Yoga for Our Nature Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 6

Falling Inward to Replenish

30 min - Practice


Melina shares a practice for the fall season, pre-dawn, or dusk, inviting our senses inward and downward to promote Apana Vayu (downward flow of energy). This practice helps to regulate our breath and energy levels, drawing the energy from our head into our lower body to ground and support us—targeting the lower belly, hips, and legs. The closing Pranayama practice, Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing), results in a balanced, peaceful, and easy quality of being.
What You'll Need: Mat, Strap, Block

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(waves rushing) Namaste. And welcome to our fall-autumn practice. And the fall-autumn time of the day is either pre-dawn or dusk time, so it's a wonderful practice to do at either of those windows in the day to help encourage us to start our day slowly or to take a little break in the late afternoon so that we can start to regulate our breath and start to regulate our energy level by doing a little bit less. So fall season's a wonderful time to slow down and allow your energy to really go inward and downward away from the head. So a lot of the movement we'll be doing today is focused on this Vatah region of the body, lower belly, and the hips.

So hopefully that will make some sense for you as you practice this a few times to feel the benefit of bringing your energy away from your head and down into your body during these two special times a day or during this whole season of autumn. So what we need for this practice is a block and a strap, and we'll begin on our back. And if you'll find your way onto the floor, and let the knees open away from each other and allow the soles of the feet to connect. So oftentimes when it comes to the fall season, I try to encourage people to embrace more support and in this case the ground is giving us support for our head, back, the pelvis. And when the knees open, we're giving us a little bit of sensations down in the hips to start to draw your attention inward and downwards to that region that Vatah rules.

And when we get regular flowing energy down towards the hips, we're more likely to have regular elimination, which can be challenging in the autumn season when the earth begins to dry and the body begins to dry. So take a moment to send your attention to where you feel sensations arising and passing. As you meet the stronger wave of sensations, to be really aware of your breath coming in a little bit more through the nose or through the mouth, to help feel like the breath is hydrating in some way, any dry tissues in the body. And at first when we're in that ungrounded state of the day, dawn or dusk, it can be hard to accept the supports, the slowness of the practice and hopefully we can appreciate the value of doing less by the end of our practice together. So take one more moment honoring the sensations in the legs here, before we ever so slowly, taking maybe 30 seconds to let the knees travel back together.

Along the way, sometimes we feel the legs get a little shaky on the inside, they're so excited they're getting used. And allow them to slowly wake up. And the knees will eventually touch. And when that happens for you, I'm gonna have you take your arms back by the ears, stretch your legs one at a time straight out to the floor, and you might catch your opposite thumb, stretch a little longer from your fingers to your heels, and really receive the support of the floor. We're gonna focus on the belly expanding on your inhale.

And then as you exhale all the air out, see if you can hold the breath out for a moment to pull the navel a little bit deeper toward your back, pond pose or Tadagi Mudra. Relax the belly, let it expand as you breathe in. And then try to feel the center of the belly area going down toward the floor and that you're lengthening through your core as you're exhaling. Hold the breath out, Budiyana. Relax the belly one more time, breathe in.

And exhale all the air out. Navel sinks toward the floor and try to lengthen from your heels to your fingers, Uddiyana. And then relax the belly as we bring the right knee in toward the chest. So as we squeeze this knee in, create some space to open the knee away from the belly for a moment, make some space in that lower belly. And then we'll take the leg right in front of the belly, and then use the strap on the bottom of the foot so we can support the lower arch and walk your hands up until your right leg is straight.

And then take a moment to literally pull the strap against the foot and feel the foot pressing up into the strap, shoulders on the ground. And if we can gather now the straps with just your right arm and we're gonna take the left arm back by your ear, and try to continue to feel that length and the ground underneath you on this left side. Belly expands on the in breath. Pull the belly towards the back as you breathe out, a little Uddiyana, a little abdominal massage going on as we work the right hamstrings. And then we'll take the left hand on top of your left thigh to act like a sandbag to hold that leg down as you open your right leg out to the right, just maybe five or six inches to create a little bit more strength here on this right side.

