Asana Studies Artwork
Season 3 - Episode 4

Strong Supportive Legs

35 min - Practice


With dynamic instructions referencing the body's anatomy, Padma guides us through a practice designed to tune our vertical nature. We begin seated to establish alignment cues toward a strong standing sequence, and finish with a sweet cooling sequence. You will feel grounded, tall, and strong.
What You'll Need: Mat, Sandbag, Strap, Block

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(waves rushing) Hi and welcome. So we are going to move into a standing practice. But let's start, take a moment, find our breath. So just closing your eyes and just feeling where your breath is at this point in time. So watching the breath flow in and watching the breath flow out.

And as we move towards standing poses, just a sense of veritcality through the body, that we are upright creatures and feeling that quality through your spine. From the sits bones to the crown of the head and letting your breath follow that awareness. Letting the breath drop deep in the body and then climb its way up. Good, and then opening your eyes and stretch the legs forward. We are going to start in Dandasana.

So if sitting in Dandasana with your legs forward, you feel your weight falling back onto your tailbone, then please grab a blanket or a towel. And sitting up high enough, you can even just put the buttock flesh on the blanket so that you feel upright, you don't have to hold yourself upright, the back has its natural curve. So I am going to bring the arms behind me. And keeping the heels, I'm going to find the back of my heel on the floor. And letting the toes, big toes come together.

So either the base of the big toe or the length of the big toe touching and letting the toes spread. So it's as if I'm starting to stand in my feet. Good, and I'm just going to take a moment to feel my right sits bone, the bottom of the pelvis, the right thigh, the calf, the heel, heavy on the floor. And then I'm going to think about reaching my heel away from my body. It doesn't actually move very far.

Doesn't move at all. But just the sense of reaching from the pelvis to the foot. And then I'm going to try the left side. So weighting down on that left sits bone. And feeling the left thigh heavy, the calf, the heel heavy, and really starting to reach through the leg.

So I'm working maybe 30% effort. So there's quite a bit of focus. There's quite a bit of attention. Trying to feel this line of extension from the base of the pelvis to the heel to the foot. Good, and then doing both legs.

So that my legs start to support me. Right as I feel, again, weight. Sits bones, thighs, calves, heels. Then it's very easy for me to move my arms. And my legs are still doing quite a bit of work.

Thighs pressing down, calves, heels pressing down. Good, the spine is still quite long. Even taking the arms up. So if this doesn't feel easy, then bring the arms back down to the floor and keep feeling the rooting of the legs into the earth. Good, and release that.

So moving into Baddha Konasana, taking the feet together. So again, if you need the blanket behind you just to keep you from rolling backwards, then please use that. So feet as close to the body as you can get them comfortably. So I'm actually going to lift my knees up for a moment and let my pelvis turn. So I'm dropping the front of the pelvis forward.

Dropping the pubis towards the floor. Even using the hands to help press my pelvis forward a little. So the sits bones start to sweep back. Good. And then pressing into the feet.

So different quality in the feet. So instead of reaching kind of straight forward and long as we did in Dandasana, standing kind of down into the heels. So I'm going to focus on my right leg for a moment. I'm actually going to bring my right hand out to my knee and I'm going to press out and to the knee, as if I could push the leg or the knee, the thigh, out towards the side of my mat. At the same time stepping into my right heel.

So I still have that long step through the leg. It's just at an angle and a rotation. Good. And then I'll try the other side. So stepping into my left heel.

Pressing the left knee out into my left hand. So again, I'm trying to lengthen out from the pelvis into the legs. Good and then releasing the hands. And see if you can find that same quality, as if I could press the knees out to the sides of the room. And even pressing the thighs back into the floor.

As the feet stand on each other, as they step into each other. Good. So it actually gives me quite a bit of stability around the hip, even though I'm finding more movement. And then again, if it feels grounded enough, then it's easy to walk the hands forward. It's just playing with the movement of the upper body as you find that stability in the lower body.

Good. And again, you just keep playing. The clearer you get in stepping into the legs, the easier it is to lift and support the upper body. Let's stretch the legs forward. So moving into Child's Pose.

