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Season 2 - Episode 8

Grounded and Expansive Heart

50 min - Practice
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Description

Suniti gracefully guides us into a play of opposites to create to a strong, buoyant, and spacious quality in the body. With keen attention to the relationship between the hands and heart, Suniti takes us towards experimenting with Vrischikasana (Scorpian Pose) and Eka Pada Raja Kapotanasna (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose), finishing with a sweet Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand) at the wall. You will need access to a wall, a strap and a block to help with support. You will feel open, supported, generous, and receptive.
What You'll Need: Mat, Wall, Blanket, Strap, Block

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Transcript

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(water lapping on beach) Welcome. Today, we're going to give our heart centers a little extra love and attention. So, you're gonna wanna have some props. We'll use a blanket, and we'll use a block, and we'll use a strap, and we're also gonna use the wall. So, let's begin by making a loop with our strap.

So, grab hold of your strap. Make a loop. Make the loop pretty small so that when you place your strap around your upper arms, your hands will come together to meet. And now, please find a comfortable seat. You can sit up on a blanket, or you can sit up on a block so that your spine is nice and long.

(exhales) So, take a moment to settle your body. Feel the weight of your legs and the weight of your pelvis. And now, please bring your hands and place your hands on your heart. You actually bring your hands to your chest. If it's helpful, to move into your interior, to close your eyes, then please close your eyes.

But if you choose to have your eyes open, then have a nice, soft gaze so the eyes are receptive. Take a moment and dive into your own experience, and listen for the rhythm of your heart. Notice the very beautiful harmonious relationship between your hands and your heart. Your hands are offering weight. They're offering their gentle touch.

They're offering their heat, and allow the heart to receive your hands. Now, your heart is offering its rhythm, its heat, its energy. And feel how the hands can receive your heart. For a few more breaths, dive into this beautiful relationship. Bathe in this amazing relationship of offering and receiving.

Feel the brightness of your heart, and simultaneously, feel that the heart has weight. So, the heart can expand, and it also has the potential to ground us. Consider, for a moment, a grounded heart. Allow your hands to float away from your chest just a few inches. Pause there, and notice the relationship between your hands and your heart.

Can you still feel an energetic pull between your hand space, your heart space? And gently allow your hands to move away from your chest a little bit more. Again, feeling your hands relate to your heart, hands relating to heart, hands relating to heart, and let the backs of your hands touch your legs. A few more big breaths here. Let your mind move into your body.

And now, please allow your eyes to open. Let light come to you. And let's prepare ourselves for a supported heart opener. We'll use our blanket and we'll use the block. We'll also use the wall.

The wall here is kind of optional, so if it feels more challenging to get your feet on the wall, no problem. So, you'll bend your knees and place your feet to the wall, and then you'll grab hold of your block, and bring your block behind you, so it's horizontal across your mat. And bring that right at the back of your heart center, so right around your shoulder blades, maybe slightly beneath your shoulder blades. And as I move back, my legs will straighten, but my feet are still at the wall. And then I'll slide the blanket so it's underneath my head.

Hook my thumbs and start to reach my arms back. And so, maybe, your fingertips will touch the floor. So, the wall helps our legs stay in a parallel rotation. (exhales) And begin to reach down through the big toe mound of your feet, and the inner heel. And then, reach out from the front of your spine, all the way through the top of your head.

Reach from your side body all the way out through your fingertips. Notice here that the front of your heart space is broad and expansive, but also notice how the back of your heart space is also broad and expansive. (exhales) Reach your arms up and change the hook of your thumbs so your other thumb is on top, and then release your hands back down. Commit to about five more breaths here. Last full breath, reach out through your legs, reach out through your hands.

And reach your arms up. If you like, you can support your head to come back up. We'll rise all the way up to our seat. And now, please, move your props to the side. And now we'll come to standing.

