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Season 3 - Episode 9

Aligning with Inner Ease

30 min - Practice
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Description

Alana guides us into a place of inner ease with a few simple stretches and a seated meditation. Slowly and gently we find more space and length through the hips, back, ribs, and spine in preparation for a comfortable seat. As we approach meditation, we experiment with inviting qualities of affection, joy, ease, and appreciation into our awareness.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket (2), Block

Transcript

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(waves crashing) Welcome back. Thank you for showing up. Thank you for being here. So, in this practice we're gonna prepare for meditation. So, it'll be a fairly simple practice just to find a bit more room through the hips, length up through the spine, and some room through the side body to prepare us to sit together.

Okay? So, we'll begin by sitting in a simple sukhasana, so a shin to shin, and I have a block and two blankets. So, I'll bring the block right about here, and you might prefer for this one, two blocks, depending on your body, your hips, and your back. For me, I'm gonna start with the block at the highest setting and just come into that simple, or maybe not so simple, but shin to shin Sukhasana. If you prefer to sit up on some support, you might do that.

Sit up on a blanket. And then from here, just begin to walk the hands out in front of you. Just take a moment here to settle down through the sit bones, so feel that point of grounding. And then from here, begin to round forward and bring your forehead to your block. Again, you might prefer two blocks depending on your hips.

For me, I like to start at the highest setting here and just begin to allow the forehead to release into the block, right? So, often times we refer to this as mind dump. So, allowing the mind to begin to settle. And in this process of settling, just begin to notice what has your attention. It might be a thought or a sensation.

Guiding your attention towards your breath. Notice where you can soften through the eyes, and the jaw, and the hips a bit more. Just allowing the head to receive the support, keeping it soft around the neck, feeling the shoulders release down, the arms settle, belly soften. Just a few more moments here. Giving yourself permission to fully release into this shape.

And more and more there is an increasing sense of being, rather than doing. Noticing, allowing what is. Again, observing any thoughts or sensations and then bringing your attention towards your breath. Beautiful. Slowly, might use your hands here to come back up and just take a moment as you come up, feel the spine lengthen.

Take a moment to pause. Drawing the chin slightly in, and it's like an energetic lift of widening through the base of the skull. Different than drawing the head back, right? The sense of lifting and lengthening, shoulder blades settling. From here we'll lean back and then switch the cross of the legs, so bring the opposite shin in front.

Settling into the sit bones and then again, rooting a bit through the sit bones. It might feel nice here to spread the fingers and traction the spine. So, rather than rounding first, get a sense with the fingertips of like drawing the heart forward. For me, my pelvis is rolling forward, the shoulder blades are softening down the back. Instead of looking up like this, allow the neck to soften.

Let the belly soften. Good. And then from here you might begin to round. Again, head releasing, or dumping, mind dumping. Now, if this is quite comfortable, you might lower the block to the second side.

If you have two blocks, you might lower it to one block. Again, this process of settling and releasing towards the support. Notice where you can soften through the eyes, the jaw, the hips. Relaxing a bit more through the belly. And the invitation here is to bring some attention towards your back body, and invite the breath here into the back body, rather than forcing the breath or making something happen.

With your attention, inviting the breath, or receiving the breath, into the back of the body. And as you settle and drop a bit deeper into the folds, along the way adjusting the block so that it feels comfortable and supportive. So, where you find a bit more space and room through the body. The last few moments here. Notice where you might be anticipating the support and then really allowing the head to fully release.

Most likely here, there's a dull, achy stretch through the spine, though the back body, through the hips. Beautiful. Slowly, as you're ready, slide the hands a bit closer in, press down and just slowly roll up. Take your time, chin to the chest. It'll feel nice to roll the pelvis forward.

Find a bit of an extension here, hands around the knees or the shins, and feel that quality of lengthening up through the front of the spine, through the sternum and the heart. Again, a settling of the shoulder blades down the back. A widening through the base of the skull. Nice. Okay, we'll bring our block off to the side and then lean back and extend your legs as if you were going into dandasana or paschimottanasana.

