I hope you are doing well on this spring day! I love springtime so much and love watching all the things blooming around town and in my yard. I’m usually a spring gardener, growing fruits and veggies of my own – but with baby on the way – I figured needing to harvest things would not be on my first priority list in the next couple of months. However, I am enjoying all the beautiful plants growing without any help from me. It’s amazing to me that something so delicate can withstand the winter underground and then pop up out of the ground like it’s no problem! Here are a few of my favorites currently growing around my home…
I can hardly wait for the peonies to bloom. There’s nothing happier than watching them burst forth!
Anyway, inspired by the beauty – I thought I’d share a yin sequence I taught this week at the studio. It’s a good one to release stagnant and tired energy from the cold months. These poses will help to energize and restore you from the inside out as we enter into the yang months of the year. This sequence is also (obviously) prenatal approved – but do be sure to check with your doctor if you are expecting and always leave space for baby in the postures. I would be mindful of any pose that goes beyond 3 minutes. Back off when the time feels right. Regardless of what’s going on in your body – pay attention to sensation and back out if something doesn’t feel right or if you experience any pain at all. Take care of yourself!
Begin in a neutral childs pose. Arms can rest either forward or back, knees together or separated. Spend the first 3 minutes tuning into your breath and feeling out sensation you’re experiencing in the body. Imagine, as you take fresh air into the lungs, your body being filled with nourishment and on your exhales send out the tired, stagnant energy that might be built up. Set an intention for your practice today.
After a few minutes, walk the hands over to the left side of the mat to lengthen more through the right side of the ribcage. Spend a minute there breathing into the tissue that helps support the ribs and your lungs as they expand and contract. After a minute has passed, switch to the other side.
Table Top (2 minutes)
Rise up to hands and knees and wiggle through any kind of movement that feels nice. Work into the wrists, shoulders, spine, hips – whatever needs a little wake up call!
Threaded Needle (3 min each side)
Come back to a neutral table top and begin to lift the right arm toward the sky. Pause here for a moment and perch onto the finger tips of the left hand to provide more space to expand into. If you’d like, cactus the lifted arm’s elbow and drop the head toward the floor to release the neck and shoulder a bit. On an exhale, thread the right arm across and through letting the shoulder and head to rest to the floor or a prop. You can adjust the legs as desired and the left arm can stay or rest overhead / wrap behind the back. Settle in and try not to do any extra work here beyond simply breathing.
After you finish the first side, complete the second side of the pose with the opposite arm.
Dragon Pose (4 min each side)
Come back to a neutral table position and move through anything that might feel good as you come back to a balanced state. When ready, step the left foot to the top of the mat. Scoot the right leg behind you until you find a good amount of depth for your hips. I would encourage you to start mild here. You have time to physically deepen into it – and remember – yin is about spending time in the postures focusing on subtle sensation. Make sure you find a place that you can nurture a feeling of stillness above all else. If you desire to go physically deeper, you can bring the hands to the inside of the foot or lower closer to the floor, just do so slowly. This pose will reawaken some of the energy that’s been stagnant during the winter months.
For a unique variation, perhaps explore walking the hands and torso over to the right for a lateral stretch here.
Wide Legged Dangle (3 min)
Come back to your lunge position and slowly curl the back toes and lift the back knee. When stable, walk to the long edge of the mat and find a wide legged fold dangling the torso toward the floor. Knees can bend and distance between feet can be adjusted as needed for your body in this moment. You’ll be in this pose again in a few minutes, so take the first time through more shallow than the second in terms of physical depth. Utilize props for support and balance. The wall is a great tool here if there’s space!
Before we transition to the other side of our lunge, slowly transition through your runners lunge to a seated position at the top of the mat.
Shoelace Pose – Upright (2 min)
Come into your version of shoelace pose. Stack the left leg on top of the right. You can extend the right leg forward or bend it in. Make sure you can sit evenly to encourage a lengthened spine. We will stay upright in this pose with a shoulder stretch if you’d like to add it in. You’ll take your strap into the right hand and drop it behind your back for the left hand to grab the end of. You can walk the hands close to one another or gently pull downward to deepen the intensity for the lifted arm.
Square Pose (3 min)
Slowly release your strap and take any movements you need to soften the shoulders. When ready, position the left foot in front of the right or cross the left ankle on top in criss-crossed legs. You can stay upright as you find a tall spine and eventually consider folding forward allowing the upper back to round if you wish. If you’d like more intensity for the hips, you can move into your fire log variation with the outer left ankle and shin stacked on top. Use props to close out any open space that needs cushion and support. Make sure you feel safe in the knees and ankles before exploring too much depth here. These are tight spots for many of us!
Rise up and take a gentle side bend over to either side. To move to the other side of dragon, wide legged fold and square, slowly spin around to your table top position once more and repeat the postures on the other side. Allow just as much time on the second side as you did the first – but expect to find new observations and sensations and practice accepting what these poses feel like from one side to the next.
Frog Pose (5 min)
After you’ve completed these postures on both sides, slowly transition to a table top with the blanket opened wide enough that it’s about double the width of the skinny edge of your mat. Come into table centered on the blanket and slowly begin to separate your knees as your pelvis and torso gently make their way toward the earth. Stop when you start to feel those first layers of sensation and utilize the support of your props. Your feet can point in any direction that feels safe for your knees and ankles. If this pose is too much, you can always come into your wide legged childs pose / tadpole at any point.
To exit this pose, slowly rise up and guide the knees together. You can simply sit upright for a few moments allowing everything to settle or fold into a knee together childs pose.
Saddle – option to recline (3 min)
From here, you can stay as you are or move deeper into the legs and hips by widening your feet to the out side of your hips, perhaps elevating your hips to a prop or two. If you feel a lot of sensation here, remember you can back off and prop yourself higher. Stay upright for a few moments and then decide if it feels appropriate for you to move back into a reclined position. Start by leaning into the hands, adjusting your tailbone and hips forward to lengthen the lumbar space. You can then lower down to your forearms, an angled bolster (pictured) or all the way to your back. Knees can widen here as much as needed.
To exit, slowly rise back up if reclined and come forward to table or down dog, stretching into the calves and legs as desired.
Figure 4 Twist (3 min each side)
Come onto your back or an angled bolster if you prefer. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee/thigh. Gently stamp that foot over to the floor and allow your gaze to fall in the opposite direction. You can wrap the legs up more if you want a deeper spinal twist.
Make your way to the other side after the allotted time here.
Savasana (10 min)
From here, come to any reclining position you’d like to close out your practice. You can even lie on your side or belly if that’s most comfortable for you. Enjoy the feeling of release and allow the body to take up space as you rest here.