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Season 1 - Episode 7

Surya Namaskar Dance

35 min - Practice
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In this dynamic and fluid partner flow, Scott, with the help of Jody, guides us in a dance-like sequence of Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations). With encouragement to be creative with your partner, you will feel deeply stretched, energized, and supported in your practice.
What You'll Need: Partner, Mat

About This Video

Apr 23, 2015
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Welcome back. Welcome back to partner yoga. I'm Scott. This is my partner Jyoti for this segment. Today for this segment, we're going to extend on some of the things that we've done in the earlier segments, where here we're going to do more variations on a sun salutation, Surya Namaskar. We're going to show how in a flowing sequence where one person is doing the pose and one person is assisting at each step along the way, it becomes more and more like a dance, a Surya Namaskar dance, which can get into a nice, wonderful flow as you get used to this. So this is really a video I think that will add a lot of new factors. It's something that you might come back to over and over again as you get more used to it because it'll become more natural as a flow.

It's often an opportunity to even add more to it, even if things that you think of adding additional poses, just being creative, being playful with your partner. So we begin facing one another. Again, always taking that extra moment to stop and pause before launching into the practice, to connect with your partner, just look in each other's eyes, see where each other's at and see beyond the eyes and to the light of the heart and feel that connection there, to feel grateful for this opportunity to practice together and all that you might share. Laughter, joy, even falling on the floor is a part of a fun, playful process. Bring your hands together at your heart and as we've done before, we'll share the simple sound of Om. One thing that's true too is as you chant Om, often when we are in a studio, we chant our heart out, we chant to fill the room.

But here you're chanting to just the person across from you. So you don't want it to be so loud that you'll blow the person away, but also not so soft that they can't hear you, that they're not connected. So make it an even exchange from your heart, a simple sound to Om. Om And gently break your eyes open. And we'll hold wrists.

And just like we've done before, have a nice grip on the hands, a nice grip for the wrists, not trying to cut off the circulation in the arms, just something that is a connection you can rely upon. And step back enough to hinge at your hips. And pulling to lengthen each other's shoulders. A couple more breaths here. As your hamstrings waken up, press back through the thigh bones.

And looking up, not letting go, come all the way back up to standing. Now this time, we'll place the palms together, lift the hands a little bit over your head, step back, and then we're going to lean into each other, lifting the arms up. That's a nice arch through the upper back. Again, we press into each other, creating a wall for each other to open our hearts toward. Good opportunity to share a smile, or a smirk, or a funny face.

If at any point your partner is not smiling, make a funny face and make them smile. Cool, and then step back in to come up. Cool, and then we'll begin the sequence of sun salutations. To make this easier, just like we did in a previous video, the doing partner I'll refer to as partner A, and the assisting partner I'll refer to as partner B. Jody will begin as partner A at the top of the mat, and I'll be the assisting partner partner B.

So starting with the feet together, we'll start with a sun salutation, a classical sun salutation that we did in a previous video. We'll start with that, and then we're going to, after a few rounds of that, we're going to add to that and add some variations. Taking a moment here again to tap into your breath. As you get used to these sequences, also let the breath be the guide. There really isn't a reason to hold your breath in any of these poses.

If the transitions take longer than one breath, take extra breaths. If you stay in a breath, a pose longer than one breath, continue to breathe in a way that supports the pose. And then with the inhale, partner A will lift the arms up, B will support the outer arms all the way up to the hands. Exhale, forward fold. B will help root the outer hips right into the earth.

And take an extra breath here. So I try to help to align the hips right over the feet. For partner A to feel balanced, she might bring her fingertips a little bit in front of her so she doesn't feel as if she's going to tip toward her head. But yet she can still bow her heart in deep. And then placing the hands flat, partner A will step back to a plank pose.

B will hold the ankles, give a little bit of a tug on the way through chaturanga. Exhale, and all the way down. Pointing the toes. For this one, come into a cobra. So keep the hips on the floor, lift the heart up.

B brings the knees right to the back of the shoulder blades, hands to the front of the arm bones. And this helps to curl open the chest against the support, the shape of the knees. And then keeping the hands strong, up and back to downward facing dog. Now I'm going to show another down dog adjustment. In previous videos, we brought a hand to the back of the sacrum and lengthened through the legs.

Another assist through downward dog that feels really good, and you might choose to do or stay with the previous one. I'm going to bring my forearms to the outer hips, hands interlaced at the low back. And then I lean back and help to lengthen her spine this way. And help to root down through the legs. And then A will step the right foot forward, come into a low lunge.

I stay to the back, help to guide the hands to the back of the neck. Fingers interlaced right at the base of the neck. I bring my hands to the back of her shoulders. And I create enough space behind her so that she can lean back, even take her head back if it feels comfortable. I take my head back to lengthen her arms.

