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Season 2 - Episode 5

Air Flow

35 min - Practice
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The air element inspires a quality of growth and expansion. Katie leads us in an energetic flow with a continuous focus on drawing our awareness towards our heart center. She finishes with a sweet, grounding sequence. You will feel open and expansive.
What You'll Need: Mat

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(soft splashing wave) Let's do a practice for the air element. The beautiful advantage of working with air is its quality of expansion, and enthusiasm, and growth. That's why we love to do back bends so much is that they bring us into this place where there's more room and more possibility for growth and change. Although the poses in the sequence might be what we would consider simple poses, what I really encourage you to do is to bring your awareness into the heart over and over again. The lateral body, the heart, and the way that you have sensations, breath, emotion, whatever you find there, just let it be there.

But continually letting our focus be this place of the heart. We're actually going to start standing one our mat. I want you to bring your arms down by your side and just connect to breath. Feel that inhale, you can actually expand into the inhale first, and let the inhale move down your body. Keep that buoyancy in the chest, and then exhale, draw the belly back.

Keep the buoyancy, and then inhale again, and expand the chest first. Let the breath drop down, keep that buoyancy, exhale, draw the belly back, so over and over, we just continue to build the buoyancy of the heart, great. On the next breath in, I want you to inhale, lift your heels off the floor, as you extend your arms, up and out wide, extend in the air, exhale, press the palms towards the ceiling. Breathe in, breathe out, tone the belly, and then back. Remember this is a simple movement, but my consciousness, my awareness, is breathing itself into the heart.

As you breathe out, lower the hands, lower the arms, and let the heals drop back down, at the same speed as the arms. We're going to repeat that. Breathe out, tone the belly back, breathe in, stay big and bright, maybe even pause the breath for just a moment, and then exhale. Release come down, lower the arms at the same speed as the heels touch the earth one more time, inhale, then move. Pause, breathe out.

As you next breathe in, you might want to try just a teeny, tiny, baby pause, on the top of in breath, really feel the mind and the heart. Exhale, lower the arms, and just take a minute, even that that super simple pose, you could already start to feel. There's this life really expanding in the heart, and we're going to work that, this entire practice. Okay, so let's step forward to the front of the mat. Inhale, raise the arms.

Exhale, sweep the arms fold forward, breathe, inhale, half way up. Exhale, step the left foot back. We're going to just simple lunge pose. Inhale, heart draws forward, expand. Exhale, keep your mind moving into the heart as you slightly drop the chin to chest.

Inhale, expand the heart forward. Exhale, chin to chest. One more, inhale, big full breath. Exhale, press back, downward facing dog, and since it's our first downward dog, just feel to bicycle the knees out a little bit, and then the left foot's going to step forward. Inhale, draw the heart forward.

Big full breath, exhale, chin to chest. Inhale, heart draws forward. Mind and the sideways lateral body, exhale, last round. Inhale, exhale press back, downward facing dog. Inhale, come forward, into plank pose.

Exhale, knees, chest chin, or you can chaturanga to the floor. Inhale, come up half way, and do your shalabasana. Exhale, come down. Arms reach back, inhale come up, exhale, come down. Mind and the heart.

Inhale, come up. Exhale, take the thighs off the floor. Extend, extend, extend. Exhale, this time you can plant the palms on the ground as you come down. Inhale, press up, baby cobra, and so you may just be hanging out here.

This is a nice little warmup pose for our back bends. If you can press into it a little more. Come up a little higher, that's fine. Breathe in, chest expands. Exhale, mind and the heart, (slow deep abdominal breathing) and release, come down.

Tuck the toes under, belly lifts, thighs lift, come back, downward facing dog. Find breath, and again, unlike what we did with the fire practice, for example, or the earth and water, here, I want you to concentrate on expanding breath into the heart, the collar bones, even the throat, and moving that breath downward. Exhale, step forward to the front of the mat. It's a little bit different. Inhale, come up halfway.

Exhale, fold forward, reach the arms back behind you. Take the arms overhead a little bit different than our normal yoga three part, breathing from the belly upward. You're actually moving up to down. (deep breath) Great, hands to hips, long nice spine, come all the way up to standing. Exhale (exhaling breath), just feel.

