Yoga: Angelique Raptakis, Assisting Hands

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A yoga session by an instructor specializing in restorative, Yin, Hatha Yoga, and Reiki.

All right so we’ll just come to a comfortable seat. You may already be there. And just allow the sits bones to begin to ground to the earth and allow the tail bone to belong. And then from this place of grounding, we’ll lift the spine up out of the hips to reach up tall through the crown of the head. And let’s take a moment here to maybe the eyes close and really tune inwards. Just notice what it feels like to be sitting here in the space of your body, what that feels like without judgment, just awareness and noticing.

And we’ll tune into the space of the breath noticing this movement of breath in the body. How is it that you know that you’re breathing? Do you feel this temperature maybe with the breath of warmth or coolness? Maybe you feel the breath at the tip of the nostrils, the back of the throat, maybe in the lungs and in the chest. Where is it that you feel this space of breath?

As we continue to allow our awareness to rest in that space of a breath, bring the breath into these equal parts. So you can either count the breath or allow it to be more natural and organic so that the in-breath and the out-breath are the same lengths. Maybe you use a count of four breathing in and that same count of four, same pace, as you breathe out, continuing just like that breathing into four and out to four a couple of times on your own. On your next in-breath, we’ll still keep that same count of four and as we exhale, lengthen it by a count of two, so exhale to a count of six, finding that same pace and rhythm. Inhale four and exhale six, continuing a few more times on your own. We’ll Come back to that equal part breath again, inhaling four and exhaling four two more times.

And releasing any control of the breath how about you come back to a natural rhythm. Take a moment to tune back inwards. Notice what you feel like here now in the space of the body, in the space of the breath. Do you feel a little bit more relaxed, a little bit more centered?

Bring our hands together at the heart center. Here we’ll reach the arms out and up with an inhale and exhale hands come back to the heart, making use of the space that we have. Inhale arms reach out, gathering up. And exhale drawing that energy back to the heart. One more time, arms reach out lifting up tall. Exhale, hands back to the heart. Release the right hand down. Left-arm reaches up and over, a gentle side stretch. Inhale back through center, and then exhale release to the other side, just moving gently here in space of the spine. Move with your breath. Another breath to guide you.

As you come back through the center, arms reach up, gaze lifts. Draw that energy back down through to the heart and then release the hands to the knees. Draw the chin in towards the chest. Feel that length through the back of the neck. Inhale as we reach the gaze back up towards the sky. Chin lifts. Keep length through the back of the neck as you open through the front of the throat and release the chin back to neutral and then tucking it into the chest again.

From here, we’ll draw the right ear to the right shoulder and then draw a smile across the chest with the chin as you draw the left ear to the left shoulder. One more time, draw that smile over to the right. And then once you arrive here, take some gentle movements with the chin. Maybe you move the chin up and down or sideways or diagonal. Find that space that feels really good and you want to linger a little bit and pause there. Breathe into that space. Maybe the left hand even walks out to the side, increasing the intensity if that feels right, or you can stay right as you are. Draw the hand back in if it’s extended. Create that smile again with the chin as you draw the left ear to the left shoulder. Find those little micro-movements again. Find that place that it is feeling like you need to linger a little bit more. And then once you find that space, maybe even the right-hand walks out to the side.

Draw the hand back in. Chin comes back down to the chest. Here you can even interlace the fingers behind the head and create this little bit of a cradle so that we can draw length through the back of the neck. So we’re not pushing the head down towards the earth, it’s just creating a little bit more traction. And then as we draw the chin back up through neutral lifting the gaze, maybe the headrests back into that little cradle of the hands.

We’ll bring the chin back through to neutral. Release the hands back to the legs. And if you feel like you need to cross the legs, if you haven’t done so, switching that cross. I think I saw you do that already and here I’ll bring the shoulders up towards the ears and even just squeezing tight, squeezing the face, really scrunched up and bringing the hands into fists. And then with a big exhale, release it. Do this one more time, inhale, clenching, squeezing, and then … Arms reach out and here we’ll bend at the elbows, open the shoulders wide. Feel shoulder blades come together onto the back. Maybe the gaze even lifts. And then we’ll bring across to the elbows in front, so giving yourself a big hug. Hands wrap around the shoulders. Chin comes into the chest, maybe around through the upper back. Inhale, find this lift up of the elbows, lifting up the gaze. Come back through neutral. Allow the arms open out wide again. And we’ll give ourselves a big hug once more. Switch the cross to the elbows, wrapping around the chin into the chest, maybe around and to the upper back. Inhale to lift the elbows up. Gaze lifts and releases back through neutral. Arms open out one more time and then release the hands back down to the lap.

