Asana Studies Artwork
Season 4 - Episode 3

Strong and Mobile Leg Joints

75 min - Practice


We have lost our ability to sit well because we sit all the time. Heidi guides us through a practice to bring mobility back into the joints of the legs, hips, knees, and ankles. When the legs can fold underneath us, we can sit upright in a way that does not load our organ body. We stay low to the ground for most of the practice, opening and strengthening the legs. To taste the results of our efforts, we play with an arm balance and a few quiet standing poses to conclude.
What You'll Need: Blanket, Block (2)

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Hey there. So we're going to do a really fun practice. It's one of my favorite things to do. We'll be sitting for quite a long time working in and out of some folded leg seated postures. And these poses can be challenging, because sitting is hard for us, because we're sitting all the time, which is, you know, you wouldn't think that would be the case, but we actually have lost our ability to fold the legs, including the ankles, the knees, and the hips, and sit upright in a way that doesn't load our organ body which is all this stuff inside our bellies.

So, I hope that this practice will help charge the legs in a way that creates freedom for the spine. You can see that I don't have a mat here. I prefer to do this practice without a mat, but you certainly can do it with a mat. I do use a blanket under my seat to give just a little bit of elevation off the floor, so that it's easier for my lower back to find an upright position, and I also used two blocks. So gather those props.

If you're using the mat, certainly get that. If you find that if your feet hurt, or if the floor is too hard, then get what you need. It could even be that you could use a blanket under your whole seat here, which would make it very slippery. Okay, so let's begin this way. Take your legs forward into dandasana, and find out how high you need your folded blanket to be, lower or higher, or not at all, and just gaze down the length of your legs, and look at your feet and create a place where your toes are facing a straight up and your knees are facing straight up, and then rock back on your hands and fold baddha konasana it, and then rock forward and extend the legs again.

So, make this really easy folding and unfolding the legs. Legs are externally rotated in baddha konasana, they're just neutral in dandasana. The next time you come into baddha konasana, place your right shin in front of your left, and make this a very square position. So, rather than having the knees wide, square 'em up, so you're crossing your legs mid shin, and then dry your toes back so you're on the outer edges of your feet. If you tend to drop the ankles towards the floor, flip the ankles up towards the ceiling.

And then find this place on your sit bones that feels upright, like your sit bones were just two quarters, sitting on the blanket. Bring your hands to your ribs. Just place your hands around your ribs, thumbs behind and the other four fingers in front, and find the drape of your rib cage. So you don't have to pull the ribs up or push them forward. Why don't you close your eyes, take a breath in, and close her eyes.

And take a few moments to drop in. And in and down. And as you're out looking for this feeling of being in and down, play around with the heads, and move the head a little side to side or little circles. You find easiness in the neck. You find a place where the head feels like it's right on the top of the spine, and if it's not forward of what I call the gravity lines.

So, when the head is forward or even over to one side or the other, it weighs more. Your spine registers it as a great weight. Your head on top of the spine. The next time you breathe in, feel the movement of breath inside the body, into the lungs, into the ribs, and into your skin, and just pick your hands up a little bit, on the exhale there. And do that one more time breathing in, the breath comes into your hands and slide your hands and your ribs up, a little side to side movement can help.

Exhale, free exhalation. So, in this way we're looking at very gently lengthening the waist, taking the rib cage up, as if you were just picking a sleeping baby up, out of the carriage like really gently. Now turn your fingers forward, and slide your thumbs right along the side seams of the body just above nipple height, and press your thumbs gently into the side of the rib cage there. It can be kind of a tender area so don't push your a lot. We're really just waiting to feel if there could be any movement of the breath in that area that kind of lower armpit area.

Close your eyes, drop in The next time you breathe in, if you feel any sense of movement of skin into your thumbs guide your skin a little higher up, just a tiny bit, like a breath up. Now use your four fingers, release your elbows down, and just find your collarbone. So, trace from the center line, right the breastbone, collar bones connect, clavicles connect. And they, they go wide across the top of the chest. So, right under the collarbones, place your fingers super gently.

So really place your fingers and don't push your fingers in. We tend to kind of like wanna go in and push the body around, but this is like a message to your breath to ... It's an invitation for your breath to come into your fingers. Just noticing, and then roll your fingers right up and over the collar bones, and as gently as possible, notice if there's any movement, when you breathe in this area. 'Cause right now you're really at the the dome, the top dome of the lungs.

And you could be a little spider webby. Perhaps the placement of your fingers can encourage fresh breath to go into this area. And then bring your hands to prayer, right in front of your heart, and place your thumbs gently against your breastbone. Let's om together once. Om.

Feel the breath meeting your thumbs, head on top of the spine, light and open and clear. Open your eyes, release your hands right onto your blanket and slide the feet to baddha konasana. And then take the knees up and extend forward dandasana. And then just do a few times, easily chugging, one way and then the other way. Okay, dandasana, take your hands to your right knee, bend the right knee just a bit.

