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Yin Yoga Sequence for Renewal

“Renewal requires opening yourself up to new ways of thinking and feeling”
Deborah Day

Happy New Years Eve!

I firmly believe that it is important to take a step back before we transition into a new year. However, in our very busy society – it is hard to slow down and allow yourself time to process. I hope this yin sequence serves as your permission slip to take 60-75 minutes for yourself. Use this time to look back on the joyful times, the broken times, and the times that felt neutral. Practice gratitude for all of it. You made it through. I love the verses in Romans that state, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” May you feel the abundance of God’s love for you as you close out this beautiful year in the journey called life.

Allow your body and mind to rest into these poses and find an intention you’d like to set before you in 2016.

Enjoy and have a very wonderful last day of 2015.

-Nancy


 

Block down the spine (3 min. each)

Any leg variation will do with these. I like to rest in butterfly or with the legs extended. Taking the arms overhead will help to also release the shoulders here. You can also add another block to support the head if it doesn’t touch the ground behind you.

Set your block up to where it will be positioned vertically into the upper back. The top of the block will be at the base of the neck.

Set your block up to where it will be positioned vertically into the upper back. The top of the block will be at the base of the neck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gently roll to one side and then come back to seated. Now, position the block horizontally where it will be positioned into the middle of the back. Your hips should touch the ground.

Gently roll to one side and then come back to seated. Now, position the block horizontally where it will be positioned into the middle of the back. Your hips should touch the ground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bend the knees and press into the feet to lift the hips. Slide the block forward until it is positioned right beneath your sacrum (flat space at the base of the spine).

Bend the knees and press into the feet to lift the hips. Slide the block forward until it is positioned right beneath your sacrum (flat space at the base of the spine).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reclined twist on block (4 min. each side)

This is a new one for me. I love it because it’s like a little foam roller sensation that digs into the outer hip and psoas regions to release tension that is hard to target otherwise. With that said, if this pose is simply too much for you – just simply remove the block and take your favorite reclined twist.

From your supported bridge pose, walk the feet in and bend the knees. Scoot the hips over to the right so that the left hip is on the block and the right is hovering off. Open the arms wide like a T and extend the left leg forward and draw the right into the chest. On an exhale, take the right leg across the body to the left side. Gaze can go to the left if the neck feels okay here.

From your supported bridge pose, walk the feet in and bend the knees. Scoot the hips over to the right so that the left hip is on the block and the right is hovering off. Open the arms wide like a T and extend the left leg forward and draw the right into the chest. On an exhale, take the right leg across the body to the left side. Gaze can go to the left if the neck feels okay here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Repeat twist on other side*

Cat/Cow (2 min)

Remove the block from underneath and take a moment to hug the knees to the chest or stretch in any way that feels good for you. Rock up to table top position.

Take a few moments in table top pose to move through several rounds of cat and cow. Inhales bring your belly toward the earth, gaze to the sky and exhales help you to round your back like an angry cat and drop the head. Add on any other movements that feel organic in your body.

Take a few moments in table top pose to move through several rounds of cat and cow. Inhales bring your belly toward the earth, gaze to the sky and exhales help you to round your back like an angry cat and drop the head. Add on any other movements that feel organic in your body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sphinx (3 min.)

Prop yourself up on the forearms. Elbows below shoulders and arms shoulder distance from each other.

Prop yourself up on the forearms. Elbows below shoulders and arms shoulder distance from each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shoulder rollover (3 min.) – Neck Release (1 min.)

Do the left arm first, then the right ear to shoulder. On the other side, do the opposite.

On the belly, stretch the left arm out to the side (90 degrees from the body). Bend the right knee and use the right hand to push yourself onto the left side body. Plant the right foot behind the left leg and completely relax your head. You can release the right arm behind the back if you do not need it to balance.