Please grab hold of your strap, and place your strap around your arms. Again, it'll go right around your upper arms and your hands come together to meet. Step with your right foot, just a few inches away from the wall. Reach your arms up, and now, we'll bring our thumbs together, so that our hands are meeting the wall, and step your left foot back. So, your left leg can be in an external rotation.

Walk your hands up as high as it'll go, with your back heel lifted, and then start to lower your heel back down. And your arms will slide up the wall, but we'll begin to move our shoulder blades towards our upper arm bones. Balance your heart between your front body and your back body. Stand down through your inner legs. (exhales) And begin to feel a lengthening up through the center of your belly, up through the center of your heart, up through the center of your throat.

(exhales) And then come back up, and switch sides. So, again, we'll start with our back heel lifted, and we'll walk our hands up. And then we'll experiment. Can we keep our arms this high as we start to descend our back heel again? And if you were with me for the psoas class, remember how we can root down through the lower psoas.

So, stand on your inner legs, and then ascend through the upper psoas, allowing the center of our belly to rise, and the center of our heart to rise, and the center of our throat to rise. A few more breaths. (breathing deeply) And then rise all the way back up. Take your strap and move it to the side. We'll come back to it one more time in our practice together.

Now, grab hold of your block and bring your block between your legs. Bring your hands to the wall and walk your feet back, so you're making an L pose. Your heels will be pretty much underneath your sitting bones and your hands will walk forward. Now, depending on your availability of your hamstrings, you might be parallel to the floor, or you can walk your hands up a little bit higher so your torso is more in a diagonal. So, this is a nice place to notice, are you sagging your heart down towards the floor, and can you feel the balance of your organs between your front body and back body?

Draw your outer armpits in, and then reach out into your hands, and reach back through your sitting bones, your tail bone, and your pubic bone. Reach your inner thighs back. And then, again, balance your heart between your front body and your back body. Just a few more breaths here. (breathing deeply) And now, please come back up to stand.

Move your block off to the side, and let's come to the front of our mat. Bend your knees and roll your shoulders forward, then up, then back, then down, and do that a few times. So, knees are bending and straightening, and shoulders are rolling. You can start to include your breath into this investigation. On your next inhale, reach your arms up to the sky, exhale, fold forward, uttanasana.

Inhale, halfway lift, ardha uttanasana. Exhale, fold forward again, uttanasana. And deeply bend your knees, inhale, come into utkatasana. And let's pause here for a moment. So, remember what it felt like to have the strap around your arms, and start to experiment with bringing your hands closer together, maybe even allowing them to meet.

Allow your inner thighs to descend, your sitting bones to descend, and then feel the ascending quality of your belly, and of your heart center. One more inhale. Exhale, fold forward, uttanasana. Inhale, halfway lift, ardha uttanasana. And exhale, step back to plank pose.

Find a nice strong inhale here. Exhale, lower all the way down to your belly. Inhale a local breath. So, bringing your curiosity into the shade, start to allow your heart to go forward and up. Remember, the space and the width of the back of your heart.

And exhale, lower. (exhales) Inhale again, local breath. And now, tuck your toes, lift your thighs, inhale, plank, exhale, down dog. (exhales) Let's take a few breaths here. Remember how it felt to be in that L pose, ardha uttanasana, at the wall. A grounded heart, a heart balanced between the front body and the back body. And then we'll reach out through our arms, and reach back through our tail and our pubic bone.

(breathing deeply) Inhale. Exhale, step your right foot forward between your hands. Bring your back heel down, preparing the legs for warrior one. And inhale, reach your arms up to the sky. Turn your palms forward and hook your thumbs, just like we did with the block, behind our hearts.

Begin to reach down through your inner legs, rise up through the center of your belly, rise up through the center of your heart, and explore a touch of a back bend, just like we did when we had the block at the back of our heart center. Grow out of your low back to open your chest. Exhale, lower your hands. Inhale, plank. Exhale, chaturanga dandasana.

