30-Minute Vinyasa Yoga Artwork
Season 3 - Episode 5

Expansive Bird of Paradise

30 min - Practice


This class leads to Bird of Paradise, a challenging pose that requires mobility, strength, and balance. We make a number of shapes to find space in the shoulders, hips, and hamstrings, explore binds, and play in balance poses Tree, Fallen Triangle, and Half Moon, finding ways to access your version of our beautiful peak posture. You will feel stable and expansive.
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video


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Hello, and welcome. I'm Maeve. Thank you for being here with me today. I'm not necessarily gonna use these but you might have a block and a strap handy for your practice today. We're going to start on your back. Okay.

To start lying down. Take a moment to arrive on your mats. Arrive in your space. Really to note that you've chosen to be in this practice now. And do your best to stay here both physically and mentally.

Draw your right knee into your chest. Extend the left leg out. If you want, you can take your left arm off to the side for a little more stability. Draw the right knee wide. And extend the right leg up.

Both arms can come out to the side. We're just gonna take this right leg across the body to the left. And then back to the right. Take your time here. Keeping the hips pretty well rooted.

You're just windshield wipering this leg back and forth. That is a technical term Don't question me. This is a real thing. The next time we come wide to the right. You'll bend your knee.

Take your arm to the inside of the right leg. Take inner heel, inner ankle, half happy baby, plug the right shoulder down toward the floor a little bit. So just kinda draw it back This is perfect. This does not need to change, but if it feels nice, you can straighten the right leg out. Left leg nice and strong. Rooting the heel, rooting the leg, rebrand the knee, and release the right leg down.

Let's do that on the left side, draw them in. Give it a little squeeze. Let each piece of this breathe and feel good and if one thing feels better than another and you don't wanna move on or you wanna come back to one thing, you are welcome to do that. Take the knee wide. Right arm's gonna come out to the side if it feels good for a little bit of stability. And then it stand the left leg out, and you can take your left arm out as well.

Any way that these arms feel good is is good for me. You're gonna bring the leg across. And out wide. And as you're doing this, shoulders are stable. Right leg is nice and strong. Think of your right leg as a standing leg.

If we were standing, you'd be standing on this right leg. One more time across. And as you come wide, start to bend the knee, left arm, to the inside of the leg and have happy baby. Same thing on this side. This is perfect. You don't change anything, but if it feels nice, you are welcome to extend that left leg nice and wide and long.

Reebend your knee. Bring both knees into your chest. Just a little squeeze here. And then however you wanna get there, you can roll to your side, you can come up and through. We are coming into downward facing dog.

Palm the floor, root your hands, root your feet. Your heels might never come down. That's quite alright. Imagine you could stretch your mat a little longer, firm the arms, firm the legs. With an inhale, your right leg is gonna stretch back. Don't bend your knee.

Just turn your hips open. Press both arms equally strong. Try not to dip that left shoulder down. And right foot is gonna come outside of your right hand. Left knee comes down.

We're just gonna stay here for a moment. Use your hands. Blocks are wonderful here. Draw the heart forward. Little engaging in the left hip.

Lots of pressure in this right foot. Mhmm. You can take your foot as wide as you want. Make this feel real good on your body. One more inhale. Exhale straighten your front leg.

I'm gonna keep my leg wide here. You can adjust it. However you need soft, steady, even brass. You're digging your right heel in a little bit. Keep that hamstring really active here in its lengthened position.

Last breath in, exhale bend the front leg, plank with your inhale, Exhale lower to your belly however you need to. Slide your forms forward. Nice broad chest and sphinx tops. The feet press down, energize your legs. Gently feel your shoulder blades pressing forward and kind of tipping your heart forward.

One more inhale. Keep the bend of your right elbow. Just slide the right elbow out wide Look to the left. You can drop your head down. Bend your left elbow.

Put your hand flat on the floor. And then just roll gently to your right side, any amount. Keep this right arm really active. You can adjust the arm however you need to. So that it feels good here.

