Saturday PM: Softer Side
Welcome to The Softer side. In this practice you'll need a bolster or pillow, a blanket of any kind, a yoga block or two, and a strap. We'll use these props to create a nice comfortable easy evening practice that will allow you to relax into the night. Let's begin. (peaceful music) So we'll begin this class in a seated position but instead of just sitting on your feet or anything like that or cross legged, we'll sit on the bolster or the blocks. So you just put the bolster in between your feet, have your knees gently coming forward in any way. Again you can do this with the blocks too, whatever is more comfortable for you. You just wanna find a good height so there's no pressure on your feet. A position you could be in for a fair amount of time. Position where you're comfortable, A position where you can just breathe simply and be at ease. So go ahead and just close your eyes. Take a few moments here. As you return to your mat for the second practice of the day, you're just kind of not...
icing the effects of the first practice. Your physical efforts that you walked through. You're beginning to feel the effects of the first practice. The efforts, the challenges, the struggles. The changes to your mindset. The physicality. The opportunity for balance. And as you take note of those things you're gonna feel this class will be lighter, easier, more comforting. Put you more at home. More innocence. More into a space of calm, a space of lightness. Sitting here finding a natural rhythm to your breathing process. To your breathing practice. You're beginning to notice if the breath is long or short. Deep or shallow, light or heavy. And all we really want to do here is just lengthen the breath. Lengthen the inhale, lengthen the exhale. Lengthening the breath helps you ground. Helps your nervous system relax. Helps your body find a sense of ease. You're in a comfortable position. You're sitting gently. And you feel no pressure one way or another. Slowly blink the eyes open and locate your yoga strap. Unwind the strap and you can grab really either side of it, there's no need to double the strap like I have here you can just grab it like this or just catch either end. Now we're going to just simply move some space into the shoulders so you'll hold the strap in this pretty wide distance to start and just try and keep the arms straight as you move back. And maybe you hit a point of resistance about here and if you do just come back to center, widen your hands on the strap and then see if you can go all the way back. So you're just finding a width of hand placement on the strap that works for you. Just take a few simple movements and rotations of the arm, opening up the chest, opening up the range of motion for the shoulder. Letting everything be light. Letting every flow come from the center and just gently move energy of the different limbs of you body in this practice. If you ever want to make the grip a bit smaller, feel free. Maybe it challenges the range of motion just a bit more. Helps you open up the shoulder just a bit more. But again you're not pushing it for flexibility, you're just working for feeling. Maybe you wanna hang out in some of your stickier points for a moment or two. Not rushing through the process, allowing yourself to be stuck in traffic here or there. When you can find those traffic points sometimes it's easier to sit with your thoughts to connect with the sensation. But again maybe you're having just plenty of enjoyment by moving your arms. Take a few more arounds. And then gently set your strap off to the side. Bring your hands onto your lap, take a moment. Find a nice clean long posture and then simply bind your hands behind your back. Bring the right thumb on top of the left, press the palms together and just chase the ground behind you and even if you connect your knuckles with the bolster that's just fine. You can press the knuckles down a little bit and elevate the heart. Take in the inhale here, holding the position. And on your exhale you bring your fist to your right hip. So both hands are on the right hip. Hovering above the right hip like a holster. Pressing the palms together you still have the bind, the right thumb is on top of the left. Feel the left shoulder in line with the right shoulder but the chest on the left side is broad. Take a few breathes into the chest, just kind of creating a bit of length. And then from here gently your right ear towards your right shoulder. You'll feel a nice deep stretch though the neck. Close your eyes if that makes you feel a bit more comfortable. And then slowly bring the had back to center. Keeping the left hand on the left hip release, reach your right arm up to the sky. And then bring your right hand to the outside of your right leg and just gently twist to the right. You're pressing the right hand down trying to keep the left shoulder open and twisting to the right. Then inhale, reach your right arm back up to the sky. Bring your right hand to the outside of the left leg. Catch the outside of the left leg, pull your body open to the left