Swan/Pigeon Pose

Pose Breakdown | Pigeon/Swan

Today we break down a pose I have a constant love/hate relationship with – swan pose! Most commonly known as pigeon pose, this is a great stretch to add into your daily routine no matter what kind of day you’ve had. It allows you to gently dig into the deep tissues of the hip socket and find awesome release! The reason I struggle with this pose sometimes is because it can be really intense! Make sure you pay attention to ways to modify this if it’s a bit too much for you today. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Swan/Pigeon Pose

Directions

Starting in table top pose, stretch your left leg back behind you. Begin to draw the left knee toward the left wrist and set the shin down at the top of the mat. Scoot your right leg back until you can hang heavily into the hips. Support yourself with a blanket if needed. Take a few moments upright and then begin to lower forward as your body opens up. As surges of sensation arise, allow yourself a moment’s pause and breathe until the intensity settles, then dive a little deeper. *Repeat on the other side*

Swan/Pigeon PoseSwan/Pigeon Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes

  • DON’T RUSH – The point of the posture is to find resistance and breathe through it. Rushing beyond your sensations is not only physically unsafe but it’s robbing you from the true experience of release.
  • DETAILS – Make sure that your hips stay level and that your back heel lines up with your knee and hip.

Variations

  1. Reclined/Seated Pigeon | If you have knee or ankle sensitivity or if the posture is simply too intense on your body, take this refreshing variation to lighten to burden on the hip as it releases.
  2. Double Pigeon | If pigeon pose is a stretch that feels nice and you’d like to go another layer deeper, you can transition from your pigeon pose into double pigeon by drawing the back leg forward and situate it above the forward leg/shin. Make sure that your ankles are okay with this as there will be a lot of pressure on those joints in the pose.
  3. Threaded Needle | If the left leg is forward, you can take the right arm and thread it under the left resting on the right side of the face. You can add a deep quad stretch here by bending the back knee and grabbing for the ankle with a strap or your hand.
Reclined Pigeon Variation

Reclined Pigeon Variation

Double Pigeon w/blanket

Double Pigeon w/blanket

Threaded Needle variation

Threaded Needle variation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BENEFITS

  • Externally rotates the hips, especially helpful after a long day of sitting or standing still.
  • Releases the fronts of the legs in the quadriceps and up into the hip flexors (for the back leg)
  • Upright, this pose serves as a nice backbend helping to restore the natural curvature of the spine.
  • Increases blood circulation from the top of the body to the bottom, creating a balancing effect body and mind.

ENERGETICS

  • Stimulates the urinary and kidney lines through the inner groin region; gall bladder and urinary through the low back when sitting upright; and the stomach and spleen which pass across the top of the leg (back leg).
  • Gently energizes: When sitting upright in pigeon, you will find a small backbend creating a natural surge of energy. Great to do after a long day at work when feeling groggy.
  • Emotional release: The hips are known to house emotional stress. Whether it’s happiness, sadness, stress, fear, worry, etc. a lot of that stress finds it’s way to the hips by tightening up the fascia in that region. When you sit in this pose for an extended amount of time, it is common to encounter some of these emotions coming to the surface ready to release. If this occurs, simply breathe and let go. Try not to resist these things as they are meant to be sent out.

USE CAUTION: Contraindications for this posture include…

  • Vertebral issues in the lumbar spine/SI joint. Be sure to support yourself using props so you are careful not to strain these already sensitive joints. Sitting onto a block or blanket (under front hip) is a good way to support and stabilize these areas.
  • Numbness. If you start to feel tingly, please be sure to back out of the pose until this numbing sensation ceases. You do not want to put pressure on your nerves in this way as it will damage functionality over time.
  • Knee/Ankle sensitivity or injury. If you have any current or previous injury or pain in these joints, take a modified version of this pose until you find that the joints are ready for more intensity. This could take a long time or a matter of weeks. Be patient and trust the process.

HOLD: 5-7 minutes, depending on your own personal needs. Come up very slowly from this posture (as in any yin pose).

COUNTER POSTURES 

You want to stretch out the leg that was bend after a pose like this, especially following a long hold.  One nice option is  to take a 3 legged downward dog or table top and move your leg/knee in circular directions until you find a good release.