And then with your hands facing your body, you're gonna dive your fingers right up into the back of that knee joint, and give yourself a little massage. And now you can be pretty aggressive, with your fingers, right? So you can kind of get in there, root around, see what's up. Check out the grizzle, right? Up into the back of the knee joint, and then squeezing your hands into the back of the thigh, gonna squish into those really hard-working, big hamstring muscles, and then the whole back of that thigh, just kind of wipe, swipe up and down the right, alright?

And then turn your hands so they're facing away. Your thumbs are available to you to go up into the back of knee. Alright, gonna look around. Could be kinda creepy, kinda weird, right? What do you feel?

Up in there, how wide is that area, how deep? And then turning your thumbs, so that they are moving toward your shin bones. Go ahead and just find the top of your calf muscles, and there could be sensation there. And this is when you could give yourself a really good deep massage. And what I feel like is like there's residue in these muscles.

And you can just take that residue with your massaging motions out of those muscles, and down, and down, and down, and down, all the way through the back of your Achilles tendon, there that area and then through the heel and shoo, right into the Earth, down into the Earth, and then interlace your hands in front of your shin, and lean back and fold that knee as far as you can. So, you just slide the shin in, and then take your hands to the floor behind you. And I have two blocks here. If you need the ... Anytime that you need to lift your seat, you can use the blocks under your hands.

You just push your hands down with the seat, and land this sit bones back equally, evenly perhaps on the floor. And then take your hands under your toes and draw your toes up. And here you can lean back, forward, uh-huh, and really strongly pull your toes up. So now you're folding the toe joint, the ankle, the knee, and the hip joint, so that right side of the leg is getting a really nice fold. Breathing in and breathing out, full exhalation.

Relax that foot. Take the leg forward and sit for a moment and reflect on the sense of your right leg and your left leg. Alright, and it's the left leg's turn. So, draw the knee up, same deal. And let's make sure that we give ...

I'll make sure I give you the same amount of time on your second side. So often the second side get's kinda shorted, So up into the back of that knee joint, and I'm looking around curious, playful, and then they good squeeze into your hamstrings. There's a bone in there. That femur bone is in there somewhere, so give a good squeeze all the way down toward your sit phone and then a rub, a good rub. Alright, and then turn your hands away from you, so you have your thumbs.

And the thumbs go right up in there. How's your breathing? Up in there, out wide. Noticed those big ropey tendons in there. Now, turn your thumbs towards the shin bones, and then start to squeeze and encourage the release of kind of stuck energy, that you might have in your calf muscles.

And sometimes stuck energy shows up as sensation. So, you might get some feedback here that you have, ooh, some stuff that actually needs to be cleared out of your calf muscles, all the way down, down, down, down, down, and shoot right into the floor. Interlace your fingers around your shin bone, lean back and pull the leg, and then bring some weight into the foot. Do that again, lean back, fold, and bring weight into your left heel. And then take your hands to your blocks, and just lengthen the torso up.

So, we remember to feel light and open in the belly, as we fold the leg. Sitting back down, take your hands to the toes, and draw, really fold your left toes, that whole left sort of hinge of the toes there. Nice and nice and folded. So, one side is folding and the other side is opening, right? And then through the ankle, through the knee, through the hip.

Place the foot down as close to your left sit bone as you can and then breathe, sit up and extend the leg forward. And then leaning back, baddha konasana, it's nice to have this little rocking motion dandasana. baddha konasana, dandasana. Okay, now do it without your hands, right? So, lift the knees, and sit in baddha konasana, and dandasana.

So, can you fold the legs now, without the help of the arms? Okay, and last time. Just crossed the right shin in front of the left. Gather your blocks, if you need them, right alongside your body and press down on to your arms and dangle your sit bones. And this is, could be enough for you, or you could lift your right foot off the floor, the left foot off the floor, just kind of taking that balance in.

Shoot the legs, ooh, heels on the floor, and then we'll chug forward, like this. So, one foot, the other foot, reaching forward and then back. Chug a few times forward and back. You can clear the blanket if it gets in your way, or if you're on your mat, know you're coming off the mat, All way back to your blanket, sit up, come to baddha konasana. Now take your left hand to your left knee, and bring your left knee over to your right, and relax the tops of the feet so they're long.

And you can really get comfortable, so that your right outer thigh is up on the blanket. Take your left hand to your left thigh, and just place it there. So we want this thigh not to pop up as we go into the twist. So, take a breath in, and as you exhale, that side remains released down. And then turn to your right.

You can use your hands on the blocks here. Makes kind of a nice perch to allow the ribcage to lift, as you descend your left thigh. Okay, so you come into the twist, and sometimes it's like not so happy, you know it just gets like kr, it's energy stops. So go into the twist, full breath in and out. Come out of the to twist slightly, and imagine that your rib cage, and this is all 12 ribs, 12th rib at the bottom, first rib at the top, are all spinning equally clockwise.