Good, so were going to start to move through a sun solute sequence. It's a little bit different. I'll guide you through it, so I'm going to breathe in, raise the arms. Exhale, sweep the arms back behind you. Clasp the fingers, fold forward.

Release that, inhale, come up halfway. Exhale, step the left foot back. You're in a lunge pose. You can stay here, or inhale sweep the arms up, raise the arms, lean back. Baby back bend, and now here's the fun part.

Mindful of the naval, I'm going to exhale, step forward, fold forward. Inhale, half way up, exhale, fold. Bend the knees, inhale, utkatasana, chair pose. Exhale, hands to heart. Good, inhale, exhale fold forward, and release the fingers.

Inhale, up halfway, exhale fold forward. This time right foot steps back. Inhale, come up, baby back bend. Let's hold for a breath, nice and juicy, and then exhale, mindful of the belly, step forward, fold forward. Inhale, come up half way.

Exhale, fold forward, bend the knees, inhale, utkatasana. Exhale, hands to heart. Good, inhale, raise the arms, exhale, fold forward, sweep the arms back. Inhale, come up half way. Exhale, step the left foot back.

You're in that nice high lunge. Take your time coming in. We're going to hold our breath. Exhale, belly in, and now I can expand and open. Mindful of the naval, step forward, fold forward.

Inhale half way up, exhale fold. Bend the knees, utkatasana, exhale, hands to heart. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.

Inhale, exhale. Bend the knees, utkatasana, exhale, last round. Two more, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. In, exhale. Inhale, and exhale.

In, exhale. In, exhale. Inhale, exhale, right foot back, inhale. Take a breath here. Step forward, full forward.

In, out. Bend the knees, utkatasana, exhale. Beautiful, take a moment to just feel that buoyancy. Stay here, breathe. Exhale, we're going to take the left foot back, bend into the front knee, and I want you to really challenge the bend of the knee.

You want to make sure that the knee's not coming over the ankle in this one, but you can really bring that thigh parallel to the earth. We're going to breathe, inhale, exhale, I'm going to move into the pose. The right hand's going to come to the inside. You can take it to the outside. You can even just bring the palm facing up as you stack on the right side.

That's also fine. Breathe, and now to come out of it's dynamic here, I'm going to reach back through the left fingertip, as I reach forward through the right, pull myself up, straighten the right knee, exhale, stay, inhale, (slow deep abdominal breathing) last round. Exhale, this time we're going to hold it, and if you did that first earth practice with me, you can do that version, where you can plant the palm in. That sometimes feels really nice. You can also do the version where you wrap the right arm back behind you.

Either one's fine, or just stay here. This is a great place to be, and now, as you hold the pose, here's the instruction. I'm going to breathe in, pause the breath, and then breath out, and then the pause, I really want you to concentrate on bringing your attention into the heart. Two more (slow deep abdominal breathing). Pause (slow deep abdominal breathing).

Good, and then come up. Just feel that. Exhale, right foot in, left foot out, dynamic inhale, exhale, and then to come up, I'm going to reach to through the fingertips, reach, reach, reach. Straighten the front knee, and exhale. Breathe, stay (slow deep abdominal breathing), and then inhale.

Good, exhale. Stay in the pose. (slow deep abdominal breathing) Inhale, come up, reach, reach, reach, reach, and last time. This time, stay in the pose. Find the breath.

We're going to do that same thing. I'm going to pause, inhale in, pause. Bigger, grow bigger and more expansive. Breathe out, two more, inhale, and pause, and in the pause, feel the way the pranayama, your connection to the heart energy expands the body. One more (deep breath).

Pause, in the pause grow and bow the right side waist, and then reach through, inhale, come up. Exhale, let's just step forward to the front of the mat, so you can feel that generative growth capacity of this type of pranayama. You might feel pulse and light. Good, right foot forward. We're going to do the same thing.

