The Vinyasa Show Artwork
Season 4 - Episode 6

Expansive Heart and Hips

50 min - Practice


We begin our practice on the floor with breath awareness, and then move towards a creative standing flow with an emphasis on creating space around the heart, thighs, and hips, peaking with Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (King Pigeon Pose). You will feel grounded and expansive.
What You'll Need: Mat, Strap

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(waves crashing) Welcome back, we're gonna start this creative flow on our backs, and we're gonna eventually make our way all the way to king pigeon pose, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, or a variation or a modification of it. Let's go ahead and start on our backs. So as you lower down, bring the bottoms of the feet together, Supta Baddha Konasana, and just let gravity happen with the legs, right. Any knee pain or any discomfort, you can always use a block to support your legs. And then let the hands fall where they will, maybe palms up, maybe palms down, maybe one hand on the heart, one on the belly.

Right now as we start to dive in to our practice bringing in the four rules to a mindful garden. And so I learned these from Karen Maezen Miller. She's a Buddhist educator who has a hundred year old garden. And her hundred year old garden she has schoolchildren come to visit, and when they arrive, she shares with them four rules. One, be kind, because every opportunity is an opportunity to be kind.

And this really resonates for me on the mat in those moments when I'm facing resistance, right. Why not approach those moments with more kindness. And rule number two, no throwing rocks. Oh, you know for schoolchildren that's pretty rough. No throwing rocks.

So thinking this more when we're on our mat and even off our mat, the self-criticisms, the self-doubts, the judgments. So letting those go. No throwing rocks. And rule number three, no running. Right, so even if we're in a Vinyasa class and we're moving one breath, per movement, right, slowing it down.

Not rushing, not filling up, thinking about it in our life, like how often when we finally let something go, and we open up space, something magical comes in. So no running, no filling up. Rule number four, which is my favorite, personal favorite, pay attention. Simply, simply pay attention. Because every opportunity here that we have to pay attention.

It's the most concrete aspect of love that we can show our self or show another. So simply paying attention. So with that, be kind, no throwing rocks, no running, and simply paying attention. So we come in to a four-part breath, so an inhale for four, six, eight, 10-count, find a comfortable place. At the top of your inhale, hold for half of the amount of the time of the inhale.

Holding a Kumbhaka. And you exhale again for four, six, eight, 10-count, a comfortable amount. And at the bottom, the Kumbhaka, the retention, hold again for half of the amount of time as the exhale. So just a few rounds here. And if we find any restriction in the throat just letting your breath go and then coming back in.

And just slowly transition right into your Ujjayi Pranayama. So letting the inhale, the Puraka, roll right into the exhale, the Recaka. You might notice, for you, you take a slight pause at the top and bottom. Draw the legs in, you can use your hands, feet hip distance apart. Beginning to move in flow, with bridge here, in bridge pose here.

Root through the feet on inhale, lift the pubic bone, lift the heart, let the arms come up overhead. Just starting to tap in to the upper back, exhale, roll it down. So just continue this with your breath time, your inhales, to lift, expand, explore. And your exhales slowly rolling down. And still feeling a space behind the back of the neck.

Slowly drawing the knees in towards the chest. And begin to rock and roll, forward and back on the spine. Right, so if this doesn't feel good, go ahead and just press off to the side to come all the way up. We're gonna make our way into a forward fold, standing up. To a rag doll, grab opposite elbows and just fold over.

Just gonna make my way to the top of the mat. Letting your head go. You can find a little softness in the knees. Finding a softness through the belly, letting the head go, letting the shoulders go, so here just, you know, in most of our poses we're taking the shoulders lightly away from the ears, so here just let 'em fall towards the ears. Mmm and exhale, softly releasing the hands down.

Inhale, come halfway up, place the palms, step back, plank pose. And option Chaturanga or moving to the floor. Inhale, upward or a low cobra. Exhale, back downward-facing. And on an inhale, take the right leg up, and just pause, press the left thigh back.

As you lift the right leg, you can play with height and then soften the right hip down. Exhale, near-nose, draw it in. Place the foot down, warrior 1, we're gonna start to move through a bit of a repetitive flow. On an exhale, lift the back heel, bend the back knee, let the hands sweep down behind, just nice and slow. Inhale, lift the chest, lengthen through the back leg.

