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Season 2 - Episode 5

Let Your Low Back Smile

40 min - Practice
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Suniti guides us into an exploration of strength and awareness in the back body to set us up for successful belly backbends like Bhujanagasana (Cobra Pose), Salabhasana (Locust Pose), and Dhanurasana (Bow Pose). We bring all of this new understanding into the beginning stages of Ustrasana (Camel Pose) before counter posing with twists and forward folds. You will feel pleasant and spacious.
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(waves lapping) Welcome. We are going to explore some strength and additional awareness through our back body, to approach belly back bends like Cobra and Dhanurasana. Let's begin in Virasana. You may want a block for this or you can sit up on a blanket. So we'll rise up to our shins and open up our feet so they're wider than our hips, and then place the block right between your heels.

Take the flash of your calves, move it off to the side and have a seat. Bring your hands to your sacrum. That big bony triangle at the base of your spine. So when we smile across our face we get wide. Have a sense here that you could smile across your low back.

That you could smile across your sacrum. And if you go back to our core strength, that ties back in to the transverse abdominis. So hip points coming towards each other. So the low back is allowed to broaden. Now feel the weight of your legs draw down through the inner thighs.

Invite weight to move down through the tail and your pubic bone. And now interlace your hands and reach your palms up to the sky, for Parvatasana arms. So again allow there to be weight in your legs, weight in your tail and your pubic bone, and allow the low back to smile. And reach up through your arms. Reach up through the thumb side of your hand and the pinky side of your hand.

Breathe into the front and the backs of your lungs. Bend your elbows and just switch sides so your other pointer finger will be on top and then reach your arms up once again. And again lower back broad. Side waist long. Reaching up through both sides of your hands.

Then gently release, bring the backs of your hands onto your legs, pause for a moment, close your eyes. Bring your mind into your breath, and your mind into your body, so that you can feel more subtlety. Allow the low back to be broad. Open your eyes, let light come to you, so we receive the view, we receive the space. And now please transition to all fours.

Bring your hands underneath your shoulders, and bring your knees underneath your hips. So keep your back broad, and reach your right leg back behind you. Find a parallel rotation to your right leg. Explore core strength, hip points moving toward each other, and now reach your left arm forward. So stay connected to your strength and then reach out through the edges of your body.

Elongate out through your lifted hand, elongate out through your back leg. Enjoy a nice powerful inhale. Exhale, draw in to center and bring your elbow towards your knee, and your knee towards your elbow. And inhale, lengthen back to where you just were. Exhale, draw it in.

Inhale, lengthen out. Exhale draw it in. Inhale lengthen out. Let's do that one more time. Exhale.

Inhale. Pause, find one more round of breath. And then just pull your left hand down, and lower the ball of your back foot down to the ground and keep your right leg straight. Send your left shin to the side, bring your back heel down to the ground, and reach your right arm up towards the sky for a variation of Vasisthasana with your shin down. Now from your heart, reach out into your hands.

Lower your right hand down, come back to all fours. Inhale, reach your head and tail up towards the sky, and exhale, round your back. Inhale head and tail reach up towards the sky. Exhale, round your back, reach in to the earth. Inhale find a neutral spine.

Again explore strength in your belly, and reach your left leg back behind you. Parallel your back leg, belly strong, and reach your right arm back. So rather than just relating to the floor, also feel the space above you. Find a nice big inhale and exhale elbow to knee, knee to elbow. Inhale reach it back, and exhale draw it in.

Inhale lengthen out. Exhale draw in. Inhale lengthen out. Exhale draw in. Inhale lengthen out and pause, take another full round of breath here and lower your right hand down.

Keep your left leg straight and bring the ball of your back foot down to the ground. Send your right shin to the side bring your back heel down and reach your left arm skyward. From your heart, reach out in to your hand. Reach into the earth to lengthen up towards the sky. Exhale lower your left hand down, come back to all fours, inhale reach your head and tail up towards the sky.

Exhale round your back for cat. Inhale head and tail reach up towards the sky. Exhale tuck your toes and press back to downward facing dog. Inhale come forward to plank. Exhale lower all the way down to your belly.

Come to the tops of your feet. And now find the perfect spot to place your hands where you have weight moving down through the knuckle ridge of your hand as well as the heel of your hand. Press down into the ground, and then reach back simultaneously and begin to reach your sternum forward and up. So press down into the hands and reach back. It's like your sternum is tracing the sides of a bowl, going forward and up, forward and up, forward and up.