Left foot steps back, this time the right knee's straight, inhale here, exhale into the pose, and this time instead of moving up and down, in and out, what I'd like for you to do is inhale, extend the left arm into the air, exhale, draw the arm over the ear. Inhale here, and now exhale, bend the left elbow, grow and bow the left sideways, so we're going to repeat that. Inhale (deep breath) exhale (deep breath). Mind in the heart, lateral body. Exhale, mind and the heart, lateral body.

Last time, inhale in, now stay here, steady the body, steady the mind, inhale, pause the breath, just for a moment, and really feel pranayama grow, and bow the left side waist. Two more. (slow deep abdominal breathing). Good, and now reach through the left fingertip, reach through the right. Come all the way up, right foot in, left foot points out.

Inhale, exhale. Take your time. (slow deep abdominal breathing). Right arm draws over the ear. Bow the waist, as you bend the elbow, exhale.

(slow deep abdominal breathing) Good, now steady the body. Inhale, mind the right side waist, pause the breath in, bow. (slow deep abdominal breathing) Great, to come out, first were going to drop that right arm. I'm going to reach, reach, reach, reach. Left arm, reach, reach in the opposite direction, and step forward, front of the mat.

Again, I'm just aware. Wow, I'm huge now. Feel that bigness. I am getting distance between what feels like my obstacles, and the problems in my life, and what's actually real, so feel if there's a little more playing room there. Inhale here, exhale.

Left foot steps back. You're going to come into warrior one, so your hips are facing forward. Inhale, raise the arms, exhale, we're going to bend the elbows for a count of four. Sut, sut, sut, sut. Inhale, raise the arms, count of four, (slow deep abdominal breathing) and now pause, exhale, bend the elbows, so just a teeny, tiny, baby pause on the inhale.

Inhale in sut, inhale in, exhale, count of four, inhale in, and pause. In the pause, maybe, maybe back bend a little more, and you'll notice, I'm not doing this in my head, I'm doing it in my heart, the center of air. Last time. In, out, inhale and pause. Exhale, come back through center, and just take a minute, and just feel this.

Let that expansive quality integrate, and right foot in, left foot out, and I hope what you're feeling is you don't have to do crazy movements to generate a ton of energy in your body, and to get really strong. Inhale, exhale, inhale, pause. Exhale, in, exhale. Inhale and pause. Exhale.

Last round, in, out. Belly in, big breath. Mind in the sideways heart. Pause, exhale, release come back through center, and again, just feel. Let your mind merge with the sensations in the heart, and notice how this is different than maybe some of the other practices we've done together.

Good, okay, step forward to the front of the mat, super, simple, ardha chandrasana here, so I'm going to bend into that right knee, lower the arms down. The left heel's going to lift up. Again, I can lift the foot off the floor, hover, as I extend the left leg into the air, and the right hand walks forward, more ore less, my thumb is around that distance in front of my pinky toe, of about maybe an arms length, and then from here, I can bend the knee, and that helps me access belly strength, and then from there, I radiate out. Great, so I'm still in my belly. My mind is in my legs, mind is in the belly.

When I feel that stability there, then I start to open up, extend the arm into the air, and maybe draw it over the ear, and if you want to continue here with this practice, inhale in, and pause. It's a little more challenging. (slow deep abdominal breathing) Good, let's go ahead and press back downward dog, and just feel the difference between the left and the right. (slow deep abdominal breathing) Breath comes back to even steady, one-to-one. Left foot steps forward.

We're in this nice position here, again, bend in the left knee. I hover, hover, hover, squeeze into the belly. This left hand, don't think it too much. It's just intuitive. It walks out in front of you, and then from there, I radiate and push from the belly.

I find that stability through the right leg. My mind is still in my belly. Belly, leg, belly, leg, belly, leg, and that feels super steady. I can start to move into my lateral body. Crown reaches in the opposite direction, and then the arm will just lift, because it's just obvious, right, and then maybe that happens.

Arm draws over the ear. Once you're here, if you're steady, practice these little tiny pauses on the inhale, and in the pause grow bigger even here in these challenging moments. (slow deep abdominal breathing) Good, and press back, downward facing dog. (slow deep abdominal breathing) Find even, steady, breath here. (slow deep abdominal breathing) Good, bend into the knees.

