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Season 2 - Episode 7

Long and Strong

40 min - Practice
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Description

We allow for an opening and strengthening in the side body through an investigation of the descending and ascending qualities of the psoas muscle. Suniti skillfully allows our attention to stay present with these actions through a string of longer held standing, seated, and supine postures. You will have more breathing room and feel taller.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket

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(gentle ocean waves) Hi, welcome. In this class, we are going to explore some opening and strengthening to our side body, through the investigation of our psoas muscle. So, in really simple terms, the psoas muscle is a really big muscle that connects our legs to our spine. And it goes all the way up from T12, and it moves down to connect to your lesser trochanter on your inner thighs. So we're gonna consider today, that our lower psoas could descend, and that our upper psoas could ascend.

So coming back to this grounding work, to reach out through our body. And we'll look at that through side body. So a really nice exercise to be able to find your psoas is this work that we'll explore now on our backs. So you may want a blanket for your practice today. So let's go ahead and lie down on our backs.

Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. And now bend your elbows and reach them off to the sides. So it's like cactus arms. So take a moment, and just start to have a sense here of your psoas muscle, moving from the top of your diaphragm. So high up on your ribs on both sides, and then moving all the way down towards your lesser trochanters.

On your next inhale breath, start to stretch through your right leg and reach your right arm back behind you, so the right side body gets really long. And then exhale, come back to the shape you were just in, so right knee bends, arm bends, and then inhale, left leg straightens, and the left arm reaches out. And then exhale, come back to where you were. So that's the movement, inhale, right side body extends. Exhale, come back.

Inhale, left side body extends, so left leg, left arm extends, and then exhale reach it back. Okay, so continue that way on your own, and start to feel how the lower psoas descends towards the leg, and the upper psoas ascends towards the top at lifted arm. So descending to ascend, reaching out in two directions. (airy exhaling and inhaling) So this does take some curiosity, reaching out in two directions, feel the inner thigh lengthen into the inner foot. Feel the low back extend all the way out through your extended hand, your extended arm.

Okay, so once you're feeling balanced, let's meet up, back with our knees bent and our feet on the floor. Hug your knees into your chest. And roll up to your seat. Grab hold of your blanket, and bring a blanket underneath your knees. Find all fours, and extend your right leg out to the side.

Bring your right footprint all the way down to the earth, and then inhale, reach your left arm up to the sky. Exhale, thread your left fingertips underneath your right arm, come to the side of your shoulder, come to the side of your head. If possible, hold onto your right foot with your left hand, or your left hand can just rest on the floor, or your left hand can rest on the floor, and we'll reach our right fingertips out in front of us. And potentially start to spiral our gaze up towards the sky. Bring your right hand down to the floor right underneath your right shoulder, and then inhale reach your left arm up to the sky.

And exhale lower your left hand down. Now press down through your feet, and come all the way up, bringing your shoulders over your hips and reach your arms up to the sky. Exhale, tip in your right hip and start to fold into Parighasana, our Gate Pose. So the right hand will find our shin, we'll allow for a deepening through our right hip crease. And remember, left lower psoas can descend here.

And the left upper psoas ascends. Inhale breath, come back up. And exhale release your hands down. Come back to all fours. And reach your left leg off to the side.

Press down into the earth, inhale reach your right arm up to the sky. Exhale, thread your right fingertips underneath your left arm. Bring your right hand, to maybe hold onto your left foot. And then we'll reach our left fingertips out in front of us. Maybe spiraling the back of your head towards the floor, looking up towards the sky.

Bring your left hand to the floor, unravel, reach your right arm up to the ceiling. Exhale, lower your right hand down. Press down into your legs, come all the way up, shoulders over hips, and reach your arms up to the sky. And begin to fold into Parighasana. Reach down from your right inner thigh towards your right inner knee.

And then lengthen up through the right, low back. And maybe the right side is more obvious, can you feel the lengthening of the left side? The left upper psoas ascends. Inhale breath, come back up. And exhale release your hands down.

Come back to all fours, and let's transition to Downward-Facing Dog. In your Downward-Facing Dog, are you reaching down more dynamically through the inner line of your leg, or the outer line of your leg? You have more weight to the big toe mound, or the pinky toe mound? And can that be balanced? Do you have more weight through the inner hand, or the outer hand?