So if you need support, please take it. So the front of the ankles and the backs of the knees are areas where we usually need support. So taking buttocks back to heels, toes together, knees slightly apart and hands at the front of the mat. So I have a break in my arm, you'll notice. So my arm is straight even though it doesn't look straight.

It's my straight. So I'm pressing down into my mat and I'm actually trying to push the mat forward to anchor the buttocks back to the heels. So I'm preparing my legs and my shoulders for Downward Facing Dog. And just take a few breaths here. Hands engaged with the floor.

Reaching forward almost from the hips. At the same time, sending the hips back onto the heels. Good, and then coming up onto all fours, hands and knees. So same quality of pressing the hands down and slightly forward. So that I can turn the toes under.

Just pick the knees off the floor. Good, and let the legs push the pelvis up. Good, so because I'm just putting weight into my hands letting the hands really press down and forward to push the weight into the legs. So there's this balance. Upper body feeding the lower body, lower body feeding the upper body.

And letting the breath drop into the body. So let's even lift up onto the balls of the feet. So let's actually bend the knees just a little bit. And so feeling where the sits bones are, see if you can actually sweep the sits bones to the ceiling, like you could peel the sits bones off the backs of the thighs. And then lifting, lifting the sits bones up.

Think about pulling the front of the pelvis off the fronts of the thighs. Good. And then as you send the heels down or send the thighs back, there's still that sense of the pelvis lifting just a little off the thighs. Just to make the legs a little longer, little clearer. Let's walk the feet forward.

Uttanasana. So feet hip distance apart. And let's take a moment to lift the toes. You can come up onto fingertips. If you need your block to come up onto, please do so.

Lifting the toes, and we're just going to roll. Roll to the outer edges of the feet just to feel what's happening in the outer legs. Keep the toes lifted and roll to the inner edges of the feet. Good, and then find center. But can you still feel or spread through the width of the ball of the foot.

And set the toes back down. So standing quite clearly in your feet. And feeling quite long through the rest of the body. So the length through the legs. Remembering Dandasana and standing most down through the thighs into the feet.

That is, if you could grow through the floor into the earth. Good, and how that can support you to then fold over your legs and let your spine hang down off of your legs. So even taking the hands to the outer edges of the legs and just pressing into the legs so the legs have to push back. Just to feel how that releases the neck, the face, the upper back. Good.

And let's take hands to the hips. And keeping that focus in the legs, slowly come up. And then we'll come to Tadasana. Okay, so feet together. So same feeling we did in Dandasana.

Base at big toes, length at big toes. Let's just pull the heels together just to feel the back of the inner leg, the front of the inner leg connecting, as if you had one leg, a trunk. And even standing, reaching down through that right leg and reaching down through that left leg. And that rooting through the legs, letting that help you feel as if you could roll a little ball up the front of your spine, at the front of the sacrum, the front of the lower back. Right behind the organs, behind the heart, behind the lungs, behind the esophagus, all the way up through the crown of your head.

That rooting the legs into the earth and lifting the spine to the sky. So tree pose. We're going to shift now into one leg. So as I step my right foot up, I'm still standing quite clearly through both legs. Good, turning right knee out, stepping the right foot into that left inner leg.

Hands on hips, just so I can feel what the hips are doing. So if one hip is higher, just noticing, see if I can actually stand through that right leg to let the hip drop. So I'm, again, standing quite strongly through both legs. So remembering Baddha Konasana, I can even take my right hand on the outside of my right leg, pressing back into my right hand. That same length of standing out through the knee down into the foot.

Arms go wide. Right legs are strong and clear. Spine is long and arms come up. Good and slowly release. And step right foot down.

Come back to Tadasana just to feel one leg. And then standing still through both legs as that left leg comes up. Good, left hand on the outside of that left leg. So maybe if the pelvis is facing forward, the left knee needs to come forward, and if that's where you are, please stay there. If you can take the left hand here and move that left thigh back into the hand, without taking the pelvis with you, just play with that.

