Gentle Yoga for Bigger Bodies

Gentle Yoga for Bigger Bodies


Hi! I’m Zelinda. I’m the founder of The
Yoga Room and today Denisse is with me she’s a friend of mine and she’s also a
team member here at The Yoga Room. Today we’re doing Gentle Yoga for Bigger
Bodies. Let’s go ahead and get started. So, go ahead and come up onto your mat, and
we’re going to start facing toward the side so that when Denisse demonstrates,
you can see exactly how the sequence is supposed to be done. I’m going to come
around this way. Stand with your feet about hip socket width apart, however far
apart is comfortable for you. Lengthen your spine. Relax your shoulders down and
then inhale and take your arms out toward the sides and back. Palms face
forward, exhale arms come down. Next, inhale, arms go forward and up palms
face forward at the top. Exhale, arms come forward and down. Just like that – inhale,
arms go out and back. Exhale, down. Inhale, forward and up. Exhale, down.
Let’s try to go a little slower. Inhale, arms go out and back, engage your
abdominal muscles. Exhale, arms go down. Inhale, slowly arms go forward and all
the way up, shoulders are relaxed down away from your ears. Exhale, down. Let’s do one more round. Inhale, arms go out and back, shoulders are relaxed. Exhale, down.
Abdominal muscles engaged. Inhale, arms go forward and up, and exhale arms come
forward and down. Excellent! Take a little break.
Shake your arms out. Shake your back out, and then we’ll continue with the next
sequence which is a Warrior I sequence. This is a Warrior I sequence and it’s
a sequence – it’s moving, rather than it being a static posture – it’s a moving
sequence. So, please start with your left foot forward and your right foot back. We
want some width between the feet from side to side. So, go ahead and step your
right foot over toward the right side a little more. Perfect! You want your
hips to turn so they’re facing forward this direction. Okay,
inhale, front knee is going to bend over the ankle, and at the same time,
we’re going to bring the arms forward and up. I think [Denisse] since you’re quite
flexible, go ahead and bring your hands together overhead, and then exhale,
front knee straightens, arms go forward and down. Just like that. Inhale, front
knee bends, arms go forward and up. Exhale, front knee straightens, arms go forward and down. Go ahead and continue please, at your pace. We’re going to do three more. So, Denisse is quite flexible in her shoulders, and so it’s possible for her
to bring her hands together overhead. But, if your shoulders are not so flexible,
you can bring your arms just to shoulder width apart, palms facing in toward each
other. That’s an alternate way to do this. One more, and exhale, and come down.
Wonderful. Go ahead and step your feet together, and then switch so your right
foot is forward your left is back. Remember, you want the width between your
feet from side to side. Turn your hips so they’re facing forward, and I’m going to
come around on this side of you so I can see alignment from a different angle. So,
we’re going to do five total on this side. Inhale, arms go forward and up,
abdominal muscles are engaged. Exhale, forward and down. Please continue at your
pace, and exhale. I’m going to challenge you a little more with your next inhale.
Think about lifting up right through here. Yes. Exhale, down. See if you can
continue like that. Two more. Chest is lifted, and exhale. Last
one, gaze is forward. You’re doing great! And, exhale. Fantastic! Please step your
feet together. Take a little break. Feeling alright? Okay, good.
The next thing we’re going to do is we’re going to work on the Trikonasana sequence,
which is a side bending sequence and it’s a little bit different than is
commonly practiced in the U.S.. So, let’s go through how we’re gonna do it and
then we’ll go ahead and actually do it. So, please turn and face toward the front.
Feet are going to be wide. Toes are pointing forward. Perfect! Okay, so I’m just going to
go slowly through cuing for the first round.