Do you have more attention through the inner arm, or the outer arm? And can that be balanced? Inhale, lift your heels. Exhale, bend your knees, look forward. And please step forward to the front of your mat.

Inhale, halfway lift Ardha Uttanasana. Exhale, fold in Uttanasana, and pause. Inhale, press down into the ground, reach your arms all the way up to the sky. Rise up to stand. Exhale, lower your hands down, but get longer in your spine.

So let's move through a couple rounds of Surya Namaskara A, visiting the theme of descending through the inner legs, descending through the lower psoas to ascend through our upper bodies. Press down into the ground, so lower psoas descends, and then inhale reach your arms up to the sky. Exhale, fold forward, Uttanasana. Inhale, halfway lift, Ardha Uttanasana. And exhale, step into plank pose.

Inhale in plank. Exhale, Chaturanga Dandasana. Inhale, Cobra, or Up-Dog. Pause here for an extra breath, can you descend through the lower psoas, and ascend through the upper psoas? Exhale, Downward-Facing Dog.

A few breaths here. Inhale, exhale, bend your knees, look forward, and step or lightly hop to the front of your mat. Inhale, halfway lift Ardha Uttanasana. Exhale, fold in, Uttanasana. Inhale, reach into the ground, rise to stand, reach your arms up.

Exhale, hands come down. Again, like that. Inhale, arms up. Exhale, fold forward. Inhale, halfway lift.

Exhale, step into plank. Inhale there. Exhale, Chaturanga. Inhale, Cobra or Upward Dog, take an extra breath, reaching down through the inner legs, reaching up from the low back up through the heart, up through the throat, we'll meet up in Down Dog. Inhale, lift your heels, exhale, bend your knees, look forward, step or lightly hop to the front of your mat.

Inhale, halfway lift. And exhale, fold. Inhale, rise all the way up to stand, lift your arms, lift your gaze. Exhale, hands come down. Inhale, arms up.

Exhale, fold forward. Inhale, halfway lift. Exhale, step your right foot back to a lunge, grab hold of your blanket, and lower your knee back down to your blanket. Rise up, bring your hands to your front thigh. Now press your hands into your thigh, and feel your belly draw back.

But then allow your inner thighs again to descend, that lowering, the descending tone of the lower psoas. Press into your hands, and feel your belly draw up, so there's the ascending tone of the upper psoas, and then reach your arms up to the sky. So rising up through the center of your belly, up through the center of your heart. And now release your left hand down to your left thigh, and start to tip on over to the left, right finger tips reaching to the side. This might be perfect, or you can lower your left fingertips to the floor or to a block.

So the right side length is maybe more obvious, can you also feel the lengthening of the left upper psoas, as you tip to the side? Exhale, lower your hands down. Tuck your back toes, lift your knee, slide your blanket to the side, and then step your left foot, about a foot away from your hands. Turn your left toes to the side, come to the pinky toe edge of your back foot, and start to lower the side of your right hip to the floor. Bring your left arm to your left knee.

Now, this is negotiable, if you're feeling really crowded, feel free to walk your left toes forward or slightly back. Start to shift your weight towards the center of your right hips, you're right at the side. So that you feel nicely stretched through your right side body. If your wrist is feeling compromised here, feel free to walk your hand a little forward or back, so that you can feel more weight through the knuckle ridge. Alright, we're gonna find a little movement with this.

So, find your feet, find your right hand, and press down into the ground, and inhale come up, lift your hips, reach your left fingertips up to the sky, and over your head, and then exhale slowly, lower, but just to a hover, left fingertips can reach back. Inhale, reach up. And exhale, lower to a hover. Inhale, reach up, exhale, to a hover. Inhale, reach up, last time, exhale, to a hover.

Inhale, reach up, and then exhale, release your left hand down, and step back to Down Dog. Walk your feet a few inches towards your hands, so a little shorter than usual. And then wrap your right hand around the outer edge of your left leg. Spiral your gaze past your left armpit. Release your right hand forward.

Come back to a Down Dog with your feet slightly back. And inhale, come forward to plank. Exhale, there's an option for Chaturanga Dandasana. An option for a back bend. And we'll meet up in Down Dog.

Inhale. Exhale, bend your knees, look forward, step or lightly hop to the front of your mat. Inhale, halfway lift. And exhale, fold. Inhale, rise all the way up to stand.

