(rushing water) Namaste, and welcome to our spring practice. If we could open up the idea of spring happening everyday in the morning. This would be also a great practice to do in the morning as the Earth begins to warm up, and hopefully some of the movements that we'll do are movements that help you feel lighter and your body more awake, and I hope that in doing the repetition that we do that you discover regular rhythm with your breath. I'm always encouraging in the Spring practices for people to try to draw your muscles more in towards your core. So we're doing more work where we're lifting away from the ground to keep ourselves alert and awake.
So we're going to use the block for our practice. If you can set the block up somewhere towards the end of the mat, away from your head, and we're going to set the feet onto the block. Come into what would be your Supta Baddha Konasana shape. You want to scoot as close to the block as what feels good for you, in the beginning of your practice, and just simply let your arms drop out away from your torso. We're trying to find a good place to anchor your body and to let gravity take the legs toward the floor, feel the support underneath your spine, and then allowing the weight of the head to release completely into the ground.
Take a moment to soften any tension in the face, the tongue, the throat. Let your awareness go down through the shoulders, the chest. You're perhaps starting to feel a little more space down in the lower rib cage. Feeling the natural rhythm of the belly rising as you breathe in, falling as you breathe out. And then bring in some awareness to the sensations in the hips, as gravity takes away the legs more and more down toward the floor.
So to begin our dynamic movements, I'd like you to take your hands around the back of your head, lace your fingers together. As you begin to exhale, let the knees, slowly travel toward each other as you lift your head, your shoulders, and let your elbows reach toward your knees. Again when you inhale, at your knees open, the elbows fall to the side. Then two more times, as you exhale, curl up off the floor, inhale back into what I call a butterfly pose, and then as you exhale, curling forward and up. We come back to the floor, you can use your feet to slide the block off to the side.
Then catch your knees with your hands and bring your knees in towards the sides of your chest. Rock side to side with your hips, before we take the feet up above the knees, and reach for the inner arches of the feet, or if you prefer the outer edges of your feet. Just let the knees slightly come down toward the floor as the heels travel a little bit further away from each other. So deep breath, down towards your hips, and the inner legs. We'll slide the hands down to the inner knees, and with the legs in this big wide V shape create a little resistance as you slowly bring your legs toward each other on exhale.
Inhale, legs open away from each other. With some resistance, bring in the legs together. One more time, legs apart as you breath in, exhale with some resistance. Take the hands around the back of the left leg and drop your right leg to the mat, take your hands up to the back of the (mumbling), the calf, or up toward your lower calf. Three times in a row we're going to lift the head up toward the knee as you exhale.
Inhale, roll your spine back to the floor. Exhale, come away from the Earth. Exhale, inhale back. One more time, exhale, bring in your head toward you knee, and then release. Alright, so from here the same leg, we're gonna open the arms out to the side, left leg is up, three times we're going to have this twist where we'll take the left foot and roll over so we touch the floor, and then lift the left leg all the way back up.
When you exhale again, roll over to your right and touch the floor, inhale back to center. And, one more time with the left leg, twist to the right, and then come back up. Face other leg. So bring your right knee toward your chest, lower your left leg, right heel toward the sky, lace your fingers behind that right leg, and slide your hand up however high is appropriate. As you exhale, curl your head up toward your knee, and then inhale, head to the floor.
Exhale, rise up, engaging the core muscles. Inhale, roll back. Last one, exhale, curl up, and then we're rolling back to the floor. Let your arms spread out to the side at shoulder height, and then three times exhale, roll your right hip to the left and try to touch the floor, inhale, all the way back up. If it bothers your back at all, don't go so deep into the twist, otherwise hopefully it feels good to move through the hips up into your abdomen.
Last one, exhale into your twist. Inhale all the way back up to center. We'll grab both knees, hug them in towards your chest, and then hands will go around the back of the legs as you rock and roll on your spine, coming up to a seated position. This last time we'll stay up and turn over so you're on all fours. Alright, so let your shins press into the floor, open your hands wide under your shoulders.
As you inhale, start to breathe in through nose. As you lengthen your spine, look forward. As you exhale, audible breath through the mouth. (deep breath) At the end of the exhale let your naval lift up toward your spine, and relax the belly all the way. As you inhale, lengthen forward, exhale round your spine.
