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Season 1 - Episode 11

Back to Basics

10 min - Practice


When she needs to reconnect to Self, Maria goes back to the basics, which for her means Sun Salutations. In this sweet, efficient flow, we open the backs of the legs and side body as we move through Sun As and Sun Bs, pausing for hip, leg, and upper body openers, before a brief pranayama practice.
What You'll Need: Mat

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This practice is what I do to help myself feel better. So I always go back to basics and I always go to something that I'm really comfortable with. And just moving my energy and breathing is always what works for me. So I basically go to sun salutations. We'll come on to our hands and knees.

Separate your hands shoulder distance apart, press down into the roots of the fingers, curl your toes under behind you. Sit your hips back onto your heels as you press down into the roots of the fingers. Start to get light in the heels of the hands. Wrap the outer upper arms in, lift your hips up and back coming into a nice downward facing dog. First downward facing dog.

Really spend some time just opening the backs of the legs. With the breath, reach through your right heel. You can bend the left knee. Sit into the right hip a little and then move to the left heel, pushing into the left hip. And I move really, really slowly and just make it all about breathing and moving.

And with the inhale, I peddle the feet. With the exhale, I sink deep into my tight places, my upper back, the backs of the legs. Then I settle into center, take a few extra deep breaths, and look down into the middle of the mat. And I'm going to take a few more deep breaths. I'm going to take a few more deep breaths.

Take a few extra deep breaths and look forward. Walk your feet to your hands. Inhale to lengthen and take a few extra breaths here. Again, just peddling the feet out. Lift the left heel, sink into the right hip.

And then switch sides, left heel down, right heel lifted. I just find all those places where tension is sticking. I try to move them out with the breath. Inhale, switch, pressing into the right hip, lifting the left heel. And then switching sides again.

And settling into center, take another deep breath to really stretch the chest forward. Exhale to fold. And we'll spend a few breaths here too. Lean a little more into the fronts of the heels. So you bring more weight into your toes.

Pull the belly in, head long, jaw cheeks relaxed. And then with inhalation, take the arms up overhead. And really stretch out through the right arm, maybe even lift the left heel a little bit and take a bit of a side bend over to the left. And then to the other side. Lift the right heel a little bit, make your left side really, really relaxed.

And then we'll take a few more deep breaths here. A little bit, make your left side really, really long. Reach out through the left fingertips. Come back to center, reach both arms up evenly, maybe touch the palms together and look up. And then exhale, we'll fold again.

Inhale to lengthen. And now I'll start just moving through the sun salutations. Exhale, step back and lower. Inhale, the first one, maybe I'll do a nice cobra, taking a few extra breaths, swaying from hip to hip. Maybe even turning to look over the right shoulder, back towards the right toes as I reach through the left.

And then over to the other side. And then curl the toes under, lift the hips up and back to downward facing dog. Things are starting to flow a little bit more, less tension in the backs of my legs and hips. Everything's opening up with the breath, so I already start to feel better. I'm more connected to myself because I'm breathing, I'm in my body, I'm in my body.

I'm in myself because I'm breathing, I'm in my body, out of my head. Exhale, look forward, step or jump your feet to your hands. Inhale to lengthen. Exhale to fold. Inhale to come all the way up.

And exhale, arms down alongside the body. Inhale, arms reach. Exhale, fold. Inhale to lengthen. Exhale to step or jump back and lower down.

Inhale, cobra or up dog, I'm going for up dog. I'll take an extra breath here because I love up dog. Take the upper arms back, let the chest come through. I always accumulate a lot of tension in my upper back, so back bending feels pretty good. And then exhale, downward facing dog.

Complete your exhale, look forward, bring your feet to your hands, inhale to lengthen. Exhale to fold. Inhale, come all the way up. And exhale. I'll do some Bs, bend the knees, sit the hips back like you're sitting into a chair, reach the arms up.

Let the chest lift up to the ceiling, maybe bring the palms together with exhalation. Fold forward, straightening the legs as you let the head reach down towards the ground. Inhale to lengthen. Exhale, step or jump back and lower down. Inhale, cobra or up dog.

And then exhale, down dog. From down dog, I'd step the right foot forward. I go into a nice low lunge, bring your left knee down to the floor and just let everything sink to open up that left hip flexor and quad, maybe even reach back, bend your left knee and reach back for the foot. Sometimes I'll even turn my right toes out and take it into a hip opener in the right hip and a hip flexor stretch, quad stretch in the left. Get really efficient with my sun salutation so I can get back bends, hip openers, hamstring openers.

Then I'll release that back leg, straighten the front leg, point the toes to the ceiling and forward fold over the right leg. And bend the right knee, set it over the right ankle, pivot the left heel down to the floor. Inhale, come up into warrior one and then exhale, move it through to chaturanga. Inhale, cobra or up dog. You can feel a big difference between left and right hip flexor.

Exhale, down dog. Step the left foot forward, bring the right knee down to the floor. Sink into it for a few breaths. And then maybe bend the right knee, reach back if you'd like. Possibly turn the left toes out, let the knee drop out to the side so you get a little hip opening in that left hip.

And then reset. Curl the back toes under, pivot the heel down. Keep the left knee over the ankle, tuck the tailbone under, inhale, come into a nice warrior one and exhale, step back, lower down. Inhale, cobra or up dog and exhale, downward facing dog. End of the exhale, look forward and you can step or jump yourself through the seated.

I'd also really like some alternate nostril breathing, so I often end with that. I'll just take the thumb to the right nostril and use the ring finger over the left. Just take a deep breath in through the left. Then close the left, open the right and exhale through the right. Inhale through the right, close the right, open the left, exhale left.

Inhale left, close the left, open the right, exhale right. Thank you and I hope that helps you to feel better too, namaste.


Martha K
3 people like this.
I feel better! Head to toe! Thank you
Maria Villella
3 people like this.
lovely stuff Maria. i've been practicing for years but always struggle to integrate breath and body - too busy getting the poses done. fantastic to have short well crafted sessions that support me slowing down and being more mindful of body and breath. Many thanks. 😀
Maria Villella
That’s great Matthew. Enjoy!!
Maria Villella
Matthew your dog is so cute!!!  Looks just like mine. I have a mini labradoodle and she’s the best. 
Jenny S
4 people like this.
Perfect way to waken and warm the body - these yoga bites (as I call them) are a wonderful resource when time is scarce.  Thank you for this practice Maria ❤️🙏🏻✨
Maria Villella
Jenny S you’re so welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 
Kate M
3 people like this.
Thank you for your wonderful guidance through the Surya Namaskaras, Maria Villella ! : )
Maria Villella
Kate M you’re so welcome!!
Sandra Židan
Thanks, Maria, for making me feel better on this hot summer evening with this great practice! Namaste! ❤️🌹💖
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