– Hey everyone, welcome to Yoga With Adriene. I’m Adriene and this is Benji, knucklehead, and today we have a yoga for tension relief. So it happens whether it’s from emotional or physical stress, we collection tension and this is a really cool, calming practice that’s gonna help you relieve some of that and find what feels good. So hop into something comfy and let’s get started. (bright music) Alrighty my friends, let’s begin in a comfortable seat. Go ahead and use your towel or blanket to sit on here and just lift the hips up. And a great way to gauge is if you feel like your spine is collapsing, totally normal, go ahead and lift the hips up so you can find length with a bit more ease and what this lift does is it gets the hips a little bit higher than the femur or the thigh bones and the knees so that you can find that lift with a little less struggle. So I’ve spent a lot of time on the ground by now and I’m able to kind of open up through the hips.
Some people are just born anatomically with more open hips so I really can not stress enough the importance of lifting the hips up so you can sit up nice and tall if you need. Since we are addressing tension and the way in which it accumulates in the body due to stress either physically or, let’s be honest, mentally or emotionally as well, since we are addressing tension today I think it’s important that we start in a nice comfortable position and that we already start to direct our attention or our mind towards what that feels like or even, you know, observe or notice how hard it is to get comfortable today, maybe.
So take your time, as always, settling in but really taking this first beat to notice where you are. Maybe you’re practicing along with Benji and I for preventative care today. Or maybe you have intentionally selected this video to welcome some much needed relief. Wherever you are, let’s start to gently close the eyes or soften the gaze and bring your attention inward. When you’re ready, start to notice your breath, nice and easy. So to me there’s already so much value in what you’ve already done. Made the decision, selected the video, pressed play, set yourself up to observe, to find or work to find a nice comfortable seat. So today’s sequence is quite simple but there’s a lot of depth in this opportunity that you’ve taken for yourself. There’s a lot there and as I always like to say a little goes a long way so just start off nice and easy by allowing yourself this time to simply notice and observe the breath.
You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to force anything. You certainly don’t have to push any more. But instead, with the eyes closed, lengthening up through the crown of the head, grounding down through the low body, just notice your breath. Great. And try to stay present with whatever’s going on in the moment. Again, some days it’s a struggle to land. And then some days you land, drop right in, right into that comfortable seat, into that Sukha. That Sukhasana. And then you may have observed already that by just bringing your awareness to the moment and whatever is honestly going on in the moment, things start to shift and change and we see that with the breath.
So I have not really even guided you into any technical pranayama yet but you can most likely already observe that by just bringing your awareness to the present moment your breath starts to change. So if that’s happening for you, even if it’s just like one awesome deep breath, let it. Allow it, allow it to happen. And then whatever observations you’re making here and whatever attention or listening that’s going on with the breath, see if you can keep it going but we’ll just tuck the chin just a hair and lengthen through the back of the neck.
And slowly draw the hands together at the heart. But keep going, keep breathing, keep noticing, allowing yourself to just be present with whatever you’ve got. Whatever you’ve brought to the table. Gently deepening the breath. Just inviting and/or welcoming a sense of calm to the body. So tension is a many splendid thing, no. Tension is interesting, right? Because if it’s not tended to it can really accumulate fast, right? And then the body starts to send us signals that, you know, something isn’t right and that’s that’s when things can go wrong and sometimes even terribly wrong. So, just allow yourself this time and space here to breathe and to notice and welcome a state of calm back to the body. And if it doesn’t happen right away or if it doesn’t happen in this practice just now that this time is valuable. Signaling the brain and the body saying it’s okay to take a pause, to be present with the breath and to find stillness. Then just notice where you might be gripping or holding here.
Maybe in the skin of the forehead or the jaw. The toes. The shoulders. Energetically even in the body. Just doing a quick scan. And then slowly keep breathing. Keep all your beautiful observations going as you gently bow the head to the heart, start to feel a deep stretch in the back of the neck. Again, soften through the jaw. Soften through the forehead. And with the head bowing down, see if you can lift up through the center channel, so up through the plumb line, maybe engaging the pelvic floor a bit. Then lift up through the sternum a bit. So you’re just sitting up a little bit taller within this shape. It could be a big gesture. It could be very subtle. Then start to lift the corners of your mouth.
Take one more deep breath in here. And as you exhale, slowly lift the head, bring the hands to the thighs or the knees. Head over heart, heart over pelvis here. Great, inhale in. Breathe into your belly. This time as you exhale, see if you can really listen to the sound of your breath. Maybe, perhaps, creating a little Ujjayi breath. And see if you can keep that going.
Really anchoring the brain and the breath together as one. If you’re not familiar with Ujjayi breath, essentially we’re taking the tip of the tongue to the roof of the mouth, creating this soft restriction in the back of the throat. We have a whole video on Ujjayi breath so you can find that. I will put it in the description for you if you’re interested. And at the very least we’re just seeing if we can extend the inhale, extend the exhalation. Starting to bring more pranayama technique to the practice but not losing that state of calm or that willingness to welcome the calm. See if you can get an audible breath going here.
