The Vinyasa Show Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 3

Integrated Core

50 min - Practice
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We begin supine with a progressive set of abdominals designed to bring our awareness to our center. Alexandra then guides us towards a fluid asana sequence to allow us to flow from our center with the intention of expressing our true inner being. This practice promotes stability in the core and hips, and gets our juices flowing.
What You'll Need: Mat

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(waves crashing) Hi! So we've just been through connecting to the core. If you haven't seen that one yet, please do because it will be quite helpful during this sequence where we're gonna be working from our midline, from the center, from our core, okay. And that being said the core is the middle. So one word for middle in Sanskrit is madya. It's working, pulsating from the center.

So find your center, okay? Again, it would be helpful to go through the tutorial so that you can get a sense of where your core is, what your core does, and how it can help you to keep stable once you're aware of it. So let's start lying on our back. Okay. And as always just center not only physically but also center emotionally, mentally.

The easiest, quickest way to do so is inhaling deeply. Exhale it all out through the mouth. So that's a nice way to, again, ground center. Inhale through the nose. Exhale through the mouth.

Sense the release, okay. So one last time before we begin. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale, grab your right leg towards your heart, towards your chest.

For some of us, this is enough. As you exhale, release. Foot back to the floor. Inhale. Bring the leg towards your chest.

And release. For some of us it would be nice to stretch out the leg that's on the floor. And release. Bring your left leg towards you. Hold it up gently.

And release. Okay, so what are we gonna do with the breath? I like to inhale on the switch, exhaling, bringing the leg deeply towards me. Inhale, switch. Exhale.

Inhale, switch. Exhale. Okay, if you wanna make this a little bit more intense, it's gonna get a little bit more intense. Keep your heel off the floor, on the stretched leg. And just notice if you start doing this fast, when something becomes a little bit more intense, we tend to quicken it up a little, we tend to do it fast.

We don't wanna do it fast. If you feel like you get tired, just for a little while. Notice how you hold your leg. You're holding it like if you're getting something done. It's like you're forcing it to come to you.

Or you're holding it like it's a dear friend. Experiment with both ways and see what you like best. Now from here, how about doing it a little bit more intense and a lifting the upper back once your leg comes to you. Inhale reach up your legs. Exhale out to the side.

Inhale back to center. Exhale out to the side. Okay, and how about, you know, if you want to make it a little bit more intense, you reach out the leg towards the sky. Lift up. I like to spread my toes.

How you doing? Okay. Just one more. And back. Bring your legs in towards your heart.

Wobble a little. Place your hands to your knees and take them apart. In towards the middle. Other side. I'll just play it around a little, maybe you like to do something else.

The thing is once you let your body do what it likes to do and your mind is not interrupting, you'll find yourself doing things you didn't think you were gonna do. So, from here once you're ready come up to sitting. Hands your knees, feet to the floor. Come up on your toes. Inhale, lift the heart up towards the sky, little arch in the back.

We want the back bend to be in the upper back mostly, but if you come up to your sit bones, on your sit bones, lift your heart up towards the sky, you'll find that back bend behind your heart, you know, the energetic heart, behind your sternum. Exhale, roll back. Inhale, bring yourself up again. Exhale, roll. Inhale, come up.

Last time, inhale, roll. Open up between your shoulder blades. Inhale, come up. Let your hands reach out. Of course as soon as this feels too intense, you support yourself again.

But let's just try this one. Come up on your toes. Inhale, lifting the heart up just as we did before. Take your right arm back. Inhale, come up.

Exhale, reach. Inhale up, exhale go back. Now you can do this as deep as you want to. I just prefer to stay here. Inhale up.

Keep the straight arm forward while the other one goes back. Inhale up. Exhale back. Again, inhale. And back.

Can you feel that rocking motion? So when you're working with core, it's nice to rock a little and it feels soft a little and just soften behind the eyes. Hands back to your knees, lift up. And place your hands behind you. So I usually like to keep my hands, once we lift 'cause we're gonna be lifting, I like to keep my hands under my shoulders.

It's real hard to see what you're doing here, but feel into it and your body will tell you. So roll your shoulders back, lift the heart up down into your feet, and come up. Okay. Some call this table pose. Come back down.

