Asana Studies Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 9

Free in the Neck and Mind

40 min - Practice
70 likes
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When we are holding in our jaw and neck, we become tight in the mind. Releasing these areas, we can drop our awareness more deeply into our bodies. With quiet trust and magnificent competence, Suniti guides us towards ease and spaciousness in the neck, jaw, and interior of the mouth within a wholesome practice. You will feel quiet and deeply at ease.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block

About This Video

Transcript

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Welcome. In this class we're going to release some of the tension in our neck, and we're gonna look at our mouths, our upper palate, our tongue. In my own experience, when my neck and my mouth and my jaw is tight, there is a sense of being lifted away from the ground. It's like I'm inhabiting just my mind. All when all of this can relax, my mind can more readily enter into my body.

It's actually a good experience. As you go through your day, and if there's stress, if there's anxiety, notice what's going on with your tongue. Notice what's going on with your neck. And when you release that, can you soften into the experience a little bit more. So, we're gonna need a block for practice.

And we're gonna start with something a little bit more mellow, and then we'll work our way up to some standing poses. So, this actually first. Just identify the base of our skull. So reach back and feel the base of your skull, just start to palpate there, and look for some tender spots. It's usually not very hard to find.

And then you're gonna take your block and you're gonna put your block on the second level, and then the ridge of your block is gonna meet the ridge of your skull. So, this should feel interesting. It should have some sweet spots. There should be some sensation there. So, if you're not feeling anything, feel free to wiggle around a little bit more until you find something that's informative for you.

So now, roll your head on over to the right, and pause when you feel something that's interesting. A sweet spot. Now, bring all of your attention to the area of the body where your block is meeting the base of your skull. And can you with all your interest allow that area of the body to soften and broaden? Allow for very deep letting go.

Relax the muscles of your face, relax the hinge of your jaw, relax your eyes. Roll your head back to center, and then roll your head on over to the left. Find a little sweet spot there, pause. Feel the weight of your head. Feel the weight of your eyes.

And relax the muscles of your face, right in the space between your eyebrows. And invite this space that the block is palpating to be broader, to be easy. And come back to center. So now, on your own, simply roll your head to the right and to the left. And if you'd like to pause again and invite some of that soft tissue to let go, then you can work in that way.

Otherwise, you can just roll your head, side to side, taking your time, exploring the weight of your head. Release your tongue, release your jaw. Feel the weight of your shoulders, the weight of your arms, and the weight of your pelvis. When you are feeling balanced, side to side, come back to center. Bring one of your hands to the block, and bring one of your hands to your head.

Lift your head with your hands, and move your block off to the side, and release your head back down. Now, once again, with your head on the floor, simply roll your head side to side. Find center, and then bring your hands in front of your heart, and rub your hands together. Feel the texture between your hands, feel the heat that you're creating. And now, place your hands over your eyes so you're palming your eyes, and allow your eyes to settle back.

So, our eyes do so much reaching, they do so much for us. Can you allow your eyes to settle back? Moving into some darkness. Allow your eyes to become more receptive. One more big breath here.

Feel your breath. And gently release your hands down, open your eyes, let light come to you. And then, gently roll to your side. Come back up to your seat. And now, just take a moment and identify the upper palate of your mouth, and bring your tongue to the space right behind your teeth.

And begin to roll your tongue across the upper palate of your mouth until you feel the soft palate. So it's the rough palate, and then the soft palate. And so, we'll orient with our soft palate through some of our sun salutations. So, let's make our way to Downward-Facing Dog. Plant your hands and lift your hips up high.

And now, please step your feet forward to the front of your mat, and fold into Uttanasana. And a nice strong inhale and rise all the way up to a stand. Reach your arms up to the sky. And exhale, release your hands down. So once again, identify the soft palate of your mouth, and begin to rise up through your soft palate.

Simultaneously, yield, feel your feet meeting the ground. Relate to the floor. Release your hands down, inhale, reach your arms up, leading from the soft palate of your mouth. Exhale, fold down. Inhale, half-way lift, and feel the soft palate of your mouth lengthening forward.

Exhale, plant your hands and step back to Plank. Inhale and Plank. Exhale, lower all the way down to your belly. Bring the tops of your feet to the ground. Inhale, come into Cobra pose.

And exhale, lower. Now, once again, identify the soft palate of your mouth, lead from there. Inhale, Cobra, rising up through the soft palate of your mouth. Exhale, lower. Do that a few more times.

Inhale, Cobra, soft palate leads, exhale, lower. Relax your tongue. Inhale, Cobra. Exhale, lower. Inhale, Cobra or Upward-Facing Dog, upper palate expanding up.

Exhale, Downward-Facing Dog. A few breaths here. How's your neck doing? Are you holding your head up? Can you release the skin on the back of your neck?