And place the hands back to the floor. Step back dog pose. I'll show that same assist one more time. So I bring my forearms right to the front of the hip bones. Fingers interlaced.

And I draw back and then press down through the legs. It should feel like a nice, wonderful release to the low back especially. Then I release there. Partner A will step the left foot forward. Back knee comes down.

I help to guide the hands. Remember, hold the wrists and help to bring the hands to the back of the neck so they're not trying to find your neck for you. You're helping them. And then hands support the back of the heart and lift up to the sky. And then hands come back to the earth.

Big step forward. Place the feet evenly. Ground into the earth. And with an inhale, rise to the sky. I help to lengthen all the way from the outer shoulders all the way up through as far as I can reach.

And then she brings it back to the source, back to the heart. And then we'll switch. And I'll be the partner A, the doing partner. And Jody will be the partner B. Partner A starts at the top of the mat.

With an inhale, reaching up to the sky. And with an exhale, hinging at the hips to fold forward. And I'll just take a couple extra breaths here. Partner B can help A to bring the hips right over the ankles. I have my fingertips on the floor to help me balance.

If it's hard for you to touch the floor, bend the knees some. But do keep the muscles in the legs toned even if the knees are bent. So lift the kneecaps as you fold deeper into the forward fold. And then I'll place my hands flat. Step back to a plank pose.

In plank pose two, I'm pressing my fingers into the floor using my whole hand to support. And as I lower, she's pulling on my ankles. I reach forward from that with my heart and lower with a long spine. Pointing the toes, come into a cobra. B lines up the knees with the lower half of the shoulder blades and helps me curl up in my heart.

And then downward facing dog. So the adjustment from before is pressing on the sacrum and lengthening back to the legs. And you can choose which one feels good and communicate to your partner, oh, let's try this other one or stay with the first one. And then from downward dog, I'll step my right foot forward, back knee on the earth. B will help to guide the hands to the back of the neck and steps back a little bit.

That's it, to let my head go back and lengthen my heart toward the sky. Hands to the floor. Back to dog pose again. And the chain sides, left foot comes forward. Back knee on the earth, reach up to the sky.

And then hands come back to the earth. Big step forward. Bow and exhale. And inhale, rise to the sky. And B helps to lengthen, partner A.

So reach all the way for the stars. And then back to the heart. And let's do that sequence for each other one more time. So Jody will begin at the top of the mat as partner A. I'll be partner B assisting.

This time we'll go more flowing with the cycle of the breath. So inhale. Burdhva namaskar, hands reach for the sky. Exhale, uttanasana, forward fold, root the outer hips into the earth. Step back to plank pose.

Find an inhale of strength here. Keep that strength as you lower through chaturanga. Excellent. Inhale into the back bend. Help support there.

Take an extra breath if you need. And then with the exhale, downward facing dog. I'll show that other dog pose support again. Forearms across the outer hips. Draw back and down.

And then from here, A, step the right foot forward. Back knee on the floor. Lift up. Take an extra inhale and arch back. Let the light of your heart shine up into the sky.

And touch the floor. Step back to change sides. Breath in dog pose. Knee fitting back. And step the other foot, the left foot forward.

Back knee on the earth. I support the back of her heart. And then hands to the floor. And step forward. Ground in the outer hips.

And then inhale, reach for the stars. And back to the light in your heart. And one more time for me. Moving more with the breath now. Stand in your height in connection to the earth and height through the spine.

Then inhale, reach for the sky. And exhale full. Root the outer hips into the earth. Place the hands. Step back to plank pose.

Find strength here. Keep that as you exhale. Lead with your heart as you lower. Come all the way down, cobra. And down we're facing dog.

And right foot steps forward. Back knee on the earth. As you get used to this, it becomes a wonderful flowing dance. Surinamaskar dance. And step back to change sides.

And left foot forward. Hands come to the earth. And step forward. And bow in. And inhale, rise.

And back to your heart. Okay. That's a very basic sequence. And you can pause the video and continue to do that any number of more times that you wish if that feels really wonderful and free. But now I'm going to show some variations on that.

And again, it's encouraging you to be playful, creative, add any variations you want. I'll show you just a few more that you might try on your own. So again, the doing partner will be partner A. And the assisting partner will be partner B. So Judy will start at the top of the mat.

But this time I'm going to ask you to separate her feet a little bit out to the side. I'm going to place my foot between her feet and my back foot back a little bit. So I'm really strong and rooted in the earth. I can carry and hold all of her weight. She'll reach back with her arms and hold my wrists.

And then from here she's going to come forward into an arch back bend. She lets her hips, her tailbone lead the way. Shoulders roll back. I can go all the way to straight arms. And I can hold all the weight to the strength of my front leg. Her heels have even come up.

