Yin Yoga | Strap Sequence

Good afternoon, yinsters!

The following sequence is a full body flow with lots of incorporated options to utilize your strap. Recently, I have noticed the use of yoga props has somehow become a bit of a taboo topic. From teachers not bringing up the possible use of props other than for those who “can’t” do a pose in full expression. To students looking with disappointing eyes to the newbie on the mat to their left because they need a block for warrior three. Yikes! Not everywhere and not with everyone of course, but I think we need to start incorporating props into our poses and classes as much as we can. In our goal-driven, miss independent (thank you, Kelly Clarkson) society, it’s our first nature to push ourselves, to not accept help and to fake it til’ we make it to “success”. But is it really success when you forced something to happen? Wouldn’t it feel better to let your practice (and your life) unfold organically as you cultivate the balance between ease and effort?

Well I’m here to set you free from that “push it – pu-push it real good” mentality for the 60-75 minutes you spend on your mat! Props are tools, meant to help us develop a deeper connection to our truest needs and to view ourselves honestly in the place we are in. Only when we are able to observe our bodies and minds as they are, can we propel ourselves forward into greater growth. So yes, a strap is REQUIRED for this practice. It’s your new BFF, there to help you go deeper into relaxation and intensity, there to support you when you feel alone, and there to facilitate the hope for rest and peace in your practice. If you have two straps available to you, grab both of them!

NOTE: If you are practicing at home and don’t have a yoga strap, you could use something as simple as a scarf or dress tie, if it needs to be longer – you can just tie two together as needed!

My Playlist

Begin in easy seated pose (5m) – Take time here to observe and set a rhythm with your breath, seal in an intention, and clear the slate for your practice. You set aside this time, so put your phone away and soak it up.


Shoulder Stretch (2m upright, 3m to side) – Begin by patting yourself on the upper back with one hand (with strap in tow), take the opposite hand to the strap around the sacrum region of the low back and add a gentle pull on the strap until the sensation is enough in the top arm/shoulder. After 2 minutes, bring a block out to the side with the lifted arm. Drop the elbow out to the block and relax the other arm on the head (releasing muscle activation). Focus on rooting down through the opposite hip and observing the stretch fromt he hip up to the arm of the side body.

Lift Arms (5b) – After 3 minutes, gentle rise up off the block and lift the arms above the head. You can widen the hands a bit more than shoulder distance and then let your arms fall back until you feel a good amount of sensation. Pause and breath for 5 breaths.

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*repeat on other side*


Move through a few rounds of cat and cow to loosen up the spine (5-10b)

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Low Lunge (2m) – Lizard Lunge (3m) – From table top, step one foot forward in between the hands. Scoot your back knee back a little bit and pad it if it is sensitive. Pause in this position for the first 2 minutes. If you find the initial sensations have begun to settle after 2 minutes, you can take both hands to the inside of the foot for lizard pose, moving down as feels appropriate for your body. Breathe here for 3 more minutes.

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Half Hero Fold (4m) – From lizard, walk the foot back in between the hands and begin to shift your hips back as you straighten the front leg. Pause about half way and place a block to the inside of the back ankle. Continue to sit into half hero pose. You may not need the block there so you can remove it if you have healthy knees/ankles.

Take your strap and make a large loop. Wrap it around your low-mid back and around the sole of the front foot. You’ll have to play around with how tight it is depending on your flexibility. Take a moment with the strap in place and maybe set a block to the inside of the front leg. Over the course of the next few breaths, find your way to a forward fold. You can certainly bend the knee to help the hamstring feel supported and not strained.image9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pigeon with Quad Release (3m) – Remove your props and set them to the side as you gently press back to your lunge at the top of the mat. Once there, walk the foot across and set down the shin to come into half pigeon. Take a few breaths upright, perhaps using a block or blanket under the hip for support, and then eventually lift the back foot and bring the strap (un-looped) around the shin and into either hand. Take a few breath to guide your chest forward over the front leg and drawing the back heel in toward the glut. Eventually you can release the strap and surrender completely into the pose.

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Alternatively, you could do reclined pigeon with the strap supporting the supporting hamstring.

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*repeat three poses on other side*


Seated Forward Fold (5m) – Similar to how you set up in hero pose, take the strap around the back and soles of both feet, placing a block on the shins to support the forehead. Take a few breaths to guide yourself into the fold, relaxing the shoulders and allowing the upper back to gently round if you’d like.

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Butterfly (5m) – Keep the strap as it is from your forward bend and draw your knees up and then out wide with the soles of the feet still together. Adjust the strap to a smaller loop and then take your time folding forward.

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Reclined Butterfly (3m) – Rise back up from your fold and begin to lower back to the forearms then all the way to the spine. Walk your feet forward until the strap firmly supports your legs and hips in the pose. This is a great moment to take a hand to the heart and belly and reconnect with an intention for your practice.

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Supported Bridge (3m) – Rise up from reclined butterfly enough to pull the strap off and wrap it around the thighs at hips distance. Make sure you have a block at your side as you come back down to the spine. Begin to press into the feet and lift the hips until you can place the block under your sacrum (at the appropriate level for you). Then rest and breathe.