And the fuel for the energy, for your ribs to spin clockwise Is your breath. relax your shoulders and broaden your elbows a little bit, so there's a sense of width and breadth to the turn. Bring your attention fully into your lowest rib and feel and see this clockwise spinning. And if there's any sense of an ending to the twist at the spine, then use your imagination to allow the spine to be part of the twist, part of the clockwise twisting. Press your toenails down, drop your thighs, get a good link through the waist and spin the rib cage, like you were spending 12 plates.

So, it goes around and around, and at every juncture of rib into spine, release and let the spine turn. And take this image all the way from the bottom of the rib cage up towards the top, all the way to the top, so that even your upper vertebrae are part of the turn, part of the twist. And then release, look forward, left knee comes back to baddha konasana. Other side, right hand to the knee. Help it over, relax the tops of the feet.

A gentle hand to remind your right thigh not to hike up. Take a breath in, and as you exhale turn to the left. Use your blocks wherever you need them. Sit in to the outer left thigh. Find the outer left thigh as your fulcrum, the place that you're turning around, the spine line, the gravity line.

And now this is a whole new game, so give it the time to spin counterclockwise, plates spinning. So, you're not jamming the left ribs into the spine, but that movement sweeps through the whole back, so there's this swiping of the skin around, and around, and around. And then when your body gets the sense, of the ribs turning, the ribs spinning, you know that enthusiasm goes right into your vertebrae, and they turn and the eyes of the spine look, want to turn and see what's around the corner. All the way up, all the way up, inhaling, exhaling and release. Look forward, bring your right knee up, baddha konasana.

Cross your left shin in front of the right, Hug your blocks close, and pressed up again. So, dangle the hips, dangle the sit bones. See how long your waist can feel. Inhale and then exhale. Really power down through your hands.

Lift your left foot up off the floor, maybe lift the right. Balance, maybe extend, and bring your seat to the floor and chug. Chug on forward, uh-huh. Any kind of upper body movement you want, any pace you want, and back to your blanket. Okay, back to baddha konasana.

Yeah, baddha konasana, okay. You can use the blocks, or you can just take your hands to the floor, and lean back a little bit so you have this sort of C-curve through the torso, right? Sometimes it's good to remember that we should soften our chest every once in awhile. Right, I see the need to sit up, well right now we're going to sit down, and part of the chest is part of that. So leaning back, look at your feet, and squeeze your heels very strongly together, right?

Now come up, sort of climb up on your hands. So, from this sort of slumped back place, you're gonna put the energy into your heels, and walk your hands forward, so that your sit bones are more upright, but the strength is heel to heel. And then look at your feet and make sure that the center line of your feet corresponds with the center line of your body, right? Sometimes one leg is stronger, or more powerful and pushier than the other. Okay, now this could really change your breath, so sit upright.

You can see that I'm taking little wiggle, and I want to be upright on my sit bones. and not thrusting the tailbone forward or back. Try to find this neutral place, so that that thing that we did, that kind of gentle lifting of the rib cage in the beginning of the class. You wanna find that sense of an open belly here. Push those heels together strongly, and notice what you're feeling.

And then let go of the energetic jets, just come down. Take your hands to your knees. Take the knees up, extended the legs forward dandasana. Without your hands, bend the knees, come back to baddha konasana. Okay, sitting upright, you're not going to pull your feet away from each other.

So if you're on a sticky mat, they don't move much but if you're on the floor, they'll move a little more. Alright now, you pull the feet away from each other, but most importantly you're reaching the thigh bones towards the sides of the room, and do it like mad, not like you're mad, just like mad. Alright, so reaching the thigh bones out of the socket, and see what happens. Notice it where you notice it. Make space for your belly, but dangle your sit bones.

And, we'll stay a little while longer, because it's very interesting. So, where do you feel it? Figure that out, and then bring your awareness to a part of your hip joint somewhere around the line of the thigh all the way around that you don't feel it, and see if that part of your leg hip joint can wake up. And be, it's like a total action, like you're asking that whole thigh, both of them to pull away from each other. No fear, inhale, and then exhale, release.

Very slowly bring the weight into your sit bones. You can take your hands to your knees. Fold the knees, right? So, that actually of using your own hands, drops the thigh bone into the hip socket to the groin area which might have been kind of pulled on, is softened. Alright, and I'm using my hands like this, so I'm not using my leg muscles to stay here, but I'm allowing the drape again.

the drape that we want to feel in our skin. And then let the legs, shoo, just move away from each other. And this you might feel as a real flushing through the leg joints. So, take a moment to quiet in, and reflect on the sense of your system. Alright, and then we come back to baddha konasana.