side. So the heart curves to the left. You'll notice that you have some freedom with your left hand. Begin to wiggle the left hand up your spine to move in between the should blades as much as possible. When it gets there, flex the left hand, beginning to lift the heart up so it feels like you're halfway back bending over the fingers. Begin to twist back to center squeezing the left hand with the shoulder blades. Reach your right arm way up back behind you so now you're fully back bending over the left hand. Internal rotation of the right bicep and bend the right elbow and you'll naturally find the left hand. If you don't find the left hand here don't worry about it, locate your strap and catch the strap with the left and the right hand and then you'll find the (speaking in foreign language). Gently begin to fold forward if you would like challenging the bind. So again, as you fold the most important part is to round the part of your back or the point of contact between your back and your left hand because that's gonna create the biggest challenge for the bind. Getting the head close to the floor may not actually create that challenge but you could find it here either way. Inhale to rise back up. Unwrap the right arm, reach the right arm up to the sky, then from here you're gonna sweep into eagle arms with the right arm under and the left arm over. Lifting the elbows up and pulling the elbows down. Lifting the elbows up and pulling the elbows down. Syncing your breath with these simple movements. Inhale is the lift, exhale is the sync. Inhale is the lift, exhale is the sync. Last one, inhale's the lift, and exhale is the sync. From here release the clasp of the hands and just walk them over to the opposite shoulders. Hugging yourself as tight as possible. And just lifting the chest up and rolling the shoulders around here. And release. Open the chest, reach the hands out to the side, and then bind the hands behind the back. Palms pressing together, left thumb on top of right, press the knuckles down, lift the chest up. Elevating you heart, and then on your exhale you'll bring the fist to the left hip. So again trying to keep the height of the spine, of the crown of the head, leaning your chest forward a bit, leaning the back of your head towards the wall behind you, just a touch, creating length in your neck. Try and keep the right side as broad as possible without letting the right shoulder move backwards in space. Press the palms together, take the inhale here, and then with the exhale just gently drop the left ear towards the left shoulder, feeling the stretch through the right side of the neck. Taking a few breaths here, enjoying this nice casual neck stretch. Letting your body be soft, letting your nervous system release from tension. And then slowly back to center. Release your left hand, keep your right hand where it is. Reach your left arm up to the sky. On exhale bring your left hand to the outside of your left leg, press to the outside of the left leg but keep peeling the right shoulder back. See if this pressure to the outside of the leg really helps you twist and open. And then release, reach your left arm back up to the sky. On the exhale you twist across body, the left hand catches the outside of the right leg. Pull your body over to the right side so you're curving the chest. Feeling that gentle spinning action. Moving you across body. You've now created the pathway for your right hand to sneak up in between your should blades. So begin to wiggle the right hand up, letting it take a simple step towards the shoulders, flexing the right hand when it gets up to the height that you feel comfortable with. Then from there, back bend over the right middle finger a bit and gently twist your way back to center to complete the back bend, lifting the heart up. Reach the left arm way up towards the sky, internal rotation of the left bicep still keeping space near the left ear, then bend the left elbow reaching back for the left hand. When you find the catch, you keep the shoulders nice and balanced, feeling like you have two pitchers of water on the shoulder that you just don't want to spill. And again if you couldn't catch the hands don't worry about it you have your strap handy, feel free to use it here. Take the inhale and if you wanna challenge the bind you begin to press the part of your spine that's in contact with your right hand into the right hand so that curving of the spine allows your chest to move down towards the floor and just like you did on side one feel free to bring your head all the way down. But the most important part is the pressing of the spine into the hand because that's where you're gonna to create the challenge for the bind. Feeling the head go down if you would like. And then inhale as you rise your way back up. Release your right arm or your right hand and then begin to circle the arms in a big rotation bringing the right elbow above the left arm creating the Garudasana eagle arms. Take an inhale here lift the arms up to the sky. And exhale, pull your elbows into the chest. Inhale lift the elbows up towards