Bring the knees wide, exhale press back to child's pose. Take a little break. (slow deep abdominal breathing) Good, downward facing dog, and the right foot's going to step through. Okay, lunge, pose. We've been here before in our sun salutes, Now what I'd like you to do is take your left knee to the floor.

Sometimes it's nice to just roll the mat to get a little padding here. You don't have to do it if you don't need it. You can also place a blanket under the knee, if that's too intense. I'm really going to commit to the top of the left foot, pushing down in the ground, and if I can push that left foot down, it really does take the pressure off the knee, so this may be the pose where I'm hanging out, and just feeling all this nice energy, waking up in the groins. If you want, then you can start to walk the hands to the top of the right side, and again, I'm letting this be a lunge.

I'm deepening here, back bending slightly. That can be where you hang out, or you can start to bend into that left knee, reach back, grab, hold for the top of the left foot. That might be where you hang out, beautiful back bend, or both hands reach back. Wherever you are, remember this breath practice we've been doing the entire class. Inhale, baby pause.

(slow deep abdominal breathing) Good, and take your time to come out. Press back, downward dog. Feel that energetic residue. What is happening? Left foot steps forward, after the pose is over, is really so interesting, right?

Almost more than what's happening in the pose. We'll move to the other side. Remember, you can take this first variation, you can even take a variation, where your hand's on the ground, and then if you'd like, you can reach back, grab for the foot, with one or both hands. Once I find that physical place, I can settle in, and then body almost is secondary to this commitment to making the asana a form of doing pranayama, so inhale in, a little pause, and in the pause, I surrender more. I take more in through letting go.

(slow deep abdominal breathing) Okay, take your time, come out, aware of the belly. Press back, downward facing dog. Nice long hold. If you want to walk your feet a little wider, a nice adjustment from all that back bending, so from downward facing dog, just simple transition here, drop the knees to the floor. We're going to roll over onto our back.

Bend the knees, lay down. Take a breath, and then slowly inhale. Start to lift the buttocks, and then walk the upper arm bones towards one another, and rather than squeezing your shoulder blades together, think about pushing the upper arm bones downward. Again, you're in this really beautiful pose, that's not super complicated, but enables me really to access the heart, so breathe in and pause, and breathe out. Just two more of those, just really sweet simple pauses.

No big effort here. Consciousness, mind, moving into the space of air, that which brings about change, and enthusiasm, and growth, and expansion, and then exhale, come down. All right yogis, roll over onto your belly, and then we're going to go back to where I was before, right up to plank pose, so even though we're in our air class, I want you to access some of your fire energy again. Pull the belly up, pull the tops of the thighs, reach the crown forward, and find even breath. (slow deep abdominal breathing) Exhale, come down.

Take a moment, feel. Then we're going to bend into our knees, reach back, grab for the tops of your feet. Some of you will grab for your ankles, that's fine. I'm going to rock a little, from side to side, and rather than moving from your heart in your head, I want you to think about moving from your roots in your legs, so push the heels back. Press those shin bones back, and that's just going to lift you up, and then again, same practice.

Inhale in, slight pause, and let the pause deepen you into the pose. (slow deep abdominal breathing) exhale, come down. (slow deep abdominal breathing) Good, relax, and I want you just to feel that, just as we did in shoulder stand. If you don't do this pose often, sometimes you may feel sensation here, and rather than running from it, just try to be with it a little bit, so we're going to do that pose one more time, and this time we're going to use sound to go deeper into the pose, so I'm going to inhale, come up. Exhale, chant.

Om. Inhale, (deep breath). Om. Inhale, (deep breath). Om.

Inhale, pause. Exhale, come down. Hallelujah. All right, and feel the space of your heart, and let all of your being melt into those sensations, whatever emotion arises, just let it milk out of you. Turn the head to the other side.

Rest. (slow deep abdominal breathing) Good. All right guys, roll over onto your back, and we'll move into a little counter pose for all of that back bending. I just want you to push the heels of your palms into that nice little fleshy mound right underneath the groins. You're just going to push, push, push.

