FullSizeRender 3

Yin Yoga | Strap Sequence

Good afternoon, yinsters!

The following sequence is a full body flow with lots of incorporated options to utilize your strap. Recently, I have noticed the use of yoga props has somehow become a bit of a taboo topic. From teachers not bringing up the possible use of props other than for those who “can’t” do a pose in full expression. To students looking with disappointing eyes to the newbie on the mat to their left because they need a block for warrior three. Yikes! Not everywhere and not with everyone of course, but I think we need to start incorporating props into our poses and classes as much as we can. In our goal-driven, miss independent (thank you, Kelly Clarkson) society, it’s our first nature to push ourselves, to not accept help and to fake it til’ we make it to “success”. But is it really success when you forced something to happen? Wouldn’t it feel better to let your practice (and your life) unfold organically as you cultivate the balance between ease and effort?

Well I’m here to set you free from that “push it – pu-push it real good” mentality for the 60-75 minutes you spend on your mat! Props are tools, meant to help us develop a deeper connection to our truest needs and to view ourselves honestly in the place we are in. Only when we are able to observe our bodies and minds as they are, can we propel ourselves forward into greater growth. So yes, a strap is REQUIRED for this practice. It’s your new BFF, there to help you go deeper into relaxation and intensity, there to support you when you feel alone, and there to facilitate the hope for rest and peace in your practice. If you have two straps available to you, grab both of them!

NOTE: If you are practicing at home and don’t have a yoga strap, you could use something as simple as a scarf or dress tie, if it needs to be longer – you can just tie two together as needed!

My Playlist

Begin in easy seated pose (5m) – Take time here to observe and set a rhythm with your breath, seal in an intention, and clear the slate for your practice. You set aside this time, so put your phone away and soak it up.


Shoulder Stretch (2m upright, 3m to side) – Begin by patting yourself on the upper back with one hand (with strap in tow), take the opposite hand to the strap around the sacrum region of the low back and add a gentle pull on the strap until the sensation is enough in the top arm/shoulder. After 2 minutes, bring a block out to the side with the lifted arm. Drop the elbow out to the block and relax the other arm on the head (releasing muscle activation). Focus on rooting down through the opposite hip and observing the stretch fromt he hip up to the arm of the side body.

Lift Arms (5b) – After 3 minutes, gentle rise up off the block and lift the arms above the head. You can widen the hands a bit more than shoulder distance and then let your arms fall back until you feel a good amount of sensation. Pause and breath for 5 breaths.

image6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*repeat on other side*


Move through a few rounds of cat and cow to loosen up the spine (5-10b)

image7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Low Lunge (2m) – Lizard Lunge (3m) – From table top, step one foot forward in between the hands. Scoot your back knee back a little bit and pad it if it is sensitive. Pause in this position for the first 2 minutes. If you find the initial sensations have begun to settle after 2 minutes, you can take both hands to the inside of the foot for lizard pose, moving down as feels appropriate for your body. Breathe here for 3 more minutes.

image8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Half Hero Fold (4m) – From lizard, walk the foot back in between the hands and begin to shift your hips back as you straighten the front leg. Pause about half way and place a block to the inside of the back ankle. Continue to sit into half hero pose. You may not need the block there so you can remove it if you have healthy knees/ankles.

Take your strap and make a large loop. Wrap it around your low-mid back and around the sole of the front foot. You’ll have to play around with how tight it is depending on your flexibility. Take a moment with the strap in place and maybe set a block to the inside of the front leg. Over the course of the next few breaths, find your way to a forward fold. You can certainly bend the knee to help the hamstring feel supported and not strained.image9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pigeon with Quad Release (3m) – Remove your props and set them to the side as you gently press back to your lunge at the top of the mat. Once there, walk the foot across and set down the shin to come into half pigeon. Take a few breaths upright, perhaps using a block or blanket under the hip for support, and then eventually lift the back foot and bring the strap (un-looped) around the shin and into either hand. Take a few breath to guide your chest forward over the front leg and drawing the back heel in toward the glut. Eventually you can release the strap and surrender completely into the pose.

image11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternatively, you could do reclined pigeon with the strap supporting the supporting hamstring.

image5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*repeat three poses on other side*


Seated Forward Fold (5m) – Similar to how you set up in hero pose, take the strap around the back and soles of both feet, placing a block on the shins to support the forehead. Take a few breaths to guide yourself into the fold, relaxing the shoulders and allowing the upper back to gently round if you’d like.

image12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Butterfly (5m) – Keep the strap as it is from your forward bend and draw your knees up and then out wide with the soles of the feet still together. Adjust the strap to a smaller loop and then take your time folding forward.