Keep going and allow your low back to broaden and smile. Lower all the way down. Find a Low Cobra, tuck your toes lift your thighs. And now without lifting your shoulders, press into the ground and lift your hips up to meet your shoulders. So often times we build Caturanga from plank down, so experiment one more time, come down and let's do this again.

Building Caturanga Dandasana from the floor up. So roll your chest open, tuck your toes, lift your thighs. Press into your hand so it might just be here. If you feel the strength in your core, press into your hands even more. Without lifting your shoulders lift your hips, and then come in to Plank, and then Down Dog.

Bend your knees, place your feet on the floor, bend your elbows. So bend your elbows just a few inches so they're hovering off the floor and then hug your elbows in towards each other. Now press down into your hands, keep your elbows bent and lift your hips up high. Turbo Dog. Notice the strength in the upper back, notice the strength in the arms, keep your elbows back bent, and then reach back through your tail and your pubic bone.

Press into your hands, straighten your arms. Inhale left your heels, exhale bend your knees, look forward, then please step forward to the front of your mat. Inhale halfway lift, then exhale fold in. Press into the ground, inhale come all the way up to stand. Reach your arms up, exhale lower your hands down.

Inhale reach your arms up, exhale lower your hands down but get longer in your spine. So feel the descending quality in the arms, to ascend through your back. Let's do that just a couple of times, so inhale arms rise. And exhale hands down and get longer in your spine. Inhale breath arms up, exhale hands down and get taller.

Inhale arms rise, exhale fold forward. Inhale halfway lift, and exhale stick your right foot back to a lunge. Press down into the ground and inhale rise up, lifting your arms up to the sky. So find a nice strong inhale breath here, exhale bend your elbows and draw your shoulder blades down the back and towards each other, and look for a little fire in your mid back. Inhale straighten your arms.

Exhale, bend your elbows, drawing your shoulder blades down and back. And inhale arms straighten. Staying with this or adding your back leg, exhale elbows bend and knee bends, if your knee allows for that. Just to a hover and then inhale straighten back leg and reach your arms up. Two more times, exhale, inhale.

Exhale inhale. Arms reach up, exhale lower your hands all the way down. Inhale Plank. Exhale Caturanga Dandasana, all the way to your belly. Inhale Low Cobra, tuck your toes, lift your thighs.

Exhale back to Caturanga, inhale Plank, exhale Down Dog. Inhale right leg rises. Exhale step your right foot forward between your hands. Inhale arms reach up, Crescent Lunge. Exhale bend your elbows and draw your shoulder blades down the back and towards each other.

Inhale straighten your arms. Exhale. Inhale, adding the back knee if it works for you. Exhale elbows bend back, knee bends. Inhale back leg straightens arms up.

Exhale. Inhale back leg straightens arms up last time. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale lower your hands down, step your back foot forward to meet your front foot.

Inhale half way lift, Ardha Uttanasana. Exhale fold forward, Uttanasana. Inhale rise to stand, reaching down to rise up. Exhale hands come down and get long in your spine. Inhale arms up.

Exhale fold. Inhale half way lift. Exhale step your left foot back to a lunge. Inhale arms reach up, exhale lower half way down and reach your arms back to frame the hips. Now pause and just like you can smile across your low back, can you smile across your chest, so the outer collar bones move away from each other just like in Warrior III.

Remember the strength in your belly, and then inhale breath arms reach up. And exhale lower half way down reach your arms back to frame the hips. Inhale arms reach up, exhale half way down, frame your hips. Inhale arms lengthen up, and exhale lower your hands all the way down. Inhale Plank, exhale Caturanga Dandasana to lower all the way to your belly.

Inhale Low Cobra. So pausing here and remember hands can reach down and back, to feel your sternum go forward and up. Continue to allow the low back to smile. Without lifting your shoulders, tuck your toes, lift your thighs, press into your hands and lift your hips up to meet your shoulders. And then Plank, and then Down Dog.

Inhale left leg rises, exhale step your left foot forward. Inhale arms reach up, exhale lower half way down, arms reach back to frame your hips. So taking a moment here to look for some detail, strong legs, back broad, belly strong, collar bone spreading. And then inhale reach your arms up. Exhale lower a half way down, arms sweep back to frame your hips.

Inhale. Exhale. One more time just like that, inhale. Exhale. Inhale breath come back up, and exhale lower your hands.

Step your back foot forward to meet your front foot. Inhale halfway rise and exhale fold. Inhale come all the way up to stand, press into the ground reach your arms up. Exhale bring your arms back behind you for Parsvottanasana, also known as Pyramid. So you can hold on to wrists or elbows or reverse prayer.