On the belly, stretch the left arm out to the side (90 degrees from the body). Bend the right knee and use the right hand to push yourself onto the left side body. Plant the right foot behind the left leg and completely relax your head. You can release the right arm behind the back if you do not need it to balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come back up to sphinx pose. Take an inhale to lengthen the neck and as you exhale, drop the right ear to the rightshoulder. Stay here for 5-8 breaths.

Come back up to sphinx pose. Take an inhale to lengthen the neck and as you exhale, drop the right ear to the rightshoulder. Stay here for 5-8 breaths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Counterpose: Low back release (2 min. each side)

On the belly, open the arms out to the sides like cactus arms. Begin to slide the left knee up toward the left elbow. Rest for several minutes then move to the other side.

On the belly, open the arms out to the sides like cactus arms. Begin to slide the left knee up toward the left elbow. Rest for several minutes then move to the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butterfly (5-7 min.)

Set yourself up in butterfly pose (legs in a diamond shape). You can do any of the variations on the left of the picture. Take several breaths to lower you down into the fold. Use props to support yourself in any way that feels appropriate for your needs.

Set yourself up in butterfly pose (legs in a diamond shape). You can do any of the variations on the left of the picture. Take several breaths to lower you down into the fold. Use props to support yourself in any way that feels appropriate for your needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Counterpose: Wipers

Windshield wiper the legs side to side several times to balance the body out.

Roll up gently from butterfly removing any props. Open the feet wider than the hips and prop your hands behind you. Windshield wiper the legs side to side several times to balance the body out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forward fold (3 min.)

Starting in staff pose, take several breaths to fold forward. Using props to bring the earth up to you.

Starting in staff pose, take several breaths to fold forward. Using props to bring the earth up to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roll to back…

Start seated with knees bent. On an exhale begin to roll onto the spine one vertebrae at a time. Landing on your back for a full body stretch.

Start seated with knees bent. On an exhale begin to roll onto the spine one vertebrae at a time. Landing on your back for a full body stretch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reclined shoelace (3 min.) + Twisted roots (2 min.)

Bend into the knees and cross the right leg over the left like you're sitting in a chair with the legs crossed. Lift the legs and give yourself a little hug. Then walk the hands to the shins or feet and rest your head on the earth as you pull the legs toward you.

Bend into the knees and cross the right leg over the left like you’re sitting in a chair with the legs crossed. Lift the legs and give yourself a little hug. Then walk the hands to the shins or feet and rest your head on the earth as you pull the legs toward you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Release your grip on the feet/shins keeping the legs lifted and crossed. Open the arms wide like the letter T. On an exhale, drop the knees to the left and send the gaze to the right.

Release your grip on the feet/shins keeping the legs lifted and crossed. Open the arms wide like the letter T. On an exhale, drop the knees to the left and send the gaze to the right. Do both poses on the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banana Pose (2 min. each side)

Release the crossed leg position and stretch the legs forward and arms overhead. Walk the left heel to the left corner of the mat and take the right ankle and cross it over the left. Begin to walk the shoulderblades to the left as well (keep hips grounded in center) and rest in this nice side body stretch.

Release the crossed leg position and stretch the legs forward and arms overhead. Walk the left heel to the left corner of the mat and take the right ankle and cross it over the left. Begin to walk the shoulderblades to the left as well (keep hips grounded in center) and rest in this nice side body stretch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savasana + Seated Meditation (7-10 min.)

Spend 7-10 minutes resting in any comfortable Savasana position (Supta Baddha Konasana pictured here).

Spend 7-10 minutes resting in any comfortable Savasana position (Supta Baddha Konasana pictured here).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Namaste, friends! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Yin Yoga - Gratitude

Yin Yoga Sequence for Gratitude

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Melody Beattie

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Every year that I am here on this earth I am humbled and deeply moved by the people and things I have to be grateful for. Not always because there is an abundance of things and people quantity-wise, but because of the depth of the relationships and the value of the things that I have been blessed with. God is so faithful to provide for me and this past year has been one that I have seen his handiwork on display. He meets with me in the morning while I read my coffee and journal my prayers to the tunes of the birds chirping. He holds me close in moments of sorrow and pain and He rejoices with me in the joyous times. And even in the seemingly simple, mundane moments – He reveals beauty. Something I wouldn’t have seen without His guidance, His direction, His friendship. His eye truly is on the sparrow and I am so thankful for His provision.

