30-Minute Vinyasa Yoga Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 6

Air: The Breeze of Your Breath

30 min - Practice


Move fluidly and steadily with the breeze of your breath in this practice focused on balance poses. We flow through Tree, Half Moon, Temple Dancer, and Standing Marichyasana to improve focus, open the leg muscles, and build low-back stability. Shelley also leads us through 3 foundational breathing techniques for mental clarity. You will feel clear, accomplished, and open to new ideas and intuitions.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block (2)

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Greetings, friends. Welcome to your air element practice. It'll be helpful to have two blocks for this practice. We'll be moving in and out of a lot of balance postures, and we can start seated for a little breath work on top of the block. So if you'd like to perch your pelvis right on top to elevate it, this allows our spine to be nice and long so that we can breathe deeply into our lungs.

So let's begin moving our energy and clearing out with the breeze of the breath. Love for you to sit tall, relax your shoulders, feel free to close your eyes, and just listen to the sound of your breath as you inhale deeply through the nose. Pause for a beat, feel the suspension of your breath, and then exhale deeply through either the nose or the mouth. And pause at the bottom. We'll give that breath a little bit of a ratio, it's called square breathing.

So let's inhale to the count of one, two, three, four, and hold, two, three, four, exhale, four, three, two, one. Hold the out breath, three, two, one. Inhale, two, three, four, hold, two, three, four, exhale. Three, two, one, and hold, three, two, let's add on to that. Inhale, two, three, four, five, hold, two, three, four, five, exhale, four, three, two, one, hold the out breath, four, three, two, one.

Exhale a little more, three, four, five, six, hold, two, three, four, five, six, exhale, five, four, three, two, one. Hold the out breath, four, three, two, last one. Exhale two, three, four, five, six, seven, hold, two, three, four, five, six, seven, exhale six, five, four, three, two, one, and hold the out breath. Take a deep breath in. Little suspension at the top of the waterfall and then exhale, relax your shoulders, let your spine soften, rounding inward, forehead towards the earth, just kind of bow into yourself and gently maybe open your eyes.

Inhale to lift through the chest, rock forward on the sit bones and even turn your gaze towards the sky, exhale, round your spine, draw in, back and down, opening the back body. Inhale to rock forward and lift your chest, it's a seated cat cow, and we're just exhaling and really using our breath to exaggerate this movement and to guide the movement from the inside out. So as you inhale, open the front body and as you exhale, open the back body, drawing down, back and in, one more time, moving your spine like a spring, activating front and back, exhale to round, and then coming back to neutral and again, just with the breath, circulate the shoulders a few times, massaging around the top of the lungs, the base of the neck, take a full inhale here. As you exhale, expand through the arms, reach through the fingers, palms open into the space, into the air around you, palms touch over your head, and as you exhale, draw the hands down the midline. Let's come onto our hands and knees, you can set your blocks to one side, we'll utilize these towards the front and back of the mat later on in this practice.

So simple cat cow just like we did, seated just one time, inhaling to arch your back, inhaling round your spine, pulling the navel in, once more, inhaling to arch, exhaling to round, and then we'll move into a little rolling sidearm balance. So let's extend the left leg long, pivot the bottom shin and sweep your left arm up and over for a rolling sidearm balance, and then we'll come through the center, changing sides, reach the right leg back, sweep your right arm up and over. We'll continue with that a couple more times as you inhale, just starting to explore and swim through the air around you. Inhaling to extend the leg long, reaching over your head, exhale, you can continue like that or move from plank and feet hips width apart, we'll roll the heels to the right, sweep the left arm up and over, this is a little more solar, a little more activating, through the center, heels to the left, inhale, sweep, right arm, keeping the hips high if you're feeling really active, you can add a little chaturanga push-up in between, inhale to sweep up and over, and once again, just utilizing your breath, exhale one more time up and over, utilizing your breath to guide every movement. Let's press back to downward dog, taking three cycles of ujjayi breathing, just through the nose, listening to the sound of your breath, and that sound of the ocean or wind blowing through leaves as you drag the breath down the back of the throat, and that sound gives us something to focus our mind on.