Inhale, extend your arms out toward the sides, palms face down. Exhale, left hand
comes to your left leg, right arm goes up toward the ceiling. Inhale, extend your
arms out toward the sides and then exhale, right hand goes to the right leg, left arm comes up toward the ceiling. Inhale, extend your arms out. Exhale, just
take a break, arms come down. All right. Take a break for a minute. Step your feet
together. So please note that Denisse has been practicing yoga for a really long
time and she’s very flexible. So, when she does the side bend, it’s possible for her
to go very far. When you do it, if you’ve never done this before, it might be that
you don’t go quite as far as her. So, don’t worry about that if your movement
is smaller than what Denisse does. So, let’s go ahead and do them now. We’ll do
about four maybe five. Step your feet wide, toes are pointing forward, shoulders
are relaxed down. So as you do all of the sequence, focus on the strengthening. Keep your leg muscles engaged, keep your abdominal muscles engaged, keep your
shoulders down. You’ll even feel these muscles activate in your upper back so
it feels like your shoulder blades are drawing toward each other. Let’s begin.
Inhale, arms extend out. Exhale, left side bend. If it’s comfortable for your neck,
you can look up toward your hand. Inhale, arms extend out. Exhale, to your right
side. Inhale, arms extend out and now we rest. Exhale arms come down. Inhale, arms
extend out. Exhale, to your left side. Legs are strong, abdominal muscles strong.
Inhale, arms extend out. Exhale to the right side. Inhale, arms extend out. Exhale,
arms rest down. Different breathing now. Inhale, stretch your arms up. Exhale, to
your left side. Stay here for an inhale. Stay here for an exhale.
Next, inhale, come up and stretch your arms out. Exhale to your right side,
stay here. Inhale, stay here. Exhale, next. Inhale, come up, arms extend out.
Exhale, arms come down. One more round. We’re going to do it the
same way. Inhale, arm stretch out. Exhale, to your left.
Abdominal muscles are strong. Stay here. Inhale, stay here. Exhale. Next, inhale come
up, arms stretch out, exhale to your right side.
Abdominal muscles still strong. Stay here, inhale. Stay here, exhale. Next, inhale come
up, arms extend out. Exhale, arms rest down. Fantastic! Step your feet together. Take a
little break. Shake your legs out. So, it’s a feature of, you know, this style of teaching, that I teach the Krishnamacharya tradition, that
we do a little bit of rest between every sequence. All right, so the next thing
we’re gonna work on is the Utkatasana sequence which is Chair Pose. So, go ahead
and face this way please. You’re going to want to keep a little
bit of width between your feet. You can adjust as you go. So, if you do the
first one and you feel like, “Oh! That really was not so comfortable.”, you can
adjust your feet wider or narrower. Okay, so inhale, arms are gonna go forward and
up palms, face forward at the top. Exhale, bend your knee, squat as low as you’re
comfortable. Good. Inhale, come back up, exhale. Just your arms come forward and
down. Excellent. I’m gonna come around the back of you. Inhale, arms go forward and
up, palms face forward. Exhale, squat as low as you’re comfortable. Inhale, come
back up. Exhale, arms go forward and down. Great! Inhale, arms go forward and up.
Exhale, squat. Inhale, come back up. Exhale, forward and down. Last one, inhale,
arms go forward, and exhale, squat. Her knees are going straight forward over
her toes. Inhale, come back up. Exhale, arms go forward and down.
