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Practice with Clara

Open and Listen (32-mins) Lila Flow

Open and Listen is a short Lila Flow yoga class that opens the neck, shoulders, and chest as you flow through a mandala sequence towards Ustrasana (camel pose). This class includes quad strengthening, inner thigh stretching, and chaturanga push-ups to activate the core, chest, and upper back muscles. This class opens with ujjayi pranayama and closes with Nadi Shodhana to soothe the nervous system.

The shoulders and neck are the links between the mind and the heart. When there’s a constriction in this area, this points to a blockage in the communication between the intuition/deep knowing and the rational/logical mind. When these two areas are cohesive, when the rational and intuitive are communicating, we can make decisions that connect and align with our integrity.

Style: Lila Flow

Duration: 32-minutes

Level: open-levels

Props: 2 blocks, 1 strap

Focus: shoulder and chest opening with ustrasana (camel)

Location: Lila Familia Production Studio, Vancouver, BC

Spotify Playlist: Open and Listen

Seated Meditation 

Come to a seat of your choice. Close your eyes and begin to inhale and exhale through the nose. Begin to cultivate Ujjayi Pranayama.

Ujjayi breath translates from Sanskrit as ‘victorious breath’ and is used in vinyasa yoga to build heat, connect the body to the breath, and create a rhythmic quality to the flow of the class. When we build heat from the inside with our breath, we massage the internal organs as we begin to move. Ujjayi is sustained for the duration of the solar portion of the class and released as we enter the softer, lunar part of the class, where the exhales lengthen to help the body cool down.

This style of pranayam stimulates the nadis (energy channels) to enhance mental clarity and focus.

Benefits include:

  • Feeling a sense of groundedness and ease
  • Warms the body from the inside
  • Massages the organs
  • Stimulates the flow of prana to clear the nadis
  • Releases tension in the body
  • Improves concentration in the mind

See how to do Ujjayi breath in this short tutorial.

Opening Mantra

Chant the bija seed mantra twice for the heart – YAM

1x – with hands stacked over the heart center.

2x – with hands at the forehead and back of the head.

Opening Movement 

From your seat, interlace your hands overhead and press each palm to the sky

  • Inhale at the center with arms stretched upwards.
  • Exhale and lean over to one side to lengthen the side waist.
  • Inhale and move towards the center with hands above the crown.
  • Exhale and lean over to the opposite side.
  • Repeat a few times on either side.
  • Cactus your arms wide to either side.
  • Inhale and reach your arms over your head.
  • Exhale and cactus your arms wide.
  • Repeat several times to open the shoulders and chest.
  • Reach your arms overhead.
  • Exhale and take your arms wide and down to the ground.

Come to stand at the top of your mat for tadasana (mountain pose).

Opening Wave

Tadasana (mountain pose)

Urdvha Hastasana (hands to sky)

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Ardha Uttanasana (half lift)

Anjaneyasana (lunge) variation

  • Take the strap in your hands and make a V-shape with your arms
  • Inhale and reach your arms upwards and pull your arms away from each other
  • Exhale and extend your arms forward in line with the shoulders
  • Inhale and take your arms up above the crown of the head
  • Exhale and take your arms wide and back behind you
  • Repeat several cycles, moving the arms forward, up and back behind you.

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog)

Phalakasana (plank pose)

Chaturanga

Bhujangasana (cobra pose) variation

  • Lift your palms off of the ground
  • Cactus your arms wide to either side
  • Inhale and lift your head and torso
  • Exhale and lower just your forehead to the ground
  • Repeat several times

Bhujangasana (cobra pose)

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog)

Eka pada adho mukha svanasana (three-legged downward dog)

Parivrtta Anjaneyasana (revolved lunge) variation

  • Take one hand to the ground a little wide of the shoulder
  • Take the other hand to the sky
  • Inhale and reach the lifted arm a little higher
  • Exhale and take the lifted hand to touch the opposite wrist
  • Repeat several times

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Ardha Uttanasana (half lift)

Urdvha Hastasana (hands to sky)

Tadasana (mountain pose)

Repeat the same sequence on the other leg.

