The Vinyasa Show Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 8

Twist and Balance

40 min - Practice
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Balance is a dance. Alexandra weaves all the skills we have been developing this season into a dynamic sequence playing with twisting and balance.
What You'll Need: Mat, Strap, Block

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(water flowing) Hello and welcome. We're going to be practicing to balance today, balancing and twisting. And what we've done previously up till now will be helpful. We've been grounding. We found our foundation.

We've opened. And try to lean into that trust. Learn what courage means. And all of this will help us to balance on one leg and maybe also balance in our navigation. Balancing is not about standing still and being rigid.

Balance is a dance. And as we when we stumble, we get right back up again, 'cause that's just the way it is in life. So balancing and twisting. Twist have this element of wringing things out. Like taking away sometimes it's said that stress, twist are good for stress.

I don't know, maybe it works. It calms us down and at the same time gets us up and energy, okay. Gets all the bad stuff out. So let's start by centering again. And we're going to do a breath practice, a pranayama called nadi shodhana, which means that we will be alternating nostrils as we breathe in and as we exhale.

It goes something like this. There are different hand positioning for this. I'll just show you what I prefer. So I'll take my index finger and the long finger and place them on my forehead. I'll be using my thumb and my ring finger, placing them on my nostrils, on the wings of the nostrils.

So traditionally we start with our left nostril and we inhale. So close the right nostril, inhale through the left. Inhale completely. Close the left nostril. Exhale through the right.

Exhale it all out. Inhale through that same nostril through the right. Close the right nostril. Exhale through the left. Inhale through the left nostril.

(inhales) Exhale through the right. Inhale through the right. Close gently. Exhale through the left. Inhale through the left.

Close the left. Now do a few rounds on your own. Very gently closing the nostril so we're not pushing the nose aside. And be attentive to the quality of mind, the emotions. The settling.

Take two more rounds. When you end, end by exhaling through the left nostril. And let your hand gently down. And you settle into the effects of that. So nadi shodhana is a really nice practice to balance your mind, your emotions.

It also gets you into the right energy. Great to do before a meeting, before important things you have to do. Maybe in the mornings once you wake up, okay. It gets you on track, focused. So let's get up onto our hands and knees.

Root down into your hands hip width apart between the knees. Inhale, lift the heart up towards the sky, arch the back. Exhale, round the back while going back to a child's pose but a quite active child's pose. Inhale coming up, lift the heart. Exhale back to your heels.

Softening the neck, inhale up. Last time, exhale towards your heels. Reach your hands forward. Inhale up and hold here. Inhale, lift the left arm towards the sky.

Exhale, sweep the arm over to your right, but not letting down just yet. Inhale all the way up. Exhale over to the side. So one more time. Inhale all the way up.

Exhale over to the side. Place your shoulder down towards the Earth. Fingertips on your left hand in front of your gaze and hold in this twist for a while. Lift the naval towards your heart. Your heart opens.

Use your right fingertips on the floor so you push down into the Earth and see how that twist gets a little bit more intense. Shoulder blade in towards the midline. Okay, inhale. Gently lift yourself up, come back to center. Let's do the same on the other side.

Inhale, lift up the right arm towards the sky. Exhale, take that arm over to the left. Inhale all the way up. Exhale over to the left. Inhale all the way up.

This time exhale over to the left and place your shoulder onto the floor. Fingertips in front of your gaze. Guide your left shoulder blade in and towards your spine. And we're not pressing. It's just guidance so that we have an opportunity to open up the heart.

One more breath here. Inhale, come all the way up. Place your hands shoulder width apart. Tuck your toes in, we're lifting up to our down dog. Walk the dog.

This is nice to just start opening up the backside of our legs, stretching out the sides. Do what you need to do. Softening the neck. And move into stillness. So I like to bring my big toes together for this one.

Inhale, reach the right leg up. Exhale, forehead touches the knee. Inhale, knee down in-between your thumbs. Exhale, lift up. Inhale, in-between your thumbs.

Exhale, lift up. One more time. Inhale down between your thumbs. Exhale, lift up, hold. Inhale all the way up towards the sky and bring your foot in-between your hands.

Place your back knee towards the floor towards your mat. Inhale, lift your right arm up towards the sky and let it roll back again. Inhale, lift. Let it roll back. Inhale up.

And roll back. So last time, inhale up, and stay here. You can lift your back knee. Open up the heart towards the sky. Come all the way back towards the floor, hands down.

Lift up to your down dog and settle. (breathes deeply) Okay, left leg up. Exhale towards your forehead. Inhale in-between your thumbs. Exhale lift.