We're gonna do that flow one more time with a little bit of difference. So come up to your sit bones. Try not to round the back here because not good for the lower back. So lift up. Lift one leg.

Take that. Lift one leg. Take it down. While you're up here, because it's nice, you can roll the foot a little. Take it down.

If this feels like, yeah, I got it. Maybe you lift the legs, take it up, shoulders back, smile on your face. That usually helps. I don't know how to whistle but I've heard that it helps. Place your toes down if it feels too intense.

Inhale, lift your heart. Exhale down. Inhale, lift your heart. Exhale down. So one last time, inhale, lift your heart.

Down, okay. So we're gonna do that back bend one more time. Hands behind you. So I have my fingers pointed forward. Some of us will want to turn our fingers out if it feels more appropriate.

Stretch your legs out for this one if you want to. It makes it a little bit more intense, or keep your feet to the floor just closer to your sit bones. I'm gonna stretch my legs out. Inhale, root down into the earth. Lift your heart up.

I have this teacher, this wonderful teacher in Miyasa Flow, Julie Martin. She tells us, it's like you're having somebody up there to kiss, so that the kissable up there. Makes it a lot easier. And come all the way down. Pause.

And come up to all fours. Okay, so once you are on all fours, I take a little time from my foundation. So for me if my index finger is pointing straight forward, that's good. But we're different. So maybe for you, you turn them slightly inwards or slightly outwards.

If you're tight on the shoulders, usually it's nice to turn them a little more out. You can also look at the wrist creases. If they're pointing straight forward parallel to the mat, usually that's a good sign. Okay, so once here, inhale lift the heart up, arch the back, feels nice after those core, the core work we did. Exhale, around the back.

Again. Inhale, lift. Exhale, round the back. And again sometimes once you let the body do what it wants to do, you'll find that you're doing things that you weren't really planning on. Okay, so come back to center.

Tuck in your toes. And lift up to your down dog. Usually it's nice to start with the knees bent just to feel that weight coming up from your hands towards your shoulders. Armpits, okay. Place your feet like sit, sit bone with the part hip width apart.

Let your head dangle just slightly. Okay. So I like to take my feet together for this one. Toes touching. Inhale, lift your leg up towards the sky.

Exhale, knee towards your forehand. Again, lift up. Exhale, knee towards your forehand. Inhale, lift. Notice that you're shifting your weight forward to your hand so your shoulders are over your wrists.

Inhale, lift up. Twirl a little bit with your foot. Exhale. One last time, inhale lift. And exhale foot comes between your hands.

So you probably heard this a few times. We say feet between your hands, but if it's the right foot forward, it's a little to the right. So you keep your hip width apart between the feet. From here root down into your feet and around the back, straight legs, or more towards straight. Exhale, bend both knees.

Inhale around. Exhale bend both knees. Inhale lift. And exhale, come down on your back knee like you're pressing something down towards the earth, so you're not just putting it down, you're pressing it down. Lift up your heart.

Exhale, straighten your front leg and bow. Inhale all the way to the front. Exhale, straighten your front leg and bow. Again, inhale and bow. One last time.

Inhale, bring your right hand. I have my right foot forward, and bring your right hand on the inside of the foot. And your thigh and your arm are pressing towards each other. So we have this tendency to let our leg go out towards the side because it's easier, but we wanna keep to the mid line. We wanna keep towards our center.

So keep it there. And deepen. Maybe you lift your back leg back a little bit more so you get that nice stretch in the back thigh. I like to place one hand out. Soften in the face and the jaw.

So it is said that the jaw and the sacrum are connected to each other. So if you're feeling tension in the hips, maybe it helps to just wobble around with the jaw. Okay, so from here place your hand to the floor, keep that right knee bent in 90 degrees. Lift up the back leg, turn your foot. So you have your toes pointing towards the long side of the mat.

I like to keep my heel a little further back than my toes. That's nice for the hip. So from here inhale, lift your left arm. Exhale, fold. Inhale, lift your left arm.