Inhale, cobra or up dog. Exhale, down dog. Inhale. Exhale, step your left foot forward between your hands. Bring your back heel down.

Inhale, rise up for warrior one. Turn your palms forward, and hook your thumbs, other thumb in front. So, nice strong legs, and then lift up through the center of your belly. Rise up through your heart center. And remember, your hands are relating to your heart.

Reach out of your low back to open your chest. Exhale, lower your hands. Inhale, plank. Exhale, chaturanga dandasana. (exhales) Inhale, cobra or up dog. Exhale, down dog.

(breathing deeply) Inhale. Exhale, bend your knees, look forward, and please step forward to the front of your mat. Inhale, halfway lift, and exhale, fold. (exhales) Deeply bend your knees, inhale, utkatasana. And again, remember how it felt to have the strap around your upper arms. Experiment with the distance between your hands, maybe the hands come together to meet.

And feel your heart relating and reaching towards your hands. And rise up to stand. Hands can lower. (exhales) Inhale here, standing well, and a full exhale. (exhales) Inhale, reach your arms up to the sky. Exhale, bring your arms back behind you for parsvottanasana, also called pyramid. So, you can hold to opposite elbows, you can find reverse prayer.

We'll step our right foot back. Press into the ground, and start to open up your chest, lifting up through your heart center. And exhale, a nice big crease in your hips to fold forward. So, tipping the hips to fold over our front leg. (breathing deeply) Inhale, lengthen about halfway up, and then exhale.

Please release your hands down to the ground, bend your front knee, step back to a nice big lunge. Plant your right hand, inhale, reach your left arm up to the sky. So, remember, your heart can reach to your hands. Your heart is in relationship to your hands. Look down to the floor, release your left hand.

Come to the pinky toe edge of your back foot, bring your first two fingers of your left hand, wrap them around your left big toe, shift your weight into your right hand, and reach your left leg up to the sky for vashistasana. Again, heart to hands. Release your foot, left foot stacks on top of right, and release your left hand down. Inhale. Exhale, lower all the way to your belly.

Inhale, local breath, reaching your sternum forward and up. (exhales) Reach from your pelvis down to your feet. (exhales) One more inhale. Exhale, tuck your toes, lift your thighs. Inhale, plank.

Exhale, down dog. (exhales) Inhale here, (inhales) and exhale. (exhales). Inhale, lift your heels, exhale, bend your knees, look forward, and please step forward to the front of your mat. Inhale, halfway lift, and exhale fold. (exhales) Inhale, rise to stand, press into the ground, rise up, arms sweep up. Exhale, bring your hands back behind you, second side. So, you can hold wrists or elbows, or you can find your reverse prayer.

We'll step our left foot back. Press into your feet, open up your chest, and now, fold forward. (breathing deeply) Inhale, lengthen up, about halfway, and then release your hands down to the ground. Bend your front knee, step back to a lunge. Let your left hand, and reach your right arm up to the sky.

So, feel here, from your heart, reach out through your hands. Remember to find the foundation of rooting down through your feet, strong legs. Look down to the floor, release your right hand down. Now, come to the pinky toe edge of your back foot, take your first two fingers and wrap them around your right big toe, down through your left hand, hover your right hand off, and then reach your right leg up to the sky. Release, right foot stacks on top of left, release your right hand down, plank.

And then option for chaturanga dandasana, cobra, or up dog. And we meet up in down dog. (breathing deeply) Inhale through your nose, exhale out your mouth. (exhales) One more time. Inhale through your nose, generous exhale out your mouth. (exhales) Lower your knees down to the ground, and have a seat on your heels. Reach your arms off to the sides, and sweep your right arm underneath your left for eagle arms. (exhales) So, take a few breaths here, and allow your neck to be easy.

Notice how the shoulder blades here are gliding away from each other, and you're inviting space to move into the back of your heart. (breathing deeply) And release your arms, reach them off to the sides, and then, second side. (breathing deeply) Easy neck, easy jaw. Enjoy the space moving into the back of your heart. And release.

