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Practice with Clara

Unwind with a hip-focused class to treat the legs and pelvis; this class brings length and ease to the adductors, hamstrings, and glutes. Fluid and slower-paced, this class features rhythmic movement using the arms and legs to stimulate the flow of prana (breath) through the body. Stay low to the ground for a reclined spinal twist flow, hip mandalas, and abdominal crunches. Come up to sit for Janu Sirsasana (head-to-knee forward bend) and a supported variation of Paschimottanasana (forward fold).

Style: Hatha

Duration: 24-mins

Level: Open-level class

Props: 1 block, 1 bolster, 1 strap

Focus: Hip openers

Location: Lila Familia Production Studio, Vancouver, BC

Yoga before bed shifts the nervous system into rest and digest mode where the heart rate slows, the breath is long and deep, and the mind enters a calm state. In rest and digest, Alpha waves are released in the brain that helps slow sensory input and clears the mind. Alpha waves are present when practicing mindfulness through activities such as meditation or slow movement. In this space, we feel relaxed and have more access to our creative thinking. An increase in Alpha waves has also been linked to lessening anxiety and depression.

This sequence offers rhythmic movement that links the body to the breath and longer-held poses to allow a passive stretch in each posture. The rhythmic movement cleanses the body of mental, emotional, or physical stressors before meditation or stillness. A little bit of movement before rest may help you shift into a deeper state of quiet as you hold each pose.

Opening Sequence 

Pose 1

Be still and breathe reclined on your mat.

On your back, feet wide as your mat, knees knock inwards to release the inner thighs.

Be still and breathe. Inhale, belly rises, exhale belly lowers.

As you inhale, breathe in the essence you want to create in your practice— it may be a sense of quiet, calm, or surrender. As you exhale, breathe out any tension that you’re holding on to in body or mind.

Pose 2

Reclined spinal twist flow (1) with arm.

Inhale, curl chin to chest with torso facing the side, elbows touch.

Exhale, open into your twist by taking your chest to the sky and arm wide.

Pose 3

Reclined spinal twist flow (2) with leg.

Inhale, take your top knee to chest and pause.

Exhale, extend your leg towards the bottom of your mat.

Pose 4

Hip mandalas on the side.

Laying on your side, cradle your head with the arm on the earth, and draw circles with the extended leg to open and release the adductors (inner thigh muscles) and glutes (outer hip muscles).

Draw your circles in both directions, close your eyes, and open to a deeper breath.

Pose 5

Inner thigh stretch flow.

Inhale, take your knee towards the ceiling to open the inner groins.

Exhale, take your knee to meet its partner on the ground to close the legs and pause.

Pose 6 

On your back, cactus arms wide to either side and rest.

Repeat on the other side.

Core Sequence

Pose 7

Abdominal crunches.

This motion ignites the core muscles and opens the upper back.

On your back, place your feet on the earth with knees bent, and take eagle arms by wrapping one arm under and then catch your shoulders with your palms.

Inhale, chin to chest, and curl your head and shoulders up away from the ground.

Exhale, lower the upper back to the earth.

Keep your eyes closed and breathe into the back body as you gently curl and crunch.

Repeat on the other side.

Closing Sequence 

Pose 8 

Leg mandalas.

Bring knees to chest and draw circles with your legs in both directions, hands placed on the shins or knees, or keep them resting against the earth to stimulate more core.

Hands to knees, roll along the spine to massage the spine.

Rock up to take a seat.

Pose 9

Windshield wipe legs.

Take your legs wide and gently rock your knees from side to side.

This movement opens the inner lines of the legs and hips.

Use your hands on the ground for support or lift your hands to activate the core as you gently move your legs.

Pose 10

Janu sirsasana (head-to-knee forward bend).

Extend one leg long and hook the pad of the opposite foot to the inner thigh.

Take a strap and hook it around the ball of the foot that’s extended.

Lengthen your spine by rooting the sits bones into the earth as you draw your heart toward your toes.

As you press your foot in the strap and pull back with your hands, roll your head in slow circles to release any tension at the neck, chest, and top of the shoulders.

Repeat on the other side.

Pose 11

Paschimottanasana (forward fold).

Take a supported forward fold with a bolster behind the knees.

Place a block between your knees on the bolster, and rest your head on the block.

Arms can extend long on either side of your mat.

Close your eyes, and draw out the exhale breath to soften and release into the pose.

Pose 12

Savasana or seated meditation.

Close your eyes and bring your awareness and breath to the belly.