Move to Meditate Artwork
Season 5 - Episode 5

Strong Steady Foundation

30 min - Practice
25 likes

Description

Strengthen your foundation in this leg focused class. We play with our blocks throughout this sequence as a challenge for the mind and body, bringing them under our hands and feet and behind the back, moving from unfamiliar to familiar, before finding a quiet meditation seat. You will feel stable, focused, and present.
What You'll Need: Mat, Strap

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Transcript

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Hello, and welcome to this 30-minute Move to Meditate class. We are going to really focus on the legs, and to begin, we'll need one block, but for the practice, you'll need two blocks and also a strap. So we're going to start this pose in supported bridge to open the front of the hips a bit, and it's generally crowd-pleaser of a class, I mean of a pose, so hopefully it feels good. It's good to move into your practice in a pose that feels good. So from lying down, you lift your pelvis, and then put the block underneath the pelvis, and you can have it any of the heights, low, medium, or high.

I'm just going to have mine low. And then just hit the pause button, metaphorical, not on your computer, but in your system, in your life, just allow yourself to pause here. You know, in your car, if you're driving with GPS and you go in the wrong direction, you turn the wrong way, what happens? The little circle starts going around, and it very calmly says, recalculating. And even if you make the wrong turn 70 times in a row, very calmly, my GPS person is British, she says recalculating.

So like that, as you move into your yoga and meditation practices, when you get off base at all, see if, just like GPS, you can just guide yourself back on track with precision, with calmness, recalculating back to the present moment. Let's bring the arms up overhead and also stretch the legs long. So just get very elongated here, reaching out through the heels, through the fingertips. Feel the length of your body and let your attention come in to sensation. And then bring your arms down, bend your knees, lift your pelvis and move the block to the side.

Lower yourself down, get your strap and we'll put the right foot up into the strap, supta padangusthasana, beginning to stretch the legs and let's put the strap on the ball of the foot. So it has different effects when you put it different places, but on the ball of the foot, it will stretch the calf as well as the hamstrings and then lengthen the left leg down. Feel your right outer hip rolling down towards your left heel and let the top of the left thigh be heavy as if there's an elephant sitting right on top of the left thigh. Broaden across your chest, let the elbows be a little bit open, kind of like you're holding a beach ball and just draw your leg in to the amount that you have a good amount of sensation without overdoing. Bring your both sides of the belt into your right hand, turn the right leg externally, carry your right leg open to the side.

I'll bend my elbow so that the elbow lands onto the ground, giving a little support. The belly has to strengthen a little bit from right to left to also support the weight of the leg out to the side. Breathing in and breathing out. Carry the leg back up to the center, switch hands. We're not going to twist, we're just going to stretch the outer part of the leg.

So take your leg about a foot or so across your midline. With your right hand, encourage the right outer hip to continue to roll down towards the left heel. For most of us, this one's a little bit of a zinger, so breathe into what you feel, try not to harden or tense against the sensation. Steady breath in, steady breath out, recalculate your attention if need be. Come back to the center, half happy baby, so you can switch to your right hand.

You can either keep using the strap or most of us can reach to the outer edge of the foot, but the strap is perfectly fine. Right thigh, pull it down as the left thigh continues to root. Breathe in. This time as you exhale, stick your tongue out, open your eyes nice and wide, a little lion, and then release your foot, let it go up to the ceiling. Lower the leg down and just take a moment of doing nothing except for observing what's happened in your body.

I'm always reminded of the laundry. The left side feels like the big heap of unfolded laundry, the right side feels like some nicely folded laundry. It's gotten smoothed out, organized, so we'll do the second side. Left foot up into the strap, ball of the foot into the strap. Right leg lengthens.

It's also fine to keep the right knee bent if right leg lengthening provides so much intensity that you can no longer recalculate. If you can no longer recalculate, you have to adapt so that you can drop back in. So the right knee bent makes the pose a little bit less demanding. Outer left hip rolls down towards the right heel. That makes the two sides of the belly even.

And if your right leg is straight, top of the right thigh heavy. Nose wide to the side, shoulders down. Not too intense, now don't pull too much, but also don't hold back. You're going to find that right amount of effort. Both sides of the belt slide into the left hand.