Press into the ground, reach your arms up. And exhale, hands come down. Inhale, arms up. Exhale, fold. Inhale, halfway lift.

And exhale, bend your knees and step your left foot back to a lunge. Pad your knee as you lower down. Pausing here for a moment, feel the rooting down through the feet. The lower psoas descending. And then walk your hands up to your front thigh.

So allow for the descending tone, but then rise up through the center of your belly, allow the upper psoas to ascend. And let's reach our arms out. Bring your right hand to your right thigh. And begin to reach your left fingertips over to the right. And if you like, right fingertips can find the floor.

Or a block. So the left side body is maybe the more obvious length, we have the descending, ascending going on there. And then, can you feel it to the right side as well? Exhale, lower your hands down. Tuck your back toes, lift your back knee, slide your blanket to the side, and then step your right foot back about a foot or two away from your hands.

Now, come to the pinky toe edge of your back foot, place your left hand to the ground, and lower the left side of your hip to the earth. Bring your right forearm to meet your right knee. So shift your weight a little forward or back, so that you really feel a sweet stretch in the side body. Notice your feet, notice your left hand, and now an inhale breath, come up, lifting your hips, reaching your right fingertips out in front of you. And then, exhale, lower your hips, just to a hover, and reach your right arm back.

Inhale, breath rise. Exhale, lower just to a hover. Inhale, we rise. Exhale, we hover. Inhale, we rise.

Exhale, we hover. Inhale, we rise. And then we lower our right hand down, and we travel back to Down Dog. Find a slightly shorter Downward-Facing Dog, walking your toes a few inches towards your hands. And then wrap your left hand around the outer edge of your right ankle for a twist.

Release your left hand forward. Walk your feet slightly back, and come forward to plank. Inhale in plank. Exhale, Chaturanga Dandasana. Inhale, Cobra or Up Dog.

And exhale, Downward-Facing Dog. Inhale, lift your heels. Exhale, bend your knees, look forward, please step forward to the front of your mat. Inhale, halfway lift. And exhale, fold.

Inhale, rise to stand, reach into the ground, rise up. Exhale, hands lower down. Take a breath, feel yourself standing. Shift your weight into your right foot, and hug your left knee into your chest. Externally rotate your left leg, and bring the left sole of your foot to your right inner thigh for Vriksasana, Tree Pose.

Bring your hands to your heart. So notice here, there's a tendency to sway out to the outer hip, so here's that work of lower psoas descending, reaching down through the inner leg. And then, allow the weight of your torso to rise up. That may inspire a lift to your arms. If you'd like to challenge your balance a bit, we can bring our left hand to our left thigh, and very delicately start to reach your right arm on over to the left.

But keep pressing down through your inner right leg. Inhale breath, come back up, both arms lengthening. Exhale, hands to your heart, and now hug your left knee back into your chest. Feel the weight of your left leg, and send it back toward to Warrior II. Inhale, reach both arms up to the sky, and tip from your hips for a version here of extended side angle.

So, notice this beautiful diagonal line between the top of your head and your back foot. And then join in with your arms, and reach both arms out to the sides. Find the strength of your legs, press down through all four corners of your front foot. Now, the left side body is maybe more obvious, the length. Now, can you feel the length of the right side body as well?

Inhale, back up, exhale Warrior II. Inhale breath, reverse your Warrior, and now you might wanna scooch your feet a little closer together for Triangle. As you're ready, come forward, for Utthita Trikonasana. So first, emphasizing the length through the left, begin to reach your left fingertips out in front of you, upper arm comes in line with your face. Feel the extension down through the inner legs, down through the lower psoas, and then lengthen out.

Staying here, we're exploring this length and strength to the right side, we'll reach our right fingertips out as well. Be really mindful of your right knee, so need to hyper-extend it. Allow for a soft bend through your right knee, reach into the floor. Open your arms up, Triangle. Look down to the floor, bend your right knee, inhale breath, reverse your Warrior.

And exhale, lower your hands, step back to plank. Open up your feet a little wider than usual in your plank, take a nice big inhale. And exhale, send your heels to the right. Pause here, press down through both hands, and root down through the pinky toe edge of your right foot, big toe side of your left foot. Allow for some buoyancy in your hips, right side body is shortened, left side body is long.

Inhale, heels back up. And exhale, heels to your left. So, press down through both hands. Left side body is shortened, right side body is long. Inhale, heels up, exhale heels right.

