The quiet snow has given many of us the gift of a forced break. Because yin yoga is by nature a quieter practice, take today to enjoy the following quick sequence:
Grab a yoga mat and blanket if you want to add some padding under your knees, and keep your phone nearby to use as a timer.
Remember, yin yoga is a safe way to stretch and stress the deep connective tissues and bones. Alignment is important but since most of these asana are passive, consciously allow muscles to relax completely. Use a gentle and subtle breath to assist relaxation, depth in the pose, and focus/meditation.
CHILD’S POSE (5 minutes)
From table top position, open your knees a little wider than hip width and lower your hips toward your heels. Position in your arms at your sides with the palms face up. Don’t worry if your hips do not exactly touch your heels at the beginning of the pose as over the next several minutes your body will release. If your forehead does not come to the floor, you might use a rolled up blanket or towel or a yoga block if you have one. Placing something underneath the forehead allows the neck and head to relax more fully. There are a few other options: arms stretched forward, either straight or elbows bent and fingers touching behind the head; The knees and feet can be closer together for a deeper stretch of the lower back; or you might also want to use a towel or blanket behind the knees to ease any discomfort there.
Child’s pose lengthens the lower back, opens tight knees, ankles and quads and relaxes the shoulders. Beyond the physical benefits, child’s pose is centering, encourages the relaxation response, and is introspective.
TWISTED ROOTS (each side 3-5 minutes)
Lie down on your back and stretch both arms out shoulder height with palms facing up. Bend both knees with feet on the floor and cross your left leg over your right leg. Now drop both knees over to the right. To deepen the stretch, scoot your hips a little bit over to the left and place the right hand on top of the left knee. You might need to readjust the arms or shoulders to keep the shoulders flat to the floor. Remember a good twist in yoga is demonstrated in the relationship of the pelvis to the shoulders. In this case, the shoulders will be flat to the floor and the pelvis approximately perpendicular to the floor. Turn your head which ever direction feels good to you. Now relax completely. After your timer goes off, use your hands to scoop your knees up, carefully uncross your legs and windshield wiper the knees side to side for 1 minute. Straighten your legs to the floor and take one minute in corpse pose. Let’s do the other side: bend both knees with the feet on the floor and cross your right leg over your left. Drop both knees over to the left this time.
Twisted roots is a powerful posture in many ways. Not only is this calming to the mind, twists are neutralizing to the spine: they provide a “squeeze and soak” of intervertebral discs (helping to keep the cushions between each vertebra healthy). And because of the position of the legs, the sacroiliac joint is being decompressed, which can help relieve some symptoms of sciatica. Depending on position of the arms, the chest, shoulders and arms may get a mild stretch as well.
HAPPY BABY (5 minutes)
From corpse pose lift both legs up, reach your arms between your knees and grab the outsides of the feet. Welcome to happy baby pose. Allow the legs, low back, shoulders and hands to relax. If the head is not resting on the floor, you might find your blanket and make a small cushion to rest the back of the head upon. Take the next several minutes to explore movement in happy baby pose: easy rocking side to side; gently straightening and bending each leg or both legs simultaneously; crisscrossing the ankles. Take a few minutes longer to hold happy baby in stillness, exploring the posture in a true yin manner. If you have more time for practice, hold one leg and release the other to the floor for a tremendous stretch to the extended leg. Take three minutes each side in this version.
Happy baby stretches the wrists, shoulders, low back, hips, and legs. It is playful and rejuvenating, just like the name implies.
SAVASANA (take as much time as you can)
As you likely know, Savasana translates to “corpse pose”. Relax your entire being in Savasana, laying flat, arms and legs outstretched. Close your eyes and soften completely. Savasana is when your body receives the benefits of your practice. It creates a balancing effect throughout, on all levels, helps slow down brain waves and other autonomic functions. There are many variations in savasana, but what is most important is allowing yourself the time to be still and quiet.
As always, thank you guys for your time and willingness to practice. Namaste.