From here, we’ll make our way to the tabletop. And from the tabletop, we’ll move a little bit through cat-cow. So you can find your neutral spine first. Bring the shoulders over the wrists and then creating this movement from the tailbone, allow the tailbone to begin to lift. As you inhale, belly lowers. Shoulder blades come together. Gaze lifts. With your exhale, the movement begins at the base of the spine. The slow movement here as you tuck the tailbone round into the back as you press into the hands. Chin comes into the chest. Inhale to move through the cow. Exhale to move through the cat. Just a few more times at your own pace, lingering any place that is asking you to linger. Direct a little bit more breath in into those spaces.

Coming back through a neutral spine. From here, sink the hips straight back towards the heels coming into the child’s pose. So knees can be together or drawn wide. Maybe a block comes underneath the head to support or you can bring a blanket or your bolster underneath the torso. And you get to settle here into space. If you feel that there’s any tension in the knees or in the hips, maybe bringing a blanket.

Allow that breath to move through the space of the spine, being fully present in this moment as we follow the breath. Maybe your awareness stays with the breath as you breathe in and breathe out. Then coming to a breath meditation or a breath mantra as you breathe in, you can say to yourself, “I’m breathing in.” And as you breathe out, you can say to yourself, “I’m breathing out.” Mind wanders. Notice that it’s wandering. Maybe you come back to that breath meditation. We’ll begin to deepen the breath here and [inaudible 00:13:46] child’s pose, you just press the hands into the earth just a little bit to lift the torso enough to walk the hands over to the left side. You can keep the palms next to each other or maybe the right palm is on top of the left. Just breathe here into the side body. One more round of breath. With an inhale, walk the hands back through to the center and then walk them over to the other side. Again the hands can be next to each other or the left palm is over the right and breathe into the side body.

As you next inhale, walk the hands back through the center and walking them back underneath the shoulders as you make your way back through to tabletop, moving here through cat-cow again. Maybe it feels good to shift forward and back. And then from here, we’ll bring the weight forward a little bit over the hands. We straighten just a little bit through the hips and then bring the hips to the right side drawing them back towards the heels and then over to the left and coming back to the top of the mat, creating these circles here in the space of the hips. We’ll take one more circle here to the side. As you make your way back to the top, we’ll reverse directions. So hips move to the left and back to the right and forward and around. Two more big circles.

As you come back to the top of the mat, we’ll come back through tabletop and then allow the hips to release down to one side, making your way onto your seat. So from here, it may feel nice to bring a blanket underneath your seat, and then we’ll extend the legs long. Once the legs are extended long, we’ll draw the heels wide. You can just take the hands onto the legs and use the hands to bring movement into the legs. So allow the muscles of the legs to relax and let the hands do the work and then find a release here. Ground down through the sits bones. Lift up tall through the spine. Breathe here.

We’ll draw the left leg in so the shin can be parallel to the top of the mat here, or maybe the foot is up against the inner right thigh. Arms can reach out and find this length through the spine. Rotate the torso over the right leg. Inhale, lengthen, and then exhale, fold over the right leg. Use an inhale to lengthen through the spine. Exhale release. Allow the hands to rest either on the leg or alongside the leg. Allow that breath to travel the length of the spine. If you’re feeling any tightness in the hamstrings, bend to the knee.

Back to the breath, breathing in, “I’m breathing in.” And as you breathe out and say to yourself, “I’m breathing out. I’m breathing in. I’m breathing out.’

Use the next inhale, hands walk back towards the hips to lift yourself upright, rotate the torso back through center, and then we will switch the cross of the legs. Switch the legs that are extended and pulled in here. Reground the sits bones to the earth. Inhale arms reach out and find that length. Rotate the torso to the extended leg. Inhale lengthen, and then exhale, fold. Hands release down. Maybe you lengthen with an inhale and exhale release.