We're just, you know, wobbling a little. Inhale, lift and fold. One more time. Inhale, lift and hold. So to keep tension away from the neck, wobble your head a little.

Keep your knee bent to 90 degrees. Your chest slightly tilted forward. And maybe it's possible to turn your shoulder backwards a little, so you get that little opening in twists. And fold. Up on the ball of your foot again.

So from here I like to twist. So take your right arm up towards the sky and down with the hands. So we're turning with the hand again. I'm not seeing you but you're seeing what I'm doing, right? Up, back and down.

Up, back and down. So for this one, be attentive, I'm placing my left hand to the floor because this is going to be weight-bearing now, turn your back foot out towards the long side of the mat, towards the right, take your right leg up, place it behind you. I'm doing this very slowly. And inhale, lift up. Come all the way back, hands to the floor, get your self to a plank.

Now if you're going to do one pose for core work this is it (breathes out). Roll up to your dog and roll back to your plank. Okay, so snuggle my feet back a little so I get my shoulders over my hands, knees to floor if it's needed and come down. So once we're here I like to take my hands forward because this will place my shoulders back where they're supposed to be and my shoulders blades back on behind the heart. So from here, this is swan lift, thank you Doug Keller, lift the navel, lift the heart, lift the head and down again.

Two more times. Lift the navel, lift the heart, lift the head. Bring your hands back, come up to all fours, toes touching, tucked in, lift up to your down dog. Okay, one more round. So settle on your down dog, soften in the neck, roll it down through your hands, index, knuckle and thumb down towards the Earth, feet touching, toes touching, lift leg up, exhale, forehead to the knee.

Lift leg up, exhale. Inhale back and away, exhale. One last time, back and way and feet in between your hands or rather more to the left. Inhale, root down into your feet round the back, exhale, gaze forward. Inhale, root down into the Earth and release.

Root down into the Earth and release. Okay, place your back knee to the floor, inhale, lift the heart, soften in your eyes, exhale, stretch out your leg and bow. Inhale, come all the way, stretch out the back side. Exhale, bow. Keep it nice to just take a moment to think about what are you bowing for, who are you bowing to.

Bow, soften in the neck, come all the way to the front, take your left hand on the inside of your left thigh. So your thigh and your arm are touching, connected. I'll take my right hand out a little bit so I can keep balance. You could lift your back leg from the floor, that will make it a little bit more intense. Your inner thighs are attracted to each other, so they're drawn in towards the mid-line.

And once you lose connection you'll like fall out it, so keeping the thigh in towards your arm and the inner back thigh does a little inward rotation. So feel into this. It doesn't look like much you're not doing anything actually but actually you are. It's just internal, okay. So from here, turn your back foot.

So you have your toes towards the long side of the mat, heel at the floor, lift the inner arch of your back foot, just sense how that does to you. You know, we've got midlines in our legs, in our arms, not only in our core, okay. From here, reach your right arm up. I like to come up on the fingertips. Exhale and take it back.

Inhale, sway forward. Exhale, take it back. Inhale, sway forward. Exhale, take it back. Okay, one last time.

In, hold. Notice if your head is falling, bring it back up. Okay, take your shoulder back, notice if your shoulder and your ear are too close to each other, take it back. Okay, work in towards your midline. So from here, place your hand to the floor again, it's going to be weight-bearing, lift your left arm towards the sky.

This is like one of my favorite poses. So lift the heart up. And again your inner thighs are attracted to each other, that will mean that your left thigh is going back, okay. It will keep you centered. So from here, root down to your standing arm, turn your back foot towards the long side of the mat.

We're lifting the left leg, place the toes to the floor and inhale. Nice orchids. And all the way back to the floor again. From here plank, bend the elbows. Not all the way down, you keep it in here, place the hips, inhale.

This is a variation. But I like this. Inhale, lift the heart. Exhale, fold. Toes pointing back, sit bones back, navel lift, heart lift and back.

Last time. So inhale, it's like you're rolling up, shine your face to the sky. Hands on to your shoulders again and lift up. Toes tucking in, up to your down dog, gaze forward, take one leg up. This is a nice swing.