Still, standing quite long through the legs. My legs are working quite strongly right now. Arms go wide. Good, arms come up. Again, that vertical quality of going long through the legs, long through the spine.

Right up through the crown of the head. Good, and releasing the arms down. And stepping down onto that left foot. Okay, triangle pose. So stepping feet wide.

Hands on hips. So I'm going to use that rotation that I just found in tree pose so that when I turn that right knee out that even I need that extra pressing into the thigh to get the rotation. Utilizing that. Got strong legs. And I'm even just going to rock a little.

Just so I don't get stuck in a position. And I really want to set the pelvis pretty perpendicular to the floor. Good, hands on either side of my legs. And I'm just going to pull in a little. Again, so I'm almost pulling back to that vertical quality.

So the legs feel like they're supporting the spine. So as I shift, I need my block. Bringing my block over to my right foot. So as I start to shift towards the block or towards the right leg, I'm still standing quite clearly through both legs. I can even feel that I'm pressing off the right leg to put more weight into the left leg.

Left leg feels like it's in tree pose, quite strong. So I like to actually put the hand on the shin so that I don't fall into the block. There's still this sense that the legs are supporting this upward movement through the body. Good, and then when you feel ready, let's take that left arm up to the ceiling. Good, nice and wide through the chest.

Nice and wide through the back. But using that to find the vertical lift through the body. Good, and then stepping clearly into both legs, especially that back leg to pull you up. Good, feet parallel, hands on hips. Again, if you need the block, just move it over to the other side.

Bending that left knee, finding that turn, using the hand if you need to. And two straight legs. Good, so if the pelvis feels like it's turning towards the left leg, you can walk that left foot forward until the pelvis feels more in line with the rest of the spine. Meaning that there's a forward facing quality rather than a confusion in the spine, spine being turned one way, legs turning the other way. Just helps to feel more like everything's going in the same direction.

So hands on the outside of the legs. And even though I'm shifting towards the block, I'm still standing quite strongly through both legs. Legs are even pulling in a Little away from each other. Good, either hand to shin or to block. Right arm up.

Chest wide, back wide, throat wide and soft, face soft. Let your breath drop into your body. Again, drop down and then up. Good, and then pressing into the feet. Into that back leg to pull you up.

Good, step the feet together. Back to Tadasana. Okay, step the feet wide again. So same turn out. We're going to bend the knee and turn the foot out and making adjustments if you need to walk the foot either forward to let the pelvis sit more neutrally with the spine.

Good, and we're going to bend the knee. We're moving towards Warrior 2. But as you bend the knee I'm pushing the weight off of that front leg. I'm still in Tadasana, so I still want equal stance. I still want to stand in both legs.

So I'm pushing the weight into that leg because it forgot for a moment. And I'm using the weight from the back leg into the front leg so that I'm still standing in both legs. My pelvis feels like it's supported by both legs. Good, arms go out. Good.

So even though I'm standing down through the legs like I did in Dandasana, there's still the slight pull in towards the center. As if I could thread the femurs almost up, as if they were kind of threading, like threading yarn up through a bead. Arms wide. Chest wide, back wide. Throat wide.

Face soft. Good, and maybe turning, looking over that right hand. Good. And slowly straighten the right leg, feet parallel. Hands on hips.

Just so you can feel what the hips, again, are doing. When you turn with that left leg. How does that rotation happen? Does it happen easily, is it a little sticky? Just maybe even turn in and out a couple times.

And then find your footing, walking forward if you need to. Again, trying to find that stand in the back leg. So back leg, front leg, right leg, left leg. Starting to bend that left knee a little bit more. Standing down through the legs you can even roll a little weight to the outer edges of the feet.

Good, the ball of the foot's still broad. Good. And then that slight pulling in to help lift the front of the spine up. The front of the back of the body up. Good, throat soft, face soft.

Good breath drops into the body. And then slowly release. Step the feet together. Back to Tadasana. Good, next one.

So you might need a block again. On the right hand side. So same set up we did for Warrior 2. Hands on hips. We have a pattern.