Just take a moment here extending the legs. Flex the feet, right? Good. And then we'll find a seated twist. So, a very shin ardha matsyendrasana.

So, from here I'm gonna bring my left leg underneath and then bring my right leg across. And then, reach the left arm up and then bring it around. Take a moment here. With that right hand, press down as you lift up. And I'm pressing down through that right foot.

Again, it's not about cranking yourself into a twist, but really grounding through the sit bones, lengthening up through the spine. Find that ease through the neck as you wrap, lengthen, and then twisting from the belly. So, initiating the movement from the tailbone up through the spine and then right up through the base of the skull. Softening the right shoulder down the back. Breathing.

Last few moments. Where can you find a bit more length and space through each vertebrae? Beautiful. Slowly, with the gaze over the left shoulder and then gently unwind. Lean back, free your legs.

Extend the legs. Take a moment. Good. And then second side. So, bring the right leg underneath, the left leg on top.

Settling into the sit bones. Inhale, reach the right arm high and then exhale, wrapping the right hand around the left thigh. Bring the left hand behind. Inhale to lengthen and then exhale, softening the belly and gently twisting towards your left. And breathing into the shape and the twist.

Nice. And then slowly unwind and let the gaze first come over the right shoulder, and then release from the twist. Lean back and free both legs. Take a moment, shake it out. Nice.

And then from here I'll turn and face you. We're gonna find a side stretch, so come into your sukhasana again, your shin to shin. Find a simple side bending over to the right. So, as you're ready, reach your right arm out in line with your hip and as you inhale, reach the left arm up towards the sky. And now, go down through the left hip.

As you reach and lengthen up through that left side body, breath into the rib cage. Can you get a sense of breathing into the left side body? Nice. From here, walk the right fingertips out, bend the elbow and stretch up, out, and over towards your right. Reach through the fingers as you lengthen down through that sit bone.

Breathing. From here you might play with rounding the body forward, kind of feeling that stretching sensation through the back body and the shoulder blade. And you might play with spiraling the heart up, looking up towards that left hand. Nice. Last few moments here.

Breathing into the rib cage. Find a place where the head and neck feel comfortable and connected. If it makes sense, you might come onto the right forearm. Beautiful. As you're ready, take a look down, inhale, reach all the way up, exhale, release.

Take a moment to pause and observe. All right, so in this observation, tracking the results through the body. As you're ready, lean back and switch the cross of your legs, so the opposite shin in front, and kind of nuzzle into your sit bones. And then, reach your left arm out, go down through the right hip and sit bone as you reach up through the arm and then lengthen. Breath wide into the right side body.

Kind of softening that left shoulder blade down the back. Nice. From here, walk the left fingertips out, soften the elbow, stretch up, out, and over to your left. I always think of a rainbow here. (laughs) Rooting through that right hip as you reach through the fingers. And then again, you might play here with rounding the body forward.

Feeling, noticing, exploring that sensation through the shoulder blade and the hip. It might feel nice to begin to play with spiraling the heart up, rotating as you, perhaps, find the hand. Few more moments here. Breathing into this shape. Again, you might come onto the left forearm if it feels inviting.

Feeling that connection down through the right hip. As you're ready, take a look down. On your inhale, reach all the way up with your top right arm and exhale and release. Let your arms rest and just take a moment with the palms open to observe, notice how you feel. And perhaps there's a bit more spaciousness in the mind.

Okay. From here, we're gonna set up for a seated meditation. For me, I like to use two blankets. So, find what works for you and what's comfortable. You might sit up on a bolster, a blanket, a stack of blankets.

Make sure your hips are higher than your heels. Again, a comfortable position for you. It might be sukhasana, it might be padmasana, full lotus. Okay. And so it's this ritual of coming into your seat.