Some people don't like to do this. Maybe you just want to bring your leg forward, that's an option. But I usually find that it gives you a nice swing, it gives you momentum, okay. So from here, root down into your front foot and bring your back leg forward, okay. Inhale, rise gently, just navel in, heart open, tuck your lower ribs down, we'll be talking about that more later, fingers to the floor or to your shins so it can keep that leg, well legs long but spine long.

So inhale, reach spine forward. Exhale, fold. Most of us will have to bend the knee. Inhale, reach forward, heart opening. Exhale, fold.

If it feels good to stretch out the legs like this, if this is easy for you then just experiment with drawing you tailbone down, not under or anywhere else, just down towards the Earth, sit bones down. That will get the backside of your legs, the hamstrings, more activated, more stable. Okay, so one last time. Inhale, forward, exhale, release the head and bend the knees, arms forward, roll your shoulders back. If you keep your hands a little wider that will just keep giving you more mobility, more opportunity into your shoulders.

So up, tailbone slightly down, lift your navel. Do you remember the core work, what we're doing before? This is feeling it now. Lift the pelvis. Softening the face.

One more inhale here, exhale deep and inhale all the way up very gently. Rooting into your feet. Nice little back bend. Exhale, hands to the heart. Now lower your arms, notice where you're standing, that you're standing tall.

Notice where your feet are. Without looking at them, can you just sense the feet? Can you sense your foundation? Soften behind the knees, okay. Not necessarily bending the knees, just soften behind the knees.

Okay. Inhale, reach up, bring your right leg up towards the sky, towards your heart, exhale, take it back, arms back. Spread your toes, trying not to open the hip here, keeping the hips parallel. Inhale up, exhale back. Again, one last time.

Inhale up, exhale back. Slight out of rotation on the back foot, place your toes, place your knee, inhale, lift up, Virabhadrasana I if you like, or Warrior I. Exhale, lower hands go back. Inhale all the way up, exhale forward and back. Keeping your heart open.

So one last time. I have a good friend who's a Flamenco dancer, so this is where this comes from. Thank you. All the way up and down. So this time we keep going up, stay here, set your fingers together, the pointy, and fingers down so you can lay the back of your head into your wrists.

Soften in the neck, lift the heart up. Are you deep in your front knee? Inhale, reach up, straighten your front leg, exhale, fold over your front leg, fingertips to the floor, navel lifting up towards the heart, heart lifting up to wards the chin. And again your front hip which is the left goes back, your back hip is a little attracted to the front. Again inhale here, exhale.

Inhale, lift your sternum, straighten your back, take your left hand on the inside of your left foot and turn yourself over to the right. So all toes are pointing towards the long side of the mat, hands shoulder width apart, but to see you I will turn around. You stay where you are. You could do that at home later. So from here, lift again.

It could be nice to just take your hands forward just slightly and let your heart deepen down towards the Earth. Soften in your head. So we do have a tendency to when we're deep in something we want to keep our gaze on it, like we're in control. But let your head go so your neck can soften, okay. Take your hands back, lift your heart up again.

So we're turning the left foot towards the short side of the mat, bend the knee here. We did this before, like this. This is a variation. Place your elbow onto the side and inhale. Take your right arm up over your head, little slide upward rotation and keeping your lower ribs tucked in.

Or also just fall back. So keeping integrity while opening at the same time. Inhale here. Exhale deep, okay. Inhale, bring yourself up to your Warrior II or Virabhadrasana II and back to Parsvakonasana.

Inhale, Warrior II, exhale. Last time, inhale, Warrior II, exhale, hand to your hip. Now place your left hand on the outside of your left foot, maybe I have to come closer with the back foot, place it diagonally away from your little toe, take a standing leg, okay. This is your left leg, you're going to be standing on it. So Doug Keller always says, "Keeping your standing leg bent "while lifting an Ardha Chandrasana "will make it easier, it will keep your hips open." Now once you get that leg up maybe you straighten out the standing leg, maybe lift up your arm.

Yeah, okay. So from here, bend the standing leg again, I like to place my hand on the hip, gently come back to Warrior II. Okay, straighten out the leg. It's nice to just stretch out the side and come back to your Prasarita. Hands to your hips, fold forward but just to 90 degrees, take your arms out, inhale, heart open and release.