And feed off of this feedback from the floor, the strength. You're not passively stretching your shoulder. Wake the muscles up. Last inhale. Come back to center, slide the arms back out.

Sphinx. And then slide the left elbow to straight out to the side. Drop your left temple down. Bend the right elbow. Meet the pressure of the floor. By pressing your arm down.

Don't let the floor bully your shoulder. Only go as deep here as it feels good. The floor is not gonna be pliable. You're not gonna win this battle. Last breath in Your exhale brings you back to center.

Bring your hands behind your hips. Lace your fingers. And then Stretch the knuckles back, but don't force the arms straight. Like, I'm gonna keep a little bend in my elbows so that my shoulders really do some work here to open. Float the feet up, gaze comes forward, maybe just forward on your mat, maybe upward a little bit. And downward facing dog.

Inhale, left leg back, Without bending your knee, without bending the right elbow, lift this left leg a little higher, press away, and left foot outside of your left hand. And drop the right knee down. Yes. Draw the heart forward. Gage the right glutes a little bit. Create a little more stability in the pelvis. So not just pushing forward, but meeting the pressure of the right hip engaging with the pressure of the left foot and the floor.

So it's like the energy is coming from both directions. You've got your last inhale here wherever you are on your exhale straight in that left leg. You can use blocks. You can move your hands wherever you want them to be. Deep in the crease of the left hips.

You kinda get that sense of pulling the crease back, dig the left heel down, activate the back of this left leg, and draw the heart forward. Your next exhale, bend your knee. And step back plank. Breath in. Move to your belly however you need to.

Slide your forms forward, sphinx inhale, exhale, left elbow goes out to the left. This roll onto that left side. This time, if you want, maybe bend the right knee. A little opener here in the hip. Come back to center, slide the forms forward, sphinx inhale, right elbow slides out to the side.

Look to the left. Roll to the side. Maybe bend this left knee. Bring the foot behind. And he'll come back to center.

Shalabasana, you can switch the lace of the fingers if you want, stretch the fingers back, the knuckles back, open the chest, float the feet. Down dog with your next exhale. Bring your feet to your hands. Halfway with your inhale. Fold exhale.

Rise to stand. Inhale. And hands to hard exhale. Breath and movement. Just bring them together. Inhale. Rise up.

Forwardfold exhale. Halfway inhale. Right foot steps back, crescent pose, inhale. Stay here with your feet. Exhale. Bring your hands down.

Blocks are wonderful here. Inhale. Straight in the front leg. Exhale, bend any, plank, inhale, exhale, Chaturanga, or the floor, Inhale rise to a backbend that feels good, updog, cobra, Shalabasana again. And down dog. Right leg stretches back inhale.

Right foot steps forward exhale. Crescent inhale. Make sure your feet are wide enough that you feel stable to rise up. Release your hands down. Keep your legs just inhale straighten the front leg.

Exhale, re bend, and step to the top of your mats. Halfway up inhale, bow, exhale. Rise, inhale. Engage the glutes, lift the heart, maybe a little backbend here. Bowing forward exhale.

Halfway inhale, left foot steps back exhale, crescent inhale. Exhale hands down. Straight in the front leg. Inhale. Exhale, re bend, plank, inhale, Chaturanga, or the floor, your backbend inhale. Down dog, exhale.

Inhale, left leg back, exhale, step your foot forward. Crescent, inhale. Exhale hands down, straighten your front leg. Rebend the knee. Step forward.

Halfway. Inhale. Forwardfold exhale, rise, inhale, Little backbend bow forward exhale. Take your right hand, to your right ankle, take your left hand, to your left hip, And just bring your right foot closer to your left ankle. You're gonna drag your foot up the inside of your leg, and you can stop wherever you want.

Rickshaw's in a tree. Arms can be overhead, but if it feels okay today, take the arms wide, bring the hands behind your back, and you can either bring your knuckles together or your hands together in prayer, reverse prayer. So either one of those or not Your elbows are gonna gently move forward. So in the direction you're looking, Your shoulder's gonna gently move back. And when we do that, the tendency is to arch the back. So when that happens, if it happens, contain the ribs, and draw back in the belly a bit.

