In Traditional Chinese Medicine and Five Element Theory, this time of late summer is a separate season - one associated with the element of Earth and the Spleen/Stomach meridians. This is a beautiful time to help your body transition between the heat of summer and the cooler air of Fall/Winter and to focus on grounding the body for the coming months. We work to settle the mind and body with long holds, breath, and mindful movement along with balancing the Spleen/Stomach meridians for better digestion. Enjoy!
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Hold: 3-5 minutes +
Take a rolled blanket underneath your shoulders and come onto your back taking the bottoms of the feet together. Start here allowing the shoulders and upper back to fully release and open. Take your arms up overhead or out to sides (even interlacing them if comfortable). Breathe into the inner legs, chest, upper back and shoulders. To come out - stretch your legs out straight for 5 breaths then bend knees bringing the bottoms of the feet flat. Take a few breaths here before continuing.
1/2 Supported Bridge variation
Hold: 2-5 minutes/side
Take a rolled blanket/towel or bolster under your hips for support. Bring your right knee into your chest, wrapping your hands around the front shin or behind the knee and allow gravity to bring that knee in. You can keep the left foot grounded or take the left leg straight for more opening in the front hips. Hold here feeling the deep stretch in the lower back, hips and glutes. Release and take a breath or two - sense the feeling in the right body versus the left. Stretch both legs out straight in between sides and allow the lower back and hips to open for at least 1 minute. Take the second side.
Hold: 3-5 minutes/pose/side
Bring your big toes together and knees apart slightly (bringing them closer together opens the front thighs more). Keeping your hips low to the heels (prop with blankets or blocks if needed), allow your torso to drop forward, resting your head on your fists or hands or the floor. Allow your head to be supported fully with the weight on the space between your eyebrows. This will bring some softness to your whirling thoughts and quiet your mind (hold here for 2-3 minutes). Use a block for your head if needed for comfort.
Dragon Pose (high)
Hold: 3-5 mins per side
Come onto hands and knees with a blanket under the knees for comfort. Take one leg out in front in a lunge position. Gently lift back knee off the floor and walk the back leg further back then drop knee and pull forwards taking the weight off the knee a bit and moving it higher up above the kneecap. Keep the knee and hip in alignment with knee directly over ankle or behind it and soften. Take your hands onto your thigh and allow the back to arch slightly. Breathe into the hip and leg, allowing both sides to release and open. To come out, drop your hands down to the floor and gently step back into downward facing dog for 3-5 breaths before moving to the second side.
Cat Pulling It's Tail
Hold: 2-5 minutes/side
Come onto your back and roll over to your left side. Take your left arm out from the shoulder and take your left leg, bent knee, slightly back behind you. Catch or reach for the left leg with your right hand and gently pull it back behind your further, taking the foot closer to the floor and rolling the shoulder and chest open slightly to the right. You can stack your right leg on top of left bent or you can straighten the leg and take it out in front of you. If you want to go further, grasp your right toes with your left hand and keep the leg straight out to the left or simply allow the right foot to sit in front of your body. Allow your breath to guide your body deeper into the twist and if you feel you can, gently pull the left toes back further, emphasizing the stretch in the thigh. To come out, release all holds and roll onto your back taking the arms and legs wide for 5-10 breaths. Continue to the other side.
Supine Windshield Wiper Twist
Hold: 3-5 minutes/side
Come onto your back. Walk your feet as wide as your mat and allow the knees to drop over to the left side. Turn your head to the right and take your arms out wide. Allow gravity to pull the knees to the ground and slowly release lower back tension. You can take the left heel onto the right thigh for a deeper pose. Come back to center and switch sides.
Hold: 5-10 minutes
Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor about mat distance apart allowing your knees to fall into each other. Slide your shoulder blades underneath your body, and take your hands out to the sides, palms up. Take some deep breaths, coming back to the 3 part breath - first in the belly, then in the chest and finally the collarbones - and extend the exhale even longer. Allow yourself to sigh a few times and let it all go! Take a 6 count inhale, 6 count exhale, 6 count hold at the bottom of the exhale for 3-5 rounds. Focus on your breath and let go.
Come into a comfortable seated position. Take palms up or down on your knees and keep your eyes closed or half gaze. Lengthen your spine and focus on your breath. Allow yourself to feel whatever this practice may have brought up for you and to sense your body grounding through your seat. Connect with the earth and feel stable, rooted, and grounded. Feel the earth and celebrate the beauty of late summer, the glory of harvest time. Take this time to settle and enjoy this period of rest - sense time almost standing still. Stay here as long as you can and follow up with journaling or your favorite poem (I used one by Thich Naht Hanh from Call Me by My Real Names).
I have been "playing" and experimenting with yoga, aromatherapy and healthy living since my late teens - researching, testing, reading, investigating, and learning anything that would make my life - and the lives around me - better naturally.
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