So simply by listening and resonating your breath, it helps to clear and calm the mind. One more breath here. Let's start to walk our feet and hands to meet in the middle of the mat, coming into a forward fold, place one block tall towards the front edge of the mat, and go ahead and place the other block tall to the back edge of the mat, so it'll be there waiting for you when we go into some balances later on. Let's roll up the spine, and then turn towards the long edge of the mat and circle the arms out and up, feet hips width apart. As you exhale, hands to your heart, we'll move through a couple of half sun salutations here, so inhaling to circle wide, reaching up to your peak, suspend for a moment, and then exhale, swan dive, leading with the heart, forward fold, bend the knees as you like.

Inhale halfway, exhale release. With the flat back, come all the way up, full body breath in, reaching through the space, really clear out with the exhale, exhale all the breath out, inhale to your next cycle, reaching out and up, exhale, forward fold, bend the knees as you like, release through the head and neck, inhale halfway, exhale, moving with the breath, forward fold. One more cycle with the flat back, rise, lifting your head, heart, hands to the sky, exhale, hands to center. Let's take one more, inhale to reach, exhale, swan dive, lead with the heart, forward fold, inhale halfway, exhale, let it go. Flat back to rise, deepest breath yet, linger at the top, see if you can sip in a little more air as you stretch from feet to hands.

As you exhale, hands come down the midline, soften the knees, and let's shift into a little balance transfer here. We did this in the very beginning of this season of this show, so shifting your weight over into the right foot, lift your left knee, sweep the arms out and up, feel the support of the air around you, almost like it's holding you here in space. As you exhale, cross the wrists right through the midline, sink down through the center of gravity, through the mat, and then transition your weight over to left foot as you lift right knee, embracing any wobbling, exhale, come down through the midline, take it over to the other side again, inhale, lift. As you exhale, simply cross your left knee over the right, and your toe can just find a little purchase here on the mat as you sink down, it's a variation of eagle pose. Come back up to that single knee lift, and then exhale, cross through the midline, transferring your pelvis, your weight over the opposite foot, inhale to rise, exhale, it's like you're having a seat gracefully, inhale to rise once again, exhale through the midline, we'll come back to that again later and add on to it.

