Move to Meditate Artwork
Season 5 - Episode 2

Clarity from Head to Heart

35 min - Practice


Release tension in the neck as we explore the relationship between the head and the heart. We begin seated finding space in the neck and upper body, move mindfully with the breath through smooth, slow Sun Salutes, pausing in standing poses to explore the space in the neck and shoulders, and root down in seated meditation. You will feel clear and refreshed.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block


Read Full Transcript

Hello, I am Margit Young and I welcome you to this episode of Move to Meditate. We're going to start by just rubbing the hands together and getting a little bit of friction, a little bit of heat in between the hands. This practice today is a half hour. We'll have a little time at the end to sit quietly and we're going to explore the relationship of our head and our heart. And right in between the head and the heart is the neck, which many of us have tightness, soreness, tension in the neck, so we'll be doing a lot of neck openers to open the channel between head and heart.

Let's take the heels of the hands now, the warm heels of the hands, rest them right over your eyes. And invite all of the muscles that circle the eyes to soften, as well as the feeling of the eyes moving back and see the darkness. And then slowly slide your fingertips over to the sides of your head and just give a little massage in there to the temple flesh and the musculature on the sides of the skull. Can be a little tender there for some of us. And then we'll slide the fingers further down to the jaw, the masseter muscle, it's an extraordinarily strong muscle here at the base of the jaw.

Many people, my dentist, according to my dentist, many people are grinding their teeth more than ever. So for many of us, this jaw can get a little tight and sore. And then let your hands just come to the top of your head and just tap on the top of your head, kind of like you're out in a rainstorm and the rain is falling, falling on the top of the head, just waking up this crown, the crown chakra. The ancient yogi said there were an infinite amount of lotus petals at the top of the head. I always love that.

And then let's float the hands down. Take a smooth inhale. Let's let it out with a little sigh. And then let your right ear drop over towards your right shoulder. So we're stretching the left side of the neck.

Try to keep the sides of the waist even, the collarbones even, so we're really going just for the head to the side. And then smoothly, slowly roll your chin to your chest. And as you inhale, lift your head, lift your arms and look up. And then slide your hands back down onto your legs. We'll do the second side.

The left ear drapes towards the left shoulder. Sometimes I imagine there's like sand flowing out of my ear right over the shoulder. The head weighs about as much as a bowling ball, so really use the weight of your head to stretch the right side of your neck. And then roll chin down towards the chest. And as you inhale, the arms go out and up, look up.

And then float your hands down. First side again, right ear drapes. This time, put your right hand onto the ground. We'll take a big side bend over to the right side, feeling the left ribs open like an accordion. And then to come up from this, first move your arm.

So the arm goes first. And then kind of as if someone's pulling on your left fingertips, let your spine come up with the head dragging up, coming up last. Head goes left, left hand roots, right arm up and over. Getting those right side ribs open and then bring the right arm down by your side. I imagine someone pulling on my hand to bring me up.

One more neck stretch here. We're going to take both hands onto the right collarbone. So your biggest muscle of the neck, the sternocleidomastoid connects from underneath your ear to your collarbone. So we're going to anchor the base of that muscle, pull down on that collarbone and bring your chin towards your hands, towards the right collarbone. And then imagine you're sitting underneath an arch and you look up and follow the arch up and over until you're kind of looking over to the left.

And then keep pulling down with your hands, move your head back and forth a little bit. You'll probably feel a big tug, a big stretch in that biggest neck muscle. Kind of hard to keep the mouth closed. You could even move your head back a little bit and try to close the mouth, open the mouth, close the mouth to further open that big muscle. And then we'll slowly roll the chin to the chest, pause here, put your hands right over your heart center.

Just imagine a heart that is quiet. And then float your head up, bring hands over to the left collarbone. Pull the left collarbone down, bring your chin towards that collarbone. And then again, tracing the arc, the nose goes up towards the ceiling, overhead. The head moves over to the right and then the head moves back and forward a little bit, opening the big muscle.

There's smaller muscles as well that were opening in the left side of the neck. Take the head back a little bit, the mouth opens and closes. I feel like a turtle a little bit doing that. And then once again, roll chin all the way down to the chest, rest your hands over your heart. In this moment, I tell my heart to let go of some stress and then float your head up.