Inhale down. Exhale lift. Last time. Lift. Inhale all the way up.

Exhale down in-between your hands. So take your time, bring your back knee down. Lift your left arm up and sweep it back. Come forward. Sweep it back.

Let your gaze follow the hand like she's doing something so interesting and fascinating. Back, last time, up and keep it there. Softening the shoulders. Lift the back knee, open up the heart into more of a twist. Come deeper into your knee.

And place the hand again. Let's lift up to dog. From dog gaze forward and take a big step forward with one foot followed with the next. Roll down into your feet, bend your knees gently, and elongate your spine, side body, maybe even stretch your legs. Exhale, fold.

Inhale, roll forward. Exhale, fold. Last time. Inhale, roll forward, shoulder width going back. Bend the knees and lift your arms up with utkatasana.

Okay, and softening the face. (exhales) Exhale. Inhale all the way up. Let your arms come down to your side. And pause.

Okay. So now let's just start navigating on one leg. Root down into your left leg. Let's lift up the right one. As you exhale, let your arms come down, reach your leg forward.

Inhale, lift. Exhale, leg forward, arms down. Inhale, lift. Exhale forward. One more time.

Bend your standing leg, place your foot, your right foot over your knee on your thigh and sit. One more inhale. Inhale up. Take your right leg all the way back. Fold forward and inhale up.

We're gonna do a little twist here. As you exhale twist towards your left, open your hands. Inhale, arms up, straighten the front leg. Exhale, twist. It can be nice to bend the back knee a little too.

Inhale. Twist, exhale. One more time. Inhale. And twist.

Inhale. Fold gently forward, not all the way down, just slightly. Bend the front knee. Jump up out of rotation on the back knee. Place on the back foot.

Place your toes, your heel. Inhale, come all the way up. Exhale, fold. (sighs) So as we are in this pose, sometimes it's nice to just jump in just slightly. Lift the naval, lift the heart, open up.

And your front body. Take your left hip back. Inner rotation on the back leg. Place your right fingertips on the inside of the foot to begin with and open up your left arm up towards the sky. So remember in one sequence we talked about how the hips are attracted to each other, the inner thighs.

Yes, this is what's happening now. Come down with your hand. Place your hands on your hips. Come gently up. Turn all your toes over to the long side of the mat.

Okay. So from here turn your right foot over to the short side of the mat. Stretch your arms out. We're just it's a transition so we're not staying here long. Place your right hand on the outside of your pinkie toe.

Take a little step forward with the back foot and gently lift the back leg keeping the standing leg bend because that will give you more freedom in the hips, and as that leg goes up, you stretch out your standing leg. Yeah. And we are navigating, we are playing with balance. And as soon as you find your balance, maybe you wanna switch something, do something, like bend the back knee, open up, see if you can reach that foot. Press the foot into your hand.

If this feels okay, you can experiment with some courage that we just learned. Oop. And open up the hand and gently lift away that foot. Bring the foot down towards the Earth. Bring yourself to a triangle pose.

Inhale here. Exhale, fold. Inhale, open up like you're opening the heart. Root down into your outer back heel. And exhale, fold.

Again, last time. Inhale up. Come all the way up to standing. All toes pointing towards the front, towards the long side of the mat, hands to your hips and fold. Let us go back towards the short side of the mat again.

Place your back knee towards the floor. Inhale, lift up. And exhale, hands on each side of the foot, we're gonna step forward. Inhale, utkatasana. Exhale, lift.

Okay. So let's bring the left leg up. Inhale up. Exhale, bring it all the way to the front. Inhale, lift up the fingertips, lift up the knee.

Let your arms go. Reach your leg out. Inhale. The tendency for the leg to get lower and lower for each repetition. Inhale, lift.

Bend your standing leg, place your ankle above the knee on your thigh and sit. Softening the face. Yeah. Inhale, reach up. Take your left leg all the way back.

Come into your lunge. Fold forward. Take your right hip back, inner rotation on your back thigh. Lift up. Exhale into your twist.

Inhale up. Exhale, twist. Inhale up. Exhale, twist for the last time. Inhale up.

And settle. Okay. So from here extend your arms above your head, fold gently forward so you could step forward onto your right leg. Extend and rotate the back foot. Place the foot to the floor.

Inhale, lift up. Exhale, fold forward. One hand on each side of the foot, maybe you take a little baby step in with the back leg, toes pointing forward. Elongate your spine, side body long. Take your right hip back.