Reach your arms to the side, and then place your hands down. Okay, so we're gonna do a little something enjoyable, maybe, for our thighs. So, you'll wanna have a blanket, and then take your blanket and put it right alongside the wall so that you have a little extra padding for your knee. Come to all fours. Now, this takes a little bit of negotiation, a little bit of wiggling.

Bring your right shin right up against the wall, and then slide it down so the top of your knee's meeting the blanket. And then, step your left foot forward so you're in a lunge. So, already, you might be getting enough of a stretch, and you're welcome to stay here. If you feel like you have some space, you can bring your hands up to blocks, you can start to bring your hands up to your front thigh. So, remembering back to our psoas class, where we allowed the lower psoas to descend, so lengthening down through the inner thighs, and then begin to rise up through the upper psoas, so there's a sense of allowing the belly center to lift, and then allowing the heart center to rise, and the throat center to rise.

And then, maybe the hands come together. And remember that we can have a grounded and expansive heart, so we're not overextending ourselves. We're finding that grounded space where our heart still has weight. It balances between the front and back body, and then we expand out to our edges to meet the space. And we'll slowly start to transition out of the shape.

Again, it takes a little bit of wiggling and maneuvering. We'll kinda walk our way forward, and just pause, sitting on our heels. We can bring our hands to our thighs, close our eyes, and let's just take a moment to notice the residue of releasing from that shape. And let's head down into the second side. So, wiggling your way towards the wall, slide your left shin onto the wall, lower it down, and step your right foot forward between your hands.

So, this might be perfect right here, and again, you're welcome to stay. If you feel the space, you can start to walk your hands up to blocks, or maybe up to your front thigh. So, there's a bit of a tendency to contract on your low back and it can be a little uncomfortable. So, allow your tailbone to have weight as you reach down through your inner legs. And then, explore the buoyancy, the lift of your belly center, and the lift of your heart center, and the lift of your throat center, potentially bringing your arms up, and maybe they even come to meet.

(breathing deeply) And gently release your hands, release from the wall, and again, have a seat on your heels. (breathing deeply) Let's take a moment, come forward to all fours, and just stretch back through one leg. And then stretch back through your other leg, just nice and easy, just trying to get some blood to move back into our knees. Okay, and now, move your blanket off to the side. We'll come in towards pincha mayurasana, and so, if you're still working with pincha mayurasana, just balancing there, you're welcome to stay there.

If you'd like to play a little bit with the back bend, we'll bring the tops of our toes to the wall, and then, just start to play with the back bending sensation down. Just stop anywhere along the way where you're getting enough. So, we'll bring our forearms to the floor, and then hold onto opposite elbows, to adjust, so that your elbows are right underneath your shoulders. And then, reach your hands forward again. With this variation of pincha mayurasana, I like to be about a foot and a half away from the wall, maybe even further.

So, from here, we'll tuck our toes and lift our hips up nice and high, and begin to walk our toes towards our shoulders. So, this is actually a really nice place to stay, and you're welcome to be here. If you'd like to play with the balance, then start to lift one leg up high to the sky, shift your weight slightly forward, take a little hop, and maybe you find the wall. So, first step, playing with balance. So, to press down through the biggest part of your forearm, the space in front of your elbows.

And then, if you'd like to move into the back bend, you'll bend your knees, and bring the tops of your toes to the wall. So, to reach your heart center forward as the toes slide down. Remember your core strength, remember your psoas, so everything is key here. Come down when you're ready, and take rest in child's pose. (breathing deeply) And rise up and sit on your heels.

Okay, so I'd like to do that again. Everything that we've done in this series so far applies to this shape. We're creating a foundation, which, in this case, is our forearm, and when I say press down through the biggest part of the forearm, I'm talking about the space right above your elbow, and experiment with that. I find that when I find that space, my whole inner body gets a bit lighter. And the other thing we're playing with is the core strength, remember transverse abdominis and psoas work, where we're lengthening in two directions.