Excellent! Take another little break. Shake yourself out that is deceptively
challenging. It looks like it would be easy, but after you do just a few you can
feel your leg muscles, you can feel your abdominal and back muscles, and you may
even feel that your heart is beating faster. It’s a function of keeping
the arms overhead while you’re doing the movement. So, if it happens that you feel
winded after doing that, don’t be concerned, it’s normal. Of course, we want
to make sure that you feel comfortable during the practice, so if it feels too
strenuous, if it feels not right, then just go ahead and maybe only do two or
maybe do three, or you know, take breaks in between. Something like that. Just
adjust the practice so that it feels comfortable. All right, last thing we’re
gonna do as a standing pose is Standing Forward Fold, so, you can continue facing
this way. You’d like to keep a little bit of width between your feet during
forward folds. That’s pretty common. If you can keep them as narrow as you’re
comfortable. If you prefer them a little wider, also fine. Another thing that we do
with forward folds is sometimes we bend the knees. Just depending on, you know, how
much tightness there is in the backs of your legs. So, inhale, bring your arms
forward and up, palms face forward at the top. Exhale, knees bend. Fold, and you can
bring your hands down to wherever is comfortable. You can bring them on to
your legs. Sometimes you know if you’re less
flexible, you might bring your hands right above the knees, or on the shins, or
on top of your feet, anywhere is fine. So, we’re gonna hang out here and breathe
for a little bit. Sorry, Denisse, I kept you there not breathing for a little.
While on an inhale, you’re gonna walk your hands up your legs and bring
yourself all the way back up to standing, and then exhale and relax your shoulders
down. Let’s do it again. Inhale, arms go forward and up. Exhale, bend your knees
fold. If you feel like straightening your knees you know toward the end of
the forward fold, that’s also fine. Stay here, inhale.
Stay here, exhale. Then on an inhale, walk your hands up your legs, bring yourself
all the way back up to standing. Exhale, shoulders relaxed down. Are you up for one more? Inhale, arms go forward, and exhale knees bend. Fold. Relax your neck,
top of your head is pointing down. Stay here, inhale. Stay here, exhale. When you’re
ready, inhale, walk your hands up. Bring yourself back up to standing,
and then exhale shoulders relaxed down. Excellent! Doing all right? Okay, now we
have finished the standing part of the practice so please go ahead and lie down.
The rest of the practice we’re going to do lying down or sitting down on the
floor. Okay, so from this lying down position, we’re gonna do some work first
for your shoulders. So, bring your arms down alongside your body. You see
that Denisse has her knees bent. This is a perfectly good thing to do. If it’s more
comfortable for you to straighten your legs down on your mat, you can also do
that. Either way, it’s fine. So, the arms are down alongside the body. Inhale, bring
your arms up toward the ceiling and back behind you, all the way to the floor if
it’s comfortable for you, and then exhale. Bring your arms up toward the ceiling
and down alongside your body just like that. Inhale, arms go up and back, and
exhale down. Let’s do three or four more. Go ahead and
go at your own pace. If your shoulders happen to feel quite tight and it’s not
comfortable for your arms to come all the way to the floor, it’s perfectly fine.
Arms are floating, or you bend your elbows. Either option is perfectly good. In our society we do so much hunching
work, like using the phone or using the laptop, and so it’s common that we have a
lot of tightness in the shoulders. So, just go easy and you’ll find that with
each repetition things start to loosen up a little bit and you’ll really notice
the difference after about five or six repetitions. So, let this one be the last
one. Next time your arms come down, let them stay down and then extend your arms
out toward the sides with your palms face up. We’re gonna work on a little
twist which is a combination of a twist and also a way to stretch out your quads,
the muscles in the fronts of the thighs. So, position your feet wide, nearly as
wide as the mat. Knees are bent, and then bring your knees over toward the left
side as far as they’ll comfortably go. As you reach your knees this way, press
forward through your right knee so your right hip is lifting up off the mat. That’s where you start to find the stretching happening, in the front of
that thigh. On an inhale, bring your knees up to the center. Exhale, bring them over
toward the right. Let’s demonstrate this one more time. We’re gonna press forward
through this knee, lift up the left hip so that the front of the thigh will
stretch out. Inhale, bring your knees back up to center. I’m going to queue one more
round. Bring your legs over toward the left, you’re reaching through your right
knee. Inhale, come back to the center. Exhale toward the right. Now, you’re
reaching through your left. Inhale, come back to center, and then continue at your
own pace. So, for all of these twisting movements, you can go faster or
slower just depending on what it feels like your body needs. And you can do you
know three or four or if you feel like there’s really a lot of tightness in
your legs, or you’ll even feel stretching happening in your back. If this feels
like it’s really doing a good job of working on that, you can do more
repetitions. So, you’re going to go to the right side. Let that be the last part, and
then bring your knees back to the center. Then, for the next thing we’re going to
do, we’re going to stretch out your back even a little bit more with a bigger
twist. So, offset your hips this way over toward the left. Bring your knees up
toward the ceiling, legs are going to come over toward your right side. So,
we’ll call this the step one of the twist. We’re going to keep the knees bent.