Your exhale, palms come down, Chaturanga or plank. Right, so no running, nice and slow. Exhale, hips lift, take it up and back. As you arrive, inhale, left leg lifts. Take an extra moment here to lift the leg a little higher.

Take the right thigh back. Exhale, knee to nose. Place the foot down, Virabhadrasana, arms sweep up. Exhale, let the hands come down, reach behind, lift onto the ball of the back foot, bend the knee. Inhale, lift, lengthen, pause.

Exhale, palms down, Chaturanga. Two more times, each side. Exhale, back. Inhale, right leg. Exhale, knee in.

Warrior 1, on the inhale, rise up. Exhale, palms down, lift the back heel, bend. Interlace, lengthen, extend through the back leg. Exhale. Inhale.

Exhale back Adho Mukha. Inhale, left leg up. Exhale, knee in. Place the foot, warrior 1, press the outer edge of the back foot down as you rise up. Exhale, hands down.

Interlace, inhale, pause. Exhale. Chaturanga or high plank to the floor or feel free to skip and go right back to downward-facing dog. Exhale. One more each side.

Inhale, right leg. Exhale, knee in. Place the foot down, warrior 1, arms sweep up. Exhale, hands down by the side, bend the back knee. Interlace, inhale.

Exhale, palms down, Chaturanga. Option to the floor. Inhale, upward or low cobra. Exhale, back. Last one, left leg lift.

Exhale, knee in, take a sacred slow pause. Place the foot, warrior 1. Exhale, bend the back knee, lift the back heel, interlace, extend on the in. Exhale. Chaturanga.

Inhale. Exhale, hips lift, Adho Mukha Svanasana. On your next inhale, come forward into plank pose, slow lower option of knees or all the way down. Take the right arm out to the side, straight out. Turn your right ear in, bend the left knee, start to roll onto the right side.

So your left knee's gonna go up and the right ear, just let the head get heavy. So we're starting to tap in to the right shoulder. Slowly come back to center. As we unpack that pose, bring both hands by the shoulders, little bit lower, inhale, lift up, Bhujangasana. And just pause.

Exhale, lower down. Left arm out to the side. Bend the right knee, bring the left ear down, and slowly roll it onto the left side. And so tuning in, listening to your body, checking in that this is okay on the left shoulder. You can always back it off.

Slowly unpacking the pose, coming back to your belly. Find neutral. Inhale, rise up, Bhujangasana again, pause here, low cobra. Exhale, slowly lower it down. Pressing the palms, lift up, upward-facing dog.

And just take a few breaths here. Shoulders roll back, heart sweeps through. Lift the hips, take it back, downward-facing dog. On an inhale, take the right leg up. Exhale, knee to nose.

Place the foot down, warrior 1, so lifting up as we did in that first rhythm and repetition. Exhale, palms down, lift on the back heel, bend the knee. Interlace, lift the chest. Exhale, come forward, pause here. Shift, root into that right foot, warrior 3.

Good, pause, lift the left inner thigh up, root into the right foot. Soft step back, high crescent lunge, back heel stays lifted. Then open it up, warrior 2, back heel drops down, arms open. On an inhale, draw the fingertips in towards the heart. Exhale, press.

So just playing with this light movement with your breath, inhale. And then exhale, open. One more. Light through the eyes, inhale. Exhale.

Take the right palm up, lift it up, go back, and then lengthen through the right leg. Inhale, come up halfway here, toe-heel the back foot forward. Exhale, shift forward like you're trying to reach for something, and just pause. So setting up with Utthita Trikonasana. Exhale, right hand down, could be to the shin, floor, or block, left arm reaches up.

So engage the right thigh, spin it to the right. A little softness behind the right knee. And then, depending how the neck feels, you can tuck the chin and start to take the gaze up towards the left thumb. Good, left hand back to the hip. Gaze down, shift forward, right into Ardha Chandrasana, so the right hand might come about a foot and a half in front of the pinkie toe.

