February is the month of love and I think we can agree that love is one of the most beautiful things in the world. The love we share in our family, other beings, and also the love we give to ourselves.
Finding self-love is the first step and the most important one to being open to love others and to receive and accept love from others. As an important and difficult thing at the same time, it’s important to find the time and the space to ourselves to really observe the sensations and emotions and connect with the self and the heart.
With the feeling of uncertainty present in the actual world, it is even more important to look after an internal safe space to stop and listen our hearts. Yin yoga is a good way to enjoy the time to ourselves and listen the body and personal needs and balance the energy reaching the deepest tissues. Yin promotes relaxation, calming the nervous system. It also connects us with our inner selves allowing balance of the mind with the heart.
I invite you to embrace this practice and find the space between your thoughts, coming back to your internal landscape and relax in the present moment, resting in the serenity of your heart. Prepare the space and time to feel this open heart practice and enjoy this time to be with you. Listen your body and give you a bit of self-love. In a time where we have a lot of stimulus to look outside ourselves, use this practice to bring your attention inwards and learn with it.
Celebrate self-love this year giving yourself the time and space to take care of yourself with small attitudes of gratitude and love. Allow emotions that come up and keep them as a tool to know yourself better.
Feel free to use a bolster, blocks and a blanket any time it brings more comfort to stay in the pose.
Let’s start in…
Reclined Butterfly (10 min)
Lie down on your back with the spine on the floor or resting in the bolster. Bring your feet together, let the knees fall to the sides and if you need use blocks as support for your knees. Start to relax the back, the shoulders and the facial muscles as these are areas where we normally carry some tension.
Bring the right hand to the lower abdomen and the left hand to the center of the chest and keep your eyes slightly open or closed and start to look inside your physical body, your mind and your emotions, allowing your feelings to show up. Slowly start to connect with your breath, feeling every inhalation and every exhalation. Notice how the air flows in your abdomen and chest. If it’s more comfortable for you feel free to stretch the legs slowly in the floor.
When the time is up, if you used any support bring it aside, bring your knees to your chest and slowly find your way to seat in a comfortable meditation position on the floor.
Sukhasana / Easy Seated (3 min)
Sit comfortably with your hips on the floor or positioned on a cushion, feeling the support of the earth and how your spine grows tall. Rest one hand in the lap and use the other hand tap or massage the thymus gland (center of the chest) for a couple of minutes using this action to awake your body’s energy and bring awareness to the heart space.
Stay for 3 minutes in your meditation position, then relax your hands to your knees, feel your natural breath and accept every feeling or sensation without judgment.
Anahatasana / Melted Heart (3 min)
Come to a table top position with your hands and knees on the floor. Use a blanket to support your knees if needed and start to slowly move your spine, hips and neck through free movement stretching it with awareness.
Stop the movement and open the shoulders as you walk the hands forward and melt the heart to the earth, keeping your hips above the knees. Adjust your hands more to the edges of your mat if needed to create space in your shoulders and chest. Maintain the pose for 3 minutes.
Start to move slowly and stay for a few minutes in a rebound pose lying down on your belly or child’s pose (Balasana).
Sphinx (4 min)
Come down onto your belly and start to bring your forearms and elbows to the floor opening the chest. Try to keep the chest open looking in front of you. Adjust your legs and arms creating more space if needed avoiding any pressure in the lower back. Hold the position for 4 minutes.
If you feel comfortable in your back come up to your hands separating your elbows from the floor and hold the last minute in a seal pose.
Slowly leave the pose and come back to lie down on your belly for a couple of minutes to feel the effects.
Open Wings / Reverse Needle (3 min per side)
From the belly, stretch the right arm to the right side and stay with the left hand on the floor in front of the face and slowly rotate on your right side. Bring your knees to your chest to accommodate the pose if needed (first image above) or extend the bottom leg and use the top leg as a support behind you. Your chin can turn slightly to the chest protecting the neck or use a block as a support for your jaw. Hold the pose for 3 minutes.
Slowly return to your belly and stay there for a minute to balance the sides. When ready, start to stretch the left arm to the left repeating the pose on the opposite side. Do a rebound pose for a couple of minutes lying down on your belly or on your back relaxing the shoulders, arms and neck and observe the sensations.
Caterpillar with Teddy Bear Arms (6 min)
Slowly sit on your mat or use a support for your sit bones with both legs straight or slightly bent. Hug yourself grabbing opposite shoulder blades and roll your spine forward. You can use a bolster above or below your knees as a support. Hold it for 2 minutes and change the arms crossing the opposite way and stay for 2 more minutes. Release the arms to the sides of the body surrendering into the pose for the final 2 minutes.
Slowly start to roll your spine up and bring it to the floor for a rebound pose on your back for a couple of minutes.
Supported Fish (5 min)
Prepare the bolster and the block perpendicular to your body. Use the bolster or a block at the thoracic spine height, at the armpits level and a block to support your head. If it’s comfortable to you (if there is not any injury in your neck) you can bring the head to the floor. Relax the arms to the sides of the body, palms facing up, relax your hips and hold the pose for 5 minutes feeling the opening of the chest.
Release the props to one side and rest on the mat for a few moments when the time is up.
Reclining Twist (3 min per side)
Lie on your back with your feet slightly apart on the mat. Open your arms to the sides and drop the knees to one side releasing any tension in your spine and hips. If you find it more comfortable, use the bolster to support your knees or your lower back.
Hold the position for 3 minutes and change to the other side, passing through a neutral position. After the second side bring your knees to the chest and move slowly to one side and to the other giving yourself a gentle massage in your lower back.
Savasana (10 min)
Extend the legs while on your back and rest in a comfortable pose. If you feel tension on the lower back use the bolster below your knees as a support to help relax the spine.
Stay in Savasana as long as you feel your body asks for (at least 10 min).
Release any tension in your physical body and your mind. Feel your natural breath and if your mind starts to stimulate you with a lot of thoughts just observe, accept them and let them go as you come back to your inner bubble. Let go of tension, worries and relax.
After the time you decide to give yourself in Savasana start to awaken your body with slow movements, bring your arms to your chest grabbing opposite shoulders and give yourself a hug expressing gratitude.
Take your time, keep your eyes closed, and slowly come to a seated position to take a few moments to observe how you feel. Bring your hands to the center of your chest and feel your heart beat. Bow your head to your heart and thank yourself for taking this time to you to cultivate self-love.
Thank you very much for sharing this practice with me. Take care of yourself.
Follow Filipa on Instagram @mfilipacarmo
Hi Nancy, I’m not sure how I landed on your page, but I’m so happy I did. Your postings are amazing. Thank you so much for offering so much information.