Winter is here and if you have been feeling the call to turn inward, rest, reset and really take some time to look back over your year and do a little review - this practice is for you! We take our time moving through poses perfect for the season - poses focusing on the Kidney/Bladder meridians and the element of water - to help us settle in and soften. Join me using the practice guide below OR using the link for the video practice with me http://bit.ly/YinYoga4WinterSolstice (also linked below the guide).
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Child's Pose (Balasana)
Hold: 2-6 mins
Come onto your hands and knees, bring your big toes together and knees apart 2/3 of your maximum opening. Drop your hips back toward heels and stretch arms out in front, reaching to the front of the mat. Feel the stretch and settle in, breathing deeply into your side body as well as front body. Feel the tension release in your chest, back and hips. To come out, return palms to ground, press up and lifting through hands pull knees together. Take 10 rounds of cat/cow to release the spine and loosen the back.
Sphynx Pose with Bent Knees
Hold: 2-5 minutes
Come onto your belly and take your elbows under your shoulders, palms together, gently traction your back by taking your heart/chest forward. You can keep neck level with back or drop chin to chest. For more shoulder emphasis, allow your chest to drop towards the floor. If this is too much for your lower back, gently engage your core and lift while pressing lightly into the forearms us place a bolster under your chest for support. Gently bend your knees to a 90 degree angle with feet softly flexed. If this is too much, keep the feet on the floor. To come out, lower feet and let elbows come out to the sides - rest your head on the back of your hands. Breathe deeply and notice the sensations here for 5-8 breaths.
Hold: 1-3 minutes
Lift your head and take your elbows under your shoulders. Take your hands a little wider to sides of your mat. Turn your thumbs forward and fingers out and straighten your arms. If you need to come down lower, take your hands out further in front of you or bring them in closer. Focus on releasing the glutes and legs and allowing your chest to come forward. Keep shoulders soft and let them slide down your back. To come out, turn the elbows out and VERY SLOWLY lower down. Rest your head on the backs of your hands and rock the hips gently for 5-10 breaths.
1/2 Dragonfly & 1/2 Dragonfly with Twist
Hold: 2-5 minutes per side
Come onto your seat (use a folded blanket if needed to prop under hips) and take both legs out wide to the sides. Reach under your left leg with your left hand and pull the heel into the pelvis. If this is uncomfortable for your knee, take the heel out further from your body. Relax the knees and begin to fold forward taking your hands out to prop yourself up or come all the way down onto a block, bolster or the floor if appropriate for you. Settle in, ground through your heel and your pelvis and allow gravity to take you forward and down. Press up after 2-5 minutes and twist gently to the bent knee side taking your same hand behind you and softly resting the opposite palm up on the bent knee. Stay here for 2-3 minutes, gently lengthening and softening. To come out, come back to center and bring both feet flat - windshield wiper the knees side to side and then take the second side.
Winged Dragon Pose & Twist
Hold: 2-5 mins per side then 1-2 minutes in Twist
Place a folded blanket or towel under your back knee and step your opposite foot forward keeping the foot inline with the knee. Take both hands to the inside of the leg. Walk your bent knee foot to the side about 2", turn the toes out slightly and allow the knee to roll out - taking the outside edge of your foot to the floor. This is a deep hip opening so be patient, breathe through it and know that no pose lasts forever! After 2-5 minutes, allow the knee to fall out further, gently grasp the knee (to secure it) with the same side hand and twist your torso to the bent knee side. Hold for 1-2 minutes. Lengthen the spine while twisting. To come out, bring outside foot in line with hip and foot flat to the floor. Walk hands back and return to Downward Facing Dog or Child's Pose for 5-8 breaths. Before doing second side, take 1/2 Saddle Pose FF below.
Half Saddle Forward Fold (Ardha Virasana FF)
Hold: 2-5 minutes
Tuck a block or blanket (from last pose which was under knees) under your left outstretched leg (or sit on floor). Take your right leg and bend it back, keeping the right heel near the right hip. Use your thumb to gently slide the calf muscle back and out to give the knee space to fold. Prop yourself up as high as you need here. Sit upright for a few breaths and then, gently begin to fold forward. Release. Forget what you think this pose should look like or how far you get to the floor. Just breathe and surrender to gravity. As time goes by, you may find yourself coming closer to the floor but don't push yourself. Allow this to happen. To come out, gently lean over to the left side and slide the right leg out straight. Bounce the knees, wiggle the toes and massage the legs for 5-8 breaths before continuing to the other side taking the dragons on the other side.
1/2 Stirrup (Ardha Ananda Balasana)
Hold: 2-3 minutes
Take a rolled blanket or towel under your hips for support. Bring your right knee into your chest and take your right hand to the inside of the knee to grasp the inside or outside of the right foot. Using a little bit of shoulder and chest traction, pull the knee into the outer right side towards the floor and head the bottom of the right foot towards the ceiling. Take your left leg either bent or out straight. 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. Take the second side.
Supported Bridge Pose (Salamba Sarvangasana)
Hold: 2-5 minutes
Stretch your legs out straight, heels on the floor and toes pointing upward. Take your heels onto the block for support or the floor if that is comfortable (if this is too much you can keep knees bent with feet on floor). Enjoy the gentle backbend and hip opening. To come out, bend knees, lift hips, and pull the blanket out from under you. Rest on the floor for 5 breaths.
Hold: 2-6 mins
Come onto your back and take arms wide - level with shoulders or bent elbows (more chest opening) and cross the right leg over the left - winding once or double wrap. Press through the foot and gently shift hips over to the right. Drop knees over to the left and turn head to the right. Allow gravity to take the knees over and if you feel you can, walk the left toes back behind you more for more twist. To come out, engage your core and bring legs back to center. Drop feet wide on the mat and let knees come together. Breathe here for 8 breaths and 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. 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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