Again, inner rotation on the back legs, softening the neck. Place your left hand on the inside of the foot. The alternative is to place it on the outside. I enjoy putting it on the inside. From here open up your heart towards the right, lifting up towards into your fingertips from your armpit all the way up, from the center line all the way up.

And fold. One more time. Inhale, open up. Exhale, fold. Come all the way up to standing.

Okay so toes pointing towards the long side of the mat. Take your left foot in towards the short side of the mat. Bend the knee and just the transition, open up. Place your left hand on the outside of the pinkie toe. Take a little jump up.

Find your balance. And as you're ready lift that back leg up. Keep lifting it up. Lifting it up. And once it gets up, maybe you straighten that standing leg.

Naval lifting towards the heart. Heart opening towards the sky. Once you've gotten your balance, you could play with it a little. Grabbing the back foot. Balance is no fun once you get static.

Then the balance is gone. (breathes heavily) Soften the back of the knee, maybe playing with it. Release your foot gently and place your foot back. Let's go to triangle pose. Open up.

Fingertips pointing towards the sky and fold. Now open up like you're opening the curtain for your heart. Lift up. Take it down. Gentle in the back of the knee, lift up one last time, and inhale all the way up.

Toes pointing towards the long side of the mat. Settle. (exhales) Hands to your hips. Fold gently, I like to bend my knees. So turn your left foot over towards the short side of the mat.

I'm going to place my left foot at where you have it so we're together on it. Okay. Place your right knee towards the floor. Inhale, lift up. Open the heart and come all the way down.

Lifting the back knee, let's step forward. (exhales) Okay. Utkatasana, bend the knees, lift the naval, lift the heart, open up the arms, and come all the way up to standing, (exhales) and pause. Ah. Just sense, are you more balanced now?

Maybe not, maybe yes. Okay. So for this next part of the sequence you will need a belt, because what we are attempting to do is the lord of the dance, that's what we're working towards. Natarajasana. So once you have your belt we're gonna be balancing again on the left leg to begin with.

I'll do this facing you. Okay. So I'll take my foot, the ball of my foot, onto the belt, reach out the leg. You could keep it bent. Because as long as the knees, the elbows, as long it's bent, it gives you more opportunity to change what needs to be changed.

Okay. So take the belt in your right arm. Let's see if I can do this. Left hand on your hip, lift the heart as a slight back bend going on. If you press your foot too far, if you try to straighten the leg, that will get you off balance so it's better to be a little wobbly by bending the knees.

From here inhale. Exhale, take the foot out towards the side. You will naturally lean over a little towards the left. I like to open my arm. Oop.

Okay, come all the way back. Let the foot go down. Keeping the belt in your hand, you're just changing the grip of the belt to come up over your head. Now this is the really wobbly part. Flex the foot, spread your toes, knee down and back, and open.

Find your gaze, your drishti, which is part of your foundation. Lift the heart, maybe you fold gently forward. Soften around the eyes. One more breath. And very gently, as gently as you can, release the foot.

(exhales) Now that can feel a little exhilarating. So just be in it for awhile. (exhales) Okay. Are we ready to do the other side? So let's take the belt into or under our foot.

Hold the belt with your left hand. Bend the knee. And as you feel ready, stretch out the leg. Hands on your hip, or hand, your right hand on the hip. Let your left hip drop.

Lift the heart. Root into that right foot like you were standing on something, and then gently take your leg out. Maybe open up your right arm. Softening your face. (exhales) Come back to center.

Let your foot come down. Take it to the outside, and grab the belt with both hands. It's not about how far you go, okay. Just feel into it and see what happens, what you're allowed to do. Pressing into the belt, that will give you stability, that will give you strength.

Engage the core by drawing your inner ribs, lower ribs, down, which is a really hard thing to do. Open up the heart towards the sky, maybe gaze up. Oop. And let's gently release. (exhales) And if it's possible to close your eyes, do so.

Otherwise let your gaze just fall down undisturbed and settle into the effect of what you just did. It's really a nice way to open. It may seem difficult but it's not really as difficult as it looks, because you're doing it at your own pace and you're opening as much as you feel possible. Okay. (exhales) So let's go back to the Earth.

Inhale, reach up. Exhale, fold. Side body long. Take your right foot back. Lunge.

Inhale, lift gently. Exhale, lunge. Inhale, root down, lift up. For this last one come down with your knee. Place your left hand on your thigh.

Open up through your right fingertips and come all the way down. Other side. Bring your right foot forward. Root down, round the back and lunge, gaze forward. Root down.

