Yin Yoga | Four Agreements: Don’t Make Assumptions
May 15, 2017
“It is wiser to find out than to suppose.” -Mark Twain
Good afternoon, yin friends!
It’s been a couple of crazy weeks so I’m just now getting around to sharing my third sequence based on The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This week’s topic and the 3rd Agreement: Don’t make assumptions. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, if you’re anything like me – this concept is a continuous struggle. The author of the book gives ample reason for us to fight this struggle and to seek out the truth. In the book, he states that “the problem with assumptions is that we believe they are the truth.” By making assumptions, we invite in something that may or may not be true and then react according to that “truth”. He goes on to discuss how this habit is a sort of protective mechanism that allows us to avoid the tough and uncomfortable pursuit of the Truth of the situation. AKA, making assumptions is a way we manifest our “control” over a circumstance (which is ultimately an illusion). So this week, I want to encourage you to ask the hard questions and seek out the Truth even if it isn’t the answer you want to hear, at least you can react according to something that is real and not fabricated. In my journey into making less assumptions and uncovering Truth instead, I have found that when I actually choose to find out what is over what is not, I’m able to approach the situation with more peace and love toward myself and others involved. Yes, it’s vulnerable – but it’s worth it. The more we practice this, the more we establish a steady foundation of Truth to live from.
A mantra you can incorporate into your practice today to put this agreement into action:
Inhale: ACCEPTANCE (allow in what is true/present)
Exhale: EXPECTATION (assuming what you know the pose/moment will be like)
Wide Leg Childs Pose (3 min) – Begin in childs pose and if it’s comfortable take the knees wide allowing the belly to melt between the thighs, supporting it on a block if you’d like. Take a few minutes here to mentally and physically land on your mat. Allowing gravity to begin to take over the “effort” portion of your practice. Practice deep ocean-like breaths here and perhaps begin to incorporate the above mantra or set your intention.
+ Side Stretch (3 min) – In your childs pose, take your hands over to the top left corner of the mat and breathe deeply into the right side body. Nothing forced, just allow your breath to carry you deep into the pose.
+ X arms (2 min) – From your side stretch, come to center and thread the left arm under the right and then cross the right in front. Allow your upper body to hang heavy into this counter stretch into the tops of the shoulder joints.
+ Eagle arms (1 min) – Keeping the arms crossed, begin to sit up onto the heels and bring the knees close. Cross your arms into your favorite eagle arm option and elevate the elbows off the chest for about a minute, breathing into the upper back and let the chin slightly drop toward the chest.
+ Neck release (2 min) – Drop your left arm out to the side and release your right hand behind the low back. Take an inhale with the head lifted tall and use your exhale to drop the right ear to the right shoulder. Relax and stretch out your jaw here as you breathe deeply. After this, repeat your childs pose side stretch through the neck release on the other side.
Puppy w/hands on blocks (5 min) – Make your way to table top so the hips are above the knees. Begin to walk the hands forward to the top of the mat and melt your chest low. You can support yourself with a block under the chest/head if needed. If you’re looking for a deeper variation, take the hands to two blocks to intensify the release through the backs of the arms. The higher the blocks, the more intense. So be mindful and only focus on smaller sensations a little bit at a time.
Shoulder Release (3 min) – From puppy, release your hands back to table top and then bring your shoulders down to the two blocks, letting your arms rest at your sides. Your head and chest melt in here. Again, the higher the block, the more the intensity.
(Cat/Cow) – Take a minute or two to move the spine through some flexion and extension or any other movements that sound nice today.
Leg Stretch (2 min) – From your table top, take the left leg to the back of the mat and hang heavy into the heel. Breathe into the release you feel from the heel all the way up into the belly of the hamstring.
(open to) Half Butterfly (5 min) – Drop your hips back and open out into a half butterfly position with the right foot plugged into the left inner thigh. Fold forward in a slow yin-like manner, utilizing your breath to guide the depth. Use your props to support your head and relax your shoulders and upper back completely. Especially when it comes to the hamstrings, practice acceptance over assumption!
Deer OR Double Pigeon (5 min) – From your half butterfly, lift up and begin to bend the left knee. You can come into deer pose with the left leg at the top of the mat or stack the legs for double pigeon. You can always support your knees/ankles with props so this feels level in your hips. Fold forward until you find your sweet spot and then stay for a while!
::repeat Leg Stretch through Deer/Double Pigeon on other side::
Frog (5 min) – Everyone’s favorite pose 😉 Come back to table top and gently begin to widen the knees and feet away from one another allowing the hips/groin to drop down toward the earth. Try to keep your hips centered (rather than pushing forward/back) and support yourself as needed (I use a block under my chest or a bolster under the torso often). If this pose is too much at any point, back off and come into a wide legged childs pose again.
Supine Twist (3 min each side) – Make your way to your back and rest for a moment, observing the release in the hips. Draw the left knee into the chest and begin to drop it over to the right side as you come onto the right side body. Keeping your left shoulder grounded, allow the foot/knee to land to a prop so you feel grounded here. Breathe into the twist, perhaps turning your gaze to the left to complete the twist in the cervical spine. After 3 minutes, repeat this on the other side.
Bridge (5 min) – Bend your knees and press into the feet to slide a block under your hips for supported bridge pose. Rest here for several minutes breathing into the front of your body.
Savasana (7-10 min) – When ready, make your way to a final resting pose where you can soak up the deep release and awareness of what is that you’ve created with your practice. Bask in the present moment and allow your breath to turn back to its natural pace/rhythm.