Also, the above quote by Melody Beattie is everything to me. Geez. She just hits the nail on the head with this one. Gratitude opens the door to a life never imagined. The hard part is shifting our mindset from our over-booked lifestyles and toward what the present moment has to offer us. It’s easy to focus on what’s difficult and beg God to bring us out of the discomfort. We linger in this place for so long, as if we secretly like it. What if there was more? SO MUCH MORE. More goodness and abundance than we could ever dream up?! Gratitude is the key to unlocking the inner-beauty of the present moment.

This particular sequence is one that targets the chest, shoulders, and hips – which are areas we hold anxieties, cares, and emotions. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to feel something in these poses. Approach the postures with honesty, embrace the sensations – breath by breath, and take rest, friends. You are loved, seen, heard and abundantly blessed.

My Playlist

Reclined Butterfly w/knees supported (2 blocks or similar): 6-8 min.

Begin your practice reclined onto your back with your legs in a butterfly position. Close your eyes and allow your breath to begin to deepen as you relax into the pull of gravity. After your first few breaths, take the left hand to the heart and the right hand to the belly. Practice 10 rounds of a complete breath (belly-ribs-chest IN/EX through the nose).

Gratitude Nugget: Transition your awareness to the beating of your heart and the physical expansion of your breath. Spend several moments here expressing gratitude for your healthy body, your ability to be here and to create a physical release today. 

Yin Yoga - Gratitude

 

 

 

 

 

One Leg Twist: 4 min.

Release your legs forward and arms overhead for a nice full body stretch. Then, draw the right knee into the chest. Release your right arm to the side and then draw the knee across the body to the left side using your left hand. Keep the right shoulder heavy into the earth and if it feels good in the neck, send your gaze to the right. You can use the block to support the knee (pictured) if it helps you find more support here.

Gratitude Nugget: Over the course of these next two postures, transition your focus to the chest and upper back. Notice first the physical tension and then let yourself observe the thoughts, concerns, and anxieties that might be present there. Breathe through these feelings and sensations. Perhaps using the following mantra with your breath: Inhale – Let; Exhale – Go. As you release the tension, begin to find seeds of gratitude. Perhaps being thankful that you have a caring heart or a compassionate outlook on life and others. Those are beautiful qualities. Nurture them.

Yin Yoga - Gratitude

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belly – Shoulder Roll: 3 min.

From your twist, reach both arms overhead and roll over onto your belly. Begin to extend the right arm straight out in line with the shoulder (90 degrees). Draw the left hand under the left shoulder and bend the left knee. Begin to press into the hand and roll onto the right side. You can use the left foot as a kickstand and if you would like, you can release the arm behind the back to release the top shoulder.

Yin Yoga - Gratitude

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*repeat 2 poses on other side*

Pigeon Pose: 7 min.

Rotate around to the top of the mat and draw the right knee to the right wrist. Then, take the foot across toward the left side, drawing it in as close as you need. Take some breaths to lengthen the spine and eventually settle into the fold. Use as many props as feels appropriate to make this pose accessible and pain-free.

Gratitude Nugget: On the first side of your Pigeon Pose and Janu Sirsasana, think back to a really wonderful time you’ve had recently. Perhaps it was a brief moment of complete and utter joy or maybe a longer amount of time over the course of a week or a few months. Express thanksgiving to that wonderful time. Thankful for the circumstances that made space for that happy time. 

On the second side, allow your mind to travel back to a difficult or challenging season you’ve encountered. Without attaching yourself to the emotions that accompany that time, send out a prayer of gratitude for the fact that you are moving forward. Perhaps still in the storm, but you are putting one foot in front of the other. Be thankful for qualities that this tough season has refined within you. Attributes you would not have attained otherwise.