Table top/down dog counter poses

Table top/down dog counter poses

Thrive_FBEvent

THRIVE: Fall 2016

Good afternoon my friends!

I am excited to announce that I will be offering my four-week series on self-love called “Thrive” again in October! This series will include yoga classes, a cleanse, journaling, accountability…and so much more!

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DATES

FRI OCT 21 | 7:00PM – 9:00PM | Kickoff Meeting & Yoga Class

MON, OCT 24 | 5:30PM – 6:30PM | Weekly Meeting

MON, OCT 31 | 5:30PM – 6:30PM | Weekly Meeting

MON, NOV 7 | 5:30PM – 6:30PM | Weekly Meeting

MON, NOV 14 | 5:30PM – 6:30PM | Weekly Meeting

FRI NOV 18  | 7:00PM – 9:00PM | Celebration & Yoga Class 

Are you an Inspire Yoga member? Save $50 on registration!

Not a member? I am thrilled to be able to include 4 complimentary yin yoga sessions in your tuition pricing. These classes are held each Monday evening during Thrive at Inspire Yoga in Denton at 7:30PM.

Interested in learning some of the specifics? Join me for a free info session held at Cupboard Natural Foods on September 26th at 5:30PM or email me at nancynelsonyoga@gmail.com

SPACE IS LIMITED. Sign up today!

Inspire Yoga Members | $150

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Non-members | $200

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TERMS & CONDITIONS: BY CLICKING “BUY NOW” AND PURCHASING THE THRIVE FOUR-WEEK SERIES YOU ARE RESERVING YOUR SPACE IN THE WORKSHOP. NO REFUNDS, EXCHANGES OR RETURNS AFTER 10/1/2016. 

If you follow my blog and are not local to the DFW area, I’m working on formatting this program into an online version. For those of you who have already expressed interest – I have your name and email saved and will contact you as soon as it’s ready!

Alternatively if you would like to offer this workshop at your home studio, condensed into a weekend, contact me about details and scheduling.

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Pose Breakdown | Saddle

Saddle Pose!

A personal favorite. There’s nothing like a long release in this pose. The stretch through the hip flexors, low back and fronts of the ankles. However, it hasn’t always been on a pose I look forward to. I remember one of the first yin classes that I attended, we were instructed into this pose. As soon as I tried to sit down in between my heels my ankles and knees cried out in agony. I’m pretty sure the girl next to me heard them scream! As I barely made my way into anything near to this shape, that same girl next to me comfortably reclined back into the full variation of the pose. It was baffling. It took me a year or so, but I kept showing up to this pose when it made its way to me. Each time, I found my way millimeter by centimeter deeper until my body decided to organically fall all the way to the floor. Now, everyone is built differently – so your final pose, will look different than mine. And that’s a beautiful thing! So let’s find YOUR perfect variation of this pose…

Directions

Sit back onto your heels (toes untucked) to start. You can stay here for a few moments to open up the anterior sides of the ankles. After about 30 seconds or so, begin to lift your hips and open your feet wider than the hips, while keeping the knees about hips distance from each other. Begin to sit back onto a block or two to start. If you find plenty of sensation with 1-2 blocks, stay supported the whole time. If you are able to drop the hips all the way down in between the heels, make sure there is no pain in the knees or ankles – only a deep stretching sensation.

hips supported on blocks

hips supported on blocks

hips on the earth

hips on the earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you find a good amount of sensation, pause and breathe. From here, you can choose to stay upright as you are or to recline. If you want a deeper stretch across the front of the body, begin to walk your hands behind you leaning back into them. Pause here and then decide if you’d like to go deeper.

If you are supported on a block, only go back as far as your forearms or to a bolster (pictured). This will help eliminate an over-extension in the lumbar spine (which would occur if you were to go all the way down while the hips are propped.)

If you are NOT supported on a block and feel like reclining, you can release as far as the floor behind you. Don’t get in a rush! You have plenty of time here. If your knees start to lift up at any point, you have gone too far. Come out of the variation of the pose until your knees can come back down to the earth.

reclining while hips are supported by a block

reclining while hips are supported by a block

reclined pose on a bolster without a prop under hips

reclined pose on a bolster without a prop under hips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

reclined pose without a prop under hips

reclined pose without a prop under hips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes

  • DON’T RUSH – The point of the posture is to find resistance and breathe through it. Rushing beyond your sensations is not only physically unsafe but it’s robbing you from the true experience of release.
  • DETAILS – Make sure that your toes stay pointed toward the back of the room rather than splaying out to either side of you. Small details like this will keep your knees and ankles safe.
  • COMPRESSION – To lessen compression in the low back when reclining, pick up the hips and scoot them forward so that your lumbar spine can lengthen out a bit more.