Come back to the space of a breath. This time as you breathe in, you can say to yourself, “I calm my body.” And as you breathe out, “I smile.” Breathing in, “I calm my body.” As you breathe out, “I smile.” With your next inhale, hands walk back towards the hips lifting upright. Rotate the torso back through to the center. From here you can bring the hands behind the extended leg to draw it in and we’ll bring the soles of the feet together. And as you come into this shape, you can play with the distance of the heels to the hip. So the closer the heels are in, the more we’ll feel this through the inner groin. The further way out in the diamond shape, you’ll feel this through the outer thighs by the knees. You can take hold of the legs anywhere on the shins, on the knees, and we can just bring a little bit of movement here so you can flap our little butterfly wings. Allow those legs to come up and release down as fast or as slow as you want to flap them. And then we’ll release them into stillness.

Lengthen a little bit more through the crown of the head. You can stay here upright or with an exhale, fold forward over the legs. The hands move to the feet. You can take a moment here to massage the feet, massage the soles of the feet, tops of the feet. Releasing here, surrendering to this pose. You come back to that breath meditation. Breathing in you say to yourself, “I calm my body.” And as you breathe out, you say to yourself, “I smile.”

Deepen your breath and as you’re ready as you have already come out of the pose, we’ll make our way onto our back. If you have a block or maybe your blanket or bolster, you can bring it nearby. First of all, just come to rest onto the back. Knees are bent. Maybe you hug in and squeeze and rock side to side if that feels right. Or you can just come into this constructive rest of feet wider than the hips and heels out. Toes point in to allow the knees to release inwards. And just take a moment to breathe here. Maybe the hands rest on the belly to feel this movement of breath or they can rest out at the sides or even up overhead. Just sharing here into space. Feel this movement of breath again. Feel that coolness of the in-breath. The warmth of the out-breath.

We’ll come into a supported bridge pose. So if you have your block, you can bring the block underneath the sacrum, or you can use a folded blanket or your bolster. So from this place of constructive rest, walk the heels so that they’re in line with hips and press into the feet to lift the hips. Release the sacrum, that large, bony triangular part of the base of the spine onto the block. And here allow arms to release the sides, and just let the hips be heavy to the support of the block. Come back to that breath meditation. As you breathe in, “I calm my body.” As you breathe out, “I smile.” Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.

Begin to deepen the breath. Releasing the block, just like that, press into the feet, lift the hips, removing the block from underneath, and resting back down. Maybe you have the knees bent into the chest. Rock side to side. If you’d like to move through some twists or to reach the legs straight up towards the sky, whatever movement you want to come into, maybe a happy baby before we make our way into Shavasana. Take the next five or 10 breaths to move in the way that you want to move to find that release.

And then as you’re already, setting up for Shavasana, maybe a blanket comes under the head or your rolled blanket comes under the back of the knees, finding that comfortable place for the arms to rest. Maybe a blanket covers you. Wherever it is that you are in this pose of rest and integration, allow the body to feel heavy into the support of the earth, letting the earth cradle you. With each exhale, letting go into the earth. Mother Earth is there to nourish and nurture you. As you bring awareness to the forehead, allowing it to feel soft and broad and allowing the jaw to release and maybe offering a gentle swallow or yawn to help facilitate that.

Awareness into the shoulders, through the length of the arms, to the hands and the fingers. Awareness to the space of the heart, center of the chest, length of the torso. Awareness of the hips, length of the legs, to the feet and the toes. Awareness to the full length of the body, allowing the breath to move freely from where it enters at the tips of the nostrils all the way down to the toes and out through the fingertips. As you rest here with nothing to do, nowhere to go except be here in this moment, perfect as you are.

Slowly begin to deepen the breath, drawing awareness back into the room, back into the space of the body, inviting gentle movement into the fingers and toes. Gradually making those movements larger, circling wrists and ankles, stretching out long and all directions out through the legs and arms, hugging knees into the chest. You invite movement, rock side to side, or take the knees into circles moving in one direction and then the other one.

We’ll make our way to the right side pausing here for a moment, and as you’re ready, hands press into the earth to lift yourself upright, making your way back to your comfortable seat, whatever that seat looks like. Hands release to the lap or to the legs and release the tailbone, sit bones ground. Lift up out of the space of the hips. Maybe the eyes close or the gaze softens. Bring awareness back tuning in to what it feels like to be here in the space of your mind, space of your body, space of your breath here at this moment.

Breathing in, “I calm my body.” Breathing out, “I smile.” Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment. Bring our hands together at heart center, palms press into each other, and we’ll seal our practice with the sound of om, taking a full breath in, full breath out, and then inhaling to chant. Om.

So I thank you for allowing me to guide you through this practice. Namaste.

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