Yin Yoga - Gratitude

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Janu Sirsasana: 4 min.

From pigeon, rise up and swing the left leg around to face the front of the room, squaring your hips off. Keep the right foot at the left inner thigh (support the outer knee if needed). Take your time as you use several breaths to guide you down into the fold.

Yin Yoga - Gratitude

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*repeat two poses on other sides*

Hero Pose + Neck Releases + Recline: 6 min

Yin Yoga - Gratitude

A regular gratitude practice leads to a heroic example.

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Sitting back onto the heels, bring your knees at hips distance, open your feet out wider than the hips and begin to sit back in between the heels (use a block under your seat here if it’s too much on the knees/ankles – there should be no pain, just sensation).

Interlace the fingers now behind the back and then tuck them over to the left hip. If this is not accessible for you today, you can take your right hand to your low back and left hand to the leg. Take a breath in and then as you breathe out, drop the right ear to the right shoulder. Loosen through your jaw and just breathe here. (Repeat on the other side) 1m each side

Yin Yoga - Gratitude

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remaining 4 min: You can stay upright the entire time, or you can begin to recline. If you have a prop under your hips, only go as far back as your forearms. If you do not have a prop, you are welcome to lower all the way down, but make sure there is no pinch in the low back.

Yin Yoga - Gratitude

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dangling Forward Fold: 5 min.

Release from hero pose, spending a few breaths in a down dog or table top to stretch through the back of the legs. Then come to standing, feet at hips distance or perhaps even wider. Lift up halfway and put a generous bend in the knees. Take an inhale and then let your exhale guide you forward as you drape your chest and belly over the thighs, letting your head hang heavy. You can let the arms dangle like a rag doll or interlace the hands behind the head or back.

Gratitude Nugget: As you release the weight of your body into this pose, allow the gentle, but bountiful depth of gratitude you’ve been able to cultivate in your practice begin to wash over you as you surrender here. Inhale: Accept; Exhale: Release

Hero Pose + Neck Releases + Recline: 6 min

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legs Up the Wall (any variation – 3 examples below): 8 min. + 7 min. in Savasana

Set yourself up at the wall. Begin to lay back onto your spine and then swing the legs up the wall. Spend a minute with the legs in butterfly or a wide V and then extend the legs straight up the wall. Rest for several minutes in legs up the wall, absorbing sensations as they come.

Gratitude Nugget: Spend time in Legs up the Wall, an inversion, to be thankful for the opportunity to physically, mentally and emotionally shift your perspective and start anew. Fresh starts are wonderful gifts. Each moment we encounter offers us this option.

For Savasana, stay here, or move to a more suitable position for your body. Before settling completely, practice 5-7 rounds of Brahmari breath (humming bee breath), then take rest.

Hero Pose + Neck Releases + Recline: 6 min

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gratitude often leads us to a place of humility and contentment. With these attributes as our foundation, we are better equipped to extend out compassion and love. With this in mind, close with metta (Loving-Kindness) meditation if time allows. Feel free to utilize my guided version by clicking play below:


Namaste, friends.

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10 Stretches for Better Sleep

Zzzzz’s

We all want a good night’s rest, but it doesn’t always come easily. With such busy lives, it’s a wonder that we have sleep issues. You would think we would be so exhausted that our bodies would immediately find rest. Ever wonder why? After a long day, your body and mind has been through a lot. Though we may be tired – the busy lives we live create a constant sense of chaos within us. This chaos is hard to manage, control and let go of in the midst of every day hustle and bustle. So, we are left with a lot of physical and mental tension that needs to be released. These 10 yoga stretches are great to incorporate in your evening routine so you can truly rest and reset.

Block Down the Spine (3 min each)

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.

