I’m excited to finally be getting another sequence on my blog. Today is the perfect day to do so because it actually FEELS like Christmas on this cold, drizzly day in Texas. I’m currently leaning toward the warmth of the fire listening to the quiet hum of my home. As I sit here, my holiday mantra continues to pop up in my mind and heart and that is – the best present you can offer yourself is presence. Kind of cheesy, but oh so true. This mantra landed in my head a few weeks ago and has surfaced so many times since then serving as a wonderful reminder to practice stillness and mindfulness during the hectic holiday season. Wherever you find yourself today, remember that the best presence you can offer yourself is PRESENCE. That sweet reminder that you are here, you are alive and that means you are very truly blessed. In my experience, the more present I am – the more others around me are blessed by it as well. Be present in your conversations (short or long), your work, your mundane tasks, and your even your holiday gifting – you will enjoy life a bit more and notice the gifts you already have because of it. Today’s sequence is a good one to stretch out those tight wintery areas and invite in a sense of renewal and openness as we look toward the new year.
My Playlist (it’s a holiday one – if you’re not into that, browse my other YIN options)
Reclined Cow Face Arms (4 min) – We will jump right in and work on releasing the shoulder muscles and joints. Begin by placing your left hand into the low back so the palm lands onto the floor. The right arm can stretch overhead or bring it behind the neck. To go deeper, simply use your breath to walk the hands closer toward one another until you find the right amount of sensation for you. After 3 minutes, you can stay as you are or release the right arm, scoot your hips to the right slightly and then drop the knees to the left side to intensify the pressure on the left shoulder. The right arm can stay out to the side or stretch across your chest (bottom picture). To come out, slowly lean the knees to the right and remove the left palm. Stretch out anything that needs some attention and then switch to the other side.
Supported Bridge (5 min) – Bend the knees and place the arms at the sides. Slowly pick up your hips and place a block at your desired height under your sacrum (same place your hand started in the previous pose). Make sure you feel sturdy and then decide to stay or you can walk the legs forward and arms overhead. Rest completely into the pull of gravity.
Draw the knees in and then gently make your way to seated in a butterfly position.
Butterfly (5 min) – Take the knees wide and bring the feet together. Experiment with walking the feet forward until you have a nice long diamond shape (more distance between heels and groin than usual). Utilize your breath and slowly make your way forward into a fold. Allow the upper spine to gently round and make sure the hips stay grounded here. To come out, gently rise up and windshield wiper the knees side to side.
Pigeon (3 min) – Set up at the top of the mat with the right knee forward and shin somewhat parallel to the top of the mat. In your own time begin to fold forward. You can keep it simple or add a twist by threading the left arm across the chest and maybe wrap the right arm around the low back. That variation WILL take you deeper so make sure you find a place of stillness and “comfort” in the pose before finding that option. Move onto the next pose before switching sides.
Shoelace Lateral Bend (3 min) – From pigeon, rise up and gently bring the left leg on top of the right. If that doesn’t work out in your hips (if you can’t sit evenly), extend the right leg forward and just keep the left leg on top. Place a block over to your left side and slowly lower your elbow to rest on it. Place your head in your hand and you can decide to keep the right arm in your lap or dangle it over your head. Focus on deep breaths through the side body here. To release, slowly come up and switch to pigeon on the other side.
Caterpillar (5 min) – Come to a seated position with the feet stretching to the top of the mat. Lengthen through your spine and slowly begin to melt forward into a fold. As long as your low back is long – your upper back/neck can round in. Don’t worry about touching your toes, just let the arms and shoulders hang heavy here and let the magic of time do all the hard work of pulling you deeper! Rise up when done and slowly lower to the back.
Supine Twist/Cat Pulling its Tail (3 min) – Begin to move into a twist of your choice on your back. You can take the bound variation I’m taking here but make sure your breath can move fully through the lungs for optimal benefit. Switch to the opposite side when time is complete.
Final Hug + Savasana (10 min) – Give yourself one last hug and then find your way to a comfortable resting pose of your choice. Allow your body and mind to release effort and just enjoy the ability to be still and to breathe naturally. You’ve earned it!