Turn your left leg out. Bend your left elbow so the elbow, upper arm comes to the ground to support the leg. Top of the right thigh maintains its weight. If we were standing up right now, we would be in a pose much like triangle pose. This has a lot of the properties, qualities of triangle pose.

We will be doing that pose later. With your next exhalation, use the belly strength to pull the leg back up, switch hands, take your leg across your body just until you get some serious message, sensation in the outer leg. Left hand helps to roll the left outer hip down just because it likes to hike up and visit your waist, but we're trying to keep the left hip down and away from the left side of the waist. Feel what you feel here. Pull attention into the body, into sensation, and with your next exhalation, come back up.

Half of a happy baby holding on to the outside edge of the foot with a strap or without. Big inhale, and as you exhale, tongue out, eyes open. Switch your leg up, let it float down, pause. One more thing lying here on the ground, we're going to go back into our supported bridge. We're going to put the two things that we've done so far together.

Supported bridge, I'm going to say low height or medium height with the block. High might be a little much for most of us. Right foot into the block, into the belt, and then lower your left leg down along the ground. So by lifting the pelvis, we're reconnecting and stretching the front of the left hip, the hip flexors. So as best you can feel the front of the left hip long, inner left thigh drops down slightly as the right leg stretches up into the air.

Breathing in, and breathing out. And then we'll switch like this, just stick the left foot up into the strap, lower the right leg down. Left outer hip rolls down towards the right heel, inner right thigh drops towards the ground. It's a little bit like Hanumanasana, the splits pose, which we will not be doing later in this practice. I don't know what the rest of your day holds, but in this practice we're not doing Hanuman.

All right, let's lift the right leg up, stick the right foot into the strap, and just pause here holding on. This is a nice way to do the Purita Karani if you don't have a wall. Just hold your feet up at the strap. Pause here, drink in the sensations of being inverted. If your attention is sliding away, recalculate back to what you're doing right here and right now.

All right, we'll bend the knees. Switch your strap over to the side, lift the pelvis, move the block, lower down, and pause for a moment. If you need to hug your knees into the chest or whatever, you always listen to your body. That's a big part of yoga, it's called Svadhyaya. That Sanskrit for self-examination, self-study.

Roll to your side, come up. We're going to use the blocks here for, first of all, for child's pose. So put the blocks at the top of the mat and put your hands onto the blocks just to open the shoulders. And if this is too much, take your hands wider, otherwise on the blocks, reaching forward. And then come up and into Downward Dog, hands on blocks, pelvis up and back.

The hands on the blocks shifts the weight more back into the pelvis and into the legs. Press down and forward with your hands and pull your pelvis up and back. And then let's inhale, forward to plank. Look slightly forward of your mat, wide chest. Feel your legs long here.

We've already really stretched the legs. Feel from your sitting bones to your heels, lots of length. From your hip flexors to the front of the ankles, lots of length. And then let your legs pull up and back. Breathe in.

As you exhale, step your right foot forward, close to that right block. Inhale here. As you exhale, pull the right outer hip back to straighten the right leg, fold over. Inhale lunge, the back leg's strong. Exhale straighten and fold.

Inhale, bend, opening the chest. Exhale straighten and fold. This time, bend your front knee, step right into plank position. Take a breath here, long legs, long spine. Exhale Adho Mukha Svanasana, downward dog.

Breathe in. Exhale, left foot steps forward, lunge lightly. It's nice to step forward with the hands lifted, you have that extra bit of space. Straighten your left leg and fold. Exhale bend your front knee, open the chest, look slightly forward.

Exhale, straighten, release your spine. Inhale, keeping the back leg really long, front knee bends, chest open. Exhale straighten and fold. Last one, inhale to the lunge. Exhale straighten and fold.

This time, bend your front knee, step your right foot forward to meet your left foot. Fold over your legs. This one, you might want to put your strap in between your hands is when we interlace the fingers or hold on to a strap. Reach your arms up towards the ceiling and then overhead. So now we have lots going on here, the shoulder opener, the hamstring opener, the spine is getting a stretch.

Can your attention hold all of it? From here, bend your left knee and look over toward your right shoulder. Let your hands fall to the left. So we're turning the chest to the right as the hands fall to the left. Feel your left hand pulling your right hand, which is opening the front of the shoulder.