Step your right foot back, start to reach down through your inner legs. Press down into your feet, lift up through the skin of your belly and your chest and begin to move from your pelvis. Tip your pelvis forward. So if it's okay for you, you can also release the weight of your head. Inhale lengthen up half way, so you're about parallel to the floor, and then release your hands.

Bend your front knee, walk your hands forward, and lift your back foot off the ground. Bend your supporting knee and walk your hands up to your front thigh. Press down into your hands, feel your belly. And then begin to straighten out your front leg, to experiment with Warrior III. So just like we found in our lunge, our belly is strong, our back is broad, our chest is smiling.

And then lower your hands, step back to a nice big lunge. Plant your right hand, reach your left hand up to the sky. Lower your left hand and travel back to Downward Facing Dog. So feel free to stay here, or you can pause in Child's pose. If you would like, inhale please come forward to plank.

Exhale, Caturanga Dandasana. Inhale Cobra or Up Dog. And Down Dog. Inhale lift your heels, exhale bend your knees look forward. Step or hop to the front of your mat.

Inhale, nice long spine, exhale fold. Inhale rise, reach into the ground. Exhale, hands lower back behind us, to hold on to your wrists or your elbows or reverse prayer, and we'll do that on the second side. Step your left foot back. Reach in to the earth and start to open up your chest, maybe even look up.

Now from a tip in your pelvis start to come forward. If it's okay for your balance, feel free to release the weight of your head. Allow for a deepening in your groin. So your pubic bone is reaching back. Inhale lengthen up part way.

And exhale release your hands, walk your hands forward, lift your back foot off the ground. So power down through your right leg, and then see if you can feel the weight of your torso rise up towards the sky. Bend your supporting knee, bring your hands to your front thigh. So press in to your hands to feel your belly rise, so there's this relationship to the space above you not just beneath you. And then straighten out your front leg, reaching arms back to frame the hips, to experiment with Warrior III.

Draw your shoulder blades on to your back, open up your chest, smile across your low back. Slowly lower your hands, step back to a lunge. Plant your left hand and reach your right arm up. So feel your left shoulder blade move towards your left hand. So this twist is coming from your back, Exhale lower your right hand down, step back to Downward Facing Dog.

Inhale forward to Plank. Exhale Caturanga. Inhale Cobra or Up Dog. Exhale back to Caturanga, and then lower all the way down to your belly. Moving towards a long Bhujangasana a tall Bhujangasana, Cobra pose.

So start to experiment with where to place your hands. If your hands are too far forward, often times a lot of weight will move through the heel of the hand. And if your hands are too far back, a lot of your weight will move just towards the knuckle ridge, and you want it to be balanced. So find that perfect spot for your body. And then just as we did earlier, start to press down through the hands and forward.

Down and forward, down and forward. And reach from your pelvis, out through the tops of your feet. And you might notice that your weight starts to shift, then you can come back down and re-adjust your hands. So that you get to feel weight moving down through the knuckle ridge. And just like you're tracing the edges of a bowl, reaching your sternum forward to rise up.

Now with all of this work, can you allow the low back to smile, and move your hip points towards each other to find your core strength. And let's lower down. Stack your hands one on top of the other, and rest your forehead on top of your hands. So now with your front body meeting the floor, notice how your back body moves and responds to your breath. Flood your low back with movement, movement that's responding to your breath.

Lift your head, and bring your arms out in front of you so that your elbows are in front of your shoulders, and bring your hands together in prayer. So we'll come in to Salabhasana nice and slow. So we can find more detail in this shape. Bring your attention to your core strength, and start to feel how your hip points can move towards each other. So there's transverse abdominis again.

Notice how that also relates to the smiling of your low back. And now begin to lift up through the center of your belly, lift up through your heart, lift up through your throat, an reach your arms back. And now reach back through your legs, and lift your legs off the ground. So you might actually give up some height, as you find more detail. So there doesn't need to be any straining in the low back.

Smile across your chest, let your collar bones move apart, shoulder blades on to your back. Relax your jaw. And little pillow with your hands, one hand on top of the other, forehead on top of your hands, and take rest. So you are welcome to do the same thing, where we'll work our way into Dhanurasana. So if available for you, bend your knees, and reach back for your ankles.

Again feel your belly's strength, allow your low back to widen. And then lift up through the center of your belly, up through the center of your heart, and reach your feet straight up towards the sky. So even in this shape, can your back be broad. Smile across your chest. Relax your jaw.