Inhale, heels up, exhale heels left. Inhale, heels up, exhale Down Dog. Inhale through your nose. Exhale, out your mouth. One more time, big letting go, inhale through your nose, exhale out your mouth.

Inhale, lift your heels. Exhale, bend your knees, look forward, and please step or hop to the front of your mat. Inhale, Ardha Uttanasana. Exhale, Uttanasana. Inhale, rise to stand.

Arms up, and exhale hands down. Take a round of breath. Feel yourself standing. Suck inside, shift your weight into your left foot. Hook your right knee in.

Vrikshasana, Tree Pose. Sole of foot comes to inner thigh, or the space beneath the knee. So, above or below your knee. Now, the foot in the inner thigh, they really meet. And then reach down through your inner leg.

So, rather than swaying your left hip to the side, hug it in towards your mid-line, and then feel the lift of the center of your belly, feel the lift of your heart, that may inspire a lift to your arms. If you'd like to play with the side stretch, bring your right hand to your right leg, and start to reach your left fingertips to the side. But keep stepping down through your inner left leg. Come back to center, both arms up. Hands come down, hug your right knee into your chest.

And now feel the weight of your right leg. And send your right leg back behind you for Warrior II. Reach both arms up to the sky, and then begin to tip your pelvis to find this great diagonal line between your leg and your spine and your arms. So, first, notice the length on the right side body, reaching down through the right lower psoas, down through the inner leg. And then feel the lift through the front of your spine.

Feel the lengthening of your heart, the opening of your throat. And then notice the length of the left side. Inhale breath, come back up. Exhale, open, Warrior II. Press into your left foot, straighten your left leg, and reach your left arm up to the sky.

Prepare your legs for Triangle. And as you're ready, come into Triangle Pose, Utthita Trikonasana. Notice the length on your right side body, and then begin to make that a touch more dramatic, and reach your right fingertips out in front of you, your arm can come in line with your face. So you may choose to stay here, or you can press into your feet really dynamically, tiniest of bend through your left knee, and then reach your left arm out as well. So the left upper psoas begins to ascend.

Roll your left lung under your right lung. Open your arms, Triangle. Look down to the floor, bend your left knee, and come back up to reversed Warrior. Exhale, lower your hands all the way down, plant your hands, step back to plank. Inhale, exhale, heels to to the right, pause, press down through both hands, and then lift your left arm up to the sky.

Exhale, lower your left hand down, lift your heels, send your heels to the left, and reach your right arm up to the sky. From your heart, reach into your hands. Lower your right hand down, head back to Down Dog. Option to stay here, or if you like plank, Chaturanga, Up Dog, you can find that. Follow your breath.

We'll meet up in Child's Pose. Begin to press into your hands, and come all the way up to your seat. Find a seat, and extend your legs forward out in front of you. So this shape can get a little bit tricky with your right's and your left's, so just listen carefully. So begin to open up your legs, like you're coming into Upavistha Konasana.

But then bend your right knee, and place your right foot to the floor. Bring your left hand to your right ankle. So, already, if you're feeling like it's really hard to inhabit your front body, like all of your weight's moving back, then sit back up on your blanket. So, from here, you'll start to reach your right arm up to the side, and then all the way up to the sky, and then on over to your left, so it's kinda similar to Gate Pose, but now we're seated. And now walk your right toes over to the side on a diagonal, until your left arm is straight.

Allow your right leg to fall back, it's moving into external rotation. So, although the right sitting bone is lifted off the floor, you're allowing there to be a descending tone through the inside of your right hip. So there's that lengthening down, to meet the ground, even though it's lifted, it still has weight. And then lengthen out through the front of your low back, like from the front of your spine. And inhale, come all the way back up.

Extend your right leg out, bring your hands together in front of your heart, and pause for a moment, close your eyes, and just notice the difference between the two sides. And now let's explore the second side. So, your left knee will bend, left foot to the floor, right hand to the left ankle. Left arm reaches up to the sky, and then all the way over your extended leg. Start to walk your left toes over to the side, until your right arm is straight.

Your left sitting bone can lift off the floor, but it still has weight. And then we lengthen out, through the front of our spine. And potentially the left hand will find the right foot, but we still spiral our right lung underneath our left lung. And sometimes it's more interesting in my body to keep my hand lifted. So every day is a little different, let your breath lead you.