You might play with a bit of a hover. And left arm can lift, right, if you're playing with a hover, this right hand can come up towards the heart. Soft step back, warrior 2. Right into reverse. Then from here, take it into a lunge twist, so lift the back heel, left hand comes down, left hip comes around.

Exhale, left knee, shin down, arms sweep up, Anjaneyasana. And pause. Right, so arms reach up, and then exhale, take the arms back behind. From here, drag the right heel back, left thigh forward, so creating this scissoring action. Good, softly release the hands down, shift the hips back, Ardha Hanumanasana.

Toes lift in, right hip draws back. Nice, and then slide forward into a runner's lunge. Place the palms, step back, Chaturanga, moving all the way through. Inhale. Exhale, take it back.

On an inhale, left leg lifts. Exhale, knee in. Place the foot down, warrior 1, arms sweep up, so again, just as we started out in the first series. Exhale, arms down, bend the back knee, lift the back heel. Inhale, lengthen.

Exhale, come halfway, and pause. Root through the left foot, shift forward. Right leg lifts. So trying to find a little bit of lightness through that left hip. Good, soft step back, high crescent lunge, back heel lifts, and then open it up, warrior 2.

On an inhale, fingertips come in towards the heart. Exhale, open. Inhale. Exhale. One more, in.

Ex, as you arrive, left home lifts up, take it up and back. Find that reach, and then lengthen through the left leg. Inhale, come up halfway, toe-heel this back foot in, 'bout six inches. Slide forward halfway, like you're reaching for something. So hips shift back, left thigh spins left so the knee is right over the middle toe.

Exhale, left hand down, right arm up, Utthita Trikonasana. Right, so check in with the shoulders. Kinda wanna do their own thing. See if you can just lightly, lightly encourage them down. And then depending how the neck feels, can either take the gaze neutral, up, if it just doesn't feel right, you can also take it down towards your big toe.

Right hand to the hip, soften the front knee, shift it forward into Ardha Chandrasana, so you can, again, take left hand to the floor, or you can play with the hover. Flex the left foot, flex the right foot, like you're trying to kick through the wall behind you. Soft step back, warrior 2. Right into reverse. Playing with lunge twist, right hand down, back heel lifts to bring the right hip forward.

And then on an exhale, back knee and shin down, arms sweep up, Anjaneyasana. Exhale, let the hands sweep down behind you. And just interlace. Taking the crown back, so not just letting the head go, keeping extension through the back of the neck. Good, slowly release the hands, come on back forward, take it through your transition.

Might be the floor, might be right back or Chaturanga. Bring it back, downward-facing dog. So one more time through, just adding a bind in some of those poses. Right, so choosing to do that or not. On an inhale, right leg lifts.

Exhale, knee in. Place the foot down, warrior 1, arms sweep up. Exhale, hands down, lift the back heel, interlace. Your inhale rises up. Exhale, halfway.

Shift, warrior 3, with this bind of the hands. And just pause for an extra moment, get a little lighter through the right hip. Soft step back, high crescent lunge. Open up, warrior 2, this time skipping a little heart touch, and right into reverse. Lengthen through the right leg.

Still reach back. Come up halfway, toe-heel six inches a bit forward, and then shift, right, again like you're trying to reach for something. On an exhale, right hand down, left arm up. So choice to stay here, or start to take the thumb down, reaching back, maybe you can grab hold of the right thigh. And chin can tuck, just taking a slight bend.

Slight bind. Good, option of keeping this bind to release and soften the right knee, shift it forward Ardha Chandrasana, right hand can come 'bout a foot and a half in front. Flex through the left foot. Good, and then a soft step back, whoop, releasing the bind. Open up, warrior 2.

Right into reverse. Lunge twist, so lift the back heel, left hand comes down, right arm up. Exhale, back knee and shin down, arms sweep up, Anjaneyasana. So this time, bend the right elbow, take it behind, Gomukhasana arms, left arm comes up. So maybe the head could go back a bit, maybe the chest lifts.

Good, two more breaths. Releasing the arms, taking 'em up. Exhale, hands come down. Shift the hips back, Ardha Hanumanasana. Option to stay here or moving into full Hanumanasana.