All right, we're going to transition now onto hands and knees. Set up so that your hands are right underneath your shoulders and your knees are right under your hips. And then moving from the head and the heart, come to cow pose with an inhale. Be aware of the relationship of head and heart as you round. And I'm thinking, keep going here, I'm thinking of the heart center, so not the actual heart which leans left, but the heart center.

Just a few nice and free cat and cow poses, but really keeping the attention quite focused on the head and the heart and how they correspond with each other, how they speak to each other. We'll come into a neutral spine, tuck the toes under and then walk your hands back to your knees and just plop right up onto your feet into Uttanasana, standing forward bend. In the forward bend, you can always have your knees bent. You could always have your hands on your blocks. And we'll let the feet be parallel, clear-rooted, then we'll take the hands now and interlace your hands behind your neck.

And then let your hands, the weight of your hands, help take the back ridge of your head, that's called the occipital ridge, try to release the back ridge of the brain down. So we're just pulling a little extra space in the seven cervical vertebra, the vertebra of the neck, those little precious bones. And then release your hands to the floor, keep the head hanging. Let's bend the knees, keep the head hanging until the bitter end as you roll all the way up to stand. And then once you come to stand, once again let's tap the crown of the head, just wake up that crown chakra.

And we'll do a few half sun salutations with lots of awareness on this very top of the head. Release your hands to your sides and then turn your palms out, inhale the arms out and up. Notice how your head tips back a little to look up, open your arms as you exhale, fold all the way over, drop your head completely at the bottom. And now crown of the head lengthens forward to pull the spine into length, hands could be on shins, thighs, or fingertips on the floor, exhale, fold. Push into your feet, inhale, come all the way up to stand, palms meet at the top, exhale, hands to your sides.

Keep your attention right on the crown of the head, inhale, it slides back. Head way away from pelvis as we dive over the legs and then the head is heavy at the bottom. Inhale head forward to lengthen the spine, and then exhale, feel the bowling ball head drop. Press into your feet, inhale, come all the way up to stand, palms press at the top. This time look forward, we'll take a side bend over to the right, so bring your right hand onto your right leg, side bend, opening again left side body, inhale, come up, exhale, side bend left, inhale, come up, exhale, bring your hands right onto your heart, again inviting the heart to be quiet.

And we'll just do a half turn, so we're facing the front of the mat and release your hands to your sides. Inhale the arms out and up, we'll just do a little step back here, exhale, fold over your legs, bend your knees, and when you step your right foot back to a lunge, simultaneously take your head forward, that gives you lots of control. Then root your hands, step back, downward facing dog. Pause here in the first dog. Sometimes the direction in dog is to let the head hang, but for today let's have the ears right in between the arms, so there's a clear head, heart, pelvis connection.

Root the hands clearly and pull your pelvis up and back away from the rooting of your hands, so you're very, very long. And then let the top of the head come forward to bring you into plank position. Look slightly forward as you bend your elbows, you can always bring your knees on the floor first to lower down, point your feet a little cobra, make sure here not to jam the back of the neck, keep space in the back of the neck, and then press up through hands and knees, downward facing dog, ears between arms, breathe in deeply. As you exhale, step your right foot forward, then take a breath in and lengthen your spine, pulling the head away from the pelvis. Exhale, left foot meets the right foot.