  • 3 min – Upper back w/block vertically placed between shoulder blades
  • 3 min – Middle back with block horizontally placed at tips of shoulder blades
  • 3 min – Low back (sacrum)/Supported Bridge Pose
Upper Back Release

Upper Back Release

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Middle Back Release

Middle Back Release

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Low Back Release

Low Back Release

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reclined Pigeon Pose (4 min) – Sleepy Pigeon (2 min) – Reclined Pigeon Twist (3 min)

Begin to bend the left knee and bring the sole of the foot to the earth. Set up your right leg so that the ankle crosses over the base of the left thigh and flex the foot. Reach through the legs with the right hand and to the outside of the leg with the left. You can hold onto the hamstring, shin or you are welcome to use a strap.

Stretches for Sleep

Reclined Pigeon Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, okay…I made up the name sleepy pigeon. And no, this is not an actual pose. More of an “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up…but I kind of like it-pose”. So bear with me. from reclined pigeon (whichever variation), begin to roll onto the left side body. If you are holding the shin with the left leg extended, keep everything the same. If you are in traditional reclined, hold onto the right ankle/calf with the left hand until the foot stamps onto the earth on the left side.

Sleepy Pigeon

Sleepy Pigeon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From your sleepy pigeon, grab onto the right ankle with your left hand (if it’s not there already) and reach the right arm out to the right side about 90 degrees from the body. If your left leg is straight slide it up until it tucks in to support the right ankle. Take an inhale and let the exhale guide your gaze over to the right.

Reclined Pigeon Twist

Reclined Pigeon Twist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Repeat these poses on the other side before moving on

Banana Pose (2 min each side)

Make your way onto your back. Begin to take the left heel over to the upper left hand corner of your mat. Then, move the right ankle over to meet it or cross it over the left. Keeping your hips grounded, begin to scoot your shoulderblades to the left so you create the shape of a banana with your body. You can reach the arms overhead here if it feels nice.

Banana Pose

Banana Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Repeat on the other side before moving on

Outer Hip Release (3 min each side) – Wide Leg Fold (2 min/4 min)

From a table top or plank position, begin to draw the left knee over to the right tricep and then thread it straight through onto the right side. Set your outer leg and left hip all the way on the ground, keeping the right toes tucked behind you. Starting with arms straight begin to move your chest forward and down to surrender into the pose.

Stretches for Sleep

Outer Hip Release

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From your outer hip stretch, lift back up to the hands and then rotate your legs into a wide leg fold facing the back left hand corner of the mat. The first time through, hold this pose for 2 minutes about halfway down (top photo). After you repeat the outer hip release on the second side, fold completely into your wide leg fold for 4 minutes.

Wide Leg Fold

Wide Leg Fold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Repeat these poses on the other side before moving on. 

Legs up the Wall (5-10 min)

One of my all-time favorite ways to end the day is spending a bit of time in legs up the wall. I like it because it reverses the downward, heavy energy of the day and leaves you feeling light and ready to rest afterward.

Find a wall and sit with it at one side of you. Begin to lay back onto your spine and then swing the legs up the wall. Allow all of the goodness of your practice and the release in the legs to begin to settle in and through you as you rest here for several minutes letting everything relax.

Legs up the Wall

Legs up the Wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Namaste, friends! Sleep well.


Questions, comments, or requests? Leave me a comment below!

 

 

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Head to Toe Yin Sequence + Extended Rest

Head to Toe Yin Sequence + Extended Rest

Good afternoon yogis!

This sequence includes deep poses that help release tension in the body from the head to the toes, while leaving time at the end for an extended savasana. Rest is very important. In fact, you were created to need rest. That’s right – God designed you to take time for R&R. So treat yo’self and enjoy about 75ish minutes working through these poses and then allow yourself to simply be.

My Playlist


Seated Meditation | Hero Pose (or any comfortable seated position) [5m] – Start in a seated position and practice deepening your breath and observe how you are doing body, mind and spirit. Set an intention that you need to hear and absorb in your practice today.

