What a rollercoaster ride the last year has been – lots of things going on in the world and individually. A lot going on on the outside often means a lot going on in the inside as well. I’m sure we’ve all been through all kinds of emotions – from fear, anger and grief to hope, love and joy.
Emotions are a wonderful part of this human experience. Emotions give our lives color.
The thing is, we love to feel the happy, warm and fuzzy ones but tend to push away the ones that are more uncomfortable and unpleasant, such as grief and anger. We’re so good at distracting ourselves or ignoring the ‘negative’ emotions instead of fully feeling them. Every emotion is your body speaking to you. While thoughts are the language of the mind, emotions are the language of the body.
Research has shown that on the level of hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain, emotions only take place for 90 seconds. That’s not a very long time! We’re just usually very quick at adding a (sometimes very creative) story in our heads and thus keep repeating the feeling. So what if, the next time you felt an emotion coming up, you took these 1.5 minutes to fully feel into it? What does it feel like? Where in your body can you feel this emotion? Typical areas to feel emotions are the belly, the chest area and the throat, but it could be somewhere else for you.
What happens when we push emotions away and don’t listen is that we don’t process them fully and they get trapped in our bodies, oftentimes in the hip area. Yin yoga is a wonderful practice to release trapped emotions and take the time to really feel into current emotions.
In this sequence, we’ll be focusing on the hip area. Be gentle and patient with yourself, breathe mindfully and move from thinking to feeling. Feel free to enjoy some cleansing breaths (in through the nose and out through the mouth) to help release whatever is stuck whenever you feel like it during the practice.
Light a candle, cozy up and let’s get started with this beautiful practice that is yin yoga!
These are optional, but may come in handy!
Deer Pose with Massage (3 min) + Sleeping Swan (4 min)
From a seated position, bring your right shin parallel to the front of your mat (we’re aiming for a right angle in the front knee) and swing the left leg back behind you with the foot behind your hip for Deer Pose. Stay here for 3 minutes. While in this pose, you can use the ball of your left hand to massage the outside of your left leg from the hip towards the knee to increase blood and energy flow here as well.
From Deer Pose, straighten out the left leg behind you fully for Swan Pose. The shin of your front right leg can either stay parallel to the front of your mat, or if that feels like too much for you or you experience any kind of uncomfortable sensation in your front knee, pull the front foot closer in towards your pelvis. Center yourself so your weight is even. If your front thigh does not touch the floor, feel free to place a block or pillow underneath it to make it more comfortable. Come down onto your forearms and breathe into the right outer hip. Stay here for 4 minutes, then release by leaning to the right side and bringing the back leg forward.
Stay seated for a minute to feel the after effects of the pose, before repeating Deer and Sleeping Swan Pose on the other side. Release the second side into a Downward Facing Dog or come onto all fours into a tabletop position, stretching or shaking out the legs behind you.
Dragon Pose (3 min per side)
From tabletop, step your left foot to the outside of your left hand, placing the heel of your foot directly underneath your knee. Slide your right knee backward as far as you can, letting the hip sink down. Stay on your hands or if you and your hip like it, come down onto your forearms.
Stay here for 3 minutes, then release slowly back into tabletop. Take a breather here before switching to the second side.
Wide Child’s Pose with Bolster (5 min)
Make your way back onto your hands and your knees, bringing your knees as far apart as possible, big toes touching. Sink your pelvis back onto your heels for a very wide-legged Child’s Pose. We want to feel a nice stretch on the inside of the thighs, so bring your knees further apart until you can feel this stretch. In this position, I love to place a bolster with a block underneath my upper body as pictured here.
After spending 5 minutes in your wide-legged Child’s Pose, gently release by moving your props to the side and bringing your hip above your knees and your knees back together. Feel free to move your legs or torso in any way that feels comfortable.
Melting Heart (3 min)
We’re back in our tabletop position. For the next pose, make sure your hips stay directly above your knees while you walk your hands forward, bringing your forehead and maybe your chest down to the ground. You can leave your arms parallel in front of you or open them in a v-shape if this feels better in your shoulder joints. Breathe into the back of your heart, letting this area melt down towards the ground with every exhale, not pushing but gently surrendering into the pose and into any emotions that want to be acknowledged.
Release by pushing into your hands, lifting your elbows and pushing yourself forward to lie on your stomach for a minute with your arms by your sides or the back of your hands underneath your forehead like a little pillow.
Sphinx Pose (5 min)
For Sphinx Pose, prop yourself up and come onto your forearms, placing your elbows directly underneath your shoulders, palms of your hands facing down. If this feels too intense in your lower back, move your elbows further forward, lowering your chest closer to the floor. If you feel nothing at all in your lower back, feel free to place some blocks or a bolster underneath your forearms to come deeper into the backbend. Relax your feet, legs and glutes and stay here for 5 minutes. Breathe mindfully and feel whatever wants to be felt.
Option: In case you want to add more opening for your legs, bring your right forearm parallel to the front edge of your mat, bend the left leg and reach back with your left arm, holding onto the ankle. Rotate your left shoulder forward towards the front edge of your mat. Switch sides.
Release Sphinx Pose by lying back down onto your stomach and staying here for a minute, enjoying any sensation you can feel after the pose.
Reclined Butterfly (5 min)
Turn around to lie on your back, bending the knees and placing the soles of your feet on the ground. From here, open your knees to either side, bringing the soles of your feet to touch. Your legs should be in the shape of a diamond. Feel free to place blocks or pillows underneath the outsides of your knees for support.
Place your right hand on your belly and your left hand on your chest. Breathe into your hands and really feel the breath moving through your body.
Release by bringing your knees back together. Open your feet as wide as your yoga mat, gently bringing the knees together. Stay here for a minute.
Reclined Twist (5 min per side)
Pull your knees in towards your chest, extend your arms out to the sides and gently let both of your legs sink towards the right for your spinal twist. You can place a pillow between your knees or underneath the lower knee for support. Slowly turn your head to the left and relax into the pose. Stay here for 5 minutes, then switch sides.
Savasana (10 min)
From your reclined twist, slowly extend your legs, bringing your feet as wide as your yoga mat and placing your arms by your sides, palms facing up. For more support in your lower back, place a bolster underneath your knees. Make it super comfortable for yourself in this final resting pose. Allow yourself to fully feel into this position while being mindful and relaxing your entire body.
Stay here as long as you like, I would recommend around 10 minutes. Take this time for yourself to really release anything that no longer serves you.
From Shavasana, gently roll onto your side and slowly come up to a seated position.
Bring your palms to touch in front of your heart center. Bow your head towards your heart and give yourself thanks for moving from your head into your body and allowing yourself to feel all kinds of emotions. They are what makes this life so colorful.
Thanks so much for practicing with me!