Inhale, reach out to come up, feel your heart here tipping slightly back, exhale, mountain pose. We'll do the second side of tension on the head, inhale, reach up, exhale, dive over, head forward as the left foot steps back, root your hands, downward facing dog, inhale, plank position, exhale, lower down, inhale, little cobra reaching back through the toes, back of the neck long, downward facing dog, just one inhale here this time, exhale, left foot steps forward, breathe in here, exhale, right foot steps forward, inhale, come all the way up, palms press at the top, exhale, mountain pose. We'll do that one more time just to build a little heat, inhale, reach up, exhale, fold forward, inhale, right foot back as the head moves forward, exhale, dog pose, downward dog, inhale, plank position, exhale, lower, inhale, if you want to push into your hands and come into a slightly higher cobra or an upward dog, you can do that, and then pull back into downward facing dog, one inhale, exhale, lunge, one inhale here, lengthening, exhale, left foot meets the right foot, inhale, come to stand, exhale, mountain pose, second side, inhale, reaching up as the feet root down, exhale, long spine to fold, inhale, head forward, left foot back, root your hands, downward facing dog, inhale, plank, exhale, lower slowly, head away from tail, inhale, cobra with a spacious neck, exhale, downward facing dog, one inhale here, exhale, left foot steps forward, inhale, brighten your spine, exhale, back foot meets the front foot, inhale, arms out and up, this time as you exhale, utkatasana, chair pose, sink your pelvis, have your ears again just in between your arms, sometimes this pose is done with more of a back bend, but for right now just ears in between the arms, head, throat, heart in alignment, exhale, fold over your legs, and then bend your knees, we're going to hop back, you can also step back, downward facing dog, from here we'll lift the right leg way up into the air, let the hip open, and bend your right knee, as your right thigh goes across the midline, hug the left hip in, and then stretch your right leg up, draw it through parallel, step to a lunge, spin the left heel down, cartwheel around, warrior two, and then swing the right arm underneath the left arm in eagle arms, good, as you inhale now, straighten the front leg, and as you exhale, bend the front knee, feel the crown of the head going up to straighten the front leg, and try to keep some lightness on the crown of the head as you bend your front knee, one more time, inhale, exhale, free your arms, reverse warrior, left hand to the left leg, from here straighten your front leg, feel the crown of the head make a big arc up and over triangle pose, right hand to the right ankle, floor, shin, only look up if it's very comfortable for you to look up, otherwise look to the side, feel two sides of the neck even, two sides of your waist even, and sense that the heart is not pressed forward or back, but it's very centered in the body, roll your left arm in, drop it behind the back, bend your right knee, you can hop your right forearm up onto your right thigh, and let the head just drape down here, and one more neck stretch of the day, playing with the head, moving forward, a little back, a little, maybe turning a bit, from here we'll bring the hands to the inside of the right foot, walk around to a straddle facing the side of the mat, we're going to keep going, walk over to the left foot lunge, inhale, the left arm rises up, look up, twisting, exhale land your left hand, step back, downward facing dog, head moves forward, plank position, keep the head lengthening away from the heels as you lower, halfway chaturanga, cobra or upward facing dog, head tip slightly back, and then pull back, downward facing dog, let's breathe here for a moment, feeling what you feel, alright we have second side of the standing pose sequence, left leg goes up, hip opens, and knee bends, I really think about the right hip hugging into the midline as the left thigh falls across the body, both arms pressing, and then lift the leg, bring it through parallel, step your left foot forward, spin your right heel down, once again cartwheel up into warrior two, and then continue swinging the right arm underneath the left arm, inhale, straighten the front leg, lift the elbows, exhale, bend your front knee, inhale, straighten, exhale, bend, inhale, straighten, exhale, bend, free the arms, whoosh back into reverse warrior, straighten your front leg, crown of the head long arc over into triangle pose, and we'll breathe here in triangle pose, opening the toes, rooting the feet, and feeling pelvis-heart-head connection, right arm rolls in, drops behind the back, bend your left knee, hop your left forearm up onto your left thigh and let the head drape down, once again exploring the large and small muscles of the neck, a little freedom in the neck and the head as the legs stay totally clear and strong, and then release your hands to the inside of the left foot, once again walk around through center over to the first side and step back, downward facing dog, inhale here in down dog, exhale, left foot steps forward, breathe in, brightening the spine, head away from tail, exhale, right foot steps meets the left foot, inhale, tracing the path of the head, come all the way up, hands meet at the top, and as you exhale, bring your hands to prayer in front of your beating heart, and just take a slow turn toward face the other side of your mat and see everything along the way, and then take a little walking meditation to the other side of the mat, feeling how your feet meet the mat as the head floats up, when you get there, join your feet and sink your pelvis into utkatasana, bending the knees, sinking low, commonly called chair pose, but it really translates to powerful pose, you feel the power in the legs, inhale here, and as you exhale, fold forward, let your hands meet the mat, so you can step or bend your knees and lightly jump back, down dog, with an inhalation, float the right leg up, we're gonna let the right hip open, the right knee bends, and pull your right thigh across the midline, as you sink your left heel, and pull the left outer hip also towards the midline, and then lengthen up through your right toes, draw the leg to parallel, step to your lunge, and then cartwheel, spin your back heel down, and cartwheel your left arm up and around into warrior two, you're gonna keep that left arm swinging, bring the arms into eagle, you can single wrap or double wrap your arms, from here, inhale, straighten your front leg and lift your elbows up, and as you exhale, bend your front knee away from the strength of the back leg, inhale, straighten, exhale, bend, inhale, straighten, this time as you exhale and bend, release your arms, go back into reverse warrior, and then from here, push into the front foot, straighten your front leg, and then big arc with the top of the head, all the way over into trikonasana triangle pose. Most people are not so comfortable looking up in this pose, I don't know who designed it like that, I think we've, for most of us, just looking to the side is a good idea, and feeling crown of the head, center of the throat, center of the heart, heart center and pelvis all aligned, and then roll your left arm in and drop it behind your back, from here we're gonna bend the right knee and hop the right forearm up onto the right thigh for side angle, and then let your head drape, we're gonna do another neck exploration here, so feel the weight of your head, let the legs be very clear and secure so that the head can be on a good journey, feeling supported by the strength of the legs, and then look down to the inside of your right foot, release your hands there and walk around to a straddle facing the side of the mat, from here come to your fingertips, and this time do look forward, let it be like a back bend, hello, and then as you exhale, walk your hands back, let the head hang down towards the ground, two breaths right here, inhale, exhale one, inhale, exhale two. From here we'll walk over to the left foot and come to a lunge facing the other side of the mat, and then twist left arm up towards the ceiling, right hand is rooting, crown of the head really lengthening away from the tail as the right ribs and the left thigh hug towards each other, with an exhalation bring your left hand down, step back, downward facing dog, couple of breaths here rooting through the hands and the feet, and feeling head, heart, pelvis, all aligned and spacious, second side, left leg rises up with freedom, the hip opens, the knee bends as the right hip hugs to the right, the left thigh moves to the left, and then stretch your left leg way up, draw it through parallel, step to your lunge, spin the back heel down, cartwheel your arms up and around, warrior two, keep that right arm moving so it goes underneath into eagle, and then this time feel the crown of the head lifting and let that straighten the front leg, and as you exhale bend your front knee, inhale straighten, exhale bend, really staying quite stable with the back leg, inhale straighten, exhale bend from here, release the arms, reach back, reverse warrior, and then straighten your front leg, feel the crown of the head make a massive arch to come into trikonasana triangle pose.