And inhale breath, come all the way back up. Extend both legs out. And bring your hands together in front of your heart again, and pause here, close your eyes. Again, allow the front of your spine to lengthen up, allow the center of your belly to lengthen up, if you're having a hard time with that, you can double up your blankets, or even sit on a block. Feel your heels press into the ground, and notice how there's this tiny bend that moves through your knee.

So heels are just down. So this might be perfect, and you're welcome to stay, if you'd like to come forward, you can start to tip your pelvis forward, and walk your hands forward out in front of you. And then you might be able to go in a little bit farther, again this is happening because I'm able to tip my pelvis. Your fingers can come to your big toes. And then potentially the chin comes in towards the chest, or towards the floor, rather.

And a nice strong inhale breath, come back up. Bring your hands to the outer edges of your legs, and move your legs together. Hug your knees into your chest, bring your forehead towards your knees, coming into a little knot. Listen to the sound of your breath. And look forward, start to unravel, and make your way down onto your back.

Extend your arms back behind you, have your legs extended forward out in front of you, and keep your hips where they are, and simply walk your legs over to your right. So the hips stay where they are, and you just walk your feet to the right. And now wiggle your shoulders over to the right, and sweep your hands over to the right. Hold onto your left wrist with your right hand, and cross your right ankle over your left ankle. So it's like you're making the shape of a banana, or the shape of a letter C, curling to the side, or the shape of a crescent moon.

And here, another great place to notice the left lower psoas descending, the left upper psoas ascending. And gently release, and walk your way over to the other side. So legs sweep on over to the left side of your mat, shoulders wiggle to the left side of your mat. Arms lengthen to the left side of your mat, and now we'll cross our left ankle over our right, and we'll move our arms on over to the left, holding onto our right wrist with our left hand. Gently unravel, come back to center, unravel your legs, hug your knees into your chest.

Send your legs over to the right, left arm opens up to the side, for a supine twist. Just a few breaths here, so settle right in. And gently come back to center, and find your twist to the other side. Come back to center, and start to organize your body for your final resting shape, Shavasana. In Shavasana, scan your body, and notice what feels wakeful.

Are there areas of your body that feel warm? That feel present? Notice the echo of your practice. Offer the weight of your body to the ground. And as you exhale, see if you can let go just a bit more.

Letting go to experience whatever's here, whatever's present, without needing it to be different. If you have time to stay, please stay a bit longer in Shavasana. Otherwise, bring your attention to your breath, and prepare yourself to move once again. Invite some movement to come back into your body. And gently transition to your side.

Press down into your hands, come all the way up to your seat, and once seated, take a moment to pause, to again, feel the weight of your legs, the weight of your lower psoas. And then once again, we offer weight to receive support, so feel the energy moving up through your spine, the buoyancy, the brightness of your heart. Let's bring our hands together in front of our heart, bring your chin down to your chest, we bring our brain to connect to our heart, take a big breath here to seal your practice in. May this practice nourish us, and sustain us. With so much gratitude, thank you, namaste.

Comments

Wonderful practice. Thank you. I appreciate the upper psoas stretches. Always looking for ways to stretch the psoas. Namaste
2 people like this.
Excellent.
Question. In a forward low lounge what direction is descending for the front inner leg. Is it towards the knee or is it towards the floor.
Thank you, Lauri
1 person likes this.
Hi Lauri,
Great question! In the contexts of this practice you would descend towards your inner knee.
I'm glad you enjoyed the practice. Thank you for your comment.
-Suniti
1 person likes this.
I have a vivid imagination so when I'm not sure of something and my mind starts racing to several possibilities I figure best to ask. Thank you, Lauri
1 person likes this.
Thank you so much for the practice, I really-really enjoyed it! BEAUTIFUL!!!

1 person likes this.
Hi Katia, Wonderful! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.
1 person likes this.
This was really nice.. I like flows that focus on incorporating the core.. More please!
1 person likes this.
Pspoas stretching down in tree pose is a helpful stabilizer. Thanks for this cue. Enjoyed the focus on psoas through out this practice. Love your calm energy.
1 person likes this.
I'm always crazy about side-opening, and was delighted by these fresh poses/moves and by your gentle & precise directions, Suniti. Marking this one "Favorite"!
1 person likes this.
Thank you for the intelligently sequenced and unique practice.
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