Some YIN & YANG to do at home; enjoy this soft sequence to warm you up in winter. Get rid of stiffness in hips, neck, shoulders and spine, release physical & mental tensions and gently soften up your fascia (deep tissues), joints and muscles.
This is a soft sequence that will help you to get rid of stiffness in hips, neck, shoulders and spine, release physical & mental tensions and gently soften up your fascia (deep tissues), joints and muscles.
It fits well both as a shorter morning sequence of 20-30 minutes, and / or a longer evening session of 60-90 minutes. In order to fit your needs, adjust the amount of time you stay in each posture; 5-10 breathes for the faster version, and up to 3-5 minutes for the longer one.
Please never go into pain, respect your body, and your lungs! This sequence is suitable for healthy people without injuries. If you are new to yoga, pls check with your doctor before starting a yoga practice.
INTENTION Sit in a comfortable position, with your legs crossed if possible. Ground both butt cheeks equally into the floor, lengthen your spine, lift your heart slightly, relax your shoulders. Allow your breath to soften, deepen and slow down. Follow your breath with your mind, without controlling it, just for a couple of breaths. Notice how your feeling right now, in your physical body, in your mind and soul. Ask yourself what you need right now in your life, in order to feel fulfilled; Allow that to be your intention today. ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING / anuloma viloma, If you get dizzy, if your lungs feel strained or there is any discomfort, stop or adjust the breathing according to your state today. Press your right thumb slightly against your right nostril, index and middle finger between your eyebrows, the ring finger and pinky resting next to the left nostril. Close your mouth and your eyes. Only breathe through your nose if possible. Start by closing the right nostril with the thumb, keeping the left one open, inhaling through the left, counting silently in your head to four. Close the left nostril (with ring finger an pinky) and open the right nostril, exhale on the count of four, keep it open and inhale through right on the count of four. Close right, open left, exhale on four. Thats one round. Try to do five to ten rounds if possible. EAR TO SHOULDER Sit in a steady, comfortable posture. Tip your head towards the right shoulder, almost like the right ear would touch it (but really it shouldn’t since your shoulders should be relaxed). Maintain a straight spine. Gently rest your right hand on top of your head, point your left arm out to the side, in a way so that you can feel the stretch in the left side of the neck increase a little bit. Breathe slow, deep and comfortable. Trying to maintain your focus on your breath and the sensations in your body. Stay a minimum of 5-10 breaths, or maybe a full long beautiful minute if you have the time. Return to neutral position for a breath or two, and then do the left side. NECK BACK AND FORWARD Maintain a steady and comfortable seated position (if your feeling stiff or it’s tingling in your body, please feel free to stretch your legs in between the postures). Try to keep your breath steady and calm, flowing though your nose on both inhale and exhale, expanding your stomach on the inhale, and emptying the stomach on the exhale. Inhale through your nose and gently lift your chin up to the sky. Exhale and tip the chin down towards the chest. Move up and down with the head together with your breath, moving carefully at first, gradually and carefully discovering the full range of motion in your neck. Repeat 5-15 times.
LOOK OVER SHOULDER Keep the shoulders relaxed and your heart slight raised up, turn your head towards the right side, looking over your shoulder, gently turn to other side, look over left shoulder. Inhale when you move the head to the middle, exhale when you turn to the sides, keep your breath steady and calm, flowing though your nose on both inhale and exhale. LENGHTEN YOUR SIDE Lift your right arm towards the sky, without lifting your buttocks, look up, then tip you arm over your head, extend it far away, trying to maintain a full and open feeling in your chest and heart, avoiding to slouch, keeping your left hand in the floor next to you for support. Stay here at least five breaths, all the way up to a minute if possible today. Then change to other side.
CAT Stay on all fours, hands under shoulders, knees placed under hips, hip width apart. Exhale deeply through your nose while lifting your spine up towards the sky making an arch of your back, gently pushing your belly button towards the spine to exhale all the way, looking between your legs or towards your belly. & COW Inhale through your nose and relax your back and allow it to hang down towards the floor, while lifting your heart, chest and shin towards the sky, keeping shoulders relaxed and open. Imagine you’re pushing the floor away from you with your strong and straight arms. Keep your fingers open like a seastar.