(deep breath) Audible breath out. Inhaling one more time, lengthening forward. Audible breath as your naval lifts up in toward your back space, pause, and then inhaling back to all fours. Then from all fours, curl your toes under, lift your knees and hips into our downward dog, and as you exhale, sink your heels toward the floor. Inhale, raise your heels up, and as you exhale, heels down.
Inhaling, heels up. Slowly walk your feet forward up to the back of your wrist, and then just take a moment as you bend your knees, fold forward as you exhale and touch the ground. Then gradually from here, heel toe your feet together, let your ankles bend, put weight down into your feet as you reach your arms straight out from your waist. Arms shadow the ears as you inhale, come up in to chair pose, and then exhale bringing your chest and belly back to your thighs as you exhale. Reach out from your waist, inhale, come back up to chair pose, exhale, sit back down.
One more time, on the inhale come back up to chair, come all the way up into straight legs, and hands down in front of your chest. So if we separate the feet so they're hip distance apart for Uddiyana. If your menstruating, you want to skip this part of the practice, but stay with the squat in the legs, press into the thighs, and if you're doing Uddiyana, we're lifting the belly toward the back as we ground the feet. So together as we inhale, let the arms circle up, as you exhale all the air out, bend your ankles, press against your thighs, without breathing let your belly move back toward your spine, and then weight your feet. Relax the belly, inhale come up, audible breath, exhale out.
(deep breath) Hold the breath out, lift the pelvic floor, draw the naval toward spine, head toward heart, relax the belly as you come back up. Last one, exhale all the air out, press into your legs, hold the belly in slightly toward the back, and ground your feet. Relax the belly, inhale, come up. Gather your hands in front of your chest and heel toe your feet a little wider apart to come down into our horse seat, or straddle pose. Again, if your menstruating, skip the Kapalbhati part, but just stay with the work in the legs.
So, Kapalbhati, one hand could be in the upper stomach area, and as you're relaxing your belly on the inhale, press the belly to the palm, as you exhale, pull your belly quickly from your hands, so it's a sharp exhale through the nose. Bring the hands to the heart center when you're ready. Try to do one round as many times as your age. So when you're ready, close your eyes, or lower your gaze, relax the belly, and begin Kapalbhati. (sharp breathing) Or, stop before your age, inhale, and come all the way up, straight legs and arms, audible breath out, exhale all the air, and then come to the squat, relieve the breath out, pull the belly toward the back, lower your head toward your heart.
Let your hands come down to the floor in front of you, and wiggle your feet just a little further apart as we go through some clearing in the inner legs. So if we lean forward enough to put your hands down flat, take your left heel in toward the yoga mat and turn your right toes out. When you exhale, deeply bend that left ankle, and send your hips over to the sides. You can look over toward your opposite foot. Try to stay close to the floor with your hips as you travel to your new side, and see if we can keep the hands in one place, and just clear the inner leg channels as you flow a couple time side to side.
Try to find your rhythm and way of moving that allows you to sink closer to the floor, and to deepen the stretch in rhythm with your breath. One more time to each side. Completing that side, as we bring the feet closer together, legs closer together for a typical squat, and if it's hard to put your heels down, you might roll up a blanket, or your mat under your heels. So, take a moment with your feet on the ground to gather your hands towards your chest, and just come down into that squat. We're trying to find the inner lift from the base of your spine, up toward the crown of your head.
One more breath here, and then we'll fold forwards, and ground the feet, and on the inhale breath, come all the way up to standing position, hands towards your chest, and then we'll take a little walk to the top of your mat. When we get to the top of the mat, let your hands come together in front of the heart space. Take a deep breath in, and then as you exhale, begin to bend your ankles and knees as we twist with the left elbows sitting outside the right knee. Press your top hand into your lower hand as you take an exhale to turn your belly to the side, sit a little deeper with your hips, and then come to neutral. Fold over your legs as you exhale, hips up as the head comes down.
Bend your ankles and knees again, come up through tall chair pose, gather your hands, and then exhale, send your right elbow off your left knee, and press your top hand into your lower hand, so the thumbs are coming close to the sternum. You could look sideways, you could look up, if it feels good you could even look down toward the ankles. Basic forward bend as you exhale, drop your head, lift your hips. Draw the spine forward as you step back into your plank pose, and then come all the way down, knees, belly, chest to the floor. You can let the legs ride out to the side, Salabhasana variation as you inhale, come up, legs together, head down on exhale.
Inhaling, legs up, chest up. Exhale to the floor. One more time. Legs up as the chest comes up, legs together head down. Find your way with your knees on the ground or up, back into your downward facing dog on exhale.