So let's stretch the legs wide, take the feet a little bit wider apart, reach into the space around you with a deep breath in, turn the palms face up and lift your chest, and then again, exhale, forward fold, let it go. Inhale ripples through the spine, forward and up, like there's a little breeze coming right up underneath your chest, and then exhale, melt back into it, release your head and neck down. Inhale, do that again, lift up, just a little rhythmic movement through the spine like waves across the ocean, exhale, melt it down, and when we see those waves rippling across the ocean oftentimes they come from wind, so just feel how your breath as you exhale and inhale moves your spine like a wave, inhale to reach, now stay lifted, let's pivot to the right and we'll step towards the top of the mat, feet together, bend your knees, come into Utkatasana, chair pose, fierce thunderbolt pose, exhale, sweep the arms back, this is a familiar flow, so we inhale, reach forward and up, maintaining your chair but just sweeping your arms through the space, through the air around you, stirring up energy, clearing out as you sweep back and forth, inhale to reach one more time, exhale, sink it back, and now come up and lift your left knee as you rise, open it up into your tree, it can be low, medium or high, wherever you choose to place your foot, inner ankle, inner calf, inner thigh, just try to avoid the knee and press the foot and leg together, focus your eyes on one point, once again feel the air supporting you, feel your breath kind of informing this shape, one more breath here, now as we exhale we'll disengage foot from leg here, that sounds sort of weird, but you know what I mean, and then step back to a low lunge, lower the back knee down, take the right arm to the sky, simple twist, exhale, release it down, set your back foot up for warrior two, so we'll lift the knee, pivot the back foot, and come all the way up to Virabhadrasana two, let's work with a little balance flow here, so as you inhale, reverse your warrior, and you're welcome to slip the back arm, your left arm behind your back, as you exhale, push off the back foot, sweep forward and up into your half moon, and your block is waiting for you, I like to turn it tall, bend your standing leg, inhale, sweep back to your reverse warrior, exhale, sweeping forward, down and up, half moon, and just enjoying that rocking motion as you reach back and forth, reverse warrior into your half moon, that's our third cycle, let's take one more, inhale, exhale, opportunity from half moon, if you'd like a little more, bend the top knee, grab onto your foot for chapasita, if you don't want more, don't do it, let it go, right, it's always your choice, solar or lunar, some days we need more, some days we need less, start to square off your hips and shoulders towards the earth, bend the standing leg and look forward, now start to rise up to your royal dancer, if you're not coming out of chapasita, then you just stand up, grab onto your foot, and then expand into a baby royal dancer, just feel the breath informing the shape, and then as you exhale, let it go, step to the middle of the mat, just shake things out of it, circle out and up, full body breath in, exhale, forward fold, reach your hands forward to a wide leg downward dog, let's rise up onto the toes as we inhale, dome the back, and then exhale, heels down, heart melts, hang out here, spreading the toes, feeling the breeze of your breath, maybe shift shoulders and hips a little side to side, this is a lunar moment here, just relax. And let's walk our hands back in under the shoulders, lift the chest, we'll take the second half of that sequence to the back of the mat, so pivot to your left, step the right foot to the left foot, come into utkatasana, fierce thunderbolt, sweep the arms back as you exhale, inhale, reach forward and up, exhale, sweep it back, inhale, forward and up, once more, exhale, come all the way up to standing, lift the right knee, finding your balance, turning it into a tree pose, low, medium, above the knee, a little higher, whatever works for you today, it's different than yesterday, it's different than tomorrow, place it, breathe with it, finding your steadiness, feeling the support around you, and then let's take the foot off of the leg and step back to a low lunge, lower the knee, left hand to the sky, inhale, little rinse through the spine, exhale, set up for warrior two, back knee lifts, pivot the foot, come on up, and settle into this shape for a moment, really feel your hips, your roots, dropping into earth energy, feel the flow of the breath as you expand, and then let's reverse our warrior, you can slip the right arm behind your back as you inhale, exhale, it's a big push off the back foot, reach for the block, open up into Ardha Shandrasana, half moon, and then bend the standing leg, step way back, reverse your warrior, that's your inhale, exhale, float, fly, hover in your half moon, and it's okay if you fall, it's gonna happen, but just continue to work with your breath, finding a rhythmic flow from reverse warrior to half moon, that's our third one, let's take one more, reversing your warrior, adjust your feet as you need to, exhale, half moon, from here, option to take chapasana to grab onto your foot, it's not uncommon that when you reach for that foot, the hamstring will grab a little bit, if that's happening, you can just shake out your leg, start to turn the hips and shoulders towards the earth, look forward, bend the standing leg, and then inhale, slowly rise, navigating your balance to royal dancer, and then exhale, shake it off, come back to the center of the mat, set up your feet, hips width apart, and just ground down, so reconnecting to all the elements that we've just experienced in this season, the rooting through the feet to earth, the flow of water and the fluidity as we move in and out of these next few balance postures, the focus and discipline of fire, and the breath of air, so let's kind of start to put all these things together now that we've been working with this, so soften through the knees, and then shift your weight over to your right foot, inhale, lift your knee, we've done this a bunch of times together, this time as you exhale, ankle to the knee, hands to the heart, sink back into temple dancer for a moment, this is a familiar shape, welcome to do this flow next to the wall by the way, as you inhale and extend your arms up, leg forward, and then as you exhale, come through the midline, cross at the wrists, shift your weight over to opposite foot, inhale to lift your knee, exhale, ankle to knee, hips back, knees pressed forward, temple dancer, inhale to reach up, extend, exhale, transition with earth, water, fire, inhale, rise up into the air, exhale, ankle to the knee, sit back, let's add on to this flow, inhale to reach, leg long, bring your hands to your hips, transition to warrior three, you can bend the standing leg and open the arms wide, taking flight like the pelicans you see gliding over the ocean, and then catch the updraft as you inhale, lift your knee, reach forward and up, exhale through the midline, back to earth, let's do it again, inhale, exhale, lift through the knee, exhale, ankle on the knee, reach back through the hips, forward through the heart, come back up, inhale, exhale, hands to your hips, shifting into warrior three, taking the arms wide like wings, feel the support of the air around you, and then inhale, rise and hover, exhale through the midline, beautiful work, circle the arms wide, out and up, exhale through the midline, again, out and up, flushing the breath, exhale, one more, exhale, let's step to the front of the mat, and we'll come into malasana, I love to use the blocks, you can use one or two and have a seat, elbows press against the inner knees, lift through the heart, and do play around with the height here, you can always turn the block a little taller, or stack two on top of one another, option to open up, right hand down, just outside of the mat, left arm reaches to the sky, option to internally rotate and wrap right around the shin, and open up through the chest, another option would be to bring your left foot closer, come up onto the ball of the right foot and actually shift forward, off of the block, this is a little bit of a tricky transition but it's possible, and lift up into one last balance, standing marichyasana, slowly, coming back down, releasing, and then sitting back down. The birds make it look so easy when they land and take off, a little bit harder for us humans but let's try, so expand your wings, open, internally rotate, wrap around the left shin, see about creating a bind, bringing the feet a little closer together, leaning forward, so I use that block as a kind of a take off perch, and then rise, slow and steady, all the way into your standing marichyasana.