So turning right knee out. Again, walking the foot forward if you need to. Again, stepping weight into both legs. Right foot, left foot. Reaching long through those legs.

Good, coming back into Warrior 2. Good, so as I start to shift, I'm thinking about reaching my hand to the block. But I'm still standing, I'm still pushing the weight into the back leg. So as I reach, I'm still standing, tree pose. Right hand down on the block or on the floor.

Maybe the left hand on the hip for a moment just to feel that legs are strong. Left arm up. Chest wide. Back wide. Throat wide.

Good. If it feels appropriate, turn the left palm towards the crown of the head, left arm over. Let your breath drop deep into your legs, deep into your body and then up. Vertical breath. And then pressing into both legs.

Let the back leg, let the front leg almost push your weight into the back leg to bring you up. And feet parallel, stick the block to the other side. Hands on hips. Turning left leg out again. Coming back through Warrior 2 again.

Good. This beautiful ocean out there. So front leg or left leg pushing me back into the right leg, both legs pushing me up. So there's this quality, continual quality. Left hand down.

Right hand on the hip for a moment. Still seeking for that back leg. It's a little bit of work. Right arm up to the ceiling. Chest wide, throat wide.

Good, turn the palm towards the crown of the head and let's take that right arm alongside the ear. Good, and it should be easy. If I'm rooted in that back leg, should be easy or easier. Good, stepping into the back leg to come up. And Tadasana again.

All right, so next pose, Parsva Tanasana. So I'm going to take the feet not as wide and I'm going to turn. So as I turn my right thigh, right knee out, I'm going to turn the pelvis this time with it. And again, if the pelvis doesn't quite easily turn I'm just going to walk my right foot to the right. Two straight legs.

So same feeling, I want to press myself back into my back leg, my front leg, back leg, right leg, left leg. So I still feel like there's this sense of standing Tadasana. Good, so now I'm going to bring the arms behind the back, interlace the fingers. Good, letting the upper arms roll back. So keeping the elbows bent just so that I can keep the upper arm right at the shoulder joint to move back, almost behind the front of the body.

And as I think about coming forward the minute I think about it, can I keep my weight in my back leg, settle into that back heel, push into that back heel. Even roll to the outer edge of the foot. And then keep coming. So go as far as you can go without losing your focus in the back leg. In the back leg.

The weight wants to fall into the front leg. I keep pushing it back, spreading it out. Spreading, distributing the weight, distributing the focus. Chest is wide, arms drawn back. If it helps to straighten the arms, straighten the arms.

Good, and then reaching through the legs to draw you back up. Good, feet parallel and other side. So turning left foot out. Swinging the pelvis around with you. Again, walking the feet wide.

If that helps to bring the pelvis around to face that left side of your mat. Good, so arms behind the back. Change the interlace of the fingers so the opposite index finger is front. Feels funny, funny hand. And pushing the weight into the back leg.

Front leg, back leg, right leg, left leg. And then again, just slowly. As you feel yourself fall into the front leg, step into the back leg. So you're reaching down through the leg. So same feeling.

Instead of feeling that you're threading or actually feeling that you're threading up through the pelvis, you can also feel like you're threading down through the pelvis from your diaphragm. Even from your upper back, chest. Straighten the arms if that feels right. Good. And then slowly come up.

Good, turn the feet parallel. Step the feet together. Okay, one more standing pose. We're almost there. So (laughs) feet wide.

Same setup, turn right foot out, turn left foot in. So we want to get the pelvis to face the right side of the mat. And again, I'm trying to stand into my back leg, especially for this pose. So as I start to bend my front knee, I get pulled into my front leg. Can I push myself into my back leg?

Can I root, stand in that back heel. Good, even a good place to maybe do a cat cow with the pelvis just so that I can release the hesitancy of my pelvis to move back. Good, arms go wide. Lifting up through the front of the spine as the legs get clear. Good, and then slowly lifting the back of the body the front of the body, the sides of the body to Warrior 1.