If you stabilize on hands and the left foot, take your right leg straight up into the air. Reach long through your right side. Gradually open your right hip toward the sky with the intention to make some more space in your low belly. Make sure that your lower knee is still facing forward toward your wrist. We'll square the hips, come back to center, drop that foot to the floor and lift your left leg up in the air, reach long through your left leg, and as you start to open up that top hip, try to have the intention to simply make more space in your lower belly.
Big breath in and out. We'll square the hips with the feet on the ground, look forward, bend your knees, spring forward to the top of the mat, inhale, look up, exhale, fold into your legs with bent knees or straight legs, drop your seat for chair, inhale, come all the way up to standing, and the hands in front of the chest, and one more in rhythm with your breath. Inhale, and then exhale, drop down, left elbow outside your right knee, and twist. Basic forward fold, exhale into your legs, and then bend your ankles and knees, inhale up through your chair into the twist, with the right elbow off your left knee, top hand pressing into lower hand. Back to your forward fold, exhale, and then inhale, spine grows long, step back into your plank, exhale, knees, belly, chest to the floor.
Slide your hands back beside the chest, lift the legs, Salabhasana, come up, exhale, lower down, inhale, dynamic movement, come up, and exhale down. One more, inhale up, and we come down with your toes curled under, press your hips back toward your heels, into your downward facing dog, exhale. We'll step into your stable tripod, and have your right leg come up into the air, start to open that top hip as you hang your head down, create space in the low belly, come back to squared hips, and change legs, inhale first, reach into the length on your new side, open the top hip, square the hips, both feet on the ground, bend your knees, look forward, jump to the top of the mat as you gaze up, exhale, fold into your legs, and come into your chair pose as you rise up on inhale, all the way up to straight legs, and then hands toward your chest. We'll let the arms spread wide out to your side as you sink into your ankles, so as we keep weight falling down into both feet, try to have that feeling of weight in both feet, as we lift the left heel and drop your hip a little closer to the lower foot. Take your left leg, cross it over to the right, either keep your foot on the floor, or wrap it around your lower ankle.
As we start to come toward that eagle pose, take your right arm over your left arm, and as we're winding the arms around each other, we're just going to gradually slowly lift your elbows away from your chest, and let your gaze wander slightly up toward your wrist. Take another moment as we stand firm above the ground, at the same time really sinking weight into that lower foot, and lifting the lower belly. Let the arms come out to the side to help you transition into our figure four shape in that left leg, catch a hold of your hip bones, and then pull them back in space as you lean forward, one hand to the foot, one hand to the knee, and you can bend your elbows out to the side, so you're wide through your chest as you sit back with your hips, just to feel some stretch in this outer left hip corner. When we come up, lift your spine first, straighten your right leg second, and then go ahead and shake it out. Then we'll gather the feet together, hands up toward your chest.
Inhale, spread your arms, exhale, drop into your ankles, your legs, feel that sense of stability. Then the right heel comes up, sink a little deeper, and either take your right foot and root the toes, or wrap your foot around your lower ankle, and then sit down again. Left arm over the right arm, or some variation where you're simply having your elbows pressed together, if that's too much to wind the arms. As you sink down, lift your elbows up, take a big breath, in that space between your shoulder blades. Sink into your lower leg, while lifting the lower abdomen up.
Arms out to the side to help you balance as we transfer to that figure four shape, grab your hip bones, physically pull them back in space as you lean forward, then one hand to the knee, one to the heel, elbows wide, chest wide, and then sink down until you feel a wonderful stretch through your outer right hip. Eyes looking down, and try to stay long through your spine. We'll come up with the spine, slowly straighten your lower leg, and then shake the legs out, and then come back to the top of the mat. Inhale, arms up, if it feels good take your gaze up, exhale, follow your hands down beside your feet, and keeping circulation going, inhale, look up, step back into your plank pose, and on this one as you exhale, start to work your hips forward toward the back of the wrist, beginning of up dog, and then exhale into your down dog. From down dog, take your right knee forward toward your right wrist for pigeon, if your knee's okay here, you want to slide your foot a little bit more over to the left, and then come down with your knee and point your toes straight back.