And once again, reach your knees like mad away from each other. And I like to think of the inner surface, and the top surface, and the outside surface, and the back surface, so it's almost like in order to hone in and be more precise and specific with this idea of reaching the knees out of the hip socket, you can think of the thighs as 4X4s, pieces of lumber, and lumber is reaching out of your hip socket, but the only effect is to work on and kind of wake up the musculature around the upper thighs. And it's not at all to grip the gut in any way. So, that's quite a, that's quite a task right? So, go ahead quiet and you can close your eyes, reach your thighs, the top surface from the hip to the knee, the back surface from the hip to the knee, the inner thigh from the hip to the knee, and the outer thigh, hip to knee.

And then kiss your heels together. Breathe in, give space to your belly. Breathe out, sit bones release. And once again you gather your knees with your hands, and you roll the thighs, it's like, whoo nice and soft in, nice and soft in. Okay, and then flush the legs, dandasana.

Take a full breath in, and let it go. Okay, baddha konasana. And let's just do that again without the hands. So, baddha konasana, and dandasana. Boddha, you can do anything with your arms you like and dandasana.

Baddha konasana and dandasana, baddha and dandasana. This time, stay in baddha konasana. Take your left knee to the right, and turn into bharadvajasana again. This time, take your left hand to your right knee, and turn the palm up and give it a good reach, so that draws that left shoulder blade down your back and wide. And then right fingers on the floor, and try not to lean either direction but be upright.

So, find the down through the center line of the body and the wide, and then the up will happen. Alright, so same image of the spinning plates, through the ribs, very wide. And you can swipe the skin around, in that clockwise fashion until you feel each rib turning. And then turn the bones of the spine, one and then the other, then the other, and as you keep turning to the right, take a breath in. Keep the body turning to the right, just turn your head and look over your left shoulder, and then press down in your toes, down in the outer of left hip, and imagine that your high jumping over, like you're an Olympian and you're high jumping.

The ribs are spinning, the spine is extending, and you're jumping backwards. Inhale and exhale. Really turn your body forward. Keep your legs as they are. Hold on to your left heel, and keep it nice and close to the buttocks.

And open the left knee wide. This is when I take the blanket away. It just gets too complicated to deal with, so put it aside because you might need it later on. Okay, so now we're in a posture which is not a posture. It does a lot to the posture.

I call it half and half. So, your right leg is folded in Baddha Konasana Sukhasana position and the left leg now is in Virasana and sit for a moment and just relax and see what's happening. For many of us, you'll feel your right sit bone on the floor, but you won't feel the left sit bone, so don't push it around. Bring your hands just wide and pull your heels. Imagine that you can fold the legs a little more here.

So just fold the legs. It could be strange to think about here. Okay, so an action of folding. What does that do? And then an action again of the reaching of the thighs that we did before.

So see if the thighs can move away from your midline, right? Any little adjustments that you need to make. So, most importantly right now is to find that reach of the thighs wide, breathing. How does it feel around the full circumference of the top of the left thigh, full circumference of the right thigh? How do they engage and what effect do they have?

So maybe a little movement. If you tend to grip your belly, let the breath go. Mmhmm. And then turn off those jets and then do it again without your hands. So if you strongly reach the knees away from you and you take the arms wide and you fall into the space in front of you, you might actually find that you, you can stand on your knees.

Breathe here, exhale. Reach the knees to go down. Reach more, more, more, more, more. Released the grind (sighs) and then you can play. You can do whatever kind of crazy arm movements you want, breath movements, to feel what this is, to feel what it is.

Opening and releasing. Sit clear, sit quiet. You're gonna lean over toward that folded right leg. Bring your right hand in front and see if you can just kind of snuggle your body down on your right thigh. Extend your left leg out so you can see it.

And you might want to sweep that left leg a little further behind you, so when I do that, if I keep the leg just side, I don't feel the activity around the top of that left thigh, but if I just swipe it back a bit, then I really feel the engagement. I feel where my leg is and I like feedback. Reach your right arm forward and just lay out over that right thigh. And now, think of reaching your right knee wide, folding the right leg more. So you don't want to just be hanging out on your leg, 'cause this will translate to your standing poses where you're just hanging out on your legs.

Instead, you want to find the action of support underneath your spine, underneath your whole, sort of, all the amazing things that are going on your torso, right? So squeeze the thigh towards the shin, pull the shin towards the thigh, and reach the knee out beyond you, right? And then find the same reach through your left leg. So the legs are engaged and they're extending away from the midline, and just hang out or you can take the left arm up and over and just play here through the torso, keep the squeeze of that right leg underneath you and then bring the hand to the floor in front. Slide your left toes forward just a bit so you can see them.

Turn the toes, the knees, the thigh up and now you're gonna squeeze both legs and reach again. Reach the knees away from each other and bo-doop, you're upright. Okay, turn towards your folded leg. Actually, let's do this first. Hold on to your right shin and pull it in close and just fine this action again, a folding, folding, folding, and see if you can hang on to it.