Kind of feel the ground underneath your left leg and left hip here. And then we come all the way back up. We'll switch out the strap into your left hand and open your right arm and just simply roll half way over to the beginning of a twist and then press your leg, your foot out into the strap. And then from here, just that beginning of the twist, the beginning of sensations through the outer right leg. As we inhale come all the way back up to the center.

And then we'll switch out and do the same on the other side. So if we first hold the left knee towards the belly, and then open the knee wider than the belly, give that little moment to open. And then we bring the knee right above the belly, press in and exhale. And then we'll take the leg up, walk the hands up towards the foot. Try to find, again, with the strap at that lower arch, pressing down with the strap and pushing up with the foot, okay, till your leg is straight.

We'll gather the straps with left arm reach back, with your right arm, back by your ear, and then try to lengthen as you're breathing in. As you exhale encourage the belly to fall toward the back. And then holding the breath out, can we create what we call Uddiyana where there's start scooping in through the belly space, lengthening through the core. And from the outside one might not even notice it's happening, but you feel it on the inside. Okay, then we'll take the right hand on top of your right leg to help root the right leg down as we open the left leg out to the left just a few inches and then holding the leg in space, try to engage a little more through that left side of your hip to feel the ground still underneath the right leg and right buttock.

One more moment. Come back up through the left leg and switch the hand and begin the twist where that left leg is reaching over to the right. And so from here, if you're part of what I always call the tight pure formist club, you'll feel that here already on the outer left leg, potentially all the way down toward your calf. Another moment here. And then we'll come all the way back on the inhale and we'll get the strap out of the way and just take a moment to hug your knees in towards your chest and then go a little bit wider, so we got space to breathe down into the lower belly.

And continue to squeeze the knees in towards the belly area, try to feel your torso stays nice and long as you're continuing to guide the knees down to the sides of the torso. When you're ready, bring the knees together and rock and roll on your spine to come up and then we'll turn and let the knees stay wide, maybe as wide as your yoga mat. And we'll invite the big toes to touch. When you're ready, we're gonna sit back towards your feet, the elbows reach out as wide as your mat, simply stack your hands so we're bringing a little more awareness and stretch back to the hips. Bring the forehead to your stacked hands.

And allow your chest and your belly to drape down toward the floor. And see here as you breathe again, you're aware of letting the belly relax, the lower belly relax. And then encouraging the belly muscles to engage as they move up away from the floor. Every exhale, every inhale, we relax. And as you exhale, you're engaging.

As the head comes up away from the hands, let the arms reach more out in front of you, and we'll slide the knees together, sit back one more time toward your feet as you let your hands wiggle over to the right, and stack your left hand on your right hand, just take a moment to drop your belly, chest to the legs and let the head drop down between your arm bones. Big full breath into the belly and low back. And then exhale, sinking deeper into your shape. Okay, we'll walk the hands over to the opposite side. With your left hand on the floor, take your right hand on top of your left hand, forearms are lifted, and when you exhale, start to lower your chest toward your knee, your head toward the floor.

Big breath into the belly and back. Exhale lengthening into the shape as you sit back more and more toward your feet. Okay, then we're gonna walk the hands back out in front of you, and then come up toward all fours. And when we come to all fours, let your knees separate hip distance apart, hands open under the shoulders, so as we lengthen the spine forward, we breathe in. When you exhale, look up toward the navel as you breathe all the air out through the nose or the mouth and hold the belly again in toward the back, Uddiyana.

Relax the belly, inhale, look forward. As you exhale, round your back, look toward the navel, lift the belly toward the spine. Relax the belly as you inhale forward. One more time, exhale, round. All the breath out, hold the belly in and up.

Relax the belly as you come to neutral. We'll drop the elbows now, underneath the shoulder line. Lace your fingers together and then press down firmly through your wrist, your forearms, and your elbows as we step back and start to build a little more core strength and bringing some attention to your alignment. As we root the arms in that triangle shape, draw the chest up away from the floor, and then lift the hips high enough, maybe the height of your shoulders, so you can stretch back long through your heels. And just staying in one position to slow down the breath, deepen awareness of the breath.