the sky. And exhale, pull the elbows down in towards the belly. Inhale you lift, and exhale you close. Inhale you lift, and exhale you close. Inhale you lift, and exhale you close. And inhale you lift, and exhale you release. Broaden the chest, opening the heart, reaching your arms wide, and then bring the palms back together. Interlace the fingers, you bring the back of the hands towards the chest. Elbows point out and then exhale press the palms forward. Inhale reach your arms up to the sky, exhale bend your elbows arms going wide, and then press the palms back up. Twist to the right, trying to keep the arms straight. Bend the elbows as you come back to center. Press the palms back up to the sky. Twist to the left, twist back to center, bend the elbows, bring the hands right back to the chest. Taking the inhale here. On the exhale press the palms out. Rounding the back this time. You'll feel all that active energy moving through the back line of your body. And then bring the elbows in, lift the chest, press the arms out. Rounding, reach the arms up to the sky, stretching, gently bringing the hands down to the head. Pressing the arms back up, twist to the right, twist back to center and hands to the top of the head. Press the palms back up, twist to the left, twist back to center, gently bringing the palms down through the midline of the body to the chest. One more inhale here, exhale press the arms out. And then gently bring the hands back and release the arms. Take a moment and just let your arms hang heavy. Feel all of that tension being relieved. New sense of space and relief through the shoulders, through the forearms, the hands, the wrists. Perfect. And then gently find your way on the hands and knees. So it's okay if you're off your mat a little bit here and really you don't need to move if you have the bolster in between your legs. Shouldn't cause much of a problem one way or another. All we really wanna do is lift the right leg up, reach it back. And then just kind of draw a few circles with the right knee and the circles and be any height, any direction, any speed, alright. The bolster may be a nice guide for the knee. Just kind of move around. Just kind of tryin to create a little bit of mobility. And set the right knee back down. Lift the left up, first you straighten it back, just like you did on the first side, creating a bit of length and don't worry much about your core here. You're just working towards finding awareness to drawing those circles with the left knee. Moving through the left hip just a little bit. Finding a sense of opening, finding your sense of mobility. Moving with lightness. And then when you finish that set the left knee down, locate your blanket. Sweep your blanket off your yoga mat to one side or another just a side you have some open space. We wanna move into frog pose here. So, you'll keep one knee on your yoga mat. If you have a second blanket you could put that there as well to pad the knee a bit more. You'll drop the inside of your right knee down onto the mat and you'll drop the inside of the left knee, or at least that's what I'm doing this demonstration, you could of course be doing it the other way onto the blanket. From here just allow the knees to spread as wide as feels comfortable for them right now and then you'll just begin to drop your chest onto the bolster, sitting your hips back in space. Holding your frog pose here. Feeling the knees spread gently. In time, when gravity begins to takes its toll to create the opening, if for whatever reason you need more height here feel free to use the block and put it on top of or below the bolster or the pillow that you're laying your chest on. And just close the eyes, find that sense of quiet, find your sense of ease. Let yourself be steady. Let this relaxation begin to enter your body. Continue to work to sit your hips back in space so they're in line with the knees. Feel the gentle pressure opening the inner hips up. And you're not pushing any sort of sense of flexibility, you don't want this to be painful. You wanna feel a sensation of course but you're really just looking to soften, to move away from effort. And to let your body find the simple sense of relaxation. Think about taking really long breaths. So whatever your length of breath cycle is, take note of it now so whether it's a five or seven count inhale and a seven or a nine count exhale, maybe add one or two counts to it. See if you can just find a bit more length. Feel free to drop an ear to the pillow. To the bolster, or forehead down. Whatever allows your neck to relax. Be where you are for just five more breaths. Let this feel nice. Let if feel comfortable. Let it feel calming even if it's a big sensation. You're feeling a sense of ease. You're just letting go. Each time you come to this place you're just letting go. These longer breaths allow you to relax, allow you to restore and rejuvenate your body, your mind, and your spirit allowing you to step up and take action off your mat. Allowing you to bring this better sense of yourself into your life. This heightened