And then come to the center, right knee bends, hands fall right, looking towards the left. Using the weight of the hands to turn the chest. And then come to the center, bring your hands to your hips, inhale halfway up, right over those long legs, stand all the way up to mountain pose. Take a moment to shake out your leg, shake out your arms. And then, it's going to be exciting, we're going to turn, face the back of the mat and step your feet right up onto your blocks.

And props are always meant to be informative and interesting and helpful. If they ever are frustrating you or causing you problems, eliminate them. Okay, we're going to take the arms up, look up, and then fold all the way over. So to reach the floor, most of us need to bend our knees. We're going to walk the hands forward so we're in a dog pose with the feet up, just have you feel this dog, platform shoe dog.

Look forward, come to plank position, long legs, downward facing dog. Breathe in, step your right foot to your right thumb, lunge. Lower your left knee, I'm going to suggest you try to keep the toes up onto the block tucked under, it's a little bit of a toe stretch, otherwise you could point your foot. And then bring your hands up onto your front thigh. Feel your thigh bones gathering towards the pelvis, outer hips hugging in, and then sweep your arms up and lean back.

We're targeting a stretch in the front of the left hip in our leg stretching extravaganza here. Open your arms, hands find the mat, straighten your back leg, plank, you have to get that right foot, precision place it onto the block, down dog. Breathe in, left foot forward to a lunge, lower your right knee, pause, recalculate. I love that word. Hands up onto the front thigh.

So the pelvis is coming forward, but there's also the strength of the thigh, bones and muscles coming in towards the pelvis, outer hips, cinching in, inhale, woo, the arms go up, and then open your arms, hands down, plank, exciting seeing if your foot lands on the block or not, and then down dog and walk your hands all the way back to your block feet. From here, hands to hips, inhale halfway up, push down into your feet, come all the way up. It's time for a tall tree, but if you want to go down to a shorter tree, stand on the ground, that's fine, put your hand on a wall, it's fine, otherwise the weight shifts onto the left leg and the right foot comes up. This is exciting if you have a smooshy block like me. I'm going to take my arms out to the sides to help with balance, bring them in front of my heart, ride the waves, it's what tree pose is about, riding the waves, it's not about sticking a tree, it's about riding the waves, and then step your right foot down onto the block, second side, so you get your right leg really stable, steady, left foot comes up, rikshasana, have your arms where you need them for support, right outer hip hugs in, breathing in and out, and then step down, come all the way down, move one block to the side, bring your other block in between your thighs, be in the center of your mat.

Now, just as we were squeezing the outer hips into the tree foot, squeeze into the block, exhale utkatasana, chair, exhale uttanasana, fold, hands down, head down, inhale, chair, squeezing, lengthening, exhale, fold, heavy head, inhale, ut, ut means power, inhale, open up, open your arms, get your block, step your feet wide apart, you take the block behind the back, pull your block down and back slightly, not too much, just slightly, so the shoulders roll back, right toes turn out, left heel slides back an inch, keep pulling the block behind you as you come into triangle pose, armless triangle pose. Now, remember when we were in uttanasana, forward fold, fingers interlace, this is the same thing, we're gonna pull on the block to turn the chest, so the right hand pulls the block, that helps roll the left shoulder back, strong arms, strong legs, and then pass the block to your right hand, come into triangle pose, so from unfamiliar to familiar, familiar is good for the nervous system and kind of soothing and steadying, unfamiliar is good to perk us up, so be here with the familiar of triangle pose, and then we're gonna tip triangle pose to half moon, so bring the left hand to the left hip, slide your left foot forward, walk your block forward with a straight left leg, lift up, reach the left arm up, expand in all directions, and then bend the leg that you're standing on, let's go back to warrior two, reach way back and hold on to your block, assuming it's not too heavy of a block, straighten your front leg, turn your right toes forward, and hold your block behind your back, breathe in, arms pull back, left foot turns out, right heel slides back, begin to tip the pelvis, in this moment here, pull the left hand to the block, to the right hand, to open the right side of the chest, pass the block to your left hand, triangle pose, I really like that entry into triangle pose, gives a lot of space to the upper body in the pose, tip to half moon, take your time in the transition, let the transition be very important, bending the front knee, scooching forward, getting the back leg fortified before it lifts, and then it lifts, and the left leg straightens, and we get to expand in all directions. If you fall out of the pose, you recalculate and come back, bend your left knee, warrior two, I'm gonna leave my block on the ground this time because I'm done with that, straighten your front leg, turn your left toes forward, toe heel in a bit, and then let's come down into a squat, if you want to slide your block underneath your sitting bones for the squat to get some support, that's fine, it's also fine to be up here into a higher squat, you find your own squat, bumper sticker, find your own squat, widen your collarbones, pull the shoulder blades down, and be right here, this breath, dropping into this moment, alright, and then let's pull the block away, sit down, we're going to open the legs to the side in Upavistha Konasana, now in this pose and in all the seated poses, if you find that your pelvis is rolling back, it's really important to sit up onto a pillow or a cushion so that you can start vertical, reach out through your heels, let's do a side bend, so leaning over to the left side, just reaching the right arm up and over the right ear, and then inhale and come up, other side, both legs very long here, after all that leg stretching, use it to keep a lot of integrity in your legs, and then come up and we'll fold forward, one of my favorite things to do is rest my head down, and you could put a chair in front of yourself and rest your forehead onto a chair, you could stack your blocks, you have to figure out where your head goes and then meet your head, you can't figure out your props before you know where your head is, so, so as we're here, heavy head, soft brain, but a sharpness through the two legs, and then this is like our red carpet into our seated meditation practice, so begin to really tune your mind, recalculate back to presence right now, present in the strength of the legs, present in the release of the head, and present as the breath rolls in and slides out. We'll use the hands to come up, and then after having the legs apart for this long, you want to not grip in your hips, so use your hands underneath the backs of the knees, lean back a little bit, draw your legs together, and give yourself a little hug. There's no one right way to have your body for meditation, so I invite you to find a position that's comfortable. You might sit on a prop, you could do your meditation lying down if you're tired, I really recommend if you don't think you're just going to fall asleep in the next four minutes, lying down is fine to do, but do take a moment to consciously move into the shape that you'll maintain for this short meditation.