In here, we're adding the opening of the heart. So, everything applies. Let's try it one more time. So, again, bringing our elbows underneath our shoulders, lengthening our hands, coming into dolphin pose first, so tucking our toes, lifting our hips, reaching one leg up towards the sky. And then shift your weight forward into that sweet spot right in front of your elbows.

Take a little hop, find your balance, and you can always use the wall, it's there. And now, we'll bend our knees if you wanna move into the back bend, and the heart comes forward as the toes slide down. And when you're ready, you can come back to your balance, and then child's pose. (exhales) So, being alive for the process, (breathing deeply) knowing that every day, your body feels a little bit different, (breathing deeply) honoring the process. Start to come up from your child's pose, and grab hold of your strap.

Unravel your strap so that you have a cinch. So, you're gonna take out one side of the buckle so that your loop is able to be movable, it slides. You may wanna have a blanket for your pidgeon pose, if that's a way that you like to work. So, you'll come forward, and put the strap around your right foot, and then move it over your right shoulder. And then you'll come to all fours, and bring your left knee to your left wrist, and slide your right leg back for pidgeon.

So, this is a great place to grab hold of a blanket and slide a blanket underneath your left sitting bone. So, this should feel really good for your knee, and if it doesn't, then find a modification. Okay, so first, take a moment. Come up onto your fingertips, and, again, we're bringing in everything that we've learned from this series so far, allowing there to be a rooted quality, where the inner thighs are reaching to the earth, and then allow the center of your belly to rise, and the center of your heart. And remember, the smiling sensation across your low back.

So, from here, bend your right knee, and reach back and hold onto the strap right alongside your foot. So, you're only gonna release the strap as much as you need to, so most importantly is the shoulder rotation. So you'll start to draw your heel towards your sitting bone, and then begin to move your elbow so that it brushes your side body. And then, I have to release the strap as I send my elbow forward to then reach it up. My left hand will rise to hold onto my right wrist.

So here, coming back to all of these cues of letting the inner thighs descend, and then rise up through the low belly. Let the low back widen and smile as you lift up through the center of your heart, and the center of your throat. And slowly, release. And begin to fold forward. (breathing deeply) Walk yourself back up, shift your weight into your left hip, sweep your right leg forward.

And take your strap off your right foot, and place it on your left foot. Reach your left leg back behind you, and set up your legs for eka pada rajakapotasana. So, your right knee is further to the right than your hip joint. A blanket can be really helpful underneath your right hip. The right leg is in a deep external rotation.

The left leg extends behind us. And then we rise up through the center of our belly. We broaden across our low backs. We rise up through the center of our hearts. And if the breath and if the body is presenting it, we'll go a little bit further.

We'll start to bend our back knee, and hold on to the strap, again, right alongside the foot, so this part's important. And then we'll start to bend our elbow, and turn your elbow forward to then reach it up. So, notice that I'm not walking my hands down the strap. I only release the strap as much as I need. And then I start all those cues again.

I lengthen down through the inner thighs. I rise up through the center of my belly. I broaden across my low back. I lift up through the center of my heart. I lift up through the center of my throat.

And gently release. Take a moment in a forward fold. (breathing deeply) Press into your hands and come all the way back up. Shift your weight into your right hip. Sweep your left leg forward.

Take your strap, and let's move it off to the side. So, bring the soles of your feet together, and allow your knees to open up nice and wide for baddha konasana. Let's bring our hands together in front of our heart. So, if you feel, here, that a lot of your weight is moving towards your sitting bones, then rise up on a blanket so that you can feel weight moving down through the front of your pelvis, down through your pubic bone. (exhales) So this might be perfect right here, you're welcome to stay.