And just taking five breaths here. So transition and coming back up into our lunge. Shift the hips, place the palms, step back, plank to Chaturanga. Inhale, upward to low cobra. Exhale, back.

Left side, last one, inhale, left leg lifts. Exhale, knee in, draw the bellybutton towards the spine. Place the foot down, warrior 1. Exhale, hands, bend the back knee. Interlace.

Exhale, come over the thigh, root into the left leg, left foot, shift forward, warrior 3. Soft step back, high crescent, release the bind, arms come up. Open up, warrior 2. This time, right into reverse. Taking it all the way, left leg long.

Come up, toe-heel the back foot, right hand to the hip, shift forward like you're reaching for something. Spin the left thigh towards your left. And then lower down. So again choosing here, or starting to take the right hand behind to the left thigh. Nice, take the gaze down towards the big toe, soften the left knee, shift it into Ardha Chandrasana, left hand can come about a foot and a half in front of the left pinkie.

Toe, flex the right foot. So with your gaze, maybe it's neutral, maybe it starts to roll up. But see if you can see your right toes out of your peripheral vision. With control stepping back, warrior 2. Release the bind.

Inhale, right into reverse. Into a lunge twist, right hand down, back heel lifts. Exhale, right knee and shin down, arms sweep up, Anjaneyasana. So this time the right elbow stays up, left arm down. So finding this play of lengthening.

Right, and softening. Just another three breaths. And release the hands. Then come down, shift the hips back, so choice of Ardha Hanumanasana or more of an all the way into full Hanumanasana. Drawing the right hip forward.

Checking that the back toes are going straight back. And then with control, coming back into a runner's lunge. And moving through your transition, choosing either to step back into downward-facing dog, moving towards the floor, or Chaturanga. Inhaling upward or low cobra. Exhaling, back.

On an inhale, taking the right leg up. Bend the right knee, shift forward, and drop back into wild things, so the pubic bone lifts, heart lifts, right arm lifts. And on an exhale, you're gonna come down onto the left outer thigh, right hand kind of just hangs out right here. So you're a little off your mat. We're gonna play four rounds of lifting with breath into wild thing, and on the fourth one, holding and choice of moving into a back bend or just holding right there.

So an inhale, lift. And your exhale, lower back down. So move with your breath, it might be slower, it might be quicker than mine. In. Good, three.

It's the fourth one, choosing holding here, or for some, bringing the feet in, soften the left elbow, stepping back. Full wheel. And just two more breaths. And making your transition safely back over, downward-facing dog. Left leg reaches up.

Stack left hip on right, open it up. Shift forward, drop back, wild thing. And exhale, lower down. Right leg down and just, haaa, hang out for a moment. Like you're chitchattin' on the beach.

Then on an inhale, rise up, four times. And slowly lower. And you can play with lifting on the ball of the left foot. You can also play with keeping the left foot flat. Two more.

Good, then last one. Option to stay here, be sure to bring the feet in, move it all the way back in, just a few breaths. Good and with control, start to bring the right hand back around, left arm comes up and over, meet in downward-facing dog. From here, slowly bring the right knee forward, as if you're gonna set up for pigeon pose, right. And then reach for your strap.

You're gonna actually bring the left foot forward. So with your strap, you're gonna create a yoga sandal, yogi sandal, right, you're gonna take equidistance on each side, wrap around the heel. And then, take it through your big toe and your second toe. And then come back around. So you've got this little sandal-looking thing.

So we're gonna take the left leg back around, and as we do, we're gonna try to line up the left hip and left knee. And then the right knee is gonna be in line with the right hip. And then the right shin can just stay kind of on a diagonal, with the heel back towards the left hip. So starting to reach the left leg back. So from here, just like we do when we do pigeon and we go down, but we're staying up, we're taking the right hip back, the left hip's coming forward.

And then as we bend the left knee, we're gonna start to walk the left hand as close as we can. And then you start to draw it in, so the thing to be careful of here is the left shoulder. It can get a little cattywampus, so you need to set it, draw it down, draw the left elbow in, and take it up. So now hips are forward, chest is forward. Right hand comes behind, so you might play with the strap, for some you might be able to get the toes.

