After a long day, we tend to pour a hefty glass of wine and veg out in one way or another. I’m all about my evening wine, but sometimes what my body and mind really need is a little TLC. Yin is a great practice to add into your evening routine. You will sleep better and release tension before moving onto another day of expectations and busyness. I believe that if you take some time to let go of physical tension, mental and emotional tension will also find space to release. This full-body sequence is a great way to create this space to decompress a bit after a long day at work, school, or whatever it is that is weighing you down. Try to implement it into your schedule this week. If you need to – write it down so you’ll make it happen. You’ll thank yourself for doing it!
Upper Back Release | 5 min – Place the block (or a blanket works too) in the upper back region, nestled between the shoulder blades. Come into a comfortable lying position. Your legs can be straight (pictured) or bent. Make sure you find a place in which you can fully rely on the pull of gravity. The more stillness you create physically, the more space you’ll be able to create.
Butterfly Pose | 3 min – From your back, gently begin to roll off the block and come up to a seated position. Bring the soles of the feet together and cushion the knees if you need to support them. Take several breaths to lower down into sensation. Once you discover tension, pause and breathe through it. As the sensation settles, you can continue to deepen. Just be as physically still as possible and utilize the power of your breath to create space.
*If you choose to elevate your feet onto a block – do so with a lot of caution and time. If there is any pain, please leave the variation immediately. Your knees should feel no pain – only sensation. If you fight through pain, you will likely injure your very sensitive knee joint. Not worth it. Take care of yourself!*
Twisted Deer | 3 min – From butterfly, gently rise up. Keeping the hips open, begin to slide the right shin parallel to the side of the mat and the left shin more parallel with the top of the mat (though, it can be slightly angled if needed). Your right hip will bump up a bit here, and that’s okay! As in our last pose, lower down slowly – pausing at each burst of intensity as you settle into the posture.
Pigeon Pose | 5 min – You can remain in twisted deer or begin to take the right leg all the way behind you. The left shin will stay close to where it already is. Take some breaths to lengthen the spine and eventually settle into the fold. Use as many props as feels appropriate to make this pose accessible and pain-free.
Lizard Pose | 4 min – From pigeon, peel your torso up and gently place the foot to the ground. Heel toe it all the way over so you can place both hands to the inside of the foot. You can stay here, lift the hands up higher (on blocks or similar) or perhaps move deeper. To add a lateral stretch for the upper body, you can walk the hands toward the side of the mat away from the feet (bottom middle picture).
Threaded Needle | 3 min – This is a nice twist in the spine and releaser for tension held in the upper back, neck and shoulder regions. Begin by coming into a Table Top position, maybe moving with your breath for a few rotations of Cat/Cow to loosen the spine. Come back to a neutral spine, inhale and lift the left arm up to the sky, as you exhale draw that left hand all the way across the mat and over to the left side of the mat until your shoulder is grounded and you can lie your head on the floor or a block. You can take the right arm and reach it overhead or wrap it around your back. To lift out of it, place the right hand at eye-level and then press yourself back up.
Childs Pose | 2 min – Take a moment in childs pose before moving to the other side. In this posture, observe the rhythm of your breath and the space you’ve already created within the body and mind. Do this after the second side as well to notice a balanced effect through the legs and hips especially.
**Repeat Twisted Deer – Childs Pose on the other side**
Toe Stretch | 2 min – From childs begin to tuck all ten toes. Slowly begin to walk your hands in toward the knees. If you can come all the way back onto the heels without pain, do so. Otherwise, keep the hands in front of you for support. Stay where you are or if you need more sensation, inch the knees forward a bit more so the tops of the feet are at an angle. Breathe consistently and fully while here. Ensure that the pinky toes stay tucked under the whole time. They tend to attempt an escape in this pose.
Tricep Shoulder Release | 1 min each side – I learned this stretch during a training intensive with the awesome Dice and Briohny when they were at my studio late in 2013. To get into the pose, bend your right arm and bring the back of the hand into the low back (sacrum area). Take the left arm, reach across your chest and grab the tricep of the right arm. Begin to pull the tricep toward the front of the room and at the same time, press the right elbow toward the back of the room. Finding a nice balance between the two. Once you have a good amount of sensation, begin to drop the left ear down toward the left shoulder until you feel a good stretch through the side of the neck.
Back of Neck Release | 1 min – Bring the head and neck back into neutral and lightly interlace the hands behind the head. Begin to drop the chin toward the chest and let your arms hang heavy as an additional weight to release. You can roll the head gently side to side to explore tension and make sure your facial muscles are completely relaxed. Note: Do not PUSH into the head, just let the arms serve as an additional weight.
Legs up the Wall w/Strap (or at the wall) | 3 min – Move to a wall or use a strap to support the soles of the feet as they are extended up toward the ceiling. You can also elevate onto a block for more of an inversion (pictured).
Supported Bridge Pose | 4 min – From legs up the wall lower back down and let the legs settle for a moment. Then begin to lift the hips and place the block (at your desired height) under the sacrum. You can move your legs to wherever is comfortable. Pay special attention to the knees and low back and make sure they are happy in these variations.
Banana Pose | 3 min each side – Make your way onto your back.Keeping your hips grounded, begin to scoot your shoulder blades to the right. Begin to take the right heel over to the upper right hand corner of your mat. Then, move the left ankle over to meet it or cross it over the right so you create the shape of a banana with your body. You can reach the arms overhead here if it feels nice.
Savasana | 7-10 min – Soak up all the effort and space you were able to put into your practice. Allow your body and mind to completely rest into the weight of gravity as your breath reverts back to its natural rhythm.