You’re doin’ awesome. And even if you can catch a couple waves of this Ujjayi breath, you’re, I think, bound to feel almost immediate effects of this breath. It’s still so magnificent to me how quickly pranayama, focused pranayama, can really change the way we feel. Take one more cycle of breath here. And then we’ll let that go. We’re gonna open the palms now, spread the fingertips super wide open. And then close into strong fists. Here we go, big inhale to open. Stretch.
And then close, strong fists. Open. And last time, close. Super strong. And then release, allow the fingertips to now float to the fingertips. Once again, gathering some energy up through that center plumb line, the midline. You can kind of lift up, little kegel from the pelvic floor if it helps. Relax the shoulders down the back body, lift your chest. Inhale, lengthen through the crown. Neck is nice and long. Exhale slow and steady. First just take the left elbow forward and the right elbow back. So we’re not pushing and you don’t have your fingertips on the ground or really force, you’ve got to do the work from within. Using your breath to find a twist in the spine. Lower body’s nice and heavy. Crown is lifted. And then all the way back through center, right elbow forward, left elbow back.
Keep the heart lifted. Now we’re gonna speed it up. Back and forth. You can find a nice rhythm of breath here that suits you. Smile. Breathe. Back and forth, nice and easy. Head over heart, heart over pelvis, so don’t lean too far forward. And not leaning way too far back. Nice and stacked through all of the spine, all of your chakras. All those amazing, crazy points where all your nerves come together. Great, we’re here for three. Keep going. Two, and on the one release. Palms face up this time. Fingertips float down. Just take a deep breath in, notice how you feel. And a long breath out. Excellent, let’s come forward on to all fours. Move nice and slow. Move as if you’re like moving through water or nice beautiful air, thick air. Fog, I mean. Whatever. Okay, here we go. You can use your towel or your blanket to pad the knees here if you like. Excuse me, Benji. Sorry, buddy. Sorry, buddy. Spread the palms, here we go. Inhale to drop the belly, open the chest.
Exhale to round through the spine, chin to chest. Inhale to open. Exhale to contract. Press into your fingerprints. Press into the tops of the feet. Slow and steady. Inviting a softness into each gesture. So not pushing. Not forcing. Biceps and elbow creases shining forward here. Excellent. And then we’ll bring it back to a nice neutral spine. Bring your knees as wide as the yoga mat. I’m gonna place my blanket to the side but you can do whatever you like with yours. Big toes to touch and nice and slow we’re gonna melt the heart into Extended Child’s Pose. Reach the fingertips forward. Feel that opening through the shoulders as your heart melts towards your yoga mat. You can get a little kiss of the forehead on the ground here. You can even rock the forehead gently side to side. Here’s where you close your eyes and within the beautiful gentle confines of your own private little love cave here, choose to let go of any stress or tension that is in your body but honestly, in your life.
We don’t even have to identify it here right now. But sometimes we don’t even realize how strong we’re holding on to certain patterns that bring us stress. That create tension. Inhale lots of love in here. Breathe into your back body. Exhale lots of love out. Beautiful. Press into your foundation, so connect with the ground, connect with to the earth as you slowly bring it back up. Walk the knees underneath the hips and we’re gonna walk the hands out again. Eyes at elbows, so elbow creases towards the front. Biceps towards the front. We’ll curl the toes under this time and lift the hips up high, Downward Facing Dog. Excuse me little doggy. Excuse me, dog. Excuse me, dog. No animals were harmed in the making of this video. Okay, bend your knees, pedal it out. Start to find what feels good. Start to find the places that are tight. And then send your awareness and your love and your attention towards those places.
So the more we start to do this on the mat, particularly in the asana practice, you can apply this to all of your asana, the more we start to do this off the mat. In our life situations, even in something as simple as changing your pillow, the one sleep on if you’re lucky enough to be able to do that. Or, you know, letting go of certain friendships that bring tension or stress or bringing a better communication to those to relieve the stress or the tension, et cetera. Okay, we’re here for three. You’re doing great. I’m feeling some tightness and tension in my calves. I’m pedaling it out. Two, one, slowly lower back to all fours. This time bring the knees together, really together, and the arches of the feet together. You’re gonna come back into Hero Pose. If this is not good for your knees, just go back to that comfortable seated posture that you were in before. If you still want to give it a try but the knees are giving you a little bit of pain in the front or a little bit of discomfort, take your blanky or your towel and hike it up right to the backs of the knees.
And you can even double roll it and then come back and see if that feels a little bit better. Okey doke, so here we are. Virasana variation. Stacking through the spine, lifting through the heart. As you’re ready just take a second to loop the shoulders forward, up and back. Just feel your shoulder blades coming together again. As if you’re, I like to say this, pinching a pencil between your two shoulder blades. For me, the image works. Maybe it doesn’t for you but activating the upper body, not just lifting up from the heart space. So seeing the body as one moving part, right? 360. Okay, and from here we’ll bring the fingertips to the sides, lift the corners of the mouth slightly and on an inhale you’re gonna flip the palms up towards the sky and reach all the way up, up and overhead. Big breath in.