The tendency, again, I'll say it 'cause it happens all the time, is that we do nothing in the legs when we're sitting and our back hurts. We have to use the legs when we're sitting. Fold the leg, reach your left leg. Importantly, because a lot of people tend to kind of pull that hip up, take your left hand to your left thigh and press it down and turn away from your straight leg and look out over your bent leg and when you feel really grounded, so slather the back of that left leg onto the floor, take your left hand to your right thigh, and try that high jump again. Any bit of, kind of openness, openness, soft extension through the upper body.

And then release. Bow to your straight leg. Turn forward, lean back on your hands, way back to find that sort of slumpy position. Back to Baddha Konasana. Use your hands, lift your knees, and let your legs slide away from you.

We'll do the whole thing to the other side. It's a long series. So lean back on your hands, fold, Baddha Konasana. Take the right knees to the left, sitting clear on the outer upper thigh with the right thigh dropped, bring your left hand, the back of the palm to, sorry, right hand back of the palm to the left leg. Exhale.

I have to really, really think about tethering the left, the right thigh for the freedom of the belly in the turn of the spine. Soften the elbows and just let them move away from the torso so the armpits are airy, especially if they're sweaty. And you turn and you spin the ribs, so go back to that image, circling plates, spinning plates, right? So that when you're thinking of the rib cage turning counterclockwise, you're also finding air space. Air space between each layer of ribs.

Turning, breathing. Keep spinning, keep spinning. The bones of the spine spinning the hoops of the ribs around. Keep turning the torso, inhale, exhale, glance over your left shoulder and then you look for the high jump. Wherever you are, enjoy the posture.

Keep finding it, opening so it can find you. And release. Look forward, hold on to your right foot, hug it in close and open knee. Okay, so just find how this side feels. Where's the gravity line, meaning how is that force of nature that we called gravity, the pull into the Earth, moving through you?

Are you fighting it? Sorry. You don't want to. Let it move through you. And now we add the action of the legs, reaching the knees.

In a way, you know, if the folding was difficult to find, go for the reach. If you reach the knees, the legs fold naturally. That's actually maybe how we should think of it. Reach and then fold and then breathing. Reaching, folding, breathing.

Any movement, does not have to be dramatic. If you feel anything in your knee joint, any kind of unhappiness, then just go for the reach. Bring your fingers to the floor, soften the head, right? So it's not about what I look like, it's about how you feel. What are these actions, how big?

It feels dramatic to me. It feels kind of like conjuring, especially when you add the power of the lungs. Open, you don't have to go up, but it's the squeeze, or the reach and the squeeze and then you land. And then really land into the body, where center might be more of a curvy line because of how the legs are turned in the hip socket. Okay, now we'll fold, remember this action.

you really want to fold that left leg, which means you reach it first and then pull the thigh and the shin toward each other, left arm comes out in front of you. So the hand should, for me, it should face the ceiling to remember that the arm comes off the back, alright? Off the back. If you reach it, that left side of the rib cage will be there to catch you when you come down and lay on your left leg. If your neck gets tired, you can always bring one of your blocks and put it under your head.

And extend your right leg long. So, be on the inner edge of the foot, take a breath in and reach the legs away from each other and then find that action, whew! How can you sweep the right leg just a little further back to engage, to feel the engagement of the thighs, lengthening, reaching, and then this leg that's underneath your chest is powerfully folding so that you can relax. Try this: don't fold the leg that's underneath you. Just sort of let it hang there and feel how that feels. Now take a breath in and out and then reach that knee so that knee is reaching overhead and the engagement.

So it's the reach and then the fold. The engagement of that leg. What does that give you in your torso? How can that kind of help us to relax the torso, use the legs, perhaps right arm goes up and over. Can you play here?

We play around and then bring the hand to the floor. Sweep your right foot forward first and then turn the toes, turn the knees, and reach it away from you so, it's a very natural sitting up. Right thigh slathers, spreads, the whole leg into the floor and then you turn away from it and then (exhales) let the spine arch up and back. Uh huh, a little turn right? That's the spinning of the rib cage, once again, counterclockwise.

You can put a little pressure into your hand, into your leg, just a bit and receive the breath. And releasing. Look forward, lean back on your hands, Baddha Konasana. Take the knees up, dandasana. Chug.

Mmhmm, right forward and back and then let's do this one more time and go really slowly. Shifting the weight, reaching the thighs. What kind of effect does it have? Where does it have an effect, right? I do find that in yoga, we tend to act, act, act, do, do, do, so I have to remember that reflection of our actions is probably more important than the action itself.

Okay so back to dandasana. Take a moment to breathe here and feel the evenness, the quietness of the of the pose, of the place where you are. Let's do without the hands so take your hands up and fold the legs, straight back. Maybe you can even walk them a little closer to you. Oop, no hands.

