'm using props, especially many of them, is to work with them as if they're part of my practice and part of my body so that we can find ways to bring an elegance into the practice. Sweep the left leg around to the right corner of the mat. Then bring your left knee over towards your left hand.

Inner of the right thigh reaches back and spirals in. Lift through the heart. As you exhale, forward and down like a wave. And this simple wave-like movement as we ripple up and press down gives us not only the key action of this shape, but also a little more length and buoyancy through the spine, more space between the vertebra. So let's ripple up tall. Stay lifted. This might be where you stay. You might take the strap over the shoulder and hang out here for a few breaths or lean forward. Last option would be to take the hands behind your head and press back. And finding truly in this shape that balance of engaging and lifting and also releasing and softening. Very challenging shape, very complex. So if you're feeling yourself at your edge, you are probably not alone. I'm right there with you. Take one more breath. And then slowly let the strap just slide through your hand. Lean into the left hip. Swing the back leg around. And yay, this is dessert, this next part. Solo the foot to the inner thigh. Reach your arms up to the sky as you inhale. Exhale. Relax over the long leg. Deep breaths. One more breath here. Slowly roll up the spine like a wave. Extend both legs out in front of you. You're always welcome to use your straps for any any posture, especially the forward folds. Reaching up on an inhale. As you exhale, Paschimottanasana, fancy name for a forward fold. Grabbing onto whatever real estate is there with the strap or not.

Lift your chest and then exhale, melting down. Last breath here. And then slowly rise up to the surface. And let's come into a comfortable seated position. You're welcome to turn your bolster or stay the direction that you're in, but just sitting cross-legged for a brief meditation. I'd love for you to visualize that you're sitting in warm water and the surface of the water is right about here at your chin. Allow your eyes to close so that you don't get to see me rolling up the strap. And allow your hands to just rest comfortably upon your knees. Take a deep breath in through your nose. And as you exhale, imagine yourself submerging under the surface of the water and just blowing slow bubbles, barely disturbing the surface as you exhale. And then slowly surfacing, visualize yourself coming up above the surface as you inhale. Submerge and exhale. Slowly rising to the surface as you inhale. In your mind's eye, visualize what the surface of this imaginary pool of water that you're in looks like, glassy. Is it a dark blue? Is it a light blue, turquoise? Holding the breath, gently feel yourself submerge under the water. Exhale. Slow and steady. Gently surface as you inhale. Again, visualize the feel, the tension or release on the water, the softness, similar to thinking mind, right?

The waves upon the surface of the water, just like our thinking mind as we drop down, submerge and exhale slowly. Once more, coming up to the surface, rinsing your mind as you inhale. As you exhale, this time we gently release onto our backs. And you're welcome to use this bolster behind your back for restorative supported backbend. You can set it up lengthwise, bringing your low back to meet it. Sacrum is on the mat and slowly reclining so that you're in a supported backbend. Legs can be in any position you like, long or knees bent, ankles crossed. Take a full breath in through the nose. Exhale through the mouth. Again, inhale deeply through the nose. Exhale through the mouth. Exhaling a little bit more, a little bit longer and then inhaling. Exhaling even longer and imagine yourself floating on the surface, this warm water, glassy, feeling safe and supported. Feeling your whole being become like water, your fluid nature and gently scanning from the crown of your head all the way down your skull, your neck, your shoulders, relaxing, softening through the chest, arms and hands, ribs and belly, hips and thighs, knees and shins, ankles, feet, toes, everything relaxed. Take three more breaths right here. Feel your whole being fluid and permeable, yet at the same time contained and held. You're welcome to stay here and continue to rest in this shape as long as you like. If you'd like to formally bring your practice to a close with me, just gently bend your knees, feet flat on the mat and start to gently windshield wiper your knees from side to side. Take about three or four more rocks here. And the next time your knees rock over to the right, come all the way onto your side. Press yourself up into a seated position, centering yourself to take a seat either on or off the bolster, your choice, circling the arms forward and up as you inhale. Final breath here together. As you exhale, just feel an internal om vibrating inside. Hands come down the midline and bringing the palms together at your heart. Let your eyes gently open. Thank you so much for being here and practicing with me today. Namaste.


Francesca Venturini
Being in the water is alwys a special experience. Thank you Shelley
Martha K
5 people like this.
This practice brought back so many memories of swimming in the ocean. I feel buoyed by the experience .
Christel B
3 people like this.
What a refreshing practice!
Jenny S
4 people like this.
I am so thankful for this practice! I was having an extremely low-motivation day and almost skipped yoga 🙀 but you had me at “strap” and “bolster” so I went for it. It never ceases to amaze me how yoga works its magic and makes everything brighter. I feel so much more fresh and alive and OH! That king pigeon feels so good! ✨✨✨✨✨
Catherine A
Many thanks Shelley for this fabulous practice! I'll look forward to repeating it...... I love pigeon pose but king pigeon is often a bit problematic for me; however the bolster and strap really helped me get the benefit of it Xxx
Jennifer L
2 people like this.
Love, love, LOVE this practice! Thanks so much!
Sandra Židan
Thanks, Shelley, for this beautiful practice! I loved doing it! Namaste! ❤️🌹🌼
Michelle F
2 people like this.
what a wonderfully watery way to start the day - loved the bolster in pigeon - than you Shelley!
Have a beautiful day
Galina L
2 people like this.
Lovely practice! Thank you
Kate M
1 person likes this.
Pure embodied poetry. The way you weave water imagery into the practice is brilliant. Love, love this watery flow...
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