(exhales) One more time, we're getting down towards the Earth. Nice. Right hand onto your thigh. Left hand leads you out towards the sky. Engaging the inner thighs towards each other as the core.

Come all the way down. Let's lift up to our last down dog for the sequence. And come down to child's pose. (exhales) Wobble. So take your arms back.

I enjoy taking my arms back now. Take my thighs in towards you so I can rest my torso on my thighs, and you know, we have the arms up over our head, it's nice to let them soften now. Fingertips softening. The shoulders fall to each side on their own, their own weight, coming towards the Earth, we're not pressing, we're not doing anything. It can help to take an inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth, just experiment with that.

Notice the effect. So we're very gently going to lift up and make our way over to our back. So press your hands into the floor, lift up gently, and roll over to your back. (exhales) Okay. So we are going to do one more forward bend this time lying down.

We've done this position with the hands clasped around the thigh. This time we're gonna try to use the belt instead and just see how that feels. If the belt isn't an option for you, then you do it other way, that works just well, just as well. Okay. So, it's under the big toe, little toe, onto the strap, because that's where your power is.

If you take it too far away, there's nothing to press into. So the action is in the ball of the big toe and out towards the little toe. So having the belt like this helps your shoulders to keep relaxed, and you can just grab the belt gently. If this feels okay in your lower back, this is okay with this, then stretch out your left leg. And just you know, play with bringing the leg closer to you and letting go.

Bending the knee, stretching the knee. Softening your face around your eyes, and then move into stillness and just let the pose settle. Softening your outer right hip. (exhales) And let go. Let's take the other foot into the belt.

I like to start with my foot on the floor, knee bent, while taking the other leg up. It gives a little bit more stability. And just start feeling into it here what works for you today. All the right hamstrings, like the left hamstrings. Maybe you reach your right leg out.

If you feel like you're trying to hold on to the leg once you've done that, put the foot back to where it was, because that will again give you freedom. So, yoga even though it could sometimes feel like we're just practicing to endure torture, it's not really about that. It's about trying to find freedom in those icky sticky spaces and be all right with it. (exhales) Hmm. It's not a lesson in pain.

Hmm. Okay. So put the foot back. Let your left foot come down towards the floor. Settle.

And when you're ready, sway your knees from side to side. (exhales) Exhaling as you sweep to one side. Inhaling when you come up. Exhale to the side. So I'm ending with happy baby pose.

So that will mean taking the legs in. It can be nice to just start with wobbling a little. Let the soles of the feet point up. Let the feet go out to each side. Grab a hold of the inside or the outside.

This depends mostly on what feels appropriate and comfortable for you. I like to take a hold of the inside of the foot so I can press the ball of my big toe up towards my hand. That feels more stable, more balanced. Knees in direction towards the Earth, towards the armpits, and maybe just roll from side to side. Softening the face, move into stillness.

Elongate your spine by just guiding your tailbone away towards the short side of the mat away from you. And once you're ready fold the knees. Maybe you grab a hold of your ankles. And then hug your knees in. Place your feet to the floor.

Stretch one leg out. Let the other follow. Place your feet at a comfortable distance from each other. Inhale deeply. And exhale everything.

(exhales) Once we're ready to get up, and of course as usual, you are free to stay lying here. But to get up, place the soles of your feet onto the floor again, and just pause. And roll over to your side. (sighs) So root down into one hand, the free hand that will help you come up to sitting. Find your sit bones in the Earth, and from your sit bones, lift up towards your heart, lift up towards the crown of your head, and find your balanced pose.

Soften behind the eyes. Soften in the palms of your hands. Bring your hands to your heart, palms touching. And may you be navigating skillfully and with awareness. Love.

Comments

2 people like this.
I love this whole season! I think all 8 episodes are wonderful! I hope there will be another season with you!
Tina xx
Thank you Tina! I'm so happy you enjoy them!
1 person likes this.
I totally agree with Tina, fantastic season, we want more of you !
1 person likes this.
Thank you, simple and deep..
Ali
1 person likes this.
I went a bit freestyle at times, but I’m guessing you would be ok with this. It felt so good to just go with the flow and listen to what my body was telling me to do! My heart feels open and my hips feel stable. I have really enjoyed this series with you, Alexandra. I love your playful and lighthearted approach, and your thoughtful pace and reflections.
i'm so happy to hear that you felt encouraged to do your thing Ali . This is what i wish for my students, that they feel the joy of movement and be inspired to follow their own flow. This is something that empowers us, on even a deeper level. 

Thank you so much for  taking the time to practice this series and share your thoughts and experiences. :) Love

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