In a world full of yang activities we desperately need the yin. Yin is our soft, passive, healing, & cooling energy. Especially lately, the strength of our lungs and breath are being tested and depend on our ability to find balance within. We panic, act out of fear, and forget to breathe and rationalize. I made this sequence to help create awareness of the strength we have or lack thereof. It won't make you immune, don't get me wrong, but it will help your overall state of being and conscious awareness. That alone will boost your immune system and limit the hysteria, panic, and fear from breaking us. As individuals we can do way more than we think we can to maximize our standing health on a very foundational level using our yogic tool box.
The below yin sequence will only take 20 minutes of your day, I know your lying if you say you don't have time considering we're all in quarantine ;). It's an extremely gentle flow, with modifications to fit your physical needs. Designed to strengthen the lungs to expand the breath while calming the nervous system, stimulating proper blood flow, breaking up stagnation, reducing toxins, & moving Qi to heal and maximize vitality.
Meditation - 2 min.
This practice will not only help calm the nervous system but it will also create balance & clarity for the mind and body. Something we all need right now and could agree on!
- straight spine
- shoulders relaxed, tailbone tucked
- chin slightly down to elongate the back of the neck
- palms may rest up or down on on your knees
- breath in & out through the nose, NO MOUTH BREATHING (Occasional on out breaths only)!
Meditation Challenge: 5 min. every morning and before going to bed
Pranayama (breathwork) - 2 min. - choose one, or both!
- The Yogic Complete Breath (3 part breath)
- stay in your meditation posture
- begin bringing the breath in through the nostrils to inflate the belly only
- follow the breath upward into the diaphragm
- continue the breath to fill every square inch of your lungs and chest
- pause at the top of that inhale when you feel the breath reach your collar bones
- exhale deeply out of the mouth - make sure your spine remains straight!
Remember this sequence: inhale (nose) . . . belly -> diaphragm -> lungs . . . exhale (mouth). GO SLOW. Complete 10 of these.
- Anuloma Viloma (Alternating nostril breathing) 5:2:5 sequence
- maintain meditation posture
- find your hand position (see photo below)
- inhale through the right for 5, hold and plug for 2, release the left to exhale for 5 (follow pictured instructions below)
- repeat for 10 rounds (1 round = 1 full inhale and exhale)
Anuloma Viloma hand position. (use left hand if left handed)
Plug right nostril with right thumb (left handers: left nostril left thumb). Breathe in through the left nostril for 5 seconds. Plug BOTH nostrils (ring finger and thumb), hold the inhale for 2 seconds.
Release your thumb from the right nostril. Control your exhale for 5 seconds out of the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril then plug both, release from the left. Inhale through left, plug, release through right...Repeat 10x.
Pranayama Challenge: 10 minutes everyday - 5 min. in the a.m., 5 min. in the p.m. - Increase the 5:2:5 seq. to 6:3:6 when you're ready.
Asanas (poses) - 6 min.
Seated spinal twists or Ardha Matsyendrasana
Hold each side for 10 full breaths. Slow & conscious breathing. Close your eyes and focus on relaxing the inner & outer thighs. Keep the shoulders away from the ears. Find the twist just below the rib cage. Avoid twisting in the hips, keep them square.
Cat/Cow or Bitilasana Marjaryasana
Cat: Inhale nice and gradually through the nose to inflate the torso upwards like a balloon. As if there's a string attached to your upper back, round your spine and tuck your tail & chin. You really want to round the back as much as you can here. Keep the hips square, thighs slightly activated for balance.
Cow: Exhale here. Dip the lower ribs towards the floor, tailbone reaches high, chest pulls forward, chin up. Ride the exhale throughout the pose until your empty. Repeat cat/cow 5 times nice and slowly. Breathing in through the nose, out through the nose. You really want to be conscious of your low back here. Too much of an arch can cause injury. Pull from the belly button up into your shoulders to expand the ribs to its full range, which takes the tension away from the low back and limits the degree on the lift/arch in the tailbone.
Repeat 5-7x. 1 cat/cow = 1 round.
Place 2 blocks side by side on your mat. Starting in a tabletop you can lower the hips down to meet the blocks, you want them just below the hip bones, NOT on the belly. Rest your chest and arms to the floor in front of you. You should feel a gentle pull from the navel and heavy thighs. On each breath, work to fill the abdomen as the pressure is lifted from the back. This allows your body to relax even further and releases tension on the spine.
Upward Facing Dog or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Option 1: Begin lying flat on your belly with your palms flat underneath your shoulders. On the inhale begin pulling the chest forward, peeling the upper back away from the mat. Little to no pressure in the palms - you should be able to hold yourself up without your hands, keep the legs and feet down. Engage the low back muscles and press the belly and hips into the floor on each inhale. Remain for 5-7 breaths.
Option 2: Begin lying flat on your belly with your palms flat underneath your shoulders. On the inhale begin pulling the chest forward, peeling the upper back away from the mat. Engage the low back muscles and press the palms into the floor to sweep the chest upwards. Shoulders should be stacked over wrists. Engage the thighs and press the tops of the feet into the floor. Don't let the shoulders or hips collapse, keep pushing away from the mat! Don't drop the head too far back, keep the neck supported using the traps and by pushing the chest up and forward. Remain for 5-7 breaths.
Child's pose with shoulder opener or Balasana variation
Option 1: Gentle shoulder opener. Find your childs pose, knees apart, big toes touching, heels apart. Place two blocks about shoulder width in front of you with just enough space for your elbows. Place your elbows on the blocks and sink your head in between the shoulders, chest towards the floor. Breathe into the rib cage & shoulders. Let the neck relax. Remain here for 5-7 complete breaths.
Option 2: Deep shoulder opener. Find your childs pose, knees apart, big toes touching, heels apart. Stack two blocks in front of you with just enough space for your elbows. Place your elbows on the blocks and sink your head in between the shoulders, chest towards the floor. Breathe into the rib cage & shoulders. Let the neck relax. Remain here for 5-7 complete breaths.
Fish pose or Mayurasana
Option 1: No props. Find your Dandasa, staff pose. Place the back of your hands underneath your seat. Squeeze the elbows towards one another, lift the chest up into the ceiling, gently release the head and neck (you can place a block underneath your head if you need). Remain for 3-5 breaths. Don't let the shoulders collapse! If this bothers, see option 2 below.
Option 2: Use your blocks in a T shape position. The blocks do the lifting and supporting for you here, all you have to do is relax and breathe.
Supine spinal twists or Supta Matsyendrasana
After Mayurasana (fish pose) find yourself flat on your back hugging your knees to your chest for a counterpose, releasing the spine. You may pause here as long as you need. To get into your supine twist, keep your knees together. Using your right hand you'll lead the knees to the right side, extending the left arm, gaze is over the left shoulder. Hold here for 5 breaths. Come back to your neutral position, knees to chest. Lead the knees to the left side with the left hand, extend the right arm. Gaze is over the right shoulder. Hold for 5 breaths. If you need more support or your extremely tight you may use a block under the bottom knee to make the twist less intense.
Asana Challenge:Dedicate 10 minutes everyday to move your body. It doesn't have to be Yoga!
Stay well & happy! Keep moving, keep breathing.