You might even if you feel steady enough you could close your eyes and see if you can see that it's called the sushumna channel, the central channel, the head, the heart, center of the pelvis, all in a clear alignment, and it's not like there's one clear alignment, it's your clear alignment to perceive. Right arm rolls in, drops behind the back, and then bend your left knee and bring your left forearm up onto your left thigh, you could also keep your hand down if you prefer, and then we'll explore the neck again, head heavy, let it drop, let it find gravity, and move, let it be your own little exploration here, don't look at me, let it be your own exploration of the right side of your neck, over the stability of the legs, and then look to the inner left foot, hands come down, we'll come one more time into prasarita padottanasana, that's the straddle facing the side of the mat, this time with your hands, hold your ankles, take your elbows to the side and the crown of the head towards the ground, legs are strong, spine is released, breath is smooth, we'll release, walk over to your right foot, step back, downward facing dog, you can walk or jump your feet, we're going to go to the outside of the hands for a squat, so spring the feet or step the feet and come down into malasana, hands in front of the heart, it's very tempting to have the spine rounded here as best you can, get your heart center centered, if squatting like that doesn't work for you, it's perfectly fine to be up here, and let's take a big inhale, and as you exhale, stick your tongue way out, open your eyes, the lion, and again inhale, exhale lion, and then let your pelvis find the floor, you can definitely use a hand or a knot, sitting down, we're going to lean back and come into navasana, boat pose, the knees can be bent or straight, and let your head be slightly tipped back here, so this is a neck strengthener, it takes a little work to keep the head in line with the heart here since the spine is on this backward diagonal. From here, lower down, ardha navasana, so the toes and the eyes are on the same level, and then come up, fine to have the knees bent, and then lower down, when you lower down the chin tucks a little towards the chest, come up, the head arcs back, lower down, chin towards the chest, the belly scoops out, last one, inhale, come up. This time as you exhale, put your feet onto the ground, get your block, have it nearby, and then roll down onto your back. From here, lift your pelvis, slide the block underneath your pelvis, you can go low height, medium height, or wedge it up to the high height.