So here, it's not about getting the foot to the head. We wanna kick away, create space, so if you can kick the foot away, take the elbows up, and just pause. So depending how the neck feels, you can take the gaze up. Elbows reach up. Hips start to lift.

Softly, comin' on up. Again just be gentle on the shoulders. Let the leg go. And then take off your yogi sandal. Slide it off to the side, and we'll meet back in downward-facing dog.

Just to neutralize. And from here, taking the left leg, take it up and back. Bring the left knee all the way in towards the left wrist. And again keep the shin on a diagonal. Bring the right foot around, grab your strap.

Create a yogi sandal, so around the heel, between your two toes, middle, I'm sorry, your second toe and your big toe. And then take the right leg behind, so we're aiming for, again, right hip, right knee in a line. Take a moment to use your back toes to kind of curl under and readjust. Hips come forward. And just settle for a moment.

Bend the right knee. Reach on back. From here, as you reach back, you're gonna bring the right elbow in towards your side. See if you can keep the hands as close as you can to the foot, but if it slides, that's okay. Give yourself some space.

Elbows up. And then maybe the left can join. And you can work your hands down the strap. Hmm, and this is my more stable side. So maybe they touch the feet, maybe not, it's not a big deal.

That's why we have the strap. Elbows up. And just breathe. There's a kick back with the right foot, just to create space. And try to soften through the eyes, the jaw.

Try and find that scooping of the armpit, so inner upper arms spin back, elbows up. And then softly releasing. And just taking off the yogi sandal. Take your strap out to the side. Palms come down, and meet back in downward-facing dog.

So take the feet a little wider towards the edge of your mat and just rock side to side. Just kinda get into the hips a little bit. So bringing the right knee towards the right wrist. Setting up this time for pigeon pose, taking the chest forward, so we've done this a lot of back bending, lifting, when we moved into full Eka Pada Rajakapotasana. So now, starting to lower down, just start on the forearms, right, breathe a little bit into the back.

And you can take the right shin can be anywhere from parallel to about halfway back, but not forcing on the knee, so any knee pain come on out and come on to your back. And so option, you can start to lower down onto the chest, onto the forehead. And just taking three more breaths here. See if you can just soften through the low back. Through the shoulders.

Let go of any gripping. And when you're ready, press the palms, you're gonna lift up, halfway, bring the left foot all the way around. So setting up for double pigeon, stacking the right shin on top of the left. So trying to line up your knees and heels. And it might look like this, and that's okay.

You can stack blocks or something under here to protect the knee to kinda hang out. For some, it might lower down. Start with turning the finger pads behind you just to lift the chest, so you can stay right here, or you can start to fold forward. If you fold forward and all of a sudden it's chssshhh, you start to round in, back up a bit. Or if it's available you can come forward onto the forearms.

And I like to play here, with just the breath of bringing my heart forward. And trying to soften through the hands. Really letting it slow down. Bringing in rule number four, simply paying attention. It's like that combination, paying attention, and no throwing rocks, combined is like the practice of Swadyaya, the study of when by oneself.

Noticing, without having an opinion, without criticizing, without judgments. Okay, when you're ready, lifting the chest. Just gonna simply cross the feet, bring the palms down, and just step right back into downward-facing dog. Take a moment to press the thighs back. And then when you're ready, bring the left knee towards the left wrist, setting up for pigeon pose on the left.

So start by drawing this right hip down and forward. Left hip back. And give a light flex to the left foot and slowly lower. Maybe it's right here on the forearms. Maybe it's all the way down.

The beautiful thing about yoga postures and asanas is there's always something else. So not getting so caught up in the fact of like, "Our shapes need to look like something." They're simply containers for us to do our work. To observe, to notice. To practice what we do when we feel resistance. Just two more breaths, keep softening.

Slowly rising up, and as you do you're gonna bring the right leg all the way around. Stack the right shin on the left. Start out with finger pads behind you, lifting the chest. And keep the feet flexed, line 'em up, and then maybe it's starting to move forward. And again finding that place where you can bring the heart forward.

Maybe it's bringing forearms down, maybe for some you can go all the way down, just find that place that you can sustain. And for me, I really bring my awareness right here to my back, trying to lift my heart, lengthen. For some the awareness sensation might be in the hips, just trying to breathe in. And just three more breaths. Good, and softly lifting up.