MELTED HEART Enter the pose slowly and delicately, allowing your breath and body to show you how deep to go today. When you reach a place in the posture where you are comfortable but not bored, where there is no pain but it’s still interesting, stay there. Try to be still. Soften your breath, let it flow any way it wants while trying to relax as many parts of your body and mind as possible. From all fours, allow your arms to lengthen and slide away from you while slowly lowering your chest towards the floor, imagining that your heart is becoming one with the earth. Look forward, maybe your chin in touching the mat. OPTION is to rest your elbows on the mat just in front of you, allowing them to take your weight, lifting your hands towards your head, trying to relax your shoulder blades, only do this if there is no pain in shoulders, neck or spine. ANOTHER OPTION is to open the knees a bit wider, maybe even allowing the butt to fall back a bit towards the heels, keeping the elbows steady on the mat, heart and chest further up not touching the floor. Try to stay in the posture for 1-5 minutes, keeping your focus on the sensations in your body, noticing the rhythm of your heart, maybe even reminding yourself of things, moments and people in your life that you are grateful and thankful for, right now, in this moment.
HOW TO GET INTO GARUDASANA Bend you left arm 90 degrees, moving the left elbow towards the right shoulder, keep fingers straight and pointing up. Bend your right arm the same way, hooking the right arm under the left elbow. Move both arms towards your centre, in front of your face. Relax your shoulders, inhale and allow your breath to create some space in your chest, heart, around your neck and shoulders, exhale and release the shoulders a bit further down away from the ears. If you have no pain or injury in your shoulders, you can now try to move your right hand towards the left hand, with the intention of making the palms of your hands meet.
GARUDASANA (eagle pose) If possible, sit on your heels, top of feet flat towards the floor. If that is not working for you today, sit with your legs crossed or in another seated position that is comfortable and steady, where your spine is able to be straight. Inhale and lift your elbows up towards the sky, stopping when there is pain or you cannot keep you shoulders relaxed anymore. If your spine allows you, maybe you will be able to lift your shin, and your hands, all the way up and almost behind you, while your upper back is arching back. Please make sure that you can feel space and lightness being created in your chest and ribcage this whole time, allowing for a smooth and safe opening of your upper back. If you cannot smile, your pushing to much. Stay for a minimum of 5-10 breaths, maybe all the way up to a minute. Then gently release the arms down towards the floor while bending forward on your knees, maintaining the eagle grip, relaxing your head down. Stay for 5-10 breaths up to a minute. Come out of the posture gently and in slow motion. Notice if you feel any difference in your left and right side. Gently move your neck and shake your arms before you do the other side.
SENZEI ON YOUR TOES If this posture is hurting your knees, try sitting on a block or pillow, if that is not helping, skip this posture today. Sit on you heels, curl your toes under, so that the soles of your feet are showing to the back. Keep your spine straight, and be aware of the position of your pelvis and hips, trying to keep them aligned in the middle, not arching nor curving your lower back. Relax your hands in your lap. Close your eyes, breathe calmly and softly. If this is a new position for you, you will most probably start to notice a burning sensation in your feet straight away, try to sit a breath or two, and then release the top of your feet flat on the floor. With time and practice, you will be able to sit longer without pain, gradually getting used to and a accepting a slight discomfort, but discovering the difference between pain and discomfort. Remember its not a competition, you’re doing this for your benefit and joy. ON FLAT FEET WITH WITH NAMASTE ON BACK When its time for you, or after a minute, release and allow the top of the feet to be flat against the floor, enjoy this sensation for a moment, and then grab you elbows with your hands behind your back. If that is comfortable for you, and you feel no pain in your shoulders, feel free to explore further and see if you can make the palms of your hands touch, making a namaste with you hands behind your back. Be aware of the straightness of your spine and the neutral position of your pelvis and hips. Feel the rhythm of your heart, relax your eyes, soften your breath, stay for 1-3 minutes while noticing the rise and fall of your thoughts and emotions, notice which emotions and thoughts that keep coming back, and which ones are easer to let go of. Try not to label or judge anything that comes to you, try just to notice and be aware. Maybe even accepting whatever is coming to you.