Slowly come back down, sometimes you gotta just let it go and sit down, you did it, lift your chest, take a deep breath in, exhale, hands to the mat, let's lift the hips into our forward fold, I'm gonna set the block off to one side, step back to plank, shift forward, lower down to the belly, create a little pillow for your forehead with your hands, and rest. Just enjoy a few breaths into the back of the heart, the back of the body, feeling your low back, middle back, and upper back expand with breath, as you exhale, soften, and drop the body weight down. You're welcome to stay here and just breathe, if you'd like to add a little bit of back bend, feel free to reach your hands back alongside your body, palms face down, forehead on the mat, and we referenced the pelicans earlier, let's take flight again here, we can lift through the chest, coming up into shalabhasana, locust pose, as we lift the arms and lift the thighs, thigh bones spiraling in as you reach back through the legs, there's lots of different options for this shape, you can extend the arms wide like wings, or even forward like superman or woman, you're welcome to reach back and release your fingers, opening up the chest and shoulders a little more as you rise, if the low back is feeling compromised, maybe take the feet a little wider apart, and just hang out here, breathe, feel yourself supported by the breath, holding for two more breaths, lengthening through the back of the neck, let the arms open up wide if they're not already there, and then hands come down on your next exhale, right next to your shoulders, slowly press through hands and knees to child's pose, and this is our counter pose. Couple of moments here, relax and roll from left to right side of your forehead, and let's come up into our final round of pranayama, a little bit of breath work, so we'll come up to hands and knees and once again have a seat, you're welcome to sit on your blocks again or a bolster, any position that works for you, and when we hear the Sanskrit word pranayama, one of the direct translations of that is breath control, prana also translates as life force, and another translation that I love is pranayama means to extend the life force, to extend the life force, so let's do that with our breath here, we'll work with alternate nostril breathing, so take your peace fingers to your third eye, give it a little massage, and then use your thumb to close the right nostril, let's inhale deeply through the left, pause at the top, use those remaining two fingers to close the left, open the right, and exhale, inhale through the right side, pause at the top, close the right, open the left, exhale, inhale through the left side, that's the lunar channel, feminine receptive side of your being, close the left, open the right, exhale, inhale through the right, this is the solar masculine side of our being, close the right, open the left, exhale, inhale through the left, lunar channel, seal at the top, open the right, exhale, solar channel, and we work with this particular breath pattern to balance our energy, solar lunar energy, let's inhale through the right side, pause at the top and seal, open the left, exhale, take one more full cycle, inhaling through the left, close, open the right, exhale, you might notice one side's a little more free flowing than the other, that's okay, inhale through the right, pause at the top, open the left, exhale, release your hands, take a deep breath in through both nostrils, as deep as you can, pause and hover at the top, let the shoulders relax, just hold your prana at your heart, exhale through either the nose or the mouth, empty your breath, hold the out breath, inhale deeply, pause at the top, relax your shoulders, sit tall, holding your prana right at your heart center, exhale completely, and you're welcome to stay seated here and continue to breathe simple ujjayi with a little suspension at the top and at the bottom, if you'd like to do that continuously you're welcome to, otherwise feel free to shift into your shavasana, setting your block to one side and coming down onto your back for full relaxation. Wherever you choose to go, just allow your breath to flow naturally and visualize your breath as a healing color, maybe a white or light blue, visualize your breath swirling through every cell and every part of your body, your mind, your heart, into the parts of you that you cannot see, through all the energetic lines of the body, mention the solar and lunar, we call it the ita and pingala nadi, the crisscross at each chakra on the central channel of your spine, the shashuna.