And slowly release. Turn your feet parallel. Okay, left side. Left knee turns out, pelvis turns with the knee. Good, two straight legs to start.

Standing in that back leg. Good, again, trying to lift the front of the pelvis up to help stand in the back of the back leg, in the back heel. Good, and then front knee bends. Again, the weight wants to fall forward. Can I push it into the back leg?

Right. So arms go wide. Let the belly and the chest get wide. The back get wide. Again, so even though we're still looking for these vertical lines, there's a width just to help us keep from wiggling around or squirming around the tightness.

Legs get long, spine gets long, arms get long. Good. And release, feet parallel. Step the feet together. Now let's step to the front of the mat.

Tadasana again. We're just going to move through a sun salutation. So arms go wide. Same quality we've been finding. Standing down through the legs, lifting up through the spine.

Good, as the legs get long, the spine gets long, the arms get long. And then keep reaching through the legs. So as you fold over, as you sweep the sits bones back, the legs are holding the pose. Good, let's step back with the right leg. Still standing through both legs.

Hands down, step left leg back. Downward Facing Dog. Good, plank pose. Chest wide, arms long, legs long. So maybe lowering all the way to the floor.

Maybe lowering halfway. Legs are still holding the pose. Legs are still holding the pose. Good, pushing through, down through the legs to lift the front of the spine. Downward Facing Dog.

Good, pushing off the left leg to step that right foot forward. Pushing into the right leg to step the left leg forward. Both legs strong. Good. So this time bend the knees and let's round up to stand.

So legs are strong, legs are holding the weight. And front of the body lifts the back of the body. Good. And then let's come down onto the floor. Okay, so now that we're warm (laughs) we're just going to roll through a forward bend to a inversion just to start to cool the body down.

So from Paschimottanasana, letting the back round to swing the legs over. So if you need to do this with knees bent, please do so. That should look more like this. If you can do straight legs. Just a slow, easy rolling through the spine.

Breath is easy. The movement simple. And then let's end up on our backs. So we're going to use a block and a strap and sandbag for the next two postures. So going to set my sandbag up on the side of me and my strap and my block.

They all need to be around the level of my pelvis. So I'm going to lay back down on the floor. Standing down through both legs. And lifting the thighs up, lifting the pelvis up, and taking the block right under the back of the pelvis. We're going to go a little higher up on the back of the pelvis.

Just take a few moments here. Letting your breath slow. Still a longer breath, but a quieter breath. Little more delicate. And then I'm going to work right knee up over the hip, left knee up over the hip.

Then take a few breaths here just to let the pelvis settle onto the block. So I really want my weight, my legs to rest on the back of the pelvis. This kind of downward drop onto the block. And then slowly work to straighten the legs. So if you feel the lower back push onto the block, either bend the knees and let the weight roll back onto the back of the pelvis.

Or let the legs come just a little further back. And close the eyes. Let your breath slow down. Again, that delicate breath. There's a slowness.

So you're guiding the breath and you're being guided by the breath. You're finding that place where you're asking for a longer breath, but it's really already there. Good, and then let's quietly bend the knees. Float the feet back to the floor. Stand down through the legs to lift the thighs and pelvis and let's slide the block out and slowly lower down.

So with my strap. After such a strong practice, really taking some time to be quiet, to be still. So making a loop with my strap. Strap around the thighs. So that my legs end up about hip distance apart.

And putting my sandbag. If you don't have a sandbag, you can use a couple blankets, something that has some weight to it so that as I straighten my legs the strap really keeps the thighs from falling out and the weight is just right on the tops of the legs. Just to help root the legs without effort. To help drop the breath deep into the body. And bringing the arms alongside the body.

Either palms facing the body or palms facing up. Closing the eyes and just letting the breath get really soft. So that quality that we find in Shavasana where we don't check out, we don't fall asleep, but we fall into our breath and we get carried by the breath. So I invite you to stay for a long Shavasana. Stay even longer than you think you should stay.

And when you think you should get up, stay longer. And thank you so much.


Laura M
Excellent class!! Thanks!!

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