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Outer Hip Release (2m) – Supine Twist (4m) (two straps optional) – If you have two straps, you will take the first one around your right thigh (at hip crease) and the sole of your left foot (extended forward). The second strap, you will take to the right foot and low back. If you just have one strap, leave out the first option. Pause with your right leg straight up for a few breaths, then gently turn the right toes to the left (about 45 degrees). Rolling that top leg over to a hover. Hold and breathe there for 2 minutes.

Transition that leg all the way down to the left side, arms wide like a T and gaze may fall to your right. Rest into the pull of gravity here for 4 minutes.

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*repeat on other side*


Supported Knees to Chest (3m) – Release the straps from the twist and make a smaller loop in one strap to take around your shins (with your knees in your chest) as well as low back. Pull it tightly until your body curls into a supported little ball.

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Remove the strap completely and find a comfortable resting pose for Savasana. Remain there for 5-7 minutes to soak up all the goodness that you were able to create with your practice.

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Namaste!


 

Comments? Questions? Send them my way! I’m happy to help.

 

22 Comments

  • maxwarbler

    Thank you. I do believe in props and rely on them. Firstly it goes against the principles of yoga to push yourself to “achieve”. It is the striving towards the pose that matters I think. Also we are all built differently. Long legs in relation to torso, short legs in relation to torso etc. These make it difficult for us all to do all the poses in a similar manner. I can easily do some poses that others find difficult and there are other poses I cannot even begin to attempt without a block or a strap. Thanks again for your wonderful blog.

  • Angela

    Thank you so much, This is Lovely. I Must ask, Where did you get that Amazing shirt? Teehee, I know its a random comment, but what can I say? I’m in Love!

  • Michelle

    This is fabulous Nancy. As a Yoga Teacher, always looking for inspiration, and I love the use of the straps in these common postures, which offer more support. Thanks so much for your beautiful demonstration and pictures.
    Michelle Jayne xx

    • nancynelsonadventures

      Hey there Chaira! There are several poses and stretches that you’ll see in other forms of exercise and physical therapy that are not just for yoga. But this particular form of yoga (called “yin”) works to stretch the deep connective tissues of the body. We don’t focus on strength building in the yin practice whereas in Pilates you’re probably working on strength and flexibility in your sessions. So while there are similarities the goals of the two are different. Make sense?

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • nancynelsonadventures

        Of course! The focus of yin is deep stretching and creating release in the deeper tissues of the body – fascia, joints, etc. Which is different from “warmed up” muscle flexibility. These tissues respond to cooler temperatures and longer holds.

        Pilates is more focused on muscular strength and flexibility. Make sense?

      • chimart

        Yes, this is perfectly clear and now I understand the different sensations I have with different trainings! I am studying. Thank you for your strap sequences!

  • Sara Paige

    Thank you! I just practiced the sequence, and plan to incorporate some of these into my teaching tonight. I love the sensation of being “supported” in these postures with the strap…it really does help us to surrender more deeply.

  • bravethewaveblog

    Hi, i have started teaching yin yoga a few months ago and I came across your practice on here, thought it was really great. I tried it out myself in my living room and it all went really wonderful, loved using the straps to support as well as the usual blocks I use. Wrote out a plan around ‘friendship’ and making friends with our bodies in a new way today in practice and welcoming the use of the strap and leaning on it for support like you would a friend… that was the theme, which was well recieved…… I had quite a busy class like 23 people (normally around 16 people come so it was busy) and honestly the room was in chaos trying to get everyone into the half hero fold with strap round back. Only had enough straps for 1 per person and some people are rather tall, and where the strap worked with me, I’m 4ft 11″ some folks had much difficulty and the room was alive with wriggling, with questions, with hands up asking for help and 1 of me trying to help everyone, it was actually very funny and taught me a thing or two about keeping my cool despite what arises 🙂

    In the end I figured out that to loop the strap round the foot then take it around and across the back so it crosses the body diagonally worked as an alternative but I had to just totally think on my feet and basically make this up trying to think logically about how it could work if they can’t fit themselves into the strap.

    I wish I could have videod it to share because these are the moments that like noone seems to tell you about before you start teaching.

    Anyway, top and bottom of it, thank you for putting this together and sharing and I’m going to give the sequence another go with my class next time and hopefully we’ll get through all the poses because today we only did half of it. it’s just 45mins class though so quite short.

    Massive thank you xxx
    Namaste
    Christine (green seas yoga)

    • nancynelsonadventures

      Hey Christine! I love that you shared this with your class. Teaching something like this to a group is definitely tricky!! Because bodies are variable, you are going to be constantly helping people with straps and explanation. I usually only teach something like this when my group is smaller – but I know as a new teacher it’s not easy to veto your plan and go another direction when your class is full (yay, YOU!). Keep up your hard work creating meaningful experiences for your students. It means the world to them! I have a lot of teaching yin resources in my online store in the webinars section if you’re interested! https://nancynelsonyoga.com/store/YIN-WEBINARS-c33967091 Namaste!

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