In addition to that, there's said to be some 72,000 lines of energy in the body, 72,000 lines, so breathing into all that you cannot see but that you can feel, extending your life force, feeling a deep sense of relaxation, just like when you feel a warm breeze upon your skin, feel the internal breeze of your breath, a simple deep breath can automatically down regulate and relax our nervous system. Start to bring your awareness back into your body, send a little bit of movement into your fingers and your toes, reaching your arms over your head as you reawaken, stretching from your fingertips to the tips of your toes and then exhale, draw the knees into the chest. You're welcome to just stay here in your shavasana or your seated breath work for as long as you like, if you'd like to end formally with me, just roll over to one side and come on up to a comfortable seated position. Let's bring the hands to the heart, so rest the left hand on the heart center, right hand on top of the left as you inhale, fill your lungs, fill your heart, rise up into your palms, the majestic power of your breath, your life force, your prana. As you exhale, open up your arms as if you're opening up for an embrace, feeling your fullness here.

Thank you so much for joining me this morning, this afternoon, this evening, wherever you are. Draw the hands back together, have a wonderful day. Namaste.


Jenny S
4 people like this.
I loved everything about this Air ptactice, including the color of your “yoga costume” (shout out to Kira 😉) this was so freeing - playing in balance postures in between the two mind-expanding pranayama practices was just the perfect way to brighten the day! Thank you Shelley ✨🙌❤️
Christel B
2 people like this.
Wonderful flowing practice indeed!
Catherine A
A super wonderful flow , Shelley. A lot of wobbling went on here especially in Marichyasana, but it was very freeing and airy overall and most enjoyable. Many thanks ❤️
Francesca Venturini
This show was just lovely! Wishing you a beautiful spring season full of energy, for your amazing job and for your family! Thank you for the positive energy you spread around the world!!!
Sandra Židan
Thanks, Shelley, for this beautiful practice! I loved the breathwork part in it- it made me feel better! Namaste! ❤️🌷🌼☀️
1 person likes this.
great stuff - unlike catherine though i didnt even get off the floor to experience a wobble with marichyasana! definitely needs work. :)
Shelley Williams
Jenny S What a lovely response, thank you so very much! It felt so different filming this in front of the open doors with the crisp air and scent of the orchard... pure magic! Glad some of it translated to you!!
Shelley Williams
Christel B Thank you Christel...something about being in a place with wide open spaces (but you know that) sending Aloha vibes across the air waves
Shelley Williams
Catherine A Embrace the wobble! It's a great feeling when we do, and the direct connection/ opportunity to feel and relate to the air and space around us!
Shelley Williams
Francesca Venturini Thank you so very much for the Spring blessings and wishes. It is here, and we are seeing the blossoms and baby leaves sprouting up everywhere in our little garden.  So happy to know you found these practices empowering and enjoyable! 
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