Notice what you do to get comfortable, like for me, it takes some time to kind of begin to feel my sit bones ground a bit. And then a reminder to roll the pelvis forward, so sitting on the front of the sit bones a bit. This quality of lengthening up through the spine. And so, an uplifting quality. That widening through the base of the skull.

So, the essence of lengthening right through the base and then a softening down though the face, through the eyes, the jaw. The shoulders softening and settling down the back. As you begin to approach your seat, notice what you choose to do with your hands. There's many different gestures or mudras. All right, so as you feel the back body lengthen and strong, can you maintain a sense of softness through the lower back, right around the kidneys?

Right? So, this feeling of strength without rigidity. So, there's this feeling of you're supported from within. And as you feel that support up through the spine, that strength through the back body, can you begin to feel, or allow, a sense of the front body softening, like a warmth through the front of the body, through the heart? As you feel that length through the spine, I'll invite you to find someone.

You might think of someone in your life who you have great affection for, or someone or something. It might be an animal, or a small child, or a loved one. Bring them into your awareness. Perhaps there's like a distinct memory. Call or invite that person in.

So, as you feel that length through the back body, that strength and support. As you soften and feel that warmth through the front of the body and the heart, invite that person into your awareness. Allow that feeling tone to wash through the body. Softening, releasing any tension. And then you might release, or relax, that effort or attention.

And now from here, if you were to invite a quality, or qualities, into the body, what would it feel like? So, for me, I'll ask the question, what would it feel like to have a bit more joy, ease, and appreciation in the body? There might be another quality or qualities for you. And rather than thinking about it, the invitation is to experience it through the body. So, what would it feel like in the body to have a bit more joy?

What would it feel like if I had a bit more ease? And this quality of appreciation or gratitude, what would that feel like? Now from here, noticing the sensation through the body. Begin to bring your attention towards your breath. And as you bring your attention towards your breath, as you breath in, you might imagine receiving the inhale rather than sucking it in or making something happen, receiving that inhale and then as you exhale, releasing the breath.

Notice the sensation as you receive the breath and then simply exhale and release the breath. You continue to widen through the base of the skull. And at any point in your seated meditation, you might refer back to the qualities. That quality of joy, ease, relaxation, appreciation, whatever it is. Tap into that stream.

And then for the last few minutes here, you might choose to simply, gradually relax the technique, the breath, and just simply rest here. And I say simply, but it's not so simple (laughs), it's quite advanced. But, at any point if you find yourself on a train, the mind is thinking, jumping around, a super simple technique, come back to the breath. Brings us right back into our physical body, into this moment. As we come towards the end of our practice, and as an experiment, if it was helpful, inhale again into the back body and lengthen.

Feel that uplifting quality and then as you exhale, allowing that person or thing that you love, that you have affection for, that makes you smile, that brings you joy, allow that to wash down, softening, warming the heart, the front body. And you're welcome to stay here. Once you feel ready, gradually bring the palms together at the heart. Namaste. Thank you.

Comments

I had thought I wanted a more vigorous practice this morning but this turned out to be exactly what I needed! I feel nicely focused and refreshed. Thank you, Alana!
Hi Elaine, I'm so glad that you enjoyed the practice. Wishing you a beautiful day. xo Alana
Love the pace. So many yoga videos do not give you enough time to settle into or experience anything.
Hi Wynter, Thank you for dropping in with me! So glad you enjoyed the pace and practice.
Thanks Alana for this wonderful season! :)
Hi Ani, Thank you for being here! I am delighted to know that are practicing together. Please keep me posted on your yoga journey. Best wishes, Alana
Thank you Alana for this wonderful practice and season!
Thank you for tuning IN, Frederic! :)
This was such a profound practice for me. Alana I love your emphasis on comtemplation and your skill in guiding us inward. So looking forward to season 4 now!
Wow, Tiffany. I am so happy to be practicing together on Yoga Anytime! Please keep me posted on your journey. Best wishes, Alana
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