Variations

  1. Rolled blanket under the knees | If you have knee sensitivity, you can support your body by bringing a blanket or small bolster under the knees. This just adds a little cushion for the boney parts of the knee joints to rest into.
  2. Half Hero/Saddle | If the full posture (with both knees bent) is too much for your body, take just half of the pose at a time. Start with the one knee bent and keep the other leg straight out in front of you or bent with the foot grounded in front of your hips. Make sure you do both sides evenly in time and any added variations.

BENEFITS

  • Creates space in the low back/sacrum area, which tends to be compressed from sitting with rounded spines much of our day.
  • Releases the fronts of the legs and hips; Stretches the muscles that are needed for strong internal hip postures (Warrior 1, Crescent lunge, Bridge pose, etc)
  • Helps create balancing release for those that struggle with restless leg syndrome

ENERGETICS

  • Stimulates the urinary, spleen, stomach and kidney meridian lines.
  • Gently energizes: This posture is a backbend, but one that helps to restore mobility in the lower back as well as a small release of stress in the upper back. This is a great posture to do if you are in the midst of a pile of paper work and need a mental boost. But it’s not too energizing so that your heart will be going to fast (as with wheel pose) to focus. It can also have a very balancing effect because in a sense this pose also calms the mind. Closing your eyes here for a few moments can be a powerful tool of meditation and relaxation.

USE CAUTION: Contraindications for this posture include…

  • Vertebral issues in the lumbar spine/SI joint. Be sure to support yourself using props so you are careful not to strain these already sensitive joints.
  • Numbness. If you start to feel tingly, please be sure to back out of the pose until this numbing sensation ceases. You do not want to put pressure on your nerves in this way as it will damage functionality over time.
  • Knee/Ankle sensitivity or injury. If you have any current or previous injury or pain in these joints, steer clear of this posture until you can safely enter with no pain. Seek your doctor’s advice if you are unsure.

HOLD: 3-5 minutes, depending on your own personal needs. Come up very slowly from this posture (as in any yin pose). Allow your spine to lengthen back up as slowly as it descended downward.

COUNTER POSTURES 

Stretch one leg back at a time to help release the ankle into a flexed shape (counters the ankle extension in the posture)

Saddle/Hero Pose

 

 

 

 

 

Childs pose will help to lengthen the low back out again. Roll the head side to side if your neck needs an extra release as well.

Childs Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2287

Pose Breakdown | Caterpillar

Hungry-caterpillar

In yin, there are all of these fun other names for the poses. Don’t ask me why, because I honestly don’t know. In the case of a seated forward fold pose – rather than Paschimottanasana which means “intense stretch pose”, we call it caterpillar. So let’s learn how to bend like the caterpillars do, shall we?

 

Directions

  1. Find a comfortable seat with the legs extended out in front of you. Engage the feet and flex the toes toward the ceiling. On an exhale, begin to slowly move forward toward the legs. As you lower, think about reaching the chest toward the feet to elongate the lumbar (low) spine.

DandasanaIMG_2292

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Once you find a good amount of sensation, pause and breathe. Stop at the first surge of sensation rather than diving into a destination (ie. the toes, forehead to legs, etc.). When you do feel ready to settle in, allow your head to hang heavy. I used a block for a few minutes before lowering down further. Your feet can relax and your upper back can round.

The point of the posture is to find resistance and breathe through it. Rushing beyond your sensations is not only physically unsafe but it’s robbing you from the true experience of release.

IMG_2293Caterpillar Pose - Forward FoldCaterpillar Pose - Forward Fold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variations

  1. Rolled blanket under the knees | If you have knee sensitivity or extra tight hamstrings (like me!), you can support your body by bringing a rolled blanket or small bolster under the knees. This will allow the knees to bend a bit so that you don’t stress the muscles as you fold forward.

