In Chinese Elemental Theory, the element of Fire is associated with the Heart/Small Intestine meridians, the season of Summer, and our inner sense of vitality. Today we are working with this element using Yin heart opening poses to bring balance to the "fire inside". The heart is thought of as the seat of our vitality and inner peace. By bringing balance to this area we can work through grief and sadness and develop deeper compassion for ourselves as well as the world around us. Join me!
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Hold: 2-5 mins per side
Come onto your back and walk both heels over to the right, stacking the left ankle over the right (option to just keep them side by side). Keeping the hips in place, move your upper body and head over to the right as well. Take arms up overhead and grasp left wrist with right hand OR simply take hands where you feel stretch but not pain. Turn your head wherever it feels most comfortable. Take deep breaths into the left side body feeling the opening from the left foot through the left hand. To come out, release the hands to the hips and move the upper body back to center. Slowly unwind the ankles and realign the lower body to center. Relax with arms and heels wide for 1 minute. Take the second side.
Hold: 2-3 minutes per side
Come onto your belly taking your feet wider than the hips apart. Tuck your right arm, palm up, underneath your body and your left arm behind your right (palm up) so they are crisscrossed underneath your shoulders. Tuck your chin into the x in the middle or rest your forehead on a block or blanket. Breathe deeply and allow the shoulders to unwind and release. Have patience with this pose - breath into it and allow it to work it's magic. It is not an easy pose to hold but you will feel AMAZING when you come out! To come out, lift your chin and begin to unwind. Take a few minutes with arms bent out to sides and feel the sensations in your arms and shoulders. Take the second side crisscrossing the arms the opposite way with left arm in front of right.
Supine Cowface - Arms Variation (Gomukhasana arms shoulder stretch)
Hold: 2-4 minutes
From a lying down position, roll onto your left side and tuck your right arm, palm out, up between the shoulder blades (remember 2/3 of your maximum). Begin to roll onto your back keeping the right hand underneath you and adjusting as necessary to hold here. Take your left arm up and over your head, palm up, and rest your head on your elbow, forearm or hand. Your arms will be in Cowface pose arms position underneath you. Settle in, breath and sense the areas of the body being released. To come out, release your left hand, roll to your left and release your right hand and lie flat for 5 breaths. Check in with your body and then go onto the second side.
Supine Chest/Shoulder Opener
Hold: 1-3 minutes
Come onto your stomach taking your arms out to the sides, elbows in line with shoulders or slightly below and bent into cactus arms. Turn your head to the left and rest your ear on the floor. Begin to walk your left hand down to shoulder height coming up on the fingertips and press into them rolling your body to the right. Stay here or if you are able, take the top leg back behind you (foot to floor) and roll over further. Feel the stretch across the entire front chest and shoulder. Hold here and breath. To come out, roll back to your stomach, release your hand/arm down and take a few breaths. Turn your head to the other side and take the second side stretch.
Melting Heart Pose
Hold: 2-5 mins
Come onto hands and knees (blanket underneath for comfort if needed). Begin to drop your belly down towards the floor keeping hips directly over knees. Start to walk your hands out in front of you (wide if that opens your shoulders more) and drop your chest and forehead to the floor (or a block). If it feels okay, you can take chin to floor - remember 2/3 of your max pose. Breathe deeply into the spine and chest (engage navel if this is too much on your lower back). To come out, engage your core and begin to lift, walking your hands back towards your knees. Take Downward Facing Dog for 5-8 breaths - bending one knee and the other.
Hold: 3-5 mins
Come onto your back. Gently press through your feet to lift hips over to the right side. Bring knees to chest and drop over to the left side, stacking the knees as much as possible (using a block underneath if the knees don't come to the floor easily). Take arms wide out from shoulders and turn head to the right. Allow gravity to pull your knees ground bound and settle your shoulders deeper. Enjoy the release of the spine, back and hips in here and breathe deeply into the space you have found. To come out, turn head to center, engage core and come back to center hugging knees in and rocking for a few breaths. Take the second side.
Hold: 5-10 minutes
Allow the heels to settle out to the corners of the mat, slide your shoulder blades underneath your body, and take your hands out to the sides, palms up or one hand to heart, one hand to belly. 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.
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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