I hope you are all doing well on this fine autumn day. For once, it feels cool outside (as it should this time of year) in Texas. The climate here never follows the rules so I am incredibly grateful for the crisp air. This weather always inspires me to practice yin. Stretching the side body is one of my favorite things to do. We focus a lot of our time on forward folds and backbends in the practice, but we should not neglect the side body! These poses will trigger the urinary bladder, kidney, stomach and gall bladder meridian lines which will help our body stay healthy amidst the changing of the seasons. These poses will also help stretch the ribcage and allow for deeper breath throughout the day after you practice. Deep breathing is so important to our immunity and we are less inclined to take deep breaths in the cooler temperatures. The openness you create in this sequence will create the physical space you need to be intentional with your breath on and off the mat. Enjoy!
(Neutral – 3 min) Begin in a neutral childs pose. Walk your hands forward or toward your feet to relax your shoulders. Support your body as needed using your props. Take this time to bring your awareness into the space around you and beneath you. Feel your body making contact with the earth and expanding into the space around you as you breath. Use this time to settle into a rhythm with your breath and eventually to set an intention for your practice.
(Hands to Side – 1 min) Walk your hands to the left hand side of the mat, deepening your stretch into the right side body as you keep your hips grounded evenly on/toward the heels. Breathe intentional breaths into the right side of the rib cage while you are here.
(Thread – 2 min) Begin to come back to center and thread the right arm across the mat toward the left side. Left arm can stretch forward or wrap behind you depending on what feels best.
**repeat side stretch and thread on other side**
Rise up from childs pose and gently rise up into a table top position. Step your right foot to the top of the mat and bring both hands to the inside of the foot. Give your chest plenty of space by walking the right foot over until you can comfortably relax your shoulders. Keep the right toes pointing forward for the first minute as you get settled in and find an appropriate depth for you. When your body is still, you can add on by dropping to the pinky edge of the right foot and let the knee fall open to the right. Stay here or begin to walk your hands toward the left top corner of the mat deepening the stretch into the outer right hip and right side of the ribcage.
Wide Leg Fold (dangle)(2 min first time through, 3 min second time)
When you are ready, begin to lift the hips and pivot on the feet to come into a standing wide leg fold facing the left side of the room. Place a block or two underneath you for support and begin to find a fold, letting the head hang heavy.
Shoelace + lateral bend(2 min)
Come back toward the top of the mat and begin to transition over to the right side as you scoot the left knee behind the right ankle facing the right side of the room for shoelace/cowface pose. You can stack both knees or gently straighten out the bottom leg if it’s too intense.
We will move into a lateral stretch by placing a block out to the right side of the mat and placing the elbow onto the block. Rest your head into the right hand and the left arm can stretch overhead or relax it at your side. When the time is up, rise up off the block and sit up tall for a moment to feel the release from the posture.
Deer (4 min)
Gently slide the right knee off of the left and place the shin toward the short end of the back of the mat setting up for deer pose. The inner left leg can rest on the floor or move it into more of a half hero/saddle shape. Fold over the right shin toward the back of the mat and breathe deeply into this release for the outer hip.
Lift up from your fold and begin to windshield wiper the knees toward the long edge of the mat slowly releasing and feeling the effects of these poses through the body.
**Move to the other side of the body by starting with lizard on the left leg and moving through deer pose once more.**
After completing the sequence on both sides, come into a table top position at the long edge of the mat and begin to open the knees and feet wide into frog pose. Alternatively tadpole (wide legged childs pose) will also work here if it’s too much. Gently fold your chest forward and if desired, support it with a block or bolster. Breathe deeply here and do your best not to resist the pull of gravity as you sink into the release.
Neck Stretches (1 min): Find a comfortable upright position sitting back onto the heels or to the inside of the ankles on a block or blanket if needed. Drop the right ear toward the shoulder for 3 deep breaths, then gently switch to the other side for the same amount of time.
Recline (3 min): Bring the head back to center and gently begin to recline back onto the hands. Scoot your hips forward to lengthen out the low back and to avoid too much compression. You can continue to move down to your forearms if it’s comfortable. If you do not have a prop under your hips feel free to move all the way down as long as there is no pain. Take your time with this one!
Twisted Roots(3 min each side)
Gently rise up from hero and slowly come down to your back. Hug the knees into the chest and rock side to side massaging the low back. Cross the right leg all the way over the left, move the hips slightly to the right and then drop the knees to the left side with arms open wide like a T. Gaze can stay centered or release the head toward the right hand to complete the twist into the cervical spine. Make your way back to center and switch to the other side when the time is up.
Find a position you can rest in and begin to relax your body. Take rest here and use this time to bask in the space and openness you have created physically, mentally, and even emotionally.