Caterpillar Pose - Forward Fold

 

 

 

 

2. Folded blanket under the hips | If your low back is injured or pained in any way by this pose, sitting onto the very edge of a blanket will help to properly tilt the pelvis so that you can find a little more forward motion. You can elevate yourself as high as you need to.

BENEFITS

  • Releases commonly tight areas of the body: hamstrings, knees, back
  • Enhances mobility of the spine (when done properly)
  • Gentle compression of stomach which helps strengthen the digestive organs
  • Betters kidney function

ENERGETICS

  • Stimulates the urinary bladder meridian (spine)
  • Calms: forward bends are known to create a sense of calm, helping practitioners to tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which levels the heart rate and creates a sense of peacefulness in both the body and the mind.

USE CAUTION: Contraindications for this posture include…

  • Vertebral issues in the cervical spine (neck). Be sure to support yourself using props so you are careful not to strain these already sensitive joints.
  • Numbness. If you start to feel tingly, please be sure to back out of the pose until this numbing sensation ceases. You do not want to put pressure on your nerves in this way as it will damage functionality over time.

HOLD: 3-5 minutes, depending on your own personal needs. Come up very slowly from this posture (as in any yin pose). Allow your spine to lengthen back up as slowly as it descended downward.

COUNTER POSTURES 

Sukhasana/Easy Seated pose 

Sukhasana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat/Cow Stretches

Take a few moments in table top pose to move through several rounds of cat and cow. Inhales bring your belly toward the earth, gaze to the sky and exhales help you to round your back like an angry cat and drop the head. Add on any other movements that feel organic in your body.

Anahatasana - Melted Heart Pose

Pose Breakdown | Anahatasana – Melted Heart

Good morning, friends!

As a part of my grand comeback, I’ve decided to post a yin pose breakdown every Monday morning. My hope is that you can utilize these specifics of the postures to find more freedom and release in your practice.


Anahatasana – Melted Heart Pose

Anahatasana - Melted Heart Pose

Getting into the pose…

Starting from table top, begin to walk the hands forward.

Starting from table top, begin to walk the hands forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping the hips above the knees, begin to drop the chest down toward the earth, resting your forehead on the mat.

Keeping the hips above the knees, begin to drop the chest down toward the earth, resting your forehead on the mat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variations

If you have a healthy neck and are craving more sensation, begin to reach your gaze forward and place your chin to the mat instead (top image). This should cause NO PAIN. If it does, back out of it. If dropping your chest this low is uncomfortable on the shoulders, neck, back - bring a block under the chest for support (bottom photo).

If you have a healthy neck and are craving more sensation, begin to reach your gaze forward and place your chin to the mat instead (top image). This should cause NO PAIN. If it does, back out of it. If dropping your chest this low is uncomfortable on the shoulders, neck, back – bring a block under the chest for support (bottom photo).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you find the need for more release in the shoulders, elevate the pose to intensify the stretch. Placing your triceps onto two blocks and bringing the hands to prayer above the head. Once you're set up, let the head hang low.

If you find the need for more release in the shoulders, elevate the pose to intensify the stretch. Placing your triceps onto two blocks and bringing the hands to prayer above the head. Once you’re set up, let the head hang low.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If this pose is too much for your body all together, you can find a similar stretch in childs pose.

Anahatasana - Melted Heart Pose - Childs Pose variation

 

 

 

 

BENEFITS

  • Releases commonly tight areas of the body: shoulders, neck, upper back
  • Enhances mobility of the shoulder girdle
  • Energizes: backbends are known to create a natural surge of physical and mental energy

ENERGETICS

  • Stimulates the urinary bladder meridian (spine), heart/lung lines (arms), and the spleen/stomach (chest release). Tapping into these energetic lines in the body can help to improve overall function in these associated organs.
  • Practicing this pose can lead to a sense of openness and joy. Two emotions we express from the heart region. In the same respect, it has the tendency to also guide us into an awareness of the fear and worry present in our lives. These two emotions are a major root of the physical stress we see in Anahatasana. If you experience any of these emotions while in the pose, practice a complete (3-part) breath and trust that you are releasing what you need to let go of here. You can always back out if it becomes too much.

USE CAUTION: Contraindications for this posture include…

  • Vertebral issues in the cervical spine (neck). Be sure to support yourself using props so you are careful not to strain these already sensitive joints.
  • Numbness. If you start to feel tingly, please be sure to back out of the pose until this numbing sensation ceases. You do not want to put pressure on your nerves in this way as it will damage functionality over time.