Keep the hands close to the body. In here. Reach up. Release the foot Malasana x hale. Breath in.

Forward fold. Exhale. Right hand to your right hip. Left hand to your left ankle, and then draw the leg up. So feel that you're holding your center line here. And your foot can go anywhere on your inner right leg, anywhere on your inner right leg.

Same arm options. If it's okay, they'll come behind the back either knuckles together or palms together. And maybe the palms didn't feel good on the first round, but it feels okay now. Doesn't have to be exactly the same on both sides. Notice if you're arching gently draw back, work your standing leg like crazy. Steady your gaze, steady your breath, with an inhale?

Reach the arms back up. Release the foot and. Pause. Beautiful. Breath in forward fold, exhale. Halfway, inhale.

Make your way to downward facing dog. Inhale, right leg back. Right knee, left elbow, turn the left heel in, extend the right leg out, And you can just come here in this beautiful expansive, fallen triangle, or you could reach down with your left hand for your right foot And then maybe start to push that. And you can do it with a bent knee. You can pull it in and then extend it overhead if it feels nice.

Sometimes we fall out of it. Inhale. 3 legged dog. Open your hips if it feels nice. This time the knee is bent.

Wild thing. If wild things not nice on your body, side plank is a great alternative, right foot top of your mat. Good. So this is where you might want a block on the inside of your right foot. You can also have your arm on your thigh just as good.

We're gonna turn open parsva Konasana. Take your left arm down your body. Take your thumb, have it pointing down, and then open it up toward the sky. Good. Open back. Maybe turn it back down and bring the arm close to your body. So don't try to pull the elbow away.

Hug it in So I just did that just so you know the difference of where that is. We want the thumb down to come here. Maybe right hand sneaks up. This is where a strap is very helpful. And you could do this with a strap here. Your wrap doesn't have to be super tight.

And if you're choosing not to take the full wrap, maybe it's just a half wrap here or the hand is here. Many, many ways to be here. If you're comfortable with this wrap, keep it. If not, release the arms. And if you want to keep the wrap, just straight in the front leg, bound triangle. Alternatively, right hand can be on your shin, on a block or the floor.

With a half wrap or no wrap for that matter. And just like we did in tree, draw the belly back toward this left arm, the arm that's behind your back. So contain your center. Look down toward your front foot. A block is wonderful here.

If you're still wrapped you are welcome to keep it. I am not going to. You're gonna shift forward half moon You can be bound in this pose. You can also bend the top leg, find your foot, and open. And if you have the foot, stretch it back out.

Come around to the top of your mat. Stand on your left foot. Take your right hand to your right foot. First two fingers and thumbs. You're gonna wrap your big toe.

Don't worry, you'll have an option if this doesn't work. Left hand onto your hip, and then rise up and you can bend your knee. Nobody says you have to keep your legs straight. So you can be here. You could be here.

You could be here. Many ways to be here. Left arm out to the side. Work your standing leg. Prioritize your standing leg over your lifted leg.

So I'd rather have you here than have you here. Does that make sense? Right? Yeah. You got me. Good. And then inhale open out to the right. Come back to center.

Release the foot. Masana. Nice work. Really, really good. One more breath in. Hands down. Make your way to downward facing dog. In whatever way you want.

Check-in. Check-in with your breath, with your body, the state of your mind, I'm gonna take the knowledge of the first side into our second side, but Also in a way, pretend it didn't happen, come with fresh eyes. Don't anticipate anything. Inhale, left leg back. Crossover, fallen triangle, or take your foot, and start to kick it overhead.

Yeah. Inhale 3 legged dog. Open the hip. Flip to wild thing if you'd like. And then stepping with care, left foot top of the mat.

Good. Arm on your thigh, hand on a blocker, floor, the floor. Take this right arm up. So just noticing the position of the shoulder. We're going internal rotation here. Palm turns back.

Bring the hand behind your back. This is perfect. This doesn't have to change. Do your best not to pull the elbow back keep the elbow, the arm hugging toward the body, and then maybe just maybe we find the wrap. If not it's your version.

