Good afternoon, yin friends!
I’m excited to share this sequence with you. As we near the last bit of winter – our bodies are really starting to feel the impact of being curled up under a blanket for the last few months. I hope that this sequence brings a sense of awakening and renewal to your shoulders, neck and back.
Supported Bridge Pose (5 min) – First, let’s work to release the lower/lumbar spine. Starting with knees bent on your back, begin to lift the hips and place a block under the sacrum (flat space at the base of your back. Stay with the knees bent or allow the legs to stretch toward straight. Allow the full weight of your body to release into this shape and begin to pay attention to the steadiness of your breath and the consistency of your heartbeat.
Press into the feet to remove the block. Allow your self to rest for a moment on a flat back as you settle into the new space in your lower back.
Block to Middle Back (5 min) – Moving into the middle/thoracic spine – begin to rise up to seated for a moment as you place the block just beneath your shoulder blades. The higher the block, the more intense the backbend. Feel free to bring an additional prop under the back of your head if it causes any pain to allow your head to drop back as pictured. Take care of that neck!
Childs Pose @ Couch/Chair etc (3 min) – Situate yourself now in a childs pose position with your hands elevated to something a little higher than the shoulders. I used a couch here, but a chair would work nicely too. Allow your head to hang heavy here.
Wrist/Neck Stretch (2 min each) – Sitting back to the heels (or any comfortable seated position) begin to stretch the arms a little forward and turn the palms up, so the backs of the hands are on the floor. Spend a couple of minutes stretching out the top of the wrist. If needed, gently pulse in and out of the depth of this pose. After your time is up, flip the hands and stretch the opposite side of the wrists, with the palms facing down on the ground.
On an inhale, take the arms overhead and interlace the fingers. Place the palms to the back of the head and gently release the chin to the chest on an exhale. Breathe here and slowly turn the head side to side exploring tension in the back/sides of the neck.
Cow Face Legs + Neck/Side Body Release – Come to seated and situate your left leg on top of the right. You can take the right leg to straight if that enables you to sit evenly on the floor. Sitting up tall, begin to take the left hand to the low back and the other hand on the top knee. Take an inhale to lengthen the neck, then on your exhale drop the right ear to the right shoulder. Hold 1 minute and then switch the arms and drop the opposite ear down for another 1 minute.
Fold forward with the left leg on top.
Switch the legs and place a block on the highest level to the right side. Drop your elbow to the block and rest your head into the right hand. Left hand can stay in your lap or stretch and rest overhead. Hold 1 minute. Switch block to the other side and stretch for 1 minute.
Fold forward with the right leg on top.
Threaded Arm/Half Cow Face Stretch (4 min) – Come to your belly and begin to thread the left arm across the chest. You can thread the right arm in front of the left or rest the right arm at your side to add on in a moment. After the first minute, if you’d like to add on, begin to take the right hand to the low back. You can stay here or walk the hand toward the middle back and then reach your left hand over the right shoulder to connect the fingers (or use a strap). Release into the tissues that line your deltoid and outer arm in this pose.
Cat Pulling Its Tail/Supine Twist (4 min) – If your right arm is bound with the left release it to the right side once more. Keeping your left arm threaded, slowly begin to roll onto your left side body and take the right arm out to the right side letting the shoulder release toward the floor. You can add on by binding the left hand with the right calf/foot and the right with the left ankle (bending the left knee). If your neck is okay with stretching further, consider taking the gaze over to the right to intensity the depth.*
*Repeat threaded arm and spinal twist on the other side.
Savasana (5-7 min) – Allow yourself to settle into a final resting pose. Wherever you land, allow every muscle and bone to hang heavy and release any last bit of tension as you take rest.