Turn your left foot towards the short side of the mat following with the back heel, hands to the floor, press down into your hands and lift up to your down dog. And again just settle for a little while. So from here, take your right leg all the way up and bring them between your hands slightly to the right. We're going to be doing the next side a little differently than the first. So from here, roll down into your right foot and bring your left leg in towards your midline and all the way up.

Exhale, take it back. Inhale all the way up. Exhale, take it back. Maybe even a little deeper. Inhale all the way up, exhale back.

So keep your balance again. This hip wants to lift because it's easier but keep it square. Okay, slighter outer rotation on the back leg, bend the front knee, place your toes, place your heel, inhale, reach up into your Warrior I. So in Warrior I, because the hips want to be open here, it's easier, you'll have to do the opposite, you'll have to take your inner thighs towards each other and bend the front knee more deeply. From your inhale, exhale, fold, hands reaching back.

Inhale all the way up, exhale, fold all the way back. Inhale all the way up and exhale. Lift the navel up towards your heart, lift the heart up towards your chin, okay. So from here inhale, lift, place your fingertips in towards each other, bend the elbows, this will give you a little settling for the head. So the head on to your wrists and just soften in the neck.

Deep in the front knee, press down into the outer edges of your back foot. Beautiful. Inhale, lift your heart, lift your fingertips, straighten out the front leg and come all the way down. Inhale, lift the navel, lift the heart, exhale, fold. Inhale, lift the navel, lift the heart, gaze forward, exhale, fold.

One last time. Inhale, root down, exhale, fold. Hands on to the inside of your foot and turn your toes towards the long side of the mat. Okay, so from here it can be nice to just hang around a little. Nice for the neck, spine long.

Roll the shoulders as we've had our hands above our head. It can be a little intense for the shoulders. Okay, so gently bend the knees just slightly so you can straighten your back, okay. From here, take your toes in. We didn't do this on the first side because it's just too intense.

So we do it once, okay? If you want to do it on both sides, now you know what you're doing. So, heels under the knees. It's not really Charlie Chaplin style because that will mean that your foot goes way out. Keep your toes pointing in the same direction as your knees and hands to your heart.

Once you breathe through your mouth, exhale through your mouth, that gives a little pause even though this is really hard. Okay, inhale, reach your arms out, open your heart, slight back bend, exhale, hands to the front. Inhale, hands to the heart, exhale to the Earth. Inhale all the way up, exhale to your heart. One last round.

Inhale out, exhale to the front. Inhale to your heart, exhale, push away and straighten the legs, okay. So wobble a little. I take my toes slightly forward again, hands to the hips and fold. Inhale, navel up, heart up, gaze slightly forward and exhale, fold again.

Just let the knees stretch, wobble from side to side, sway from side to side, even bending one knee, bending the other, okay. So let's take the foot towards the right, come up to your Parsvakonasana about towards your thigh and lift your left arm up. Exhale, take it back. Now Doug Keller has this special thing, it's a take off into Parsvakonasana. Bend your elbow, keeping the elbow close to your midline, close to your side, and from here (breathes out) and back.

Let's do it again. Arm on your side, bend the elbow, take it up. Now this is nice because it keeps your shoulder in the right position. Take it back, inhale one last time, exhale to your Warrior II, Virabhadrasana. (mumbles), I guess (laughs).

Inhale, exhale. Again inhale, exhale. One last time. Inhale through your Warrior, exhale here. We're going up to Ardha Chandrasana, half moon pose, bring your left hand back to your hip, right hand on the outside of your right toe, take a little jump into your standing leg, keep your standing leg bent even though it's a little hard and lift, lift, lift.

Spread your toes, flex the foot, lift. And maybe eventually you straighten the leg that you're standing on. Imagine you're doing an outer rotation on the leg you're standing on, yeah. Open your heart, tuck your inner ribs in, maybe you lift up the left arm and very gently back to your Warrior II. Reach up, straighten the front leg.