And then take the legs away from you and then do it again and make it quite quick and away and then quick and away. One more time. Alright, now quick in and then lift your feet and stay there for a moment and pull your knees in close to your chest and then pull the heels in and then have a little tantrum and then pull both heels in. Don't use your hands, relax the shoulders, and squeeze your knees so the thighs and the knees are coming together and I am pitched back on my buttocks. I'm not right on the sit bones at all and I'll bring the legs together and feel the, not only the fold, but also the squeezed together, breath in, as you exhale, ahh ...

Baddha konasana. Take your left knee over to your right, bharadvajasana. Just move into that twist, right? And any time and you feel like you're gonna go you're gonna like crank the twist, go to the breath and spin the rib cage and spin the spine, a curious spine and a long spine, and then as you exhale, look forward, hold on to your, your left ankle and open back out to Half & Half. Lean back on your hands and lift your right knee and just turn your body so that you're facing the back of your mat, if you're on the mat and this is all about what's possible.

So your left leg is folded in virasana, and you're either going to stay on your hands or come onto your elbows. Maybe one, maybe the other. So I'm working with a little kind of twinging in my left knee and on this side, I'm not gonna go much further than this today. But what I am gonna do, and what I'm asking you to do is to fold that leg like mad, like really, all the action is in the leg. Folding, folding, folding.

So it's not just going for stretch at all. We're wanting to find the intelligence of the legs so that we don't have to think about them, and all our lives, maybe. Maybe not for you. Maybe your back has been asking us to find this action of the legs. At least that's how I feel these days.

Because I found relief, right? By folding my legs. So even though this one is not the support leg, or not the leg that you might be focusing on, fold both of them. And then play around, try to find the evenness of the pelvis. Your left hand is available to just drape onto your left heel.

Push your left hand into the heel for a moment. That's not what I want you to do, actually. I want you to find the press of your heel into your hand, which is a little more subtle. Which is more about folding the leg and not about stretching. So that action of pressing the heel gently into the hand will engage the lower leg as you're finding that folding action, reaching the knee, folding, pressing the heel.

Alright. Let go of your right knee, boop, let it just fall wide. Turning forward, so either you're rolling, or your up on your elbow, coming around. Sweep your left knee over to your right and baddha konasana. Using your hands, pick up your knees and extend them forward.

Fold the knees. Use your hands, bring your knees up, and allow the legs to unfold. Without your hands, strongly fold the legs, open to baddha konasana. Without your hands, perhaps, you bring your right knee to the left and take your bharadvajasana. (exhales) Spinning the spine, soft spin, soft spin. Sounds like a, a washing machine cycle, right?

And then you come out and you hold on to that foot, if you like, or do it without the hands and open to Half & Half. Using your hands, you're gonna lift your left knee and fold, keep that right leg folded in virasana. And then it's your choice, right? What's available? How low can you go?

Into a half virasana. Now, the action, you want to catch again. You want to fold the legs and find a place where you know how much energy are you using? You want to be able to fold the legs, stay steady with that action, and breathe. That's how much energy.

Right hand is available, you place it over, just like a cup, over your right heel. Push your hand gently and then meet that action. So you want to press the heel into the hand and notice what takes place. Keep folding both legs, breathing. It's really ...

It's our awareness, right? How present can we be? I think for years I thought it was all about how many actions can I pile on? And I felt like I did something. Funny, right?

Breathing and then release your left knee. Turn to your left, sweep your right knee over to your left, come back to baddha konasana and release the legs long. Okay. Without your hands, lean back, fold the legs. Place the hands on the floor and see if you can bring your heels as close to your buttocks as you possibly can so you could get up on your heels.

And then we could do a little swing with the hips, so ... (giggles) This makes me laugh. Anyway, so you just folding the legs with the feet on the floor, really for the first time, right? So just find the ease of the hinge joint. The knee is a hinge joint, and so then, keep your seat as close to your feet as you can.

You might want to lift up a little higher on your hands like I did. And then reach your knees forward. So now you release the buttocks and you reach the knees and now we're folding the ankle joint. Okay, now we're gonna add the fold of the toes. So, knees are folded, hips are folded, knees reach, now the toes fold.

How is that going for you? Come back. Hug the legs together a bit. Keep the legs folded, reach the knees away. Of course, you don't have to bring the knees onto the floor, breathing.

Maybe you could, it depends upon your toes. Toes, knees could reach. You gotta really deeply folded toe joint, ankle joint, knee joint, and an open hip joint, alright? That term, open hips, you know, what does that mean? How about just happy hips or mobile hips?

Coming down, baddha konasana. No hands, sit up. How can you move that rib cage up, right? What would it take? What's your spine doing, right?