You can see how Denisse’s hips and knees are aligned. That’s the kind of alignment
we’re looking for here. If you feel comfortable taking this
further, you can also extend the top leg. So, go ahead and extend your left leg
over in that direction. What this is going to do is add more intensity,
stretching through the hip and maybe even up into your low back. This one is a
static posture, so once you move into it you’re gonna stay and breathe for
several breaths – maybe about four or five breaths, or longer if you prefer. I can
see how relaxed Denisse is with this one. She’s even closed her eyes. That’s
perfect! Alright, when you’re ready, on an inhale,
come back around to the center. You can just walk your feet back around however
comfortable for you. Now, go ahead and roll to one side. Bring yourself up to
sitting and we’re gonna work on some sitting postures. I’m going to bring you a
blanket to sit on. So, this is a folded blanket. Like I said earlier,
Denisse is very flexible. She’s been practicing yoga a long time, so I would
say she’s an advanced practitioner and she’s comfortable sitting on something
really low like this, like a folded blanket. But, if you’re newer to yoga, and/or if you’re less flexible in your hips then Denisse is, you might want to sit on
something taller like one of these bolsters, or a pair of folded blankets, or
something like that. So, what we’re gonna do here in the sitting position is some
work for your neck and for your shoulders to release tension from this
area. You know, so many of us are on our phones and on our tablets and on our
laptops and things like this, and so we do so much of this kind of movement like
hunching throughout the day. As a result, we have kind of chronic tightness
in the neck and in the shoulders. So this next little sequence that we’re gonna
work on, the sequence of head movements, is something that you can do as part of
this yoga practice, but it’s also something that you can take with you and
do, you know, on a thirty second or one a minute break from your work. Or, you know,
if you’re sitting at a red light you can do this kind of stuff to help release
your neck tension. So, we’re gonna start from this sitting position with a spine
lengthened and the shoulders relaxed down. The first movement that we’re
going to do is like a very slow and exaggerated nod. So, on an inhale, start to
bring your nose up toward the ceiling. Work on keeping your shoulders relaxed
down away from your ears. Exhale, bring your chin down toward
your chest again. Inhale, and look up toward the ceiling. Shoulders are down
and back. Exhale, chin comes down toward your chest, just like that. Go ahead and
continue at your own pace. You’re going to do about two or three of more of these. Notice if your shoulders start trying to
creep up toward your ears and then just encourage them back down.
Sometimes the shoulders creep up because we’ve made a range of motion that’s too
big. So, notice if you decrease your range of motion a little bit, are you able to
maintain more relaxation in your shoulders? Go ahead and do one more and
then bring your head back to neutral. Take a break for a minute, and then the
next movement that we’re gonna work on – if that last one was nodding up and down
saying, “yes”, the next one is slowly saying, “no”, with an exaggerated movement from
side to side. So, inhale right here in this neutral position. Exhale, and turn
your nose over your left shoulder. Try to keep your right shoulder down and back,
and then inhale, bring your head to neutral to the center. Exhale, nose goes
toward the right shoulder, left shoulder stays down and back. Inhale, to center. Go
ahead and continue at your own pace. You can probably feel tightness loosening
from the sides of your neck. If you really concentrate and focus on keeping
that opposite shoulder down and back, you may even feel some loosening happening
in the top part of the shoulder. One important key here, is to
continue going slowly. This one in particular is a movement that seems kind
of easy, and so we may be tempted to go faster. But, try to resist that temptation
and just go slowly. Go ahead and do one more. We inhale as we move to the center,
exhale as you start to look out over the right shoulder.