image10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reclined Butterfly (3m) – Rise back up from your fold and begin to lower back to the forearms then all the way to the spine. Walk your feet forward until the strap firmly supports your legs and hips in the pose. This is a great moment to take a hand to the heart and belly and reconnect with an intention for your practice.

image4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Supported Bridge (3m) – Rise up from reclined butterfly enough to pull the strap off and wrap it around the thighs at hips distance. Make sure you have a block at your side as you come back down to the spine. Begin to press into the feet and lift the hips until you can place the block under your sacrum (at the appropriate level for you). Then rest and breathe.

image3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Outer Hip Release (2m) – Supine Twist (4m) (two straps optional) – If you have two straps, you will take the first one around your right thigh (at hip crease) and the sole of your left foot (extended forward). The second strap, you will take to the right foot and low back. If you just have one strap, leave out the first option. Pause with your right leg straight up for a few breaths, then gently turn the right toes to the left (about 45 degrees). Rolling that top leg over to a hover. Hold and breathe there for 2 minutes.

Transition that leg all the way down to the left side, arms wide like a T and gaze may fall to your right. Rest into the pull of gravity here for 4 minutes.

image13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*repeat on other side*


Supported Knees to Chest (3m) – Release the straps from the twist and make a smaller loop in one strap to take around your shins (with your knees in your chest) as well as low back. Pull it tightly until your body curls into a supported little ball.

image2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Remove the strap completely and find a comfortable resting pose for Savasana. Remain there for 5-7 minutes to soak up all the goodness that you were able to create with your practice.

image1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Namaste!


 

Comments? Questions? Send them my way! I’m happy to help.

 

IMG_6972

Yin Yoga | For the Spine

The spine plays a crucial role in all movements that the body creates on a day-to-day basis. Whether you are commuting back and forth, chasing your kiddos around the neighborhood, lifting heavy boxes to help someone move, or even sitting at your desk – your spine determines the way you feel before, during, and after movement. I hope this sequence helps alleviate chronic and acute back pain as well as prevent you from straining your back in the future. This is a good one to incorporate at least once a week!

My Playlist

  1. Block down the spine (12m) – This is just one of those things that makes me feel taller after doing it. Every part of your spine matters – from cervical, to thoracic, to lumbar, it houses your spinal cord as well as helps bring blood and nutrients to the brain. Breathe deeply and consistently while in these variations to create space between the vertebrae.
    • 5 min – Upper back w/block vertically placed between shoulder blades
    • 3 min – Middle back with block horizontally placed at tips of shoulder blades
    • 4 min – Low back (sacrum)/Supported Bridge Pose

IMG_6984

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  Butterfly Pose (5m) – Begin upright, breathing long breaths. At the top of the inhale feel the crown of the head rise as the spine is lengthened. After you’ve taken a few breaths there, use your exhales to slowly lower you forward. At each moment you feel sensation, pause and explore that sensation with your breath. Once the intensity settles a bit, then deepen until you find a place to land and surrender.

IMG_6985

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. a)1/2 Pigeon Pose (R Leg forward) (5m) – From butterfly, keep the right leg out in front of you drawing the heel as close in to the hip as you need, while extending the left leg to the side (twisted deer variation) or back of the mat. Like the previous pose, take some breaths to lengthen the spine and then eventually settle into the fold. Use as many props as you need to make this pose accessible and pain-free.

b) Wide Leg Janu Sirsasana Lateral Stretch (R foot to L inner thigh) (3m) – From pigeon, rock onto the right hip and come into a wide leg stance at the long edge of the mat. Take the right foot into the left inner thigh. Take a block to the inside of the left leg (you can play around with placement that feels best for you). Place your left elbow on the block and rest your head into the palm of the hand. Opposite arm can stay at your side, or to intensify the stretch in the side body, take it overhead and rest it on the opposite side of the head. You can also increase intensity by lowering the block a level or removing it completely.

IMG_6986

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(repeat two poses on other side) 

4. Catepillar Pose/Forward Fold (4m) – Starting in a seated position with legs straight out in front of you, locate a firm seat (using a blanket under the hips if your low back is strained in any way). Breathe a few breaths into the spine from an upright position and then take a few breaths to lower you forward. I like to use a bolster under my chest or block under my head (sometimes both!), so get creative with props and find a place to land here.

IMG_6972

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Table Top (Cat/Cow Variations 5b)Thread the Needle (4m e/s) – Starting on your hands and knees take a few rounds of cat and cow. Inhaling to reach the heart forward, tailbone high; Exhaling to draw your spine toward the ceiling, rounding the back and sending the gaze to the belly button. Move through 5 rounds of this.