Can you release the back of your head? Inhale, exhale, bend your knees, look forward, and please step forward to the front of your mat. Inhale, half-way left Ardha Uttanasana and pause. So, start to reach forward with your heart center and then expand out through the upper palate of your mouth. Relax your tongue and then root down through your legs.

Exhale, fold forward Uttanasana. Inhale, rise to stand, reach your arms up to the sky, feel your upper palate expand. Exhale, hands come down. One more time like that. Inhale, arms up.

Exhale, fold down. Inhale, half-way lift. Exhale, step to Plank. Inhale, in Plank. Exhale, lower to your belly.

Inhale, low Cobra. Upper palate leads you, so the neck stays free. Exhale, lower. A couple more times like that. Inhale, low Cobra.

Exhale, release down. Inhale, low Cobra. Exhale, release down. Inhale, Cobra or Upward-Facing Dog. Exhale, we'll meet up in Downward-Facing Dog.

Inhale, exhale, bend your knees, look forward, step or lightly hop to the front of your mat. Inhale, half-way lift. Exhale, fold. Deeply bend your knees. Inhale, Utkatasana.

So, no need to force the lift of your gaze. Simply start to reach up through your heart center and reach up through your throat center, and maybe the front of your throat is allowed, or open enough to stretch. Maybe the gaze rises. Exhale, fold. Inhale, half-way lift.

Exhale, right into Chaturanga Dandasana. A back bend of your choosing. Down Dog is where we'll meet. Bring your left heel down, step your right foot forward for Warrior One. And grab hold of your block as your rise to stand.

Bring your block right between your hands, and then reach your arms up to the sky. So, draw into your block without tensing your neck. Is that possible? And then, reach up through your hands without tensing your neck. Bring your block to the back of your head.

Your elbows will bend, and draw your elbows towards each other. Now, press your head back into your block. Let your block be a place of support as you move back into your back bend. Now, relax your tongue. And rise out and up through the soft palate of your mouth.

Come back up, reach your arms up, and exhale, release, lower both hands down. Inhale, Plank. Exhale Chaturanga Dandasana. Inhale, back bend. Exhale, Down Dog.

Bring your right heel down, step your left foot forward, Warrior One. Holding onto your block, reach your arms up. So, draw into your block. Is that possible without tension in the neck? Reach up through your fingers.

And again, can your neck be free? Bend your elbows, bring your block to the back of your head. And start to press your block back until your block relates to your head, it kinda reaches in, but then your head presses back into your block. Lift up through your little belly. Lift up through your heart.

Lift up through your throat center. And lengthen out through the upper palate of your mouth. Reach your arms up, and release your hands down. Block to the side, step back to Plank. And then option for Chaturanga and Up Dog.

We'll meet up in Down Dog. Inhale, lift your heels. Exhale, bend your knees, look forward, and step or hop to the front of your mat. Inhale, half-way lift. Exhale, fold.

Deeply bend your knees, inhale Utkatasana. And exhale, rise to stand. Inhale, arms up. Exhale, fold forward. Inhale, half-way lift.

Exhale, step your left foot back to a lunge and bring your back heel down preparing your legs for Warrior Two. And then, rise up for Warrior Two, Virabhadrasana B. Inhale breath, reverse your Warrior. And bring your left arm to wrap around your low back, maybe holding on to your right thigh. Now, here's the tricky part.

Can you find the strength of your legs? Keep that, and then release the weight of your head, so your left ear moves toward your left shoulder. So, can you find power even with the neck easy? And then, reach your right hand towards your right knee, extending and lengthening through the right side of your neck. So, can you be in the neck release and still have a strong foundation?

Relax your tongue. Keep your left arm as it is, and inhale, just reach your right arm up. And exhale, bring your right form to your right thigh. So, even if you can bring your hand to the floor, have your form to your thigh. And then release your right ear to your right shoulder.

And start to draw your right shoulder blade down your back. Now, breathe into the left upper lung, all the way up into the stretch through the side of your neck. Look down to the floor. Release your right hand, and inhale, reach your right arm back up high to the sky for reversed Warrior. And come back to Warrior Two.

Press into your front foot, straighten your front leg, prepare your legs for triangle, and then triangle pose is where we'll meet. Bend your left elbow and bring your hand to the back of your head. And now, reach forward with your elbow. Use your hand for support. Support your head.

And then, from your hand start to turn your head up towards the sky, and reach your elbow forward and then back. So, allow your right hip crease to deepen, right side body stays long. Press down into your legs and keep this spiral of the chest going. Now, can you keep your neck this easy and reach your left arm up, so the strength is there? Can we find strength without unnecessary tension?