Inhale, back to center. Okay, please take a little break again.
You might even round your back a little bit and then when you’re all ready, lengthen
your spine again. We have one more head movement that we’re going to work on
which is a little bit more challenging. So, what we’re gonna do here is we’re
gonna tilt the head to one side and then to the other. So, inhale and lengthen your
spine. Exhale, bring your left ear toward your left shoulder. While you keep both
shoulders down away from the ears and inhale, bring your head back up to the
center. Exhale, over toward your right side. Shoulders are down. Inhale, back up
to center. Continue at your pace. In case you get mixed up about the breathing,
just remember that when you’re moving to the center, it’s almost always an inhale.
Exhale to the side. Inhale to the center. Go ahead and do one more round. Shoulders are staying down and maybe back a little bit. When you’re finished, let your muscles
relax. Back relaxes – maybe even round your back a little bit. Then, we’re going
to do one more seated posture which is more focused on releasing tightness from
the hips. So, bring the bottoms of your feet together, knees are gonna point out
toward the sides. For some people, this in itself is a lot of work. If that’s the
case for you, stay right here. If you’re comfortable with a little bit more
challenge, lengthen your spine. Sit up really tall with your shoulders down,
and if this also is comfortable for you and you want more challenge still, you
can start to work on a forward fold. As you forward fold, you can let your
spine relax a little bit. Let your neck relax. Let your chin drop down toward
your chest. Hands can stay on your feet, or you can walk them forward. Whatever is
comfortable for you. We’re mainly focused on the hips. And, in the hips
you might feel stretching happening in the front part of the hip, or maybe even
in the back of the hip, or across the back of your pelvis. So, we’ll stay here
for a few breaths, and then whenever you feel ready, on an
inhale, you’re gonna walk your hands in and bring yourself back up to sitting
upright. Very nice job! All right, let’s take one more lying down break. I’m gonna
move out of your way and I’ll move your blanket out of the way so that you can extend your legs this way, and lie down again. So, previously
when you were lying down, you chose to keep your knees bent. If at this stage it
feels comfortable to straighten your legs, you can certainly do that. But, if
it’s more comfortable for your back to keep your knees bent, also a great option.
Either one is totally fine. When you get into this lying down position, go ahead
and extend your arms out toward the sides. Turn your palms face up, let your
shoulders relax down toward the mat and spend about a minute or so just relaxing
your muscles and focusing on your breathing. So, you want to take slow, deep,
comfortable inhales, and long slow exhales. Focus on keeping your breath smooth
on both the inhale and the exhale. Conscious breathing like this, where
you’re focusing on some aspect of the breath, is very beneficial for the
nervous system, for your mind, for your stress levels, and this conscious
breathing again is something that you can do anytime. It doesn’t have to be
only during the yoga practice. You can take a 30 second or a one-minute break
from your work, or you know like we mentioned earlier, at a stoplight or
wherever you are – maybe like sitting, waiting in a doctor’s office, or waiting
in line at the grocery store – it’s a perfect opportunity to spend a little
time focusing on your breathing. Alright, when you have done about a minute or two
of this relaxation, you can start to reawaken your body. You can introduce a
little movement in your fingers and toes, and then a little movement in your hands
and feet, and then finally in your arms and legs, and then stretch your arms out
either toward the sides or back behind you. Take a big inhale. Do a full body
stretch, and follow with a complete exhale. One more time – big deep
inhale, full body stretch. Follow with a big exhale and then return to natural
breathing. Slowly roll to one side. You can bring yourself back up to your
comfortable sitting position. I’m bringing this blanket here behind you,
Denisse. Very good. Thank you for practicing with us today. If you have any
questions or comments about this practice we’d love to hear from you in
the comments below. Have a great day! Namaste.