And just to get a little stronger in the bones. Bring your concentration a little deeper into the body. It's a wonderful practice to do in the fall before the winter season of hibernation. From our forearm plank, we're gonna walk the feet in toward the elbows and rise up to the ball of the foot, so we're hanging the head between the arm bones, and just getting a little bit of work in the legs, a little bit of inversion, to bring a little more blood down to the brain. Just let the head hang here.

And then you point, if you need to come down before I suggest, come down to your child's pose. Otherwise, stay another moment building a little more strength in the bones of the body. Big breath in and out. We'll bring the knees to the floor and sit back into your child's pose with your forehead touching the earth. Big breath in, big breath out.

From child's pose, when you're ready, lift your spine up, we'll come up to actually stand on the knees. And if we separate the knees more underneath your hips, add any cushion if your knees are uncomfortable, and if we take the left arm around your back first, right arm up by your ear. We'll take a moment and lift the chest up as you inhale and then as you exhale, sit back with your hips as you reach forward with your right hand, until the forehead touches the floor. We'll inhale, rise all the way back up to standing on the knees, lift your chest, your gaze. Exhale as you work your way forward and down.

So we're compressing the lower abdomen and hips. Inhale one more time, we come up, and one more time we'll come forward and down. Inhale all the way back up, we'll take the right arm down at your side and switch out, so left arm up by your ear, right arm around your back. Take an inhale to lift up. And then exhale as we sink back with the hips, reach forward with the arm.

Inhaling up, one full breath, one long breath, exhale coming your way down. Inhaling up, and exhale down. And then as we inhale, come all the way up. Arms at you side and step your right foot forward first and come into a forward sinking lunge with maybe your fingertips on the floor. And just to drop into the front of that left hip as you slowly lift your chest and your head up away from your right knee.

And just take a moment to open in front of that left side. And then as we exhale, we'll move the hips back and transfer on the fingertips. Now bring the left foot forward. If it's not easy to touch the floor, you might have blocks under your hands. Okay, we're gonna sink forward with the right thigh getting a deeper stretch.

And if there's room for you to lift your chest or to lift the top of the head, create that little mini back bend feeling here. One more moment in this stretch. And then as we're ready, we'll slowly step that back leg forward, and with your feet apart, coming down into a squat, one of the best poses to create more downward flow, more uponic flow in the body is the basic squat. So I highly recommend doing that at least once a day. With the hands in front of the chest, we want to lift from the base of the spine to the crown of the head.

One more moment here. And then from here we'll come to a basic forward fold with your feet apart so it's a little bit easier to touch the floor and then pause here and tune into your legs, your feet rooting down, and your breath. As we take one more breath here, we'll ground the feet, and then slowly roll up to standing or come up in a good way for you, hands in front of the chest. Please take a big step out with your legs to come into more of a goddess seat or big squat with your knees tracking out towards your second and third toe line. If we sink into the pose, we're gonna open the arms out to the sides, those goal post arms, and as you exhale, sink into your feet and legs.

And then as we inhale, we're gonna bring the hands to the chest with straight legs. Okay, again, as you come down, let yourself sink into the exhale, more work down in the legs. And come back with your hands towards your chest. One more time. Knees tracking out to the sides, elbows out as high as your shoulders.

As we straighten the legs, grab ahold of your hip bones, and turn towards your left leg. We're gonna adjust the feet so it's like you're on train tracks with your feet. And then lift up through the chest, roll the shoulders down and back, and as you exhale, hips move back in space, we're gonna come up to the tips of the fingers, or set your hands down flat as you fold over your left leg. And eventually invite your forehead to move more and more in towards your shin. So give yourself some moments to feel like there's inner lengthening happening on the inhale.

We might even come up half way and then we exhale and we go a little further over that front right leg. Inhale, a little undulation, lengthening of the spine, exhale, deeper into the forward fold. We're gonna come up to the tips of the fingers and with the right hand, grab your left leg and calf and turn the foot forwards so your feet are facing the top of the mat as you bring your left arm over to your right calf, arms are crossed, holding on to the calves and trying to straighten both legs as you lower your chin, your face in towards your arm bones. This stretch is intensified by bringing your hands further down towards your ankles. Press into the feet, lift your hips, and just your head, once again, from the middle of your back.