If you're sitting, sense your plumb line, and meditation is actually very simple. It's very simple to, in theory, to sit and feel your breath, be with what's happening right now. And the reason why it's not simple is because human beings are not accustomed to something so direct, something so here and now. We're used to ruminating, pondering, worrying, reminiscing, fantasizing, all of the turnings of the mind, citta vritti, the yogi is called the turning of the mind. Meditation is simply being right here, direct with this moment.

Recalculating when you move away. As many times as your attention moves away, recalculate back to being right here. The truth of what's right in front of us. That's the truth of what's right in front of us. That's the truth of what's right in front of us.

Where are you now? Where are you now? Where are you now? It's with gentleness and kindness that we come back, come back to right here, the simplicity of being in the present moment. And if your eyes are closed, I invite you to just very gently open your eyes.

Sense that you can be embodied and in the room, in the space, taking in the environment and I'm going to ring the sound of the bell and please open your ears and let the sound pour in. The next time you find yourself in a tricky situation, I invite you to remember the GPS voice, recalculate, take a breath, drop into your body and then proceed from there. I thank you so much for getting onto your mat and practicing with me today. Thank you. I'll see you in the next video.

Comments

Christel B
1 person likes this.
Wonderful, gentle practice; feeling so peaceful. Thank you Margi.
Martha K
1 person likes this.
Nice leg awareness. Lengthening and opening. I feel tall!
Jenny S
3 people like this.
Practicing this on a murky, downright chilly full moon day in June.  I’ve been sleepy all day and almost skipped practice.  This class stretched me out in the best way and was the perfect medicine for what I call a “shlumpy” day.  Thank you Margi! ❤️🙏🏻
Margi Young
1 person likes this.
Jenny S It is a victory to get on the mat during a shlump! Good job! xo
Margi Young
1 person likes this.
Martha K So fun to practice and feel taller- I love making space.... Akasha in sanskrit which is a word that I find beautiful!
Margi Young
1 person likes this.
Christel B Thank you Christel. Happy you are practicing!
Sandra Židan
Thanks, Margi, for this beautiful and calming practice! I feel great after doing it! Namaste! 🥰💝
Margi Young
1 person likes this.
Martha K Feeling tall is good, especially in the spine and heart.... or should the heart feel wide?!!  Namaste.
Margi Young
Christel B Just reading your comment made me feel peaceful. Yoga Works!

Hope H
Loved this practice esp. the block entry to trikonasana and recalculating is now my new favorite gentle reminder word. Thank you!
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