If you'd like, you can bring your hands right out alongside the tops of your feet, and begin to fold forward, leading from your pelvis. So, the spine actually stays nice and long. Inhale, come back up. Ardha matsyendrasana. We'll have our right leg on top, left knee bends.

Bring your right hand back behind you, inhale, left arm rises, and exhale, find your twist. Left elbow moves across the right leg. Feel your lungs surrounding your heart. So, your lungs are like wings to your heart. And as you inhale, notice your left lung.

Exhale, spiral your left lung to the right. Look forward, release your twist, bring your hands behind you, and just switch sides. Left hand finds the ground, inhale, right arm rises, and from the space behind your belly button, twist to the left, right elbow crosses left leg. Inhale, notice your right lung. Exhale, spiral your right lung to the left.

Feel your lungs surrounding your heart, like wings. (breathing deeply) Look forward, and release. Bring your hands back behind you, unravel your legs, and just shake 'em out a little bit. And now, we'll prepare ourselves for shoulder stand, and we'll use the wall, and we'll use a blanket. So, the blanket, depending on the length of your torso, will be, you know, anywhere from six inches to a foot away from the wall.

You'll wanna have your shoulders on the blanket and your head on the floor, and your wall, your legs, rather, will extend up the wall. So, again, shoulders on the blanket, head off the blanket. Bend your knees and place your feet at the wall, press into the wall to lift your hips up, and then roll your shoulders under your back to then support your hips with your hands. So, stage one, you're welcome to stay here. You can also start to lengthen your legs up so the legs are straight.

So, this is a really nice version of shoulder stand because it keeps the weight out of our cervical spine, out of our neck, and it brings the weight into the shoulders. From your heart, look all the way up to your feet, and make sure that you have a midline, so your legs aren't pulling to the left or to the right, you're nice and straight. And now, just bring your attention, your gaze, to your heart. Again, feel your lungs surrounding your heart, like big wings. (breathing deeply) Bend your knees once again, place your feet to the wall.

Just a few more breaths here. And release your hands, lower your hips all the way down to the floor. (breathing deeply) Bend your knees, the feet can slide towards your pelvis. And keep your legs really close to your body like this, and simply send your legs all the way over to the right, and your feet will slide all the way down towards the floor. And then, extend your left arm out to the side for a twist, using the wall.

So, the wall helps keep the thighs closer to the chest, which is great for digestion. And come back to center, and find a twist to the other side. Come back to center and find baddha konasana with the soles of your feet together, knees open up wide. Let your inner thighs move towards your inner knees. So, now, we'll prepare our body for shavasana to rest.

So, if you'd like, you can slide your blanket down, so it's more at your hips, and then lower your hips back down and extend your legs up the wall for your final resting shape. Or, if you prefer, you can roll to your side, and then lie down in a comfortable shavasana. (breathing deeply) If you have time to stay, please rest a little longer. If you're ready to rise, then slowly begin to prepare your body to move again. Notice your hands, notice your feet, and gently begin to transition to your side.

Press into your hands, come all the way up to your seat. Once seated, let's bring our hands to, once again, rest on our chest, so hands to heart. A few more breaths, explore your expanded heart. Explore your grounded heart. And again, notice this beautiful harmonious relationship between the hands and the heart, both offering, both receiving.

Bring your chin down to your chest so our brain comes towards our heart. Feel the brightness of your heart shining on your face, and brightening all of your skin. Take a big breath here, seal your practice in. With so much gratitude, thank you for sharing this space. Thank you, namaste.

Comments

Dear Suniti Thanks you very much!!
You are welcome Lady Luz!
1 person likes this.
I know this is labeled as Iyengar, but I'd say this is much more Anusara-inspired in my opinion! Beautifully led, thank you Suniti. I'll be sure to check out a few of your other classes.
Awesome! Thank you Tanya!
1 person likes this.
Beautiful sequence and just the right amount of instructional pointers - blending physiology with awareness. Your own movements are wonderfully mindful to observe.

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