HOLD: 3-5 minutes, depending on your own personal needs.

COUNTER POSTURES

Childs pose (arms back)

Full Body Release Yin Sequence - Childs pose

 

 

 

 

 

Hero/Saddle pose (seated) + add neck release if it might feel supportive in your body

Back of Neck Stretch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Questions? Leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to follow up!

Namaste

Summer Stretch Yin - Half Childs Pose

Yin Yoga | Summer Stretch

Hello yogis!

First of all, I want to say that I have felt a huge void in not posting over the last couple of months. Sharing my sequences and thoughts with all of you fills up my heart with so much love! We recently moved into our first home and were in the midst of the renovation so my brain had little time to devote to the creativity and heart that I put into these posts. But I’m happy to announce that we are finally moved in and I have plenty of space to BREATHE! Also, I’m excited to take some photos of my sequences in our new home in the future. So be on the lookout for our pretty pine floors!

Today I thought I’d share a nice sequence that feels good from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. Nothing like a full body stretch to release some of the heat and heaviness that the summer tends to bring (especially in the crazy Texas weather!) My hope is that you will feel renewed and ready for whatever lies ahead for you this week as you follow this yummy yin sequence. Feel free to leave comments or questions below. I’m always happy to answer questions and follow up on requests!

This class is intended for about 75 minutes but can be modified to 60 if needed.

My playlist

Childs pose (5 min) – From a table top pose, begin to drop your hips back to your heels. Depending on what feels best for you, choose to draw your knees together or apart and utilize props where you feel resistance in the body.

Full Body Release Yin Sequence - Childs pose

 

 

 

 

 

Toe squat (2 min) – Walk the hands forward to table top and begin to tuck all 10 toes underneath you. Walk your hands back in toward you until you feel a good amount of sensation, perhaps resting them in the lap or keeping them in front for support. If there still isn’t enough sensation, you can walk the knees forward an inch or too to increase sensation creating more of an angle in the foot (bottom right photo). Make sure that stubborn pinky toe doesn’t escape!

Full Body Release Yin - Toe Stretch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Counter this pose by walking the hands forward and moving through a few rounds of Cat/Cow maybe tapping the tops of the feet gently on the floor to release the toes.

Threaded Needle (3 min) – Press back into table top and send the left leg out to the side. Begin to lift the left arm to the sky. Take an inhale and use the exhale to guide the left hand across the mat and through to the right side, landing your shoulder and the corner of the head. Right arm can reach overhead or wrap around the back depending on what feels right in your body. If it’s too much, you are welcome to draw the extended leg back in to simplify.

Summer Stretch Yin - Threaded Needle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/2 Childs pose (2 min) – Gently rise up, stretching the left arm back up to observe the difference then set the arm down next to the right. Begin to drop the hips back sitting toward the right heel, keeping the left leg extended or take a traditional childs pose if more suitable for your needs.

Summer Stretch Yin - Half Childs Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lizard pose (5 min) – Come back up to table top and bring the left leg forward to the outside of the right hand. Adjust through the back knee until you can drop the hips comfortably in a downward and forward motion. You want to find a nice release in the right hip flexor (front of your hip) and back of your left hip (around the glute area). As you rest here, if you find it might help you release deeper, you are welcome to draw the foot out to a small angle and roll to the pinky edge of the foot, while still engaging the toes a bit. You can drop the knee so it stays angled above the ankle (2nd photo).

Summer Stretch Yin - Lizard pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cowface pose (3 min) – Rise back up onto the hands if you lowered to the forearms in your lizard pose. Heel toe the foot back in between the hands and rise off of the back knee by tucking the back toes. Very gently, begin to draw the right knee forward so that it crosses behind the left leg and toward the outer angle. Come down to a seat. From here you can choose to extend the right leg forward and keep the left leg crossed on top, or gently draw the knees down to where they line up somewhat on top of one another. The closer the heels are in toward the hips, the less intense this becomes.

Stay upright if this is plenty of sensation or you can begin to fold forward. You can include eagle arms (as pictured) if you’d like.