It should feel really nice on your lower back. Belly's pressing slightly down into the floor, and then from here, you can keep a little bit of that pressure happening, L-shape the legs, and it's like this nice, big, stabilizing weight, is now pressing through the sacrum. (slow deep abdominal breathing) Good, bend into the knees. Bring the knees wide. Bring the soles of the feet together, and just let the breath really adjust, and enjoy all of this new space you've created through such simple practice, but really profound, when we can use focus and breath to move into the air, and the pranayama elements.

(slow deep abdominal breathing) Really explore right now, this cave of your heart. How does it feel inside there? (slow deep abdominal breathing) Good, draw the knees in, and I stack the left thigh on top of the right. Some of you can take that double bind. It's not necessary though.

Touch the right toes down, and you're just going to shimmy, the hips over to the left. Come into a little line twist. (slow deep abdominal breathing) Good, inhale, come up. Exhale, release. Come back through center.

Again, push into those little creases there in the upper thighs. Lengthen the lower back, and exhale, the right thigh crosses on top of the left. I touch down. I shimmy over, hug it back in, and then the arms can come out wide, or just like cactus shape, and remember I'm trying t keep my upper body grounded, as I move into the twist, so this right shoulder, you can see in me wants to pop up. I'd rather you not go as deep in the twist, but to keep that grounding down.

(slow deep abdominal breathing) Good, inhale, release. Exhale, and grab hold of the back of one thigh. Come all the way up, and we're going to turn around, have our feet facing forward, and what I'd like for you to do is just a little bit of that opposite energy that we've been running through this class, which is upward expansive. Inward, but upward. Now we're going to start to move it downward, and outward, so paschimottanasana.

Grab hold of the big toes, or the shinbones, inhale, come up half way, exhale, fold forward. Inhale, up halfway, exhale, fold forward. This time hold the pose, letting your breath come back to an even flow. Calming, cooling, some of that wild air energy downward. (slow deep abdominal breathing) Inhale, come up.

Exhale, bend the knees. Bring the soles of the feet together, and I'm going to open it up a little bit, so my sitz bones are on the ground. Clasp hold of the feet, so for some bodies, this is my forward bend. Actually, for some bodies, you may even want to bring your hands back behind you, if you're a very strong person. You may be more strong than flexible, so you might want to being the hand behind.

Then from here, breathing, inhale, breathing, exhale, fold forward. (slow deep abdominal breathing) Go ahead, and take your time, breathe in. Come up, and exhale. We're going to go ahead, and lay down on the mat for shavasana. If there's any little last adjustment here before you move in, feel free to do that, and then lower the legs, and really get the sense that I can surrender all this air, all the movement, change, growth, expansion.

I can just give it right back down into the ground, surrender into the pull of gravity. Gravity, softening any remaining tension, or tightness in the body, and feel for a few minutes the boundary of the skin softened as you merge with that infinite one. The air and space that connect all of us. I want you to feel free to just soak in this expansion, growth of air, but when you feel ready to come out, you can, drawing the knees to chest, we're going to rock to the right, and make our way back up to a seat. All right yogis, have a blessed day, enjoy your new expanded self.

Adios Namaste.

Comments

I get a peek of what you're doing and I love you for it. Xo thank you
Hi Lydia! Awwww thank yoU!
Terrible cueing
Dearest Nancy, thank you for being here. Please can you help us understand your experience more clearly so we can produce more effective content. With Gratitude, Kira and Alana
1 person likes this.
Thank you Katie, I really truly enjoy your practices. You're a radiant being!
1 person likes this.
This was such a beautiful practice to start my morning. My whole body feels love. Especially loved the chest opening sun salute. Wished we could've held the final legs-crossed, laying side twist at the end longer... felt so good I didn't want to move. :)
1 person likes this.
thanks!
1 person likes this.
What a wonderful practice! Thank you so very much. I'm flying cross-country with my two kids today, and I haven't even packed yet! I decided I need some great yoga to start my day so that I'll live in a space of peace and calm as we prepare and then travel. This was perfect. I can't wait to do this with you again!
Thank you for this focus on heart/breath. I needed this deep and simple practice.
Love this practice so much. Katie you are such a wonderful teacher 💫

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