Let the spine stretch forward, inhale, draw your arms out to the side as high as your shoulders, come up, grab a hold of your waist and turn yourself toward your right leg and adjust your feet so it feels like you're on train tracks. Lift your chest, squeeze your elbows in, and on the exhale, come forward and down to the tips of your fingers, or start to bring your palms to the floor and invite your forehead down. So in your way, little tiny lifts to lengthen your spine. Exhale takes you further to your forward fold. Inhaling, coming up firming your back leg, exhale, forward fold.

Come up to the fingertips, lift up half way, left hand grabs the right calf, the right foot turns in, right hand reaches over for the left outer calf, and we get a good grip of the legs, straighten both legs, and then lower your head down. Okay, if you wanna go deeper with the stretch, the hands go closer to your ankles. And then once again try to reinvigorate the leg and lift them up. And then when we're ready, we'll slowly release the legs, arms out to the side shoulder height, and then we'll bring the hands to the waist, heel toe your legs and feet in, and then we'll one more time come down to your squat and then have a seat, okay, just for a moment setting up your squat with your feet on the ground or a rolled blanket underneath your heels. Okay, we'll slowly sit back.

When you're ready, let go of the squat. We'll stretch your left leg out, keeping your right foot in towards your pelvis. So if we slide the left hand down your leg, and then take your right arm up by your ear, and start to bend your left elbow towards your inner knee as the top arm reaches over your head. So we're gonna start to reach down for the left ear with your right hand and try to catch the head so that we're not tense in the neck area, as we potentially start to get comfortable with this left leg, we'll start to lean more and more over the left leg, come closer to the floor with the inner shoulder, might even feel, that you can turn your hand and catch the big toe mound of the foot. So we're either staying here and creating space down this outer right ridge of your body, folding deeper into this lower left abdomen.

Some of you might even reach over and catch the pinkie edge of the foot and then really root down through the left elbow as you're turning your chest a little bit more toward the sky. Can we get the neck relaxed as you're finding your side bend. Big breath in and out. We reach the right arm up and out of the pose first, try to bring your head up last as you hold that left leg and gradually come up to neutral. (sighs) That feels so good.

Then the right leg out to the side, bring your left foot in towards your pelvis and slide your right hand down your leg, left arm comes up and over and we start by simply dropping that right elbow down toward the inner knee. Give your head some support by using your left hand to hold the weight of your head. Really relax all these muscles on the right side of your neck. And then with time, just start to feel again, is there room for you to come further down into your hamstrings on the right side. Okay, we're turning the chest a little bit more toward the ceiling and just taking this version here, or as we did on the other side, we came down to the floor with the elbow, catch the big toe mound of the foot and reach your left hand for the pinkie edge of your right foot.

Okay, I'm gonna take you just a few more moments to enjoy the space you're making on the outer left waist. When we come out, the left arm's gonna reach down to your side first, try to bring your head up last, then we'll slide the right hand of the right leg and here we are back to neutral. So we'll take your right leg around so we have left and right leg reaching forward for Paschimottanasana, the simple forward fold. If we ground the hands by the hips and just take a moment to lift up through the spine, stretch long through your legs, I'm gonna invite you to walk your hands forward, when you're ready, beside the feet, beside the legs, so we're compressing, again, this region of the lower belly and hips. So if we can't reach the feet, you're welcome to use your strap around the bottom of the foot in that way.

We're also, if the hamstrings are injured in any way, just bend your knees and come forward and grab your heels or your toes here, or the basic full pose where we slide the hands, potentially down towards your heels and you're curling into your legs. Okay, I'm gonna take the middle path with the hands at the feet and just a little bit more lift through the torso and a little bit more grounding in the legs. So simple supported forward bend, the ground supporting your legs. And as we inhale, we'll start to come up and as you're ready, we'll bend the legs, and let yourself lean a little bit back, so we're engaging a little bit more of this band of the lower abdomen and letting the feet come up, the height of the knees, arms reach out to the side, parallel to the legs. As we start to strengthen this band of the lower belly, just try to hold that one or two more breaths in Navasana.