Summer Stretch Yin - Cowface pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 4 variations (3 min stretch, 2 min twist) – Rise up if folded in your cowface pose. Begin to slide the left knee over so that just the ankle is crossed over the thigh. You can stay upright (top photo) placing the hands behind you or recline onto your back (bottom two photos on the left).

After three minutes, make your way to your back with the ankle still crossed if you are sitting up still. On an exhale, begin to drop the left foot across and over to the right, stamping it onto the earth. Keep the knee pointed up and slightly forward until you feel a nice release in the outer hip, possibly the low back as well.

Summer Stretch Yin - Figure 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/2 Frog (2 min) – Turn your gaze to the right (side of the crossed foot) and begin to come all the way onto the belly with the left knee drawing up and in toward the left elbow. Open the arms out to the sides like cactus arms. Your head can rest to whichever side is most comfortable.

Summer Stretch Yin - 1/2 Frog

 

 

 

 

 

Sphinx Seal (5 min) – Slide the left leg back to meet the right. Prop yourself up on the forearms. Elbows below shoulders and arms shoulder distance from each other. You can choose to elevate yourself higher onto a blanket (top right photo) or other similar prop if you are searching for more sensation. Lifting the elbows and straightening the arms to seal pose is an additional option if it doesn’t compromise the yin mindset of this posture. Head can stay lifted and lengthened or can drop forward as long as there’s no pain.

Summer Stretch Yin - Sphinx/Seal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Repeat Threaded Needle pose to 1/2 Frog on the other side*

Full Frog pose (5 min) – Instead of sphinx pose on the second side, begin to make your way back into childs pose for a moment after 1/2 frog. From there, rise up into a table top and begin to gently guid the knees and feet away from one another, using any needed props to support this posture.

Summer Stretch Yin - Frog pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternatively, you can take a wide legged childs pose to stay more on the gentle side for the joints. 

[Counter this pose in a childs pose or a seated hero pose]

Caterpillar/Forward Fold (5 min) – Make your way to a  a seated position with legs straight out in front of you, locate a firm seat (using a blanket under the hips if your low back is strained in any way). Breathe a few breaths into the spine from an upright position and then take a few breaths to lower you forward. I like to use a rolled blanked under my knees and sometimes a block for my forehead to rest on, so get creative with props and find a place to land here.

Summer Stretch Yin - Forward Fold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roll to your back gently from your caterpillar pose. Pay attention to each vertebrae as it lands.

Savasana (10 min) – Give yourself time to simply rest on your mat once you feel settled from the postures. Any reclined position that suits your body’s needs will do. Enjoy the feeling of full body release and total relaxation – you deserve it!

Summer Stretch Yin - Roll Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Namaste!

-Nancy

Make sure to do on both sides here.

Yin Yoga Sequence | Feel Vibrant – Kidney & Urinary Meridians

Spring daffodils in Texas

Hello friends!

Today I want to share with you a sequence that is very helpful for getting out of a dull state. The energetic focus of this sequence is on the kidney and urinary meridian channels, which are physically stimulated by the opening of the hips, incorporation of passive backbends as well as forward bending. When these channels are blocked or stagnant, we tend to slip into a protective, lazy and unproductive state. In contrast, when these energetic channels are given some attention through the longer holds of the yin practice, yogis will feel a sense of physical, mental and emotional balance. You might also experience a deeper connection to your sense of love, devotion, creativity and passions. One thing I really adore about the spring season is how green everything is. One day it’s winter, then a few warm days and spring showers later – BAM! It’s spring. It’s amazing how quickly the earth comes back to life after the cooler months. Our bodies and minds work similarly to this – we need some rain and some sunshine to nourish us. Then, we start to feel renewed and vibrant.

-Nancy

Printable PDF Version

My Playlist

Dangling Forward Fold (at the wall) – 5 min

Begin your practice by turning toward the wall and walking into a forward fold with your hips facing the center of the room. You are welcome to bend the knees and fold the chest over the thighs as to not overstretch the lumbar spine.  I placed a block between my feet for an addition grounding effect. Take your time and lean into where you feel this most – trusting that wall to support and uphold you even when it gets intense.

Yin Yoga - Meridians - Dangling Forward Fold at the wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butterfly Pose – 5 min

Draw the soles of the feet together and drop the knees wide. Use an exhale to guide your chest forward and release your head to a block, allowing gravity to pull you in. Over time, you may adjust the height of the block or remove it completely as long as your breath can stay vibrant and full.