Look down, bend your right knee, reverse your Warrior, right arm up. And exhale, release your hands down. Step your back foot forward to meet your front foot. Fold and Uttanasana. And bring your hands to the back of your head.

So, of course, your knees can always bend here. And just lay your hands, they can be weighted or they can just lightly be touching your head. Allow your hands to be a gentle reminder to release the skin on the back of your neck, to release that area of the skull that we were palpating earlier. Feel the weight of your brain. And then, release your hands.

Inhale, lengthen half-way up. And exhale, step your right foot back towards a lunge, prepare your back leg for Warrior Two. Rise all the way up for Virabhadrasana B. Inhale, reverse your Warrior. Bring your right arm to warp around your low back.

You may hold on to your left thigh. So, the tricky part here is maintaining the strength in your legs, and then releasing the weight of your head, right ear towards right shoulder. Begin to lengthen and reach your left fingertips towards your left knee. Now, breathe all the way up into your upper lungs. It might feel interesting to start to turn your chin slightly up towards the sky.

Inhale breath, reach your left arm back up. Now, keep your right arm where it is, and just lower your left form towards your left thigh. Bring your left ear towards your left shoulder, even though your left shoulder blade is moving down the back. Looking for a stretch on the right side of your neck and upper shoulder. Look down to the floor.

Reach your left arm back up to the sky. Reversed Warrior and come back to Warrior Two. Press into your front foot, straighten your front length. Prepare your legs for triangle. And then deep crease in your left hip to come into your triangle pose.

Bend your right elbow, bring your hand to the back of your head. Reach your elbow forward and then start to press your head back into your hand, kinda similar to pressing back into the block, and let your hand help to turn your gaze. Your elbow will start to reach back. Use your hand to create a little traction through the neck. And then, reach your right arm up.

So, these postures are moving in response to your breath. Nothing's stagnant. Look down to the floor, bend your left knee, inhale breath, reverse your Warrior. Exhale, lower your hands down. Lift your back heel and step your back foot forward to meet your front foot.

Hold onto opposite elbows and fold in. Bring your hands to the back of your head. And one more time, just allowing for some weight. Releasing the skin at the back of your neck. And again, feel the way that your spine moves in response to your breath.

All of these postures, living and breathing. Release your hands. Inhale, lengthen half-way up. And exhale, fold. Inhale, rise all the way up to stand, reach into the earth, reach your arms up.

Exhale, hands come down. Inhale, reach your arms up. Exhale, sweep your right arm underneath your left for Eagle arms. Bend your knees, shift your weight into your left foot, sweep your right leg over your left. This is a great place to be if you'd like to be an eagle going into its nest.

You can start to bring your elbows down. Feel the outer hips hugging in towards your mid-line. Soft gaze, easy tongue. And gently come back up, unravel, reach your arms up to the sky. Fold forward, and reach your right leg up.

So standing splits just for a few breaths, a really short visit. Bend your right knee, bend your left knee, and bring your right knee to the outer edge of your left calf. So, you're on a whole footprint on the front foot, and then you can come to the ball of your foot of your back foot. And then, we'll bring our hands to our heart. So, if balancing is really crazy here, you can take your block and put it underneath your right shin, so that you feel more stable.

Okay, so testing our balance here. Soft, receptive gaze. Look to your right, and let the view come to you. And then come back to center, and look to your left. What do you see?

Come back forward, release your hands, reach your right leg up high to the sky. And come back to a lunge, and come back to Down Dog. Choose to stay here, choose to move through Svanasana, choose Child's Pose. Take a few breaths for yourself. Now if you're ready, we'll bend our knees, look forward, step or lightly hop to the front of our mat.

Lengthen our spines half-way, and then a deep fold. Inhale, rise to stand. Exhale, sweep your left leg under your right, Eagle arms. Bend your knees nice and deep. Shift your weight into your right foot, and sweep your left leg over your right.

If you'd like, start to move into your nest. Notice if there is tension in the back of your neck. Is there another option? Notice if there's tension in your jaw. Is there another option?

What about your tongue? What about the upper palate of your mouth? Slowly rise. Unravel, plant your feet, reach your arms up. And exhale, fold forward.

Start to reach your left leg up to the sky for a standing split. We're just here for a few breaths. Bend your knees, left knee's gonna tuck right behind the right, right to the side of your calf. You have a whole footprint down on the front leg, or on the front foot, then you can bend the ball of your back foot. Then hands to the heart, little knot.

And start to look over your left shoulder seeing the space. And look over your right shoulder. And come back to center. Unravel back to standing splits. Head on back to a lunge, and then, Downward-Facing Dog.