BABY DRAGON Start on all four, then move your right foot forward, place it on the mat outside of your right hand, straighten your left leg and allow the left knee to slide a bit back, top of foot flat against the mat. Keep your arms straight and strong, gently lift your heart and shin against the sky, keeping your shoulders open and soft, while trying to relax your left thigh and hips. Stay a minimum of 5-10 breaths, maybe all the way to 2 minutes. If your hips and legs are up for it, you can try to sink down with you upper body towards the floor, resting the elbows and maybe even your forehead on the mat in LOW DRAGON. Come slowly back to all fours, maybe rest in Balasana / child’s pose and then do the left side.
BRIDGE Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet steady on the mat just under your knees. Relax your back, especially the lower part. Inhale and gently lift your buttocks and hips up towards the sky. When lifting engage your root lock / Moola Bandha by contracting everything between your legs (sexorgans and rectum) and your belly button. Stay with your belly lifted 5-10 breaths, up to 2 minutes.
LEG RAISES Lay on your back with your arms next to your body hands flat down, or hands just under your buttocks. Lift your lefts up into the sky at a 90 degree angle, flexing your feet, stay here for a couple of breaths. When your ready, release your legs slowly down towards the floor while exhaling, engaging your core/pressing your belly button towards the spine / engaging Moola Bandha, keeping your legs as straight as possible. Lift the legs back right up on inhale, if the lift is hurting your back, bend the knees on the way up. Always keep the neck and upper back on the floor. HAPPY BABY Relax on your back, bend your knees towards your chest, open them wide, feet flat against the sky. Hold your hands behind your knees or if you can reach your toes or ankles, grab hold of them. Breath steady and calm. Close your eyes and stay for 1 minute or two. You can rock gently from side to side, if you feel like it. Giggle/ laugh out loud like a baby every now and then. OPEN LIKE A V After happy baby is done, hug your knees towards your chest, then take the same grip with your hands like before, behind the knees or toes/ankles, and gently, slowly, breath by breath, start to open your legs out wide to the side, keeping them as straight as possible while keeping your whole back, spine, neck and shoulders relaxed on the floor. Don’t push to far or to hard, try to be relaxed and soft! If your hands cannot reach anywhere on the legs, just relax them next to your body. Stay in the posture between 5 breaths and 3 minutes. Notice the sensations in your body, paying special attention to the places that feels good and soft, AND the ones that feels more uncomfortable and stiff. Try and see if you can breath into the stiff places, filling them up with space, air and light, relaxing them on the exhale. When you’re done, gently place your feet wide on the mat, knees bent, tip one knee down towards the opposite foot, gently return to neutral and then do the other knee. Repeat 2-3 times. (windwipers)
DRAGONFLY This posture is very nice to do seated on a cushion, rolled up blanket or meditation pillow, to avoid rounding of lower back, helping the pelvis to tilt forward (Sit with half of you buttocks only, just at the very edge of the pillow) Sit with your legs wide open, as wide as your comfortable with. Place your hands on the floor in front of you, lengthen your spine, lift your heart slightly towards the sky, relax your shoulders, tip your pelvis and hips forwards towards the floor. Gently move your hands away from you, lowering your belly and then maybe even the chest, towards the floor. Stop before you feel any pain. Stay and be still for at least a minute, max 5-6 minutes. Relax as many parts of you body as possible, especially the legs, feet and knees. Your knees might be bent, if that puts less strain on you. A bolster / big pillow might be on the floor in front of you, so that you can hug it and really relax your upper body.