Then we're gonna let the legs slowly stretch out, the spine slowly coming down to the floor until we meet the ground and then we'll put both feet on the floor. When both feet touch the ground, let's start with your left foot hanging to the right side of your outer knee, right knee towards your chest for thread the needle pose, or figure four shape, it's called many things. And just take a moment to squeeze that right knee in towards your chest. Okay, relax your gaze, feel the ground underneath you. And a few breaths here.

And then as we're ready, release that first side, put your left foot on the floor, hang your right foot outside of your left knee, and we'll come to thread the needle on the second side. Just give a little squeeze of the knee towards your chest. Long through your waist as we rest the head on the floor. And eventually sense the weight of the pelvis is dropping more and more toward the ground, rather than curling away from the floor. Release the grip of the front leg and set both feet onto the floor.

And I'll have you bring your knees towards your chest on the exhalation. As you're ready, inhale, push your knees forward until your arms are straight, Apanasana. Exhale, bring the knees towards your chest. Inhale, push your knees away from the chest. Two more times, exhale in, inhale out.

Exhale in, and then inhale out. And set the feet on the ground and let your arms release at your side as we begin our Shavasana with legs contacting the floor, arms out to the side, wiggle around until you feel as much ground underneath your body as possible. If it's cold in your space, you might take a blanket, cover your whole body, or at least the exposed parts. And then continuing to feel the heaviness of the bones and trying to move with that heavy energy toward the earth. So eventually our mind becomes as stable as our body.

And then trying to notice the space that's in between your thoughts, that's in between your breaths. Sensing and feeling how essential that space element is for our health, mentally and physically. As we think of coming away from Shavasana, just encourage you to start to bring more awareness to the breath and creating an audible, soft Ujjayi breath, that you can hear as you're breathing in and out. And keeping that breath going as you move through the little joints of the wrist, the ankles, put the feet on the ground when you're ready to roll to a side, so we can start to come toward fetal shape, take a rest. And when you find the strength, we'll come all the way up to sit, and either sitting in Virasana with a block between your feet, so take a little seat to do.

A little Pranayama practice that's great to do throughout the fall season, the dawn and dusk time of the day. So when you sit tall in your spine, take your right hand towards your face and curl your index finger and middle finger into your palm, that's just one of the techniques. Take your right hand up towards your face and you're pressing against your right nostril completely. And then opening the left nostril with your ring finger, just touch right above the fleshy part of the nostril towards the cartilage. When we're ready, we're gonna breathe in three to five seconds through the left nostril.

Close your left nostril, open your right side and exhale three to five seconds out. Inhale three to five second through the right. Close the right channel, open the left, exhale through your left, again, inhale through the left. Close the left, exhale through the right. Inhale right.

Close the right, exhale left. Inhale left, blocking left, exhale right. Inhale right, blocking right, exhale left. See if you can do a couple rounds in your own rhythm, letting go of any Ujjayi breath. So you're really breathing through the nose, the sound is getting softer and softer.

So in a way we're breathing in a little more slowly. The next time you find yourself breathing out your left nostril, release the right hand to your lap and try to do one full cycle without using your hands. So your just imagining the breath coming up your left side. If there's any blockage in the nose, you can still do alternate nostril breathing by visualizing. Keep going with your cycle without using your hands until you're breathing out your left nostril.

Let's soften our attention to the practice and just come back to your natural breath. And we let the hands together in front of the heart space, the highest and brightest in me acknowledges the highest and brightest in you. Namaste.


Tesa Urbonaite Dunn
Lovely rhythm. Thank you.
Ann S
Its chilly and fall like in Montana. This is a great practice to welcome the transition in seasons. Enjoy!
Melina Meza
thank you ann! best wishes to you and to staying warm and healthy in the seasons to come.
Tesa Urbonaite Dunn
Wonderful Fall practice. Alternate nostril breathing helps with my allergies too.Thank you Melina:)
Bhakti Foster
So great! Perfect for this time of year! Thank you!
Elissa P
I love this one. Melina: It's always so good to see you here.
Sandra Židan
Great practice, Melina! I've really enjoyed doing it! Thanks!
David G-
Just another class towards my PHD. :) I enjoyed the slow practice, the daily squat, and the goddess pose (God pose?). I have been trying to savor the autumn light, and so I appreciated your seasonal look at dusk and dawn.

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