awareness. This ability to not only take care of yourself but take care of other people. Giving of what you have for the greater good. Slowly bring the hands back underneath the shoulders. Bring the knees back in. If it feels good to you you can bring your hands onto the ground and circle the legs maybe extend them a time or two forwards and backwards, just kind of feeling some of that tension release. And then from here we're gonna move into (speaking in foreign language). Well actually take (speaking in foreign language) so what I'd recommend you do is sit on the blanket and make sure the blanket is rolled up as such, so just the normal fold of the blanket, but just double it up to give you a bit more height. And then from there you sit on top of it, move your feet out a bit so the legs are in a bit more of a baseball diamond like shape or just a bit of a wider square shape. And you could take the bolster and you could put it on top of the feet and our goal is going to be to fold down towards the bolster so maybe you're comfortable there already. If you feel it necessary what you can do is take these blocks and put the blocks underneath your knees for support. Right, they're just kind of supporting your structure right. You could also put them underneath the outsides of the upper leg muscles, right. So whatever feels comfortable to you and all you wanna do from here is just fold your face down towards the bolster. Dropping into the space feeling the sense of lightness entering into your body. Now with each breath in the fold you're noticing the natural introverted nature of the posture. Moving through tension in the back, moving through tension in the hips. And one of the great things about sitting and holding some of these poses for a longer period of time, especially if they're not your deepest stretch right so you're feeling a little bit of a sensation but it's nothing you can't overcome. This allows you to sit and ponder and be present but ask what you're hiding from, what things do you hide from? You can face those things in these poses, that little bit of sensation that keeps you present. Keeps you connected to the moment while allowing you to move into your witness consciousness. you can look back through the parts of your life the patterns that you have. You can look through these patterns without judgment and you can just be here and begin to watch to understand yourself and watch to understand your own actions and you can take a moment to just be clear and be honest and not feel the need to escape or to hide but just embrace who you are, embrace what you've done or you haven't done, and move forward with a sense of confidence, with a sense of awareness, and a sense with compassion and empathy. Stay in the pose for a few more breaths. Let your body melt towards the bolster more. Let you chest melt towards your feet more. Stay with your breathing. Feel your body softening. Feel your mind softening. Then inhale to rise on up. Lift the chest away. You don't need to change too much here so you'll just move the blocks out to he side, open and extend the legs for a seated straddle. Now it doesn't matter how wide you straddle goes, but you want your feet to point up towards the sky. If you need to adjust to lift the hips a bit more so you're really on top of the sitting bone that might be a good idea. Sometimes when we exit the first posture it can change things up a bit. Again you just wanna be folding towards the bolster, alright. You can use the blocks to kind of build a ramp for yourself so you don't have to fold as far, just like so. Allowing you to melt down and find ease. Now with each of these postures depending on how you feel when you take this practice you can make them more intense if you want to fold like more towards a pancake of course you're welcome to do that. But just watch what it does to your nervous system. If it puts you into a state of panic just be aware of that. Right now through the course of this practice we're looking to allow the body to soften. We're trying to find a sense of release and a sense of calm. But just because you're doing a practice that maybe isn't rigorous it doesn't mean you are, just because you're doing a practice that is not rigorous, it does not mean that you still can't active your nervous system in a way that brings tension to your body and that's really what we're looking to avoid. So through your knowledge of self you can find a way to take a pose deeper and maybe know that it's not going to bring you tension. But you're just finding a steady place to be. You're finding a stillness, a place you don't need to adjust or change. Just calmly melting your body. And you just scan your system and maybe these are the sort of poses you get into the habit of scanning your system each time you enter the posture. Just a simple scan. How does my body feel here? You start with the crown of your head and you gently let that awareness just melt through your entire body, all the way down to your toes. You could scan your body fast, you could scan your body slow. It really doesn't matter. Just another