Wave 2 

Tadasana (mountain pose)

Utkatasana (chair pose)

Uttanasana (forward fold)

Ardha Uttanasana (half lift)

Anjaneyasana (lunge) variation

  • Bend your back knee so that it hovers a little from the ground
  • Take your arms wide to either side
  • Inhale and straighten the back leg and you lift the chest and reach the arms wide.
  • Exhale and bend your back knee as you tuck the chin to your chest and wrap your arms around yourself
  • Repeat several times

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog)

Phalakasana (plank pose) variation

  • Take 8 chaturanga push-ups with kees on or off the ground
  • Or hold plank pose for 8 breaths

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog)

Eka pada adho mukha svanasana (3-legged downward dog)

Virabhadrasana II (warrior 2 pose)

Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (side angle pose) variation

  • Take your front arm to your thigh
  • Extend the opposite arm behind you towards the back of the mat
  • Flip the back palm so it faces away from you
  • Draw the bottom ear towards your shoulder
  • Breathe into the side of your neck and scalenes
  • Press down through your heels
  • Stay for a couple of seconds

Virabhadrasana II (warrior 2 pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana (wide legged fold) variation

  • Take your hands overhead and clasp them with palms facing the sky; as you fold, keep your arms in line with your ears.
  • You can also place your hands on your hips or the ground/blocks.
  • Inhale and stay at the center with legs straight
  • Exhale and bend one knee as you shift your hips to that side
  • Inhale and straighten the leg
  • Exhale and bend the opposite leg
  • Repeat several times

Prasarita Padottanasana (wide legged fold)

Virabhadrasana II (warrior 2 pose) to the back of your mat

Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (side angle pose) variation

  • Take your front arm to your thigh
  • Extend the opposite arm behind you towards the back of the mat
  • Flip the back palm so it faces away from you
  • Draw the bottom ear towards your shoulder
  • Breathe into the side of your neck and scalenes
  • Press down through your heels
  • Stay for a couple of seconds

Virabhadrasana II (warrior 2 pose)

Utkata Konasana (goddess pose) variation

  • Inhale and take your arms overhead
  • Exhale and cactus your arms wide to either side
  • Inhale and draw your elbows and palms together in front of your chest
  • Exhale and keep your palms together as you straighten your arms
  • Inhale and take the arms out to the sides
  • Exhale and bend your knees to sit a little deeper
  • Inhale and reach your arms overhead
  • Repeat several times

Prasarita Padottanasana (wide legged fold)

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog) facing the front of your mat

Phalakasana (plank pose) variation

  • Take 8 chaturanga push-ups with kees on or off the ground
  • Or hold plank pose for 8 breaths

Balasana (child’s pose)

Adho mukha svanasana (down dog)

Eka pada adho mukha svanasana (three-legged downward dog)

Parivrtta Anjaneyasana (revolved lunge) variation

  • Take one hand to the ground a little wide of the shoulder
  • Take the other hand to the sky
  • Inhale and reach the lifted arm a little higher
  • Exhale and take the lifted hand to touch the opposite wrist
  • Repeat several times

Cooling Sequence

Ustrasana (camel pose)

  • Keep your hands on your low back
  • Or, take your hands to your heels
  • Breathe into the front of your chest

Upavistha Bitilasana Marjaryasana (seated cat/cow)

Marichyasana (seated spinal twist)

Closing Pranayama

Nadi Shodhana

This style of pranayama carries more oxygen to the blood than regular breathing; it also soothes the nervous system, helps create calm in the body and mind, and balances the subtle body. Nadi Shodhana lowers the heart rate and reduces stress and anxiety as it purifies the subtle energy channels so the Prana (breath, life-force) can flow with ease.

Sushumna is the body’s central channel and largest energy line. It is the home to the seven chakras. Two energy lines traverse Sushumna called Ida and Pingala. These two energy lines refer to the right and left sides of the brain; through these energy lines, or Nadis, we create balance in the body and connect the two hemispheres through the breath. Ida and Pingala represent the other two main energy lines that move from the base of the spine to the crown of the head.

Pingala represents solar energy, masculine, extroverted, bright, left hemisphere.

Ida represents lunar energy, feminine, introverted, dark, right hemisphere.

We need both energies to be whole. We need both energies to feel balanced in body and mind. When we connect such dualistic expressions, we create our reality. Without the opposition of the other, there is no creation story.

Nadi Shodhana set up:

  • Take your thumb to your right nostril,
  • Take your ring and pinkie fingers to the left nostril
  • Place your index and middle finger to your third eye between the brows.

Nadhi Shodhana how-to:

  • Plug your right nostril and inhale on the left side
  • Plug both nostrils and hold at the top
  • Release the right nostril and exhale from the right side
  • Pause at the bottom
  • Inhale on the right nostril
  • Plug both nostrils and hold at the top
  • Release the left nostril and exhale
  • Pause at the bottom
  • Repeat several cycles on your own.

Seated meditation or savasana to close.