DRAGONFLY WITH A TWIST Sit with legs wide open, spine straight. Place your right hand on top of you left leg/thigh, and the left hand on the floor just behind you/ next to your left butt cheek. Keep both buttocks firmly planted in the floor the whole posture. Gently lift your heart, keep your shoulders open and relaxed (shoulder blades might be turning towards each) and turn your torso to the left, allowing your heart, internal organs and ribcage to do the movement, keeping your spine straight and steady. Look behind you or down to avoid straining the neck. Stay for 5-10 breaths, maybe all the way up to a minute. Gently come back to neutral and then do the other side. BEND OVER SIDE Legs wide open as much as you’re comfortable with, both hand on each side of your left leg. Both buttocks in the floor. Back straight and proud. Gently start tilting your lower back, hips and pelvis towards the left thigh/upper leg. Breathe slow and comfortable. Try to relax as many parts of you body as possible. Stay 1-3 minutes. If you feel really comfortable, maybe you wanna try the OPTION: BEND SOME MORE, by simply just melting a little bit more down towards the leg, envisioning your belly button touching the upper part of the leg. Don’t go deeper than you can still smile and relax behind your knee and your toes. Gently come back to neutral, maybe shake your legs a bit, and then move over to the other side. If you’re up for it, try to come into a Downward facing dog for a couple of breaths before you move on to the next posture. (Downward facing dog: looks like an inverted V; stay on all fours, hand under shoulders, knees under hips, tuck your toes to the mat, lift your buttocks high towards the sky, keep you arms straight, hands pressing into the mat, legs as straight as possible, heels aiming to reach for the floor, feet hip distance apart)
SUPINE BUTTERLY Relax on your back, bend your knees, make the soles of your feet touch, relax your knees out and down towards the floor. Keep you arms alongside your body, hands just under your thighs, maybe even holding your thighs. Relax the hips, pelvis, back, spine, neck and face. Breathe gently, noticing the slight rise and fall of your belly with every breath. Stay for 1-3 minutes. …TOGETHER WITH FISH When you’re in supine butterfly, gently push you elbows into the floor, almost a bit under your upper back, start to raise your heart towards the sky, feeling the arching of your upper back. Try and see if you can place the top of your head against the mat. Breathe and enjoy filling your heart and upper chest with new space and good vibes. Sat for around 5-10 breaths, maybe a minute if you’re enjoying yourself.
Try to stay as long as you possible in Savasana, aim at putting your alarm at at least 10 minutes. (if you only have 2-3 minutes, don’t fret, it’s better than nothing!!) Relax on you back. Spread your arms and legs wide, turn the palms of your hands up towards the sky. Close your eyes, let your breath flow freely and gently. Soften your heart, allow your body and mind to be still. Focus on the feeling of your breath, or the place between your eyebrows, or maybe visualise a beautiful sunset. WHile being in Savasana, most probably thoughts and emotions will arise. Don’t let this upset you. Just simply realise that you cannot choose, stop or control your thoughts, but what you can control and choose is how to react to them. So right now, just acknowledge them, let them be whatever they are, just let them flow in and out as they want, and try and do your best to accept for what they are (just thoughts!). Notice if there is any reaction in your body (squeeze or butterflies in the belly, change of heart rate or temperature, tension in the face or neck, dryness in mouth, a smile, etc) or in your emotions, when a thought arises. Whatever happens, whatever comes to you, just try to be still, soft and relaxed. Try not to label or judge what is coming to you. While in Savasana you can do a body scan; relax and mentally go throughout every part of your body, while repeating what you’re doing silently in your head. SOmething like this: I relax my toes, my toes are relaxed (relax your toes now!), I relax my heels, my heels are relaxed, I relax my feet, my whole feet are relaxed…etc, all the way up to your heart, eyes, mouth, tongue, face, brain and the top of you head. Before you finish your practice. take a moment to acknowledge how you feel and what happened during todays session, and thank yourself, and your body, for the time and effort you put into you practice today. Maybe even send a thank you to all the people you love and cherish, to all the things that you are grateful for today.
Gilla Laddar in …