few breaths, being steady. One more final deep inhale and your final exhale. Now lift your body away from the bolster. Take one of your blocks, just don't worry about changing anything else. Just put that block around where your mid to upper back would be and just roll and lay right back on top of it. Feel your shoulders gently opening up, open your arms up. You won't hold this pose or position for too long so even if it's not completely perfect don't worry about it. The next full pose we take you're gonna find your perfect position. But we're just preparing the body to lean back a bit. We were folded forward for quite a long time so it's nice to reset the body before we actually go into a bit more of an intense position. Gently find your way back up. Move your bolster off to the side for a moment. Have your props handy and accessible to you. Open the blanket up to its more normal full position and then from here you're gonna land your feet on your blanket and have your knees laying slightly wide, not wider than your mat, but just wide enough. You're then going to put the bolster at the base of your toes and then what you're going to work to do is just lean back in space finding your body connecting with the bolster and grounding down. Of course here that may be too much for you so if it is feel free to take a block, put the block up on top of the bolster, it may give you a bit more height, you may actually like this better anyways, right. And you can just lean back on top of the block on top of the bolster. Then just allow your body to melt and open. If you want to make it a bit more full and intense you can also slide the bolster sideways so it mainly just keeps your back lifted as you lean and bring your head to the floor. So it just depends on what you're looking for here. The amount of propage that you use to either keep the hips elevated, the head grounded. Will help you determine what kind of opening you get whether it's more in the back, whether it's more in the hip flexors, right. But either way maybe this first time you try out a few different options. And then the next time around you kind of have some awareness of what you're looking for. Taking this nice easy lift. Feel your body relaxing in the space. If over time it becomes too intense on your feet you can always come out of it. You can even sit on a block too if that would help you move away from any of that tension. There's so many modifications for this variation of the posture, especially if this is your first time through or you're not finding comfort in the way you normally do it. Don't be scared to play around. Pause the practice for a moment, find a nice variation that works for you, and then resume, right. You're letting your body soften. You're trying to move away from effort and tension. The melting nature of your body just dripping down towards the floor. All you wanna do is just close your eyes here and just feel heavy. Feel like your body is glued to the ground and stuck. You're so dense that nobody can pick you up. You're like a sculpture. A statued version of yourself and you're feeling so heavy that your body's just naturally releasing and relaxing in the space. Slowly begin to rise on up. Remove the bolster from behind your back or any variation that you have going on. Lean forwards onto the hands for just a moment. Untuck the toes a little bit, just pat the feet a few times. Bring some new awareness to the hips, in the space. Then from there move all the props toward the front line of your mat just so they're out of your way. Take your blanket, lengthen it out so it covers the majority of the back part of your mat. Fold the part that's closest to the back. Just a small fold maybe three or four inches, then come forward, locate your strap, lay right on to your back bringing your head onto that part that's the gentle fold. Bring your right leg into your chest, bring your strap around the top of the right foot and as you extend that leg up to the sky so you don't have to work watch my hands here, wrap once, wrap twice. Now your hands and your foot are very connected, your hands don't even need to grip the strap, you're already plugged in and then you can just use your arms as dead weight to pull the right leg up a little bit. By wrapping the hands you really have to do very little effort with the arms which is very nice. Feel the gentle stretch through the back of the right hamstring. Feel length through the neck. And you can pull the right foot closer to the face if you choose. You can keep it more stacked over the right hip. The amount of effort you wanna give is your own choice. Let's slowly keep the strap wrapped around the left hand, release the right hand. Let us begin to drop the right leg over to the left side twisting across body. Feel the length through the IT band. Try an keep the right foot moving up towards the same height as the left shoulder. Again effort is low. You're just working on action energetically more than physically. Don't tie yourself to the aesthetics. Just work to create space in your relaxation. Slowly come back to