Sliding on back, finishing here we'll take Shirshasana, headstand, which can be really nice when you're playing with back bends, just to give a full release through the low back. So either, coming into the full pose or you can also come into the prep pose. So taking a moment to line up your elbows, interlace the hands, press the outer wrists down, root the forearms down, and then start to bring the crown down. And the back of the head lightly, lightly touches the thumbs, so you're aiming maybe the center of the crown, but that's a little more advanced, it might be closer to the hairline in the beginning. Toes curl under.

So option, you could stay right here, as if you're in downward-facing dog from the shoulders to the heels. For those who wanna move in full, you can take one leg up, or both. And start to take the toes up. We'll just stay here for about 10 breaths. Feeling a press, outer wrists down.

Forearms press. Shoulders just lightly, lightly lift away from the Earth. Torso lengthens. Right in the hips, there's a light lift to the hips, which means the hips actually start to come down towards the Earth a bit. Energy through the legs, streaming up the inseams of your legs.

And again, go through that mantra again, outer wrists down, forearms pressed, shoulders lift. So that's your base. Press. Just taking about four more breaths, still finding that lift, that lightness. If you feel shaky at all, definitely come down.

It's not a place that you wanna fall out of. And then coming either all the way down, or for some you can choose to stay halfway. And just take a few breaths right here. And then lowering all the way down. Slide the toes back, come down on the knees, slide the hips back, child's pose.

And then press, right at the hairline, into the Earth to create a little release through the neck. So when we're first learning Shirshasana headstand, it's really the majority of the weight's in our arms. And after a long time practicing, long, long, long time, the ratio shifts, but that's years, years, years, decades. And there's no need to rush into that. Good and when you feel that release in the back of the neck.

Good, slowly rise up. We're gonna come onto our bum for Pashimottanasana. Feeling the sit bones reach and root. Feeling the hips lift. And then start with the fingertips behind you just to find that chest lift.

And then keep it soft as you walk forward. Just bowing into yourself. And find a place that you can sustain. Sometimes it's nice to take the hands across the shins, if you're in that in-between place, or you can just let the head go. If you need to come up a little higher, you can stack the fists.

For some, you can start to take the hands towards the feet. You can just give 'em a little encouragement, drawing the outer edges, the pinkie sides of the feet, back. Just a few more rounds of breath here, but playing with the breath, see if you can get the whole inhale, all the way in. Sometimes I can play and create some space between the ribs. On your exhales, really see if you can relax into them.

When you're ready, slowly rising up. You're gonna bend your knees, lower it down slowly. And coming into our final pose, Shavasana. So letting the head go. Letting the feet just, fall out to the side.

Just settle in, settle in to yourself. Slowly starting to tune back into your breath. And choosing if you need a longer Shavasana, please feel free to stay here. And slowly starting to bring a little movement to the body. And in your own time, making your way onto your right side.

And joining me for a seat. Keeping the eyes closed down. And the hands to the heart. And tucking the chin lightly. So remembering at any time you can bring in the four rules to a mindful garden.

Doesn't just have to be on your yoga mat. Being kind, no throwing rocks, no running, simply paying attention. They're four easy rules we can bring in to our worlds. Thank you so much for sharing your practice with me. I look forward to the next time, namaste.


What a beautiful, gracious, delightful class. LOVE this one.
2 people like this.
Nice nice nice!
1 person likes this.
Brenda, yet again this is a truly wonderful class! Thank you so much for sharing your expertise and creativity with us. I will definitely be doing this class again soon! Namaste xx
1 person likes this.
Love these classes ...wish there were a couple more that were just a bit longer ...75 min would be great your teaching Brenda
1 person likes this.
2 people like this.
My new favorite...I say that when I take everyone of your classes. But this one really is! Thanks.
2 people like this.
Thank you Brenda! That was a great one. I will be able to practice that one for years.
1 person likes this.
Thanks very much Brenda! It was a great practice for me!
1 person likes this.
Hi Brenda. Today was my second practice with this video. I feel great about what I did! Thanks.
1 person likes this.
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