(waves crashing) Namaste. I'd like to share a practice that I do every morning, to sort of an appetizer, if you will, it's a pre-practice to get me in my body, in my experience, so that I can move into asana practice without it feeling so much like it's exercise with yoga shapes. So the way I start is in a comfortable position, you can start cross-legged if that works for you, or bring your feet behind you and sit on a block, whatever will feel as though you could move down into your sitting bones and rise up through the crown of your head so that you have as much opening and length in the front body as you do in the back body. And then just gently release your hands to your thighs, and close your eyes. And just as we settle in, begin to notice your body, notice the connection on the floor, your sitting bones moving down into the earth, into your support.
Feeling a sense of heaviness of the bones. Depending on how you're sitting, you may feel the tops of your thighs supported, the outside of your knees and your ankles, or even the tops of your shins, feeling that sense of moving and grounding. I think of this as the tadasana of my pose, and out of this sense of stability and ground, I allow my spine to feel its length, to feel its freedom and its openness. And then I love to begin with just a sense of inner exploration, sort of an inner inventory, if you will. How are my shoulders doing today, how's my neck, my jaw, are my knees speaking to me, or my hips, just noticing what I'm here with today, yeah?
I may feel a new sense of tightness, in some places, or even a surprising sense of openness where it wasn't before. And then I invite the breath, just to be whatever it is. I think someone once said that the breath is a bit of a showoff, and so as soon as you say, pay attention to the breath but don't change it, the breath says, oh, yeah, watch me, now I'm inhaling, now I'm exhaling, but the invitation is to explore the rhythm and the texture of your breath. Does it feel jagged or even? Smooth or impatient?
Do you feel it more up in the chest or lower near the belly? Where does the inhale come into the body? And where does the exhale leave the body? And is there any part of my body, my right lung, my left lung, that might not be receiving the breath? Notice that.
And now, now notice the mind. If your mind is like mine it may still be brewing a cup of tea, worrying about what are you to do tomorrow, wondering what the heck I was thinking yesterday. So the invitation becomes, join me. And the easiest place for the breath to land is where you feel the most sensation. It may be in your hips, your back, maybe an emotion, the sensation you may feel more in your heart, allow the mind to land there.
And on your next inhale, just inhale the arms up overhead, touching palms together, exhale hands to heart, setting an intention to practice with generosity, patience, and wholehearted enthusiasm. And now, just extend the legs for a moment, to come into what yin practitioners call butterfly pose. And once again, just moving out, around, kind of make this pose your own. You can feel the sitting bones moving down into the ground, and take your hands and just gently put them on your ankles, on your arches just so that you can extend slightly forward, almost as though we're about to have a very earnest conversation. And as we're just ready, just ready for it, begin to soften and just extend down and over your legs.
And if your back's feeling a little iffy, and it's just not happening, and every time you go forward, you're beyond, you're behind your hips, what you may wanna do is simply sit up nice and tall, release your head and shoulders, put your hands on the floor if that feels better, (exhales) and here's your pose. So wherever you land, some days I land a little deeper than other days, just see if you can take a nice, deep breath in, and sigh it out of the mouth. (sighs) And again, just a nice, lovely, deep inhale, and sigh it all the way out, feeling the bones heavy on the floor. Sitting bones moving slight back, back and down into the earth, as you soften your shoulders, release the eyes, the upper jaw, the lower jaw, and the tongue. The more you can keep your eyes soft and moving back into the body, the jaw released, and the throat released, the more your hips, pelvic floor, and groins can also open, release, and soften.
And as we settle into this yin pose, and stay awhile, I invite you to just inhale to a count of three or four, whatever fills you up without agitating. Exhale the same number of counts. Inhaling three, four, five counts, exhaling the same number of counts. Doing this on your own rhythm for several breaths. Noticing where the mind goes, as your hips begin to speak a little loudly, you're feeling sensations, perhaps in your lower back.
And just add another layer onto your breath experience, in the sama vritti breath. As you inhale, see how it feels to release the pelvic floor muscles, and as you exhale, slightly lift them up, ever so gentle, inhale to release, exhale to slightly engage. Moving in that sama vritti breath with engagement and release for several breaths. And adding a nice, sweet layer to this pranayama as we inhale and exhale, seeing how it feels to pause at the end of the exhale, trusting, of course, that the inhale will come on its own. I can almost guarantee it.
Inhaling, exhaling, and pause. The yogis call that pause at the end of the exhale, the gap. And it's within that gap, within that space, where magic happens, where silence resides. No thinking, no planning, no doer, and nothing to get done. Inhaling, exhaling, and wait.
You can continue this pose, extending your time to three to five minutes if that feel comfortable for you. And when you're ready, just very, very slowly, inhale your way up to a seated position, and hold just, be here for a moment, and experience the effects of what you've just done. The gifts that that pose has just given your body. And because we've been sort of out here for a while, to close up shop and move quickly into our practice, may not be the nicest thing to do for these hips. So very slowly, inhale, this leg forward, and inhale this leg forward.
I like to just release for a moment, and one more time, take a few breaths, as my body continues to receive the effects of the pose. And as you inhale your way up, if it feels nice, just take a nice, ahh, move the leg straight out, and take a nice, gentle back bend. Releasing all the stress and all the compression of that last pose. And on your next inhale, just inhale those arms up overhead, exhale hands to heart in gratitude for your generous, loving, and patient heart, namaste. And now if it feels like you wanna start your regular asana practice, I think what happens for me, is that I can start it from the inside out.
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