Hold on to the outer edges of the mat, roll your shoulders under, and then just lift your feet up into the air, viparita karani. If you feel your abdomen gripped or your hips flexors gripped, bend your knees slightly, we want this pose to feel like a waterfall, feet, pelvis, heart, throat, head, and allow yourself to be still here, meditation on the inversion. The front of the throat soft in jalandharabandha, which is a term that means the head is bowed to the heart with the front of the throat closed. We'll release the feet down onto the mat, lift your pelvis, move the block to the side, lower down, let's just let the knees drop in towards each other. Hands rest over the heart.

Just a moment of stillness. You might feel the beating of your heart. You're welcome to stay here lying down for our next portion of our practice of meditation, or roll over to your side and make your way up, and you want to sit as comfortably as possible. So I'm going to sit up on my block, I heard even the Buddha like piled up some dirt to have his pelvis a little bit elevated, and you get my bell, I'll ring the bell at the end of the meditation, and when that happens, you can just listen to the sound of the bell. So settling into your seat and the eyes can be open or gently closed.

After all this emphasis on the top chakras, the head and the heart and the throat, drop the attention down and feel the base of your pose. If you continue to lie down, you have lots of surface area, if you're sitting, notice how you're sitting and what's touching down. First touching down, imagine big tap roots dropping all the way down to the center of the earth, and then over the center of the pelvis, feel your heart center, energy slides up to the center of the throat, the space between the two halves of the brain, and then sense the very top of your head floating up. We'll keep the attention focused here on the head, heart, pelvis connection, just a gentle attention to your midline. When your mind starts thinking thoughts that are not relevant to being right here, it's no problem, it's the normal thing.

Just turn your attention back, just guide your attention back feeling heart, head, pelvis connection, just a gentle attention to your midline, just a gentle attention to your midline, just a gentle attention to your midline, just a gentle attention to your midline, just a gentle attention to your midline. Allow your next breath to be deeper, and then as you exhale, join the two hands right in front of the heart. Take a moment of gratitude for yourself for being here, showing up, doing your practice for yourself and everyone who you come into contact with, and then we'll let the crown of the head just move forward to bow the head to the brightness of the heart. Thank you so much for joining me today.


Jenny S
2 people like this.
Beautiful practice 🦋
Margi Young
1 person likes this.
Jenny S So glad we are together again!!  Thanks Jenny.  Margi
Kate M
This was so sweet, Margi Young ... After the practice I fell into a deeply restorative yoga nidra. A complete reset. Thank you for this beautiful practice.
Sandra Židan
I felt a bit down before this practice but after I did it, I started to feel joy again! Thanks, Margi, for this beautiful practice! Namaste! ❤️💝🌹
Hope H
1 person likes this.
Wonderful practice! My neck and I thank you. Appreciate your suggestion for a more neutral neck in triangle
Margi Young
1 person likes this.
Hope H So good to open up that space between the head and the heart! And I may have said this, but I find it is comfortable for about 3% of people to look up in trikonasana. Practice on, finding your way!  Margi
Margi Young
Sandra Židan That makes me so happy. We have to find the joy and when practice reveals that joy, the yoga is working!  Thanks for letting me know.  Margi
Margi Young
1 person likes this.
Kate M Nidra is THE BEST... Happy I helped you get there. Enjoy! Margi
Tarika M
Wonderful practice, with a lot of well thought sequencing. So happy to find new classes of you, Margi.
Sumana Ramanan D
This was excellent. Your fine-grained cues about the position of various parts of the body were very helpful. One example was in downward dog, when one leg is lifted. The cue to keep the other hip pulling into the centre was helpful. I will keep it in mind from now on whenever I do this pose. Thank you.
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