Hello lovely ladies & gents.
To celebrate this warm day in Texas and the soon arrival of Spring, I thought I’d stop by with a little post. And in response to many of your requests, I am offering a short yin sequence that incorporates stretches that release tense tissue in the neck, shoulders and wrists. Typically, you will not see much focus in the upper body when it comes to the yin practice. Most often, yin postures target the meridian lines which are primarily stimulated in stretches through the lower half. This certainly does not mean that the upper half is unimportant. It really matters! Especially if you have a desk job or do a lot of driving – the joints in the upper half of the body can build up a boatload of tension. Time to unload that boat, y’all.
Follow along if you need a little extra love in these areas today.
Block Up the Spine (3 minutes each)
1. Supported Bridge with Block
2. Block (horizontally placed) in middle back
3. Block (vertically placed) in between shoulder blades
note: you can provide support for your head here with a pillow or another block if it strains you to drop it all the way back
Simple Reclined Twist (3 minutes each side)
With arms open wide, drop your knees to the right, then to the left.
Block under arm (2-3 minutes each)
This one helps to release the tension that builds up at the base of the shoulder joint. We tend to be tight in the shoulders because of a lot of factors so it’s a good idea to loosen any tight muscles that surround the joint.
Start propped on one side (first picture). With block set up horizontally.
Begin to lay down all the way on your side and prop the block under your armpit first. You can bend your elbow and rest your head as I did or you can keep the hand on the ground and rest the ear toward the shoulder.
After you’ve spent a couple minutes in the armpit region, move the block down into the tricep. Hold there for 2-3 minutes as well.
note: make sure to turn around and do the other side!
Cowface Pose | With stretches for side body, back & neck
You can choose to do a simple seated pose with the ankles crossed if this position doesn’t work for your body today.
Start with your right leg on top. Begin by sitting up tall and taking a few breaths. Then, interlace the fingers and place the palms to the back of the head. Begin to drop the chin toward the chest and let the elbows hang heavy. 30 seconds here
note: do not press, just rest!
Release the interlace and stretch both arms for the sky. Take a big inhale and as you exhale, drop the right hand to the side and stretch the left overhead. You can rest it on the head (as pictured) for a more restorative approach. 30 seconds here
note: switch to other side
Fold forward for 1-2 minutes.
Switch legs. This time, sit up tall to settle. As you exhale, drop the right ear to the right shoulder. Stay here or add the weight of one hand to the opposite side of the head. 30-40 seconds then switch to stretch other side.
note: again, don’t press, rest.
Fold forward on the other side.
Pectoralis Minor stretch: Start on your belly. Reach your right arm to the side and bend the elbow at 90 degrees. Begin to press yourself onto your right side, kicking the left leg behind the right as a kickstand. 2 minutes here
Sphinx Pose: Come back 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. 1 minute here
Deltoid & Pectoral Stretch: Start on your belly this time extend the right arm straight out in line with the shoulder. Roll onto the right side and use the left foot as a kickstand again. 3 minutes here
note: after, come back to belly and do left side.
Wrist/Finger Holds (30 seconds each)
From the belly, press back into childs pose and hold here for a few moments. 2-3 minutes
Lift your chest up and reach the hands in front of you. Flip the palms to face up (thumbs face one another) and use your breaths to add pressure. Imagine trying to press the tops of the wrists toward the mat. Find some good sensation and then pause in it for a few moments.
Lean back and shake out the wrists. Then switch the direction of the palms by turning them down toward the mat (pinkies in toward one another). Again press down until you find sensation and just breath into whatever shows up.
Shake out the wrists once more. Similar to how we entered the previous two, this time we will focus more on the finger joints. Press the very top knuckles (closest to top of hand) at the earth and let the other fingers curl in. Try wiggling around the fingers here.
Release the grip and then turn the pinkies in toward each other. Begin to press forward as if you were trying to reach the top knuckles toward the earth.
Back of Neck Release
Come to seated and place a block horizontally where your neck will be when you lie down (you may have to adjust once you are on your back). Lay onto the block and make sure it doesn’t slip beneath you. 30 seconds
If your neck feels good, begin to roll your head to the left and right. Keep it really gentle and slow like a deep tissue massage. Move mindfully.
Once you feel balanced, release the block and take a few minutes reclined in Savasana.
Hope you enjoy! Feel free to leave comments/questions.
That is just great! Thank you very much:-) I’m going to get on my mat as soon as i finish work 🙂
Glad to help, anytime. -N
Dear Nancy, my name is Catarina and I am a yoga teacher writing you all the way from Norway ;). Yoga here in “the north” is not yet as big as in the US (or other parts of the world for that matter) but people finally start to see the great benefits of it – and I work hard on spreading the word and practice. 😀
I found your page through Pinterest and I am so happy I did! :). Just starting to get more and more interested in yin yoga and I will surely find a lot of inspiration here to be able to use parts of it in my classes.
Keep up the good work and you just gained a new follower 🙂
Well, goodness. I’m glad you found my page as well! Please feel free to let me know if you ever have questions. Yin has been a blessing to both my teaching and personal practice. It took quite a bit of research to really start to get a groove. So I’m happy to help, anytime. Have a lovely day! xo -N
this is really wonderful. thank you. QUESTION: hen I tried the side lying pose with the block under my armpit, it made me hand tingle. I got our of the pose but wonder if this is the first stage of a rather intense stretch. Appreciate your advice.
Hi Susan! Glad you found the post helpful. Whenever it comes to body parts falling asleep, I would always recommend to either come out of the pose until it doesn’t tingle anymore or readjust until it goes away. When it comes to more “achy” sensation – which usually “hurts so good” 🙂 – that’s what you might identify as the first stage. The main reason I do not recommend staying in a pose with those tingles is because often those types of sensations are related to nerve endings and we don’t want to harm any of those by cutting off their ability function correctly. Make sense?
For me, I find myself tingly in butterfly pose. So I usually play around with adjusting how close/far my feet are to my hips until I find a place where I don’t have a tingling sensation in the hip. Let me know if you have any additional questions. Thanks for stopping by! -Nancy
thanks for your quick response. I taught some of this in class today – really great response from students. looking forward to reading more on your blog.
I’m a yoga teacher not ask too familiar with yin. I agreed to teach teenage swimmers some yin yoga, and of course I chose to focus on shoulders.
This is extremely helpful!!!
Thank you so very much🕉
You are very welcome! I’m happy to hear you’re sharing the love of yin yoga! xo -Nancy