Chakras are energy centers or wheels that run from the bottom of the feet to the crown of the head and are said to move energy up and down the spine. These energy centers often correlate to specific organ systems and also to specific meridians. In this practice we take a journey from the feet all the way up, balancing the chakras, clearing blockages, releasing energy and clearing the way for a healthy mind and body! Even if you are not someone who believes in chakras or meridians - try this practice and see how feel afterwards - I think you will be surprised.
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Foot/Ankle Stretch & Toe Flip
Hold: 1-3 minutes
Sit back onto your heels with feet tops flattened back underneath your hips. Use a blanket rolled behind knees or a block/blanket to support the hips if this is too much for your knees. Stay here seated or take your hands back behind you and out to the sides and begin to lean back, taking the knees off the floor slightly. The higher your knees come off the floor, the more the tops of the feet are stretched. This pose activates all the lower body meridians and gives the feet a good stretch. To come out, lower down and come onto hands and knees then step back to Downward Facing Dog - walking your dog out for 5-8 breaths. Return to your knees and flip your toes over so the toes face your knees and the bottom of the foot is in full extension. You can lean forward to reduce the pressure OR lean back and sit on your heels. Hold here for 1 minute then release the toes and tap the tops of feet lightly on the floor.
Hold: 1-3 mins/side
Sit up with sitting bones stable on the floor or a folded blanket. Bring both feet together, knees wide to sides. Take your right leg and turn it out to the side, keeping the foot flexed. Take it back behind you as far you feel comfortable, knee bent (remember the 2/3 of your max idea). Take one hand to the inside of your legs and the other to the outside of your left leg. Sit up tall and breathe into the legs. This pose seems so simple but pay attention to releasing muscle engagement in the thighs and hips. Try to keep your abdomen in the middle and not leaning over and both hips on the floor (use blanket if necessary). To come out, bring feet back together and flutter knees up and down for 5-10 breaths. Continue to second side.
Dragonfly (Upavistha Konasana)
Hold: 2-6 minutes
Take heels wide on the mat, relaxing the knees and feet. If this is too much on your hamstrings, gently bend your knees and support with blocks if needed. Slowly bend forward, walking fingertips forward. If you are close to the floor, use a block or bolster to support your head. Breathe deeply into the entire back side of the body and drop your chin to your chest - lengthening the neck. Focus on exhaling 2-4 seconds longer than your inhale. Sense the muscles when they try to engage and send some breath to release them. Surrender to the pose and to gravity. To come out, return to upright, lift the INSIDE of the knee up and windshield wiper the legs for 5 breaths.
1/2 Melting Heart Pose (Anahatasana)
Hold: 2-5 mins
Come onto hands and knees (blanket underneath for comfort if needed). Begin to drop your belly down towards the floor keeping hips directly over knees. Start to walk your hands out in front of you (wide if that opens your shoulders more). Take your right hand and cross the forearm so you can rest your forehead on top of it or a block. Take your left arm out straight overhead or at an angle to the left. Allow your back to lengthen and your chest to drop - stretching your side body, shoulders and chest. Breathe deeply into the spine and chest (engage navel if this is too much on your lower back). To come out, engage your core and begin to lift, walking your hands back towards your knees. Take Downward Facing Dog for 5-8 breaths - bending one knee and the other. Continue to the other side with the left forearm bent under your head and right arm outstretched in front.
Hold: 2-5 mins per side
Come onto your back and walk both heels over to the right, stacking the left ankle over the right (option to just keep them side by side). Keeping the hips in place, move your upper body and head over to the right as well. Take arms up overhead and grasp left wrist with right hand OR simply take hands where you feel stretch but not pain. Turn your head wherever it feels most comfortable. Take deep breaths into the left side body feeling the opening from the left foot through the left hand. To come out, release the hands to the hips and move the upper body back to center. Slowly unwind the ankles and realign the lower body to center. Relax with arms and heels wide for 1 minute. Try the second side.
Supported Fish Pose with Sukhasana (crossed) Legs
Hold: 2-5 minutes +
Take a rolled towel or blanket across the mat. Settle down onto it with the shoulders fully supported at first and then slowly begin to inch your way towards the floor with shoulderblades barely grazing the floor behind you. Take the feet into criss cross easy seated pose with right in front of left. Start here allowing the shoulders and upper back to fully release and open. Take your arms up overhead or out to sides (even interlacing them if comfortable). You can stay here for the remainder of the time OR gently inch your way to where the shoulders are fully supported on the floor. Cross your left leg in front of your right halfway through. To come out - stretch your legs out straight for 5 breaths then bend knees, press into your feet and lifting your hips - remove the blanket from underneath. Bring your hips back down and relax for 5 more breaths before continuing.
Hold: 2-3 minutes per side
Come onto your belly taking your feet wider than the hips apart. Tuck your right arm, palm up, underneath your body and your left arm behind your right (palm up) so they are crisscrossed underneath your shoulders. Tuck your chin into the x in the middle or rest your forehead on a block or blanket. Breathe deeply and allow the shoulders to unwind and release. Have patience with this pose - breath into it and allow it to work it's magic. It is not an easy pose to hold but you will feel AMAZING when you come out! To come out, lift your chin and begin to unwind. Take a few minutes with arms bent out to sides and feel the sensations in your arms and shoulders. Take the second side crisscrossing the arms the opposite way with left arm in front of right.
Supine Windshield Wiper Twist
Hold: 2-5 minutes/side
Come onto your back. Walk your feet as wide as your mat and allow the knees to drop over to the left side. Turn your head to the right and take your arms out wide. Allow gravity to pull the knees to the ground and slowly release lower back tension. You can take the left heel onto the right thigh for a deeper pose. Come back to center and switch sides.
Hold: 5-10 minutes
Come onto your back. Allow the heels to settle out to the corners of the mat, slide your shoulder blades underneath your body, and take your hands out to the sides, palms up. Take some deep breaths, coming back to the 3 part breath - first in the belly, then in the chest and finally the collarbones - and extend the exhale even longer. Allow yourself to sigh a few times and let it all go! Take a 6 count inhale, 6 count exhale, 6 count hold at the bottom of the exhale for 3-5 rounds. Focus on your breath and let go.
I have been "playing" and experimenting with yoga, aromatherapy and healthy living since my late teens - researching, testing, reading, investigating, and learning anything that would make my life - and the lives around me - better naturally.
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All rights reserved by Aprille Walker and The Yoga Ranger Studio 2014-2018 (copyrighted material)