It's really a play of trust here, too, to let yourself really open fully here. And then I help her to come back up to standing, bringing her heels back to the floor. Then she exhales and forward folds here. Ground the outer hips to the floor. And again, place the hands. Step back plank pose.

I hold the ankles as she lowers through chaturanga. Inhale into cobra. And downward facing dog. So again, forearms of the outer hips is a nice one, or you could stay with the hands in the sacrum. Now a variation here from what we did before.

Step the right foot forward. But this time keep the back toes curled under and the knee lifted. A little bit higher up, a little different balance. But I'll stay with her as she comes up. Lift the arms up. Hold the hands, the arms to help the balance.

And again, guide the hands to the back of the neck. I stay back again, allowing her to lean back and open her heart as much as she wants to. Head back, support the shoulder blades with the back of my hands. And with the back knee lifted, it creates a whole different pose. It's a much stronger dynamic, much stronger opening in the back leg, back hip, and more of an opportunity to lean back and open your heart.

And then place your hands to the floor. Dog pose to change sides. Hold the outer hips. And left foot steps forward. Again, stay with the back toes curled under, knee lifted.

And I'm here to help her balance as she comes up and guide her hands to the back of my neck. She can straighten her arms all the way as I take my head back and hug her heart from behind. Hands to the floor. And big step forward, forward full. And on the way up, she'll just reach for the sky.

And again, I lengthen her outer shoulders all the way to her hands and back to her heart. And she'll do that sequence for me. So I start at the top of the mat, pardon me, but I separate my feet. She'll put one foot between my feet, and the back foot is far enough back where she feels grounded. I weigh much more than she does, but yet she can use the leverage of her own body to still hold my weight without pulling her over.

So we hold wrists here. There's one thing key in these sequences too. What makes this work is sensitivity, where in each of the transitions between poses, of the person moving into the pose and the person assisting, that there's not movements of jerkiness or quickness. That there's a sensitivity through the whole movement linked with the breath. And that's what makes these very possible.

And it makes also a very deep connection between your partners. That's a silent, unspoken connection. You just begin to feel that connection, what your partner needs. So from here, I hold the wrist firmly, and then I start leaning forward, leading with my hips, and Jodie can let me come forward as long as she still feels my weight and can keep my weight. And then here, I'll come back up and exhale full, and just root the outer hips to the floor.

And then placing the hands flat, step back to plank pose, holding the outer ankles. I'll inhale here, exhale, lead with my heart, and point my toes, come into a cobra, inhale, and B brings the knees to the back of the shoulders. It really helps me open my heart. And downward-facing dog. Pick whichever grounding in the downward dog feels good to you.

And then from here, with the inhale, A will step the right foot forward. And keep the back heel lifted, toes curled under. B will be right behind and ready for A as A rises up. And bring the hands to the back of the head. There we go.

And I can lower down and open my heart to the sky. And B, you can take your head back. That's it. Help me open my heart to the sky. And hands to the floor.

Back to dog pose. And second side, left foot steps forward. Probably want feet on either side of my back leg. There we go, and rise up. Hands to the back of the neck.

I can lower into the lunge even more, keeping the back leg strong. Lean back. And then hands to the floor. I'll take a big step forward. Bow in, ground the other hips down, and then reach for the sky.

And back to the heart, back to the source. Okay, so that's a variation. Changed a little bit the beginning, added a heart opening, and then changed the lunge position that allowed a deeper opening through the hips and an opportunity for the heart. Now we're going to add in some poses that you often see in another Surya Namaskar, called Surya Namaskar B. We'll add some assists in that sequence now, too.

So Jodi will begin again at the front of the mat. Inhale to lift the arms up. Exhale, fold. And now here, I'm going to come back to the front of Jodi. She's going to take her hands to her low back, interlace her fingers, and lengthen her arms up over her head.

I take one hand to her palms, one hand behind her heart, and I'm going to just lengthen the direction of her arm. I'm not going to try to pull her hands further over her head. I'm just going to open her shoulders in this direction. And then she brings her hands to her hips. And I'm going to sit down right in front of her, put my feet to the front of her ankles, place my hands through her calf muscles.

She's going to come into chair pose, ukkatasana. So my pulling on her calves really allows her to go deep into her hips, and you can lift your chest as much as you can, leaning away from you, and I'm helping her. For a lot of folks, this is not a very popular pose. But if you do it as a partner pose like this, you might actually find it to be a very popular pose. It feels really good.

And then she'll straighten her legs. I'll step out of her way to allow her to take a forward fold. And then place the hand, step back to plank. I'll help her lower through chaturanga. And then inhale.