Yin Yoga - Meridians - Butterfly Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sphinx/Seal Pose – 5 min

Come to your belly and prop yourself up on your forearms. Take a few breaths here observing the physical and energetic shift from the previous stretch. You can stay as is or gradually transition deeper as sensations settle. Options include straightening the arms into seal pose and/or propping the forearms onto blocks (pictured) or blankets.

Yin Yoga - Meridians - Sphinx/Seal Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

+ Neck Releases (30 seconds each side) – to enhance the release through the neck, you can drop each ear down to the corresponding shoulder. Relax your jaw and breathe steadily as you do this.

Yin Yoga - Meridians - Neck Stretch Sphinx Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Counter pose – Half Frog – 2 min each side

Open the arms out to the sides like cactus arms. Begin to slide the left knee up toward the left elbow. Rest for 2 minutes then move to the other side.

Make sure to do on both sides here.

Puppy Pose – 5 min

From a neutral table top position, take a deep inhale and as you exhale begin to walk the hands forward until you reach a stopping point and melt the heart toward the earth. You can support your chest or forehead with a block if it helps you. If you want to increase sensation, you can bend your elbows 90 degrees bringing the palms together above your head and then reach the thumbs toward the base of the neck. You can also do this with two blocks under the triceps (bottom photo) for additional release.

Yin Yoga - Meridians - Puppy Pose on blocksYin Yoga - Meridians - Puppy Pose on blocks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Childs Pose – 3 min

Rest the hips back to the heels for a moment to allow the spine to settle.

Yin Yoga - Meridians - Childs Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pigeon Pose – 5 min

Begin to draw the right leg out in front of you pulling the heel as close in to the hip as you need, while extending the left leg to the side (twisted deer variation) or back of the mat (pictured). Take some breaths to lengthen the spine and then eventually settle into the fold. Use as many props as you need to make this pose accessible and pain-free.

Yin Yoga - Meridians - Pigeon Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wide Leg Lateral Stretch – 5 min

From pigeon, rock onto the right hip and come into a wide leg stance at the long edge of the mat. Take the right foot into the left inner thigh. Take a block to the inside of the left leg (you can play around with placement that feels best for you). Place your left elbow on the block and rest your head into the palm of the hand. Opposite arm can stay at your side, or to intensify the stretch in the side body, take it overhead and rest it on the opposite side of the head. You can also increase intensity by lowering the block a level or removing it completely.

Yin Yoga - Meridians - Lateral Stretch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spinal Twist – 5 min

Reach the right arm forward and roll onto the right side body, resting the head on the arm (first picture). Take your left leg forward, 90 degrees from the body (second picture). You can pause here and begin to rotate the spine back toward the floor behind you. OR you can bend the right knee and reach for the ankle/foot with your top hand (third picture). If you can bind with the foot, relax the head back down and begin to rotate the top shoulder back, moving into the twist.

Yin Yoga - Meridians - Spinal Twist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Counter pose – Childs Pose – 1 min

Yin Yoga - Meridians - Childs Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**Repeat pigeon pose through spinal twist on the other side.

Forward Fold (seated) – 3 min

Starting in a seated position with legs straight out in front of you, locate a firm seat (using a blanket under the hips if your low back is strained in any way). Breathe a few breaths into the spine from an upright position and then take a few breaths to lower you forward. I like to use a bolster under my chest or block under my head (sometimes both!), so get creative with props and find a place to land here.

Yin Yoga - Meridians - Forward Fold (seated)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reclined Heart Opener (block down the spine) – 3 min each

This is just one of those things that makes me feel taller after doing it. Every part of your spine matters – from cervical, to thoracic, to lumbar, it houses your spinal cord as well as helps bring blood and nutrients to the brain. Breathe deeply and consistently while in these variations to create space between the vertebrae.

  • 3 min – Upper back w/block vertically placed between shoulder blades
  • 3 min – Middle back with block horizontally placed at tips of shoulder blades
  • 3 min – Low back (sacrum)/Supported Bridge Pose

Yin Yoga - Meridians - Block down the spine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savasana – 7-10 min

Choose whichever savasana position will help you to rest more completely. Enjoy some time to soak up all the goodness that you were able to create with your practice.

Savasana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Namaste!