So take a moment just to allow yourself to sink into the hips, bring some breath awareness there, and then we'll come forward with your elbows. Some of you might appreciate having the block set up under your forehead as you come down. Or the block might be nice underneath your right hip, so you want to make sure that you're not feeling any tension or strain in your right knee. So, I'll take it under the forehead here, and just come to a place where I can feel the outer right hip open. Big breath into the belly, big breath out.
In the spring practices we tend not to stay super long in many of the stretches, and to keep things more moving in dynamic fashion, so as we inhale we'll come up, and just leave the block forward for the second side. Come back into downward facing dog as you exhale, and then transfer, bring the left knee toward the left wrist for the simple starting point, or the foot more to the right to deepen the stretch. So you come down with your back knee, point your toes away from your hip, and just enjoy for a moment the opening of the front of the hip. Then walk your elbows forward, and notice does it feel good to set up a block under your head? Does it feel good to put a block under this hip?
And since we're all asymmetrical different human beings, you might not even want a block, but just knowing some options, so that you feel stable in your seat. Big breath in, and big breath out. And then on the inhale, lift your head up, walk your hands back, and we're gonna shift over onto that left side, and swing that back leg around, and set up for double pigeon, where we're gonna keep the lower leg folded under. In this case, we'll have your left leg on top, and the right leg below. If we switch here, and notice that there's a gap between your top knee and your lower ankle, that you might wedge a prop to fill up the space, so this leg will release often more into something solid.
Take your hands, the fingertips back, and just for a moment lift up your chest away from the floor, and allow this extra space to perhaps allow that right, sorry left knee, to move down toward the block. For some of you the block will be in your way, so you make room for this knee to come more down as you start to feel your hands walk forward, soften through the elbows, and just allow yourself to move straight ahead and forward, finding your edge to stretch the outer hips. We often call this the logs of fire, or double pigeon pose. Inhale, when you're ready to come all the way up, let your hands slide back so there's no weight on the knees, both feet to the floor, and just take a moment in between to lift your chest, squeeze your elbows in, and then as you exhale, come back to neutral. Okay, so we have the second side with your left leg underneath, right leg on top.
As we adjust so that it's knee to heel, heel to knee, if there's a gap, try to fill it with your block, or a blanket, or some prop, lean back for just a moment to relax and make some space on this side of your belly and hip, so we relax the knee toward the floor. Then, you might find that you can come forwards, and allow yourself to lean forward, and wait for feedback in your body to give you more of a green light permission to go further, or perhaps you get that caution yellow light where we need to go back a little bit to find a safe stretch. So take attention. One or two more breaths here. Then we'll lean all the way back, and take the prop out of the way as you prepare to send your hands back one more time.
Then squeeze elbows in, lift up through the sides of the chest. So as we slide the hands back behind, this is our little vinyasa, squeeze your elbows in towards each other, lift the sides of the chest as an option, you're welcome to lift your hips off the floor, and let your knees stretch forward away from your shoulders, release the head back, and then exhale, come back to your seat. We'll join the feet together here, with the knees out to the side, and come to our forward seat of Baddha Konsasana. As you squeeze your feet together, if you notice the knees are rising up high, you might sit on your block to even out the floor, and drop your legs down, so that you're torso can go forward as the legs drop out of the way. So as you allow yourself just for a few moments to come forward, perhaps even with your eyes open as you stay more alert and awake to the light of the day, and focus your attention on the sensations down in the hips.
Big breath in, and out. If it feels good, we continue to let the head drop more and more toward your feet. Then we'll come up on the inhalation, and just simply find a good seat where you're crossing your legs, or half lotus, something that makes you feel stable. We'll let the hands hold onto the knees as you let your hips rock forwards, with eyes closed if you're comfortable, and exhale, round your back as you go to the back of the pelvis, rock forward, lift your chest, eyes can be relaxed, exhale back. So we're gonna try to find that place that's just in neutral, where you have a nice lift in your lumbar spine, tall all the way up to the crown of your head, and just finding that moment to notice the effects of the practice.
In the morning time it can be nice, or in the spring season, to do a little less of Shavasana while you have the energy moving now, so that we could be maybe more productive in our day, and not cool down through the practice of Shavasana. We'll take just a few more moments, just to sit and even out your breath, so that your attention feels alert and awake. And then, in gathering the hands in front of the chest, and intentioned that I've learned from Sarah Powers a long time ago, that I still really appreciate, and we'll close with this today. May I awaken for the benefit of all beings, I appreciate its value, and I know it is possible in this life as I am. Have a beautiful day, or have a beautiful spring season.