From a neutral spine, root into the left hand as the right arm extends toward the sky. As you exhale, thread the right hand across and through to the left side of the mat, resting your shoulder and the corner of the head on a prop or your mat. Left arm can stay, reach forward, or wrap around the back (pictured).

IMG_6987

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Melted Heart Pose (4m) – From a neutral table top position, take a deep inhale and as you exhale begin to walk the hands forward until you reach a stopping point and melt the heart toward the earth. You can support your chest or forehead with a block if it helps you. If you want to increase sensation, you can bend your elbows 90 degrees bringing the palms together above your head and then reach the thumbs toward the base of the neck.

(Repeat on the other side)

IMG_6969

 

 

 

 

7. Belly: Shoulder Rollover (4m each side) – Come to your belly and reach your left arm out 90 degrees from the body. Place your right hand under the right shoulder and bend the right knee (first picture). Begin to press into the right hand and roll onto the left side body (second picture). If you feel good here, land the right foot behind the left leg and breath into the shoulder stretch. You can relax the top arm in front of you for support, wrap around your back or even interlace all 10 fingers behind you. **Make sure to maintain the 90 degree shape in the arms if you interlace.

IMG_6988

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Repeat on second side)

8. Reclined [Bound] Twist (from stomach) (4m each side) – Reach the right arm forward and roll onto the right side body, resting the head on the arm (first picture). Take your left leg forward, 90 degrees from the body (second picture). You can pause here and begin to rotate the spine back toward the floor behind you. OR you can bend the right knee and reach for the ankle/foot with your top hand (third picture). If you can bind with the foot, relax the head back down and begin to rotate the top shoulder back, moving into the twist.

IMG_6989

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Repeat on second side)

9. Savasana (5-7m) – Find a place where you can simply rest into the new space you’ve created in your body. Rest here for several minutes and then close by gentle coming back to a seated position, and thank yourself for the practice you took the time to explore in your body and mind!

IMG_6961

cropped-img_4135-e14266133997851.jpg

Yin Yoga | Wrist, Neck, & Shoulders

Hello lovely ladies & gents.

To celebrate this warm day in Texas and the soon arrival of Spring, I thought I’d stop by with a little post. And in response to many of your requests, I am offering a short yin sequence that incorporates stretches that release tense tissue in the neck, shoulders and wrists. Typically, you will not see much focus in the upper body when it comes to the yin practice. Most often, yin postures target the meridian lines which are primarily stimulated in stretches through the lower half. This certainly does not mean that the upper half is unimportant. It really matters! Especially if you have a desk job or do a lot of driving – the joints in the upper half of the body can build up a boatload of tension. Time to unload that boat, y’all.

Follow along if you need a little extra love in these areas today.

Block Up the Spine (3 minutes each)

image27 image26 image25

 

1. Supported Bridge with Block

 

 

 

 

 

2. Block (horizontally placed) in middle back

 

 

 

3. Block (vertically placed) in between shoulder blades

note: you can provide support for your head here with a pillow or another block if it strains you to drop it all the way back

 

 

Simple Reclined Twist (3 minutes each side)

With arms open wide, drop your knees to the right, then to the left.

image23

 

 

 

image24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Block under arm (2-3 minutes each)

This one helps to release the tension that builds up at the base of the shoulder joint. We tend to be tight in the shoulders because of a lot of factors so it’s a good idea to loosen any tight muscles that surround the joint.

image22 image21

image20

 

Start propped on one side (first picture). With block set up horizontally.

 

 

 

 

Begin to lay down all the way on your side and prop the block under your armpit first. You can bend your elbow and rest your head as I did or you can keep the hand on the ground and rest the ear toward the shoulder.

 

 

After you’ve spent a couple minutes in the armpit region, move the block down into the tricep. Hold there for 2-3 minutes as well.

note: make sure to turn around and do the other side!

 

Cowface Pose | With stretches for side body, back & neck

You can choose to do a simple seated pose with the ankles crossed if this position doesn’t work for your body today.

image19

Start with your right leg on top. Begin by sitting up tall and taking a few breaths. Then, interlace the fingers and place the palms to the back of the head. Begin to drop the chin toward the chest and let the elbows hang heavy. 30 seconds here

note: do not press, just rest!

image18

 

Release the interlace and stretch both arms for the sky. Take a big inhale and as you exhale, drop the right hand to the side and stretch the left overhead. You can rest it on the head (as pictured) for a more restorative approach. 30 seconds here

note: switch to other side

image16

 

 

Fold forward for 1-2 minutes.