And slowly lower down. And rest your head on top of your hands. Bring your hands underneath your shoulders, and your sitting bones back towards your heels. And have a seat on your heels. So this version of Ustrasana might feel slightly different.

We won't move in to the full pose, so it's more trying to tap into the same work that we were doing with Cobra, and place it here. So right up on to your shins. And bring your hands forward out in front of you, as though they were in Cobra. And start to press your hands down, isometrically, so you're reaching them down. And then begin to reach your sternum forward to rise up.

Sternum goes forward to rise up. And all the while, allow your low back to smile. And feel your hip points draw towards each other. And then once you feel that ability to lengthen your sternum forward and up, then just release your hands back. And that's it.

So we won't even touch down to our heels. We'll just start to explore the widening of our low back the ability for out sternum to go forward and up. Then gently slowly come back out, and have a seat on your heels. If you'll pause, take a moment to notice how that feels, to release from a shape like that. Notice where there's weightfulness.

And let's try it just one more time. So rising up on to your shins. Bringing your hands forward, so you have this sense of being in Cobra. Start to reach your hands isometrically down to reach your sternum forward and up, forward and up, forward and up. Low back broad, chest open, and then reach your arms back.

From the strength of you belly come back up, and have a seat on your heels. So we'll release from this back bending, with some core strength moving in to Bakasana. Just a short visit. So plant your hands, come in to a forward fold, then bring your knees up towards your armpits. Start to shift your weight forward.

And so this might be enough for you. So more importantly, you're exploring some strength in your belly, maybe the heels lift so you lift your tail feathers. Lower your feet, find a squat. So the feet can be nice and wide here, so the back is really broad, the pelvis is heavy. And although the pelvis has some weight, allow the heart center to be bright.

Rise up through your throat center. Release your hands down, come to all fours, and send your hips back for Child's pose. Roll up your spine, make your way to your seat. And let's cross our left leg over our right for Ardha Matsyendrasana. So your right knee is bent, left foot crosses over.

Bring your left hand back behind you, reach your right arm up to the sky. And exhale, cross your right elbow across your left leg. So again bring your attention to your back body, and feel how your right shoulder blade can move towards your right upper arm. So experiment with the twist coming from your back. Look forward, release your twist.

Give yourself a little twist to the other side. Release from that and let's just find the second side, so switching your legs. Sit up nice and tall. Bring your right hand back inhale, left arm rises. And exhale twist.

Bring your mind into your breath so that the breath is initiating you. Tap in to your left shoulder blade, moving towards your left arm. Look forward, release, little counter twist. Come back to center, unravel your legs, reach them forward feel free to shake them out a little bit. Let's put the soles of our feet together and allow the knees to open up nice and wide.

Have your heels so they're about two feet away from your hips. So this is more of the Yin version of Baddha Konanasa and I call it Butterfly. Sit up nice and tall, bring your fingertips back behind you this might be enough right here and you're welcome to stay. If you'd like, walk your hands forward and start to explore the forward fold. Potentially bringing your forehead all the way down towards the arches of your feet.

So in this forward fold again, allow the low back to widen, like you're putting a smile across your low back. Allow your belly to move in response to your breath. Last full breath here. And now please press in to your hands come all the way up, bring your hands to your outer legs bring your knees together. Now let's prepare ourselves for Savasana.

If there's any last shapes that you need to move through so that you feel at ease in your back, please make your way there. Otherwise just lie down and take rest Notice how your Savasana feels today. Is there more liveliness in your back body? Does it feel quiet or does it feel wakeful? Notice the residue of your practice.

Notice the echo of your practice. And then with your next exhale, allow yourself to let go even more so you just spread and melt into whatever is here. Bring your attention back to your breath. If you have time, choose to stay in Savasana a bit longer. Otherwise prepare your body to move once again.

Gently transition to your side. Press down onto your hands, come all the way up to your seat. Take a moment to become inclusive of experience, so feel what's going on in your body, and then also open up to listen and experience the sounds of your environment. So opening up in to our bodies to open up in to the world. Bring your hands together in front of your heart, bring your brain down to your heart.

Take a big round of breath here, seal your practice in. With so much gratitude, thank you for sharing this space. Namaste.

Comments

1 person likes this.
love.
Master-full. So much for me to work on here. I like the way you go take the backdoor into poses like warrior 3 and chataranga - and "trick" the body into going into these in a new way versus a habitual way... so that they're like whole different animals. It made things fresh for me. Thank you!
Great practice. Thank you
Enjoyed this again today thank you.
That is wonderful Gabriel Thank you for practicing with me!

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