center, catch the strap with the right hand, release the left hand, wrap the right hand a time or two and then just drop the right leg over to the right side. Try and keep you hips squared up to the sky though, so pressing your left hand into your left leg. Not escaping the work by the change in the pelvic position. And again, work doesn't always mean effort it just means you don't want to escape the stretch, you don't wanna escape the space you're building or that you're trying to create here. By putting in a subtle amount of effort to the squaring of the hips up it allows you to actually create that nice flexibility. The relaxation and release of the hip flexor. Slowly bring the right leg back to center. And you're just gonna switch feet so bring the left foot inside the strap, let the right leg go along. Wrap your hands in the strap a time or two. Then begin to pull the left foot up towards the left shoulder, reaching the right foot forwards. And you could be looking to create as much space here or it's just being casual when you're finding the softer side of the practice. You're taking these moments to be kind to yourself, taking chances and opportunities for self care. Having empathy. Understanding And your left leg is gonna twist over to the right side so put the straps in the right hand and just gently let the left leg twist across body. Maybe you look to the left, your left shoulder stays grounded. Pulling gently enough to have the left foot moving towards the right shoulder like you're not tied to it and each step of the way in this practice you're finding ease. You're not doing any of this to become more flexible, you're doing this to just restore your body, to feel a better freedom of movement when you complete the practice. Less aches and pains, less stiffness. Less worry, less stress on the nervous system. Gently back to center, bring the straps into the left hand. Wrap the left hand a time or two. Release the right hand, bring it on top of the right leg and just gently begin to drop the left leg over to the left side. This reclined leg stretch series with the straps, very nice. Very calming. And slowly back to center. Release the foot. Set your strap off to the side. Gently hug the knees into the chest. Pull the knees in nice and close. Rock up to a seat for just a moment. Take the bolster, put it underneath your knees. Make sure your heels can still touch the floor and then just gently roll right on to your back. If you wanna support your (speaking in foreign language) even more you can take the blocks and put the blocks into your palms. And then lay back flat. This just opens up the line of the arm a little bit more. Connecting the block to the index knuckle, allow you some wrist relief. Let your legs find no tension. Feel you body melting away from effort. Think about your breathing pattern like this. Inhale chest lifts one. Exhale chest lowers one. Inhale chest lifts two. Exhale chest lowers two. Inhale chest lifts three. Exhale chest lowers three. Breathing like this, keeping your mind clear and present. Getting up to 10 breaths. Whenever you get to 10 breaths, you'll just start back over at one. While you're breathing in this present and aware manner, if your mind ever catches a thought and drifts off, don't worry about it. Just come back to the breath you last remember. Wherever your mind is drifted off to, or at whatever breath you found yourself on right now, just come back and bring the awareness completely into your body. Be completely aware of your own body. Be completely aware of your own body grounded on this floor. Completely relaxed, completely in your own space. Your body is melting into this floor. You visualize yourself in this room. Your body is grounded to the floor. You feel heavy but this weight is not weighing you down. Instead this weight is helping you feel grounded. Feel connected. Feel supported. You're supported by all the points of contact with the ground. All the points of contact with the ground are supporting you in this space. You're supported to be right where you are. In your life you're supported by so many people. Some you may never meet. We're all supported by each other. We're all supported by the efforts of other people and we support people with our own efforts. We're all part of the greater collective of society. The greater collective of the human experience as you lay here relaxing, feel and appreciation and a gratitude for all the people who support you. The people that you know directly, the people that you know indirectly, and the people you don't know at all. Take a moment for thanks, take a moment for appreciation. Take a moment to have the gratitude for the time you spent practicing yoga today. Having gratitude for your body, having gratitude for your ability to breathe, having gratitude for your ability to fully relax. Right now you are fully relaxed. Right now you are fully relaxed. Right now you are fully relaxed. Feel free to stay in this (speaking in foreign language) for as long as you'd like. Thank you for joining in this practice of softness and of relaxation. Namaste.