 

 

image15

 

Switch legs. This time, sit up tall to settle. As you exhale, drop the right ear to the right shoulder. Stay here or add the weight of one hand to the opposite side of the head. 30-40 seconds then switch to stretch other side.

note: again, don’t press, rest. 

image16

 

 

Fold forward on the other side.

 

 

 

Shoulder Rolls

image13

 

Pectoralis Minor stretch: Start on your belly. Reach your right arm to the side and bend the elbow at 90 degrees. Begin to press yourself onto your right side, kicking the left leg behind the right as a kickstand. 2 minutes here

 

image12

 

Sphinx Pose: Come back to your belly and prop yourself up on your forearms. Take a few breaths here observing the physical and energetic shift from the previous stretch. 1 minute here

 

image9

 

Deltoid & Pectoral Stretch: Start on your belly this time extend the right arm straight out in line with the shoulder. Roll onto the right side and use the left foot as a kickstand again. 3 minutes here

note: after, come back to belly and do left side.

 

Wrist/Finger Holds (30 seconds each)

image6

 

From the belly, press back into childs pose and hold here for a few moments. 2-3 minutes

 

 

image11

 

Lift your chest up and reach the hands in front of you. Flip the palms to face up (thumbs face one another) and use your breaths to add pressure. Imagine trying to press the tops of the wrists toward the mat. Find some good sensation and then pause in it for a few moments.

image10

 

Lean back and shake out the wrists. Then switch the direction of the palms by turning them down toward the mat (pinkies in toward one another). Again press down until you find sensation and just breath into whatever shows up.

 

image8
Shake out the wrists once more. Similar to how we entered the previous two, this time we will focus more on the finger joints. Press the very top knuckles (closest to top of hand) at the earth and let the other fingers curl in. Try wiggling around the fingers here.

 

image7

 

Release the grip and then turn the pinkies in toward each other. Begin to press forward as if you were trying to reach the top knuckles toward the earth.

 

 

Back of Neck Release

image5

 

Come to seated and place a block horizontally where your neck will be when you lie down (you may have to adjust once you are on your back). Lay onto the block and make sure it doesn’t slip beneath you. 30 seconds

 

image3

 

If your neck feels good, begin to roll your head to the left and right. Keep it really gentle and slow like a deep tissue massage. Move mindfully.

 

image4

 

 

Once you feel balanced, release the block and take a few minutes reclined in Savasana.

 

 

 

Hope you enjoy! Feel free to leave comments/questions.

xo~ Nancy

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Play Your Edges

Hey lovely people!

Most of my blog content is now going to be posted LIVE over at inspireyoga.com/blog.

Today there is an article about “Playing Your Edges” aka – finding balance on and off the mat amidst a busy life. You can read it HERE.

Would love to hear your thoughts and own personal journeys on this topic. Leave me a comment and I will get back to you.

xo

Nancy

Not Feelin’ It? Try these 5 Motivational Boosts.

Not Feelin' It

Guys, it’s been a while! I’ve been busy doing exciting things over at inspireyoga.com. We now have a pretty spiffy blog up there as well where I will be posting some sequences and pose breakdowns. I will also be adding more content here since I have received so many loving comments and requests to write more. I’m here for ya! Just do me a favor and hop on over to Inspire Yoga to explore our blog and training programs. We’ve got some good things in store :)

 

So – how do we practice yoga, when we just aren’t feelin’ it?

1. Take a deep breath. Yoga started with simple breathing techniques. So why do we feel that we always have to do a handstand and a bind to practice yoga? Psh! All you need is a little pranayama and you’re good to go. What I love about breath is that it creates space within our bodies and our minds. When you practice these techniques (bee breath is my favorite) – you create the space for a fresh start, which is really what we need.

2. Rest. Yep, savasana is yoga. A lot of times we assume we have to do an entire practice to “deserve” it, but that’s just not true. You work hard at your job, being a parent, planning your day, …whatever your story it. And sometimes your body and mind just need to balance all the effort out with all the ease. So…take a nap. Veg on the couch. Turn off your phone. Hide in the closet. Just shut down for a few minutes.

3. Go on a walk. Nothing like the fresh perspective of going outside and simply putting one foot in front of the other. Just move your body a bit. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be yoga. If you have a pup, even better….take em’ with ya! My dogs always remind me to enjoy the little things. They get excited about every tree, every car, every gust of wind. It cracks me up.

4. Practice speaking truth over yourself. In other words, find a mantra that you need to hear. Something that you need to remind yourself of. Perhaps it’s “I am loved.” or “I trust”….just find something that resonates with your spirit. What does your soul need to hear?

5. Make a gratitude list. Naming the things you are thankful for is an excellent way to rediscover your passions, your values, your true self. Nothing helps me refresh my mindset and really set an intention like saying “thank you”. Try it!