Oh, I was doing that the whole time without folding the legs. So fold the legs, hmm. Can the cooking, can the fire, be the legs, right? So you could rock back and forth and then rock over onto your right hip, come into the bharadvajasana. Turn open to Half & Half, widen the knees, come up, release down.

Go back to bhadavara, or whatever that's called, baddha konasana. Let's go to the other side, right? So first we fold, fold, fold, like this. Like gimme, gimme, gimme in the legs. And then you rock over up onto that left hip and it's the turn, and then it's the sweep wide, right?

Now you know why I didn't want to do it on the mat, 'cause if you're on a mat, it's a lot harder to feel the movement that comes from this folding and unfolding of the legs, right? Sitting, sweeping, right to left, baddha konasana. (sighs) Take a moment to sense what's going on and even here while you're sensing just a little bit of that, that current in the legs of the folding of the legs, inhaling and exhaling. Take your hands to your outer knees. Pick 'em up.

So once again we just settle that thigh bone back into the hip socket and unfold the legs. Back to baddha konasana. Keep your right leg folded in tight and extend your left leg. Lean back on your hands, lift your folded right leg up. Hold on to the foot and open it into virasana.

You can take the legs on whatever angle is comfortable for you. The back of the left thigh, try to keep it on the floor. We tend to roll to the outer edge because of the position of this hip, so once again, it's a place where you could use a blanket if you needed it. Left hand comes in front of your body. Slide it along the floor and under your right thigh.

And as you go, don't wait until you're there. You're squeezing that right leg. And the other thing that I do is I'm imagining that I could fold the left leg. So that heel, that left heel is driving down into the floor, the left upper thigh is on the floor and you're squeezing, so it's a lot to think about, but as you go, you might find that, wow. I'm not using my spine so much, right?

All the muscles of my torso. Press the whole back of the left leg into the floor and push your heel down. Imagine that your leg could fold if the floor wasn't there. Some of you might be able to hold on to the right ankle. It doesn't matter, 'cause you're folding it.

Inhale, right arm up, gaze up. And exhale, take that right arm over head. Now, fold the legs again. Ride the wave of the breath up so you can extend even the left side of that body along the left thigh. If you can hold the foot, that's fine.

This posture right here, right now, is more about the folding of the legs and the movement of the spine, so you could take the hand in front of you if that's better. How can you move the leg, the spine, like a snake along the left leg? Uh huh, and then right arm goes up. You come up. Sit for a moment.

Sweep your right knee over to the left, hold it close, folded, and then extend the right leg. That was my hip popping. (laughs) Yeah. Gonna walk into the back of one leg and then the other. So you're spreading the back of one leg and you're spreading, kind of flushing energy through one side and then the other. You want to give that to your legs because you've done so much folding and so much active folding.

Okay. Lean back, fold your left leg, lift the left knee up all the way over, your foot there is there to hold if you want to and open into this Half & Half position. Whole back of your right leg is on the floor, neutral, not turned out, not turned in. Right hand comes in front of you. You can slide it along the floor.

It kind of goes into that little cave under your left thigh. The left sit bone is way off the floor, right? And then find the action of the legs. I think I cued it the other way right on the other side. It's okay if you're out already to the side then you find the action of folding the legs because that will support you.

That will support the breath. And then left arm comes up gaze up. Take in the space above you. You've been so long on the floor, right? That it's wonderful to look up.

Fold the left leg, imagine you're folding the right leg, and let that open the lungs. Left hand comes onto the floor. Coming out of it, sitting upright. Sweep your left knee over to the right, and then extend your legs long. Fold the legs, use your hands, and come into a little squat.

Your toes are on the floor, but your heels aren't. Take a breath in and as you exhale, the plunge of the heels down, until the feet are on the floor. Let the head go, the tail go. Breathe in, exhale plunge the feet down, and maybe the legs straight, straighten into your standing forward bend, another place to flush the legs. Inhaling, extend your spine long.

Exhaling, fold over, bend your knees again, and widen your feet just a little bit away from each other and set both hands really clearly on the floor as wide as your shoulders, alright. We're gonna move into bhakasana, crow pose. So, bending the knees and the arms, wedge the back, the knees up onto the back of the arms with the shins up on the backs of the arms and then breathe in and breathe out. Pitch yourself forward. Go forward until your feet come off the floor and now fold the legs.

Fold them like crazy. See what it does. And then let the feet go. Standing forward bend. You can do as many Crows as you like right?

'Cause it's such a wonderful feeling to really use those legs, see what kind of lift you get from releasing, from using the fold. Standing forward bend. Take your hands to your hips. Inhale, now extend the body forward. Exhale.

Inhale, bring the sit bones under you and you're up right. Whew! You're on your legs. Find the gravity line, whatever that might mean to you, right? That's always a process of working with a concept that you can't see. You have to feel it.