If you like, inhale forward to Plank. Exhale slow, conscious Chaturanga Dandasana. Inhale, Cobra or Up Dog. Upper palate leads. And exhale, Child's Pose.

And press into your hands, and slowly rise all the way up to your seat. And have a seat on your heels, unless that's uncomfortable for you, in which case you can find a comfortable seat. Seated on the floor or on your block. Interlace your hands and reach your palms forward, and then reach your arms up to the sky. So, begin to feel your pelvis.

Your pelvis is the shape of a bowl. And feel the depths of your pelvis moving down. It's like the depths of your pelvis is reaching down to connect to the floor of the ocean. All water moving to the deepest place. And then feel the upper palate of your mouth and reach up to meet the dome of the sky.

So, feel the floor of the ocean and the depth and expanse of the sky. And then release your arms, change the interlace, and reach your palms forward and up. So, same work, exploring the depths of your pelvis and then rise up through the upper palate of your mouth. Feel the whole inside of your mouth smile. And release.

Bring your hands right alongside your legs, press down into your hands, lift your shins, and then just slide your feet between your hands and extend your legs forwards for Dandasana. You can always have your knees bent here if your hamstrings feel restricted. Now, bring your hands right alongside your hips. Look forward and without reaching your chin forward, just release you chin down. So that you can feel the softness in the bottom portion of your chin.

Now focus on your breath. And feel the front of your lungs and the backs of your lungs moving in response to your breath. On your next exhale, simply relax. And now, please transition onto your back. Extend your left leg out and hug your right knee into your chest.

Reach your right leg up towards the sky, and hold on to the back of your right leg. So now, with the support of the ground, with the support of gravity, really feel the ease where your head meets your spine. Feel the ease at the base of your skull. Allow your groin to deepen, allow your front hip crease to deepen, and maybe that allows you to walk your hands up higher towards your ankle. And now, not from your face, but from the upper palate of your mouth, lift your head up towards your leg.

Release your head back down, and release your right leg down. Pause there for a moment, and hug your left knee into your chest. Hold onto the back of your left leg as you extend your left leg up to the sky. So, feel the weight of your arms, so you don't have to use a ton of muscular energy to pull the leg in. It's more of a surrender.

So, there's weight to your arms, weight to your shoulders, a deepening to your left groin. That might start to invite the arms to walk up higher towards the ankle. Let the top of your neck release, feel the weight of your head. And now, from the upper palate of your mouth, lift your head and lift your shoulder blades. And slowly release your head down.

And this time a little different. We're gonna hug our left knee into our chest, left knee bends, and send your left leg over to the right for a twist. So, your left knee can always find a block. I like to bring my left foot to my right leg for a little added support. 'Cause we wanna keep our left shoulder rooted.

Come back to center, release your left leg out, and try your right knee in. And let's find our twist to the other side. Right leg heads on over to the left. Gently come back to center. And start to prepare your body for Svanasana.

If there's any lie shapes that you need, please feel free to find them, eventually working your way into a still place. If you have time to stay, please do. Otherwise, begin to prepare your body to move once again. Gently extend your arms back behind you, reach your feet forward out in front of you, and lengthen this glorious wake up stretch. And gently shift to your side body, resting there for a couple of breaths.

And now, press into your hands, come all the way up to your seat. And let's pause together in the seated shape for just a moment. So, once again, take a moment to feel the depths of your pelvis. The bones of your pelvis are similar to the shape of a bowl. And feel the root and nature of your pelvis, reaching down to connect to the earth, have a sense of reaching down to connect to the floor of the ocean.

So, all water travels and moves to the deepest point. And then, simultaneously explore the doming of your upper palate, doming to meet the dome of the sky. The floor of the ocean, the depth of the sky. Bring your hands together in front of your heart. Bring your chin towards your chest.

Feel the light of your heart shine on your face and brighten all of your skin. Take a big breath here and seal your practice in. May this practice nourish us and sustain us. May we be of benefit for all beings. With so much gratitude, thank you for sharing this space.

Namaste.

Comments

Great practice!! Thank you!!
Love the palate work. So spacious. Thank you.
Hi Tesa and Lydia,
Your welcome. Thank you for practicing with me. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.
Really enjoyed this practice, has really helped my stiff neck and shoulders, thank you xx
2 people like this.
What a treasure this practice is - love your vibe, your voice, your instruction, and the inspired sequencing. Thank you.
Wonderful! Thank you for practicing with me.
2 people like this.
Happy to be able to take your class even though I'm not in PDX anymore. As always, so much gratitude to you!
2 people like this.
This was perfect thank u! So good on so many levels.
2 people like this.
Feeling grounded and relaxed. I really enjoyed this practice. I will explore more of your videos. Thank you so much!
I feel much more calm and focused and ready to face the day. Thank you!
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