This time of year, you may naturally find yourself more drawn to quiet, inward activities such as reading a book, working on a craft, or finally watching Food Inc. on a Saturday night instead of going out with friends. This is your Yin side- it’s feminine and introverted, quiet and dark, soft and slow. The holiday season is just a few days away, which will mean putting your Yang (yang is more outward and extroverted) face on when you’d really rather be curled up on your couch under a blanket with a cup of tea. Worry no more- return to this practice after any especially draining activities to nourish your Yin side, she deserves it!
*Note- this sequence was designed with rejuvenation and relaxation in mind, so it uses a bolster. However, it will certainly work without one.
Begin by lying flat on your back on your mat, with a bolster underneath your knees. Spend five minutes in this soothing position, preparing yourself for the rest of your practice.
When you’re ready, remove the bolster and slowly come to a table top position. From here, perform a few rounds of Cat/Cow. On an inhale, press your hands firmly into your mat, rounding the spine all the way through the shoulders and allowing the head to hang. On an exhale, beginning at the base of the spine, slowly arch the back and lift the head to perform the opposite motion. This video gives a nice explanation if you have not previously done this. Perform five or six rounds of Cat/Cow.
Next, place your bolster across your mat. With feet on the ground and knees bent, drape your body over the bolster so that it is supporting your mid to low back. Adjust until comfortable and hang out here, focusing on your breath, for five minutes.
You should look something like this:
Remove the bolster and perform a few rounds of pelvic tilts: Lying on your back with feet still on the floor, inhale and arch the back slightly tilting the pelvis away from you. On the exhale, press your sacrum into the mat and rock your pelvis towards you.
Return to tabetop and make your way into right-sided Swan or Sleeping Swan (you may progressively move into Sleeping Swan if you prefer). The bolster is optional here, but is nice to rest the chest on in Sleeping Swan. Remain for 4 minutes, focusing on keeping the glute muscles relaxed and the back leg directly behind you. Slowly come out of the pose, and send the right leg back to meet the left.
Spend two minutes in Child’s pose before repeating on the left side.
After completing Swan on the left side, come to lie on your back again. Move your feet in a windshield wiper motion, allowing the hips to loosen up again.
This time placing the bolster lengthwise down the mat, allow your entire back to rest on it (depending on your bolster’s width, you may need two or an extra pillow for this part) as you take a supported version of Saddle pose. Remain here for five minutes. Alternatively, you can do one leg a time, spending just three minutes on each side.
After five minutes in Saddle pose, slowly return to a seated position, removing the bolster and sending the legs straight out in front of you. Come into Caterpillar pose, placing the bolster under your knees. Doing this takes the stress off of your hamstrings, and allows a deep opening of the spine which is our ultimate goal. Stay here for four or five minutes.
Finish with Child’s pose, opening the knees and sliding the bolster in. Allow the chest to rest heavily on the bolster for a soothing two or three minutes.
Finally, make your way into shavasana, placing the bolster behind you for eight more minutes of supported bliss.
photo credit: www.thatprettyfitchick.com