Bend your knees a bit. Okay. And now you can grab your two blocks. Bringing one block to the front and one block to the back, if you have your mat there, and then turn out and stand in the middle of your mat, if you're using one, in Tadasana. With your feet together, your legs together.

And then just heel-toe your feet once away from each other, one time, find that gravity line. Moving into your two legs. Go again. Go again. What's happening in the pelvis?

How do the legs, how do the hips kind of have to calibrate. Decentralisation of the legs until your feet are wide enough so that you could do a standing pose. Take the arms wide, we'll do triangle pose, Trikonasana. Turn your left foot in 15 degrees. Turn your right foot out 90 and move into Trikonasana.

Use the block wherever you might need it today. Stand on your feet. Stand into the floor. Inhale, come up. Transition to the other side.

So, nice and quiet and simple. How is the energy moving through your joints, the joints of the legs? Turn in your left foot, turn out your right. Move into Warrior II. Stand on your feet.

Coming up, do the other side. Remember to let the legs support you. That's what all that was about. One other posture, extended side angle, Utthita Parsvakonasana. Turn in your left foot, turn out your right.

Use the block if you like, any height. You can always put your elbow on your thigh, but don't hang out, right? So when we go into this posture, recall when we laid over our thigh earlier in the sequence, this leg is folding and this leg is extending, but is there any hint, or memory, of the folding in the back leg, and can it help you here? And don't get too caught up. Instead, give your spine, give your breath freedom here to make the legs work and hold you up.

Coming up. Transition to the other side Fold the legs. Fold this straight leg. Unfold the bent leg. Give yourself an impossible task.

And come up. Turn the feet parallel to each other. Take your hands onto your hips. Inhale, high jump, but don't really jump. Back, extend that spine.

Open the chest from the legs, and then fold right over the legs, prasarita padottanasana. Keep your head down. Walk your hands over to your left foot, and bring your legs together. Come into a little squat. Open the knees away from each other malasana, fold the legs.

Use your hands wherever you might need them, for assistance to, bloop, roll down. Gather your blocks into your hands, and come all the way down. We'll do bridge pose. So, you can choose to use the blocks or not. I'm going to use the blocks.

Press your feet down, and begin to just lift the hips a tiny bit off the ... So, already you're in the folding action. Heels drop down, knees move over the toes, legs are folding, okay? Connect that action with your breath, so the it's easy and fluid. And incrementally just a little higher with your hips as you go.

I'm circling my fingers like this, 'cause it feels like gears, right? Heels, clunk, click down into the Earth. Knees move away, hips magically lift up. So, any movement in my torso is response to the action the legs. When your hips get a little high enough, get high enough, you can bring a block under your hips And rest.

Any height, if you find that you went too high, you can come lower. If you wanna go higher, then turn the gears of the legs, heels down. I'll turn one block down. Oh, how high can my hips go? Can I wedge a second block under my pelvis?

Yes. Ah ... This feels better to me, but remember you're in your body. Respond as needed. Do the right thing.

Press your feet down, so the heals drop down, the knees slide away from you. The pelvis rises, take the blocks away. Come down. Turn your palms towards the ceiling, and be touching no prop, and then release one leg at a time. And let 'em go completely.

And drop into shavasana. You can stay here as long as you like. When you're ready, bend your knees one at a time. Let them both fall to the right. Swing that right arm up and lay on your side, comfortably.

Use that the left hand to help you come to sit. Find a comfortable seat, but put your shins in close, like you're gathering your babies in close to you, 'cause they've done such good work for you. Take a moment to honor your legs. Namaste.


Kelly Sunrose
Heidi, I *really* love this sequence and keep coming back to it. There is something magical about that mega-flexion shape (hip, knee, ankle) that really opens up the entire leg channel and calms my nervous system. Beautiful work. So happy you are here!
1 person likes this.
Love the video because am always looking for seated sequences for low-energy days. That cue of moving hips out of the joint while seated was a revelation for my hips! Also love the imagery of rotating plates in twists.
Heidi Fokine
Thanks Wynter, Happy hips!!
Frederic M
1 person likes this.
Great practice, thanks!
Kelsey W
2 people like this.
This was a great class, exactly what I needed without knowing it. I loved looking at asanas with the lens of folding the leg joints, a new and helpful perspective. Will be coming back to this sequence for sure.
Anne D
1 person likes this.
Thank you very much for this wonderful exploration. you make deep unwinding effortless in this sequence.
Elissa P
1 person likes this.
That was so interesting! I am a trail runner, and this practice gave my hard-working legs just the balance they needed. I don't think I've EVER put my legs in some of those positions, and I've been a dancer too, so that's saying something. Very unusual. Very eye-opening.
Catherine R
1 person likes this.
Excellent practice! Very helpful for crow pose!
Tucker A
1 person likes this.
Wonderful practice. I learned so much! Many thanks.
Heidi Fokine
Thanks for checking into my class Catherine and Tucker!
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