And now this time previously we were doing cobra pose. If you do urdvamukha, upward facing dog, it's slightly different. I bring the knees to the back of the shoulders again, roll the chest over, and with the legs lifted and strong, you get a different opening through the chest. Downward facing dog. From downward dog, step the right foot forward and set up the legs, the hips, for this time warrior one, Virabhadrasana one.

She rises up. And then take your arms back behind you. I'm going to hold the wrists. She holds my wrists. With the same foot as her back foot, I just put my foot here to keep that foot grounded so it's not going to slide on the floor.

And then my other foot, and this is very sensitive here, I balance and then bring the other foot, so just the toes are right on the sacrum. This is a really deep stretch. I'm just there to give a little encouragement to move the hips forward and ground into the earth more. I'm not going to give a big push. And she can lean back into that.

I pull her arms gently. She'd feel like a wonderful heart opening here. And again, my foot on her sacrum is just very light, offering a little bit of pressure, a little support. Then I help her to release all the way to the floor. Down dog to chain sides.

I help to ground the dog pose. And left foot forward. Back heel on the floor. Again, one foot helps to stabilize the back foot. The hands come back behind.

Hold the wrists. Roll the chest open. And then the other foot is just lightly on the sacrum. Not a big push. And she can relax into that, ground into the earth more, and lift her spine, lift her heart to the sky.

Beautiful. And then hands to the floor. Again, take a big step forward. Forward fold. And lift to the sky.

And back to the heart. And she'll do that sequence for me. So I'm the doing partner, partner A. Inhale, reach up. Start the same way.

And exhale, fold. This time, now after in the forward fold, B will come around to the other side. A will interlace your fingers at your low back and take your arms over your head. And then B will have one hand at the palms of A, the other hand right between the shoulder blades. And that pressure between the shoulder blades and the pulling on the hands is a wonderful stretch to the shoulders.

And then I'll bring my hands to my hips. B is going to sit on the floor just to the front of the feet. Bring the soles of the feet to the ankles to keep the feet from moving too. And then strongly hold the back of the calves. I bend my knees and already start to sit into my chair pose.

Then I begin to lift the heart. And as much as B can pull, then A can lean back and come up even more upright through the chest and the arms. And then releasing here. And B gets out of the way for the forward fold. And placing the hands, step back to plank pose.

Through chaturanga, exit. And this time, upward facing dog, Urdvamukha, knees right into the back of the shoulders. Downward facing dog. And then setting up for warrior one with the right foot forward. You can take a breath with the arms raised and then bring them back behind you.

B holds the wrists, has one foot to hold the back foot in place, one foot to hold the sacrum. Curl open from there. And then stay with partner A so they don't lose their balance. Bring your foot to the floor. Then hands come to the floor.

Downward dog to change sides. And left foot forward. One breath reached up to the sky. And hands come back behind. And move with your breath.

Every breath assists in the opening of your heart. And hands to the floor. Big step forward. Just root the outer hips to the floor. And inhale, rise.

And back to the heart. Thank you. So we're going to close with just a few more poses seated on the floor as a closing for this particular segment. So sitting facing each other. Knee to knee.

Initially we're going to hold forearms. There you go. So a little closer to the elbows and the wrists. Lift your heart. Pull on each other a little bit.

Let that be the inhale. And then with the exhale, round your back. Let your head come forward. A little bit like cat-cow breath. Inhale.

Lift the heart arch back. Straight arms pulling on each other. And exhale. Keep that connection as you round the back. A couple more times.

And then come back to center. Now we'll open the legs. Straddle upavista konasana. Now in this stretch, one person is going to help the other. So for the person that's assisting, their feet are actually going to come to the inside, right to the inner ankle.

That's going to help the person who's going to go into the forward fold make their legs super strong and to use that to lift out of their low back. So already from the beginning, feel like you're pulling your feet, your legs, for the midline. Use that to lift from your low back. And then clasp my wrists. And keeping the legs strong, I'm going to help her to come forward.

And she keeps pressing or sweeping her legs for the midline, pushing into my feet. And then we'll come up. And we'll change positions. Now her feet will come to my inner ankles. Another little adjustment you can do too, if your legs have a tendency to roll out in this pose, you can use your hands and individually turn your legs in, one leg and then the other.

And I'm taking my legs and I'm sweeping toward the middle to lift from my low back. Then I hold maybe elbows, and I fold forward. And then come back up. And we'll close here with a different sunset, a different partner shavasana than we've done before. This one, we can bring the soles of our feet together, baddha konasana, and come up so much that we open our toes up, and we've got that connection here that'll help to keep our feet together.

Then slide your tailbone underneath, lay onto your back, and supta baddha konasana with the support of the feet, helping to keep the feet together, keeping each partner's feet together. Your arms can just simply open out to the side. And we'll close here and stay here with your partner for as many breaths as you wish.


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