I'm just fingertips here. Strap is wonderful. You don't have to take your wrist. It doesn't have to be intense. Let it be as easy as it needs to be so your shoulders feel really good.

If you're loving this wrap, keep it. If you need to release it, do so. Inhale straight in the front leg bound triangle. One more breath in. Soften the front knee with your exhale. Look down. If you need to pop your back foot in a little closer, pop it in, and half moon. I've got this block here.

I'm gonna use it. Yeah. Stay here. If you are bound in it, great. If you want, take this top foot kick away. Come around. Stand on the right foot.

Reach down for your left big toe. Right hand here. Right hip and then rise up. Prioritize your standing leg. Inhale open.

Come back to center, and Malasana. Okay. So if you have a strap, You're welcome to to use it now. And if bird of paradise, just stay open to it. But if it eludes you, tree pose, equally good. You're gonna take your right shoulder.

You're gonna just hug it inside this right knee. Bring your right hand behind your back. And then your left hand, bring it around as close as you can. Shift your right foot over toward your left foot. I'm gonna turn a little bit on an angle here.

And then just like we did for tree, you're dragging this foot up the inside of the leg without actually making contact to rise up. So prioritize getting up tall first, then consider straightening this leg. We come down the same way we came in and release Breath in. Let's not think about. Let's go right into the other side.

Left shoulder inside. Bring the hands around. Shift into your right leg. Draw your center in. Prioritize your standing leg.

Don't worry about straightening this lifted leg. So you can just be here, broaden the test, maybe extend the leg out. Come back down the same way you came in. And then just a nice, easy, forward fold. Nice work beautifully done.

Whatever your version was wonderful. Bend your knees and just come down to sitting. Really, really good. Okay. Souls of the feet together. Draw your heart high in ham.

And gently forward Bada Kanasana. Whatever shapes you made. However, you created your bird of paradise. It was beautiful. Rise up, and we're just gonna finish in a seated meditation. So just find a very comfortable seat here.

Find a tall regal seats. I encourage you to take as much time here as you want, as you need, as you can fit into your day. If you need to exit the practice now, bring your hands together it, your heart and prayer. Gently bow your mind to your heart. Honor yourself.

Rise. Your eyes gently open. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for your practice. Namaste.


Kate M
7 people like this.
Again - this sequencing is genius! I haven't worked this pose in a long while... I had to add a block to step off from on the entry to the actual pose - but I did it!! Once again - there is so much to explore here. Very exciting - very empowering! Thank you, Maeve!! 
Christel B
5 people like this.
Great transitional practice into Bird of Paradise!
Sandra Židan
Thank you very much, Maeve, for this interesting practice! My bird od paradise wasn't perfect but I did it anyway and I feel great after doing it! Namaste! ❤️🥰🌹
Jenny S
2 people like this.
I agree with Kate regarding the sequencing  - and although my BOP is (and has always been) a work in progress, this approach will be helpful to revisit whenever I get the itch to try again.  Many Thanks and Blessings! 
Laura M
2 people like this.
Great practice!!
Thank you :)
David G-
2 people like this.
Hey Maeve:  love the comments above. Work in progress for me as well. As with most leg extension poses, I benefit from having a strap (long legs are an advantage for cycling, but a definitely a hinderance with yoga). Agree that your calm cues and sequencing were memorable.  Best, David 

1 person likes this.
Kate M you said genius! Genius! Hahaha. :) Thank you thank you. Very generous of you. I'm so glad you enjoyed the practice. I'm literally over here smiling. I appreciate you!
1 person likes this.
Christel B thank you! I'm sure it was beautiful. 
1 person likes this.
Sandra Židan I'm sure your bird of paradise was perfect for the day you practiced it, especially since you felt great after. Tell tale sign. Thank for moving with me.
1 person likes this.
Jenny S ahhh, thank you. I hope you will revisit the practice and feel more confident with bird of paradise. It is ALWAYS a work in progress, for all of us. I appreciate you practicing with me. Best.
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