And then exhale, float it down. Inhale, palms up. This is your vinyasa. Exhale, palms down. Move nice and slow. Notice if you’re rushing here. Inhale, reach it up. Exhale, float it down. See if you can create a little resistance here. Just even in the air, this control. Excellent, one more. Inhale, reach it up. Nice and slow, spread the fingertips.
Find your Ujjayi breath. And exhale, press it down. Excellent. Fingertips reach down. If they touch the earth, great. If not, just lots of energy through the fingertips. You’re gonna take your right ear over your right shoulder. Breathe deep. Inhale in. Exhale, pressing your left hand into an imaginary surface. You’re gonna flex the left fingertips up towards the sky. So you can play around here. Pulling the pinky back or bringing the thumb forward. You should feel incredible, incredible sensation and relief in the left trap here. And you can play around with this, breathing mindfully all the way along. And then if you just got a have a little more here, you can take your right hand, gently rest it on top of your left ear. Be really mindful. Mmmmm. Woo. And if you’re feeling brave, lift your left fingertips up towards the ceiling.
Take a deep breath in. Woo, and then exhale, release. (sighs) Take a second. Lot of energy in the fingertips. And when you’re ready, left ear over left shoulder. So this might be your stopping point. I definitely feel a nice opening here from the back of the head, the atlas, all the way to my low back. Find the depth. But then if you’re ready to take it a step further, start to press your right hand into an imaginary wall and flex your right fingertips up.
So notice how I’m giving you that image of really pressing away versus just flexing the hand. So this also gets into the forearm and the wrist creating strength in the wrists. And then you can play around here. Front, back. Side to side. Notice if you’ve started to hold your breath when something tight has come along. When the tension gets magnified, can you remember to breathe deep? The audible breath is helpful. And then take one more breath cycle here to maybe bring the the left arm up. Maybe play with reaching right fingertips a little higher. Woo, and then slowly release. Awesome. Draw both shoulders up to the ears. Big inhale. Exhale, just drop it down with a sharp exhale.
(sighs) Twice more like that. Inhale. And exhale, sigh it out. (sighs) And on this third one, surprise yourself. Let out a little sound. If you have a pet or a friend around, just freak them out on this last one a little bit. Here we go. Big breath in. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze and exhale, let it go. (audibly huffs) Nothing. Okay, if you’re okay on your knees, you can stay here otherwise we’re gonna shift right back to the that comfortable seat. Bring the palms together. Close your eyes. Tuck the chin. Take a deep breath in. And as you exhale, relax your shoulders. Back to the breath, inhale. Exhale. Long inhale. Long exhale. So always, always, always remembering the breath is there for you to return to again and again and again. If you’re in Hero, go ahead and transition now. We’re gonna all come from our seated posture to the ground, nice and slow.
Come to lie flat on your back. Stretch the legs out long. Take a deep breath in. Feel supported by the earth. Hands are gonna come down to the ground and when you’re ready we’ll bend one knee and then the other bringing the heels up towards the sits bones. Toes are pointing forward not out or in. Ground through all four corners of the feet. Inhale in to lengthen through the neck. And then exhale, you’re gonna really press into the palms and press into the feet so use your foundation to start to lift up from the tailbone.
Feel this great stretch in the quads and the front of the hip creases as you lift up just into a nice, easy Bridge Pose. Nice and easy. Strong legs here. Palms are actively pressing into the ground. We lift the chest to the chin and then the chin up towards the sky. Take a deep breath in. Fill the belly with air. And then exhale to slowly lower down. Try to lower down nice and slow and with control. Sweet, then walk the feet together. Open the knees wide. Bring one hand to the heart and one hand to your belly. Take the deepest breath you’ve taken all day. Here we go, big inhale. Exhale to relax everything. Truly melt the weight of your body into the earth. Relax every toe, every finger. All the joints getting heavy.
All the muscles softening. And your energetic body takes a break. Surrenders. Part the lips gently. Close your eyes. Just take one final quiet moment here. For yourself, with yourself. And then slowly bring your attention back to the breath. Notice the rise and the fall. And we will end today’s practice by remembering that whenever we are in doubt or whenever you feel stuck or tight, full of tension and in need of relief, whenever you feel like you’re gonna die or you’re just not gonna make it, remember the breath is always there. And the breath always comes first. So if you feel like you’re in an endpoint, start again with the breath. And on that note, let’s bring the palms together. You can stay here a little bit longer, as long as you need by pausing the video after this moment. But we’ll bring the palms together, thumbs up to the third eye. And just start to smile as you breathe here. It’s all good. Everything is cyclical and what’s important is that you’re taking the time to care for yourself.
Not let that tension just keep building and building but you’re tending to it. So way to go. Remember the breath always comes first. Take a deep breath in. And a long breath out. And you can keep the legs where they are. You can slowly start to bring the knees together. Walk the feet out as wide as the yoga mat. Let the knees just fall together and we’ll sign off today’s practice by whispering, Namaste. (bright music) .