Okay, toes pointing towards the front of the mat again, towards the long side of the mat again, hands to your hip and fold. From here, lift up. We won't be here long. Just enough so we can go back to down dog. And from here, take an inhale, exhale to your child's pose.

Big toes touching, knees out towards the side, sit bones snuggling towards your heels. So after this quite (laughs) intense sequence, this is a great place to just pause, breathe, notice what just happened to you (laughs). So bring your hands in towards your knees, raise yourself up towards sitting very, very gently, keep your head a little sunken a little. Okay, knees together and sit. We're going to be getting down into seated and lying on our backs.

But this is like a nice place to reset. Soften behind the eyes, soften in your jaw. Notice if you just let go of your core, keep it just gently engaged. So from here, we come to sitting and lie on your back. Again it's nice to start with the knees bent, feet at the floor, soles of the feet touching the floor just to calm your nervous system, okay.

So we're going to do a little bridge pose here, not a full one, half bridge. So bring your feet in towards your sit bones, just slightly. You cannot see, I can't see but I imagine that my knees are like somewhat over my heels, okay. So robot arms, fingertips pointing up, press your upper arms into the floor so you get that back bend already, okay, lifting the heart up towards the sky. This is enough for some of us and we just enjoy this.

And so for some of us we press down into our feet, like from this little arch that we just created we lift up into Setu Bandhasana, okay. Again if we come up to your toes you can lift a little higher with a little bit more freedom in your hips. Some of us place the arms to the floor, I like to clasp my fingers together under my sit bones and scoop my shoulders in, maybe walk the feet in a little, okay. Again tucking the ribs in, the lower ribs, lift the heart. Are you lifting from your midline?

Can you sense that you're lifting not only from grounding into the floor, that's a start, but also the rest of the lift is coming from your midline, from your core? Inner thighs rolling slightly down towards the Earth, soften in the face. So one last moment to deepen. And coming out of the bridge release your hands, come back to your robot arms, release your shoulders and roll down. Okay, let your arms go, release your feet just slightly forward and breathe.

So some of us like to hug our knees in right away. I like to just savor this for a moment. Just let the back bend do its work and settle. And gently start swaying your knees from side to side. Soften behind the eyes, soften in your jaw, release the upper jaw from the lower jaw.

Okay, it feels nice to roll your head from side to side to the opposite side of your knee, from where your knees are going at. On the exhale roll down, on the inhale rolling is up. Settle in the middle again, okay. Bring your knee in, reach. I've got my right knee, reach your left leg out.

We won't be doing what we did in the beginning. This is just for stabilizing the hips. I'm stretching out the psoas. Okay, feet back to the floor. If you like to just settle here and relax, here with your feet bent, your knees bent, feet to the floor then that's an option.

That's nice for the lower back. Or you can also just reach your leg out, both legs, lie down and breathe. Just notice how quickly those thoughts come in. It's okay. Notice them, let them go, go back to your center, go back to your Madhya, your midline, where it all begins and where you can go back like home.

Soften in the palms of your hand and the center of your arms, your shoulders. Soften around your heart to the back of your heart, your midline all the way down to your pelvis. Soften in the center of your legs, right leg out to your toes, left leg out to your toes. Unless you're ready to come up to sitting, maybe you're not, maybe you just want to lie here for a while more. That's the great thing with the internet (laughs).

You can pause. Okay, so I'm getting up now. Place one foot at a time, roll down to your side and bring yourself gently up to sit. And just settle into the effect of what you just did. Let your core keep holding you, stay in your center.

Bow to your heart. Thank you.

Comments

1 person likes this.
This was a great class! Very instructive and at a good pace! I had problems though with the video getting stuck several times so that I had to restart the video.
2 people like this.
Terrific class. Thank you!
1 person likes this.
Really enjoyed this -- challenging and refreshing!
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoy it! : )
1 person likes this.
Wow from Sweden! I really liked this. Thank you Alexandra
3 people like this.
Just the same lovely feeling as after your classes in Västerås, great!
1 person likes this.
Thanks Alexandra. Wonderful flow!
2 people like this.
Great practice thank you
1 person likes this.
beautiful class!!! thank you Alexandra Kambler
1 person likes this.
Enjoyed it very much
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