Head to Toe Yin Sequence + Extended Rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neck Release | Back of neck [1m] – Interlace the fingers behind the head with your elbows to the sides. Take an inhale and exhale and drop your chin toward your chest, letting the hands just hang heavy (no need to push). Explore small movements…maybe rolling side to side a bit until you land in a sweet spot.

Head to Toe Yin Sequence + Extended Rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neck Release | Sides of Neck [1m each side] – Release the hands from the head and lift your head back to neutral. Interlace the fingers now behind the back and then tuck them over to the left hip. If this is not accessible for you today, you can take your right hand to your low back and left hand to the leg. Take a breath in and then as you breathe out, drop the right ear to the right shoulder. Loosen through your jaw and just breathe here. (Repeat on the other side)

Head to Toe Yin Sequence + Extended Rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shoulder Rollover [3m] – Come to your belly and reach out your left arm 90 degrees from the body. Place your right hand under the right shoulder and bend the right knee. Begin to press into the right hand and roll onto the left side body (first picture). If you’re good here, land the right foot behind the left leg and breathe 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.

Head to Toe Yin Sequence + Extended Rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Threaded Needle [3m] – From your belly, press up into table top and lift the left arm to the sky. Take an inhale and use the exhale to guide the left hand across the mat and through to the right side, landing your shoulder and the corner of the head. Right arm can reach overhead or wrap around the back depending on what feels right in your body.

Head to Toe Yin Sequence + Extended Rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**Repeat Shoulder Rollover & Threaded Needle on other side**

Wide Leg Janu Sirsasana Lateral Stretch [2m] (R foot to groin) – Take a block to the inside of the left leg (you can play around with specific placement). 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, 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.

Head to Toe Yin Sequence + Extended Rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pigeon Pose [6m] – Lift off the block gently and set it to the side. Rotate around to the top of the mat and draw the right knee to the right wrist. Then, take the foot across toward the left side, drawing it in as close as you need. Take some breaths to lengthen the spine and eventually settle into the fold. Use as many props as you need to make this pose accessible and pain-free.

Head to Toe Yin Sequence + Extended Rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**Repeat Lateral Stretch & Pigeon on other side**

Forward Fold [4m] – From pigeon on the left side, swing the right leg around to the top of the mat. Feel free to keep a generous bend in the knees as you set up in dandasana (staff pose). Again, take some breaths and then find a fold that feels good in your body. Don’t stress about touching the toes, the idea here is to allow gravity to work it’s magic – so just breathe and be heavy.

Head to Toe Yin Sequence + Extended Rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ankle Stretch (top photos) [1m] – Gently rise from your fold and bring the legs around and underneath you in hero pose with the legs together, heels below hip bones. If this is too much you can keep your hands forward on the earth. If it’s okay for you, you can keep the hands resting in the lap or walk them behind you and gently lift your knees (2nd picture: Make sure there’s NO PAIN – just sensation).

Toe Stretch (bottom photos) [1m] – Walk the hands forward to table top and begin to tuck all 10 toes underneath you. Walk your hands back like we did in the previous stretch, perhaps resting them in the lap or keeping them in front. If there still isn’t enough sensation, you can walk the knees forward an inch or too to increase sensation (2nd photo). Make sure that stubborn pinky toe doesn’t escape!

Head to Toe Yin Sequence + Extended Rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAVASANA [15-20m] – You heard that right. FIFTEEN to TWENTY minutes…aka mini nap. Make your way to a comfortable position to rest in, setting yourself up with props if you have them. Take a few rounds of pranayama (Humming Bee Breath is a good one) and then allow yourself to soak up all the goodness your practice generated today.

Head to Toe Yin Sequence + Extended Rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~namaste~

 

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Yin Yoga | Autumnal Equinox Sequence for the Legs

Good afternoon, yogis!

Fall equinox was officially on Wednesday, which means we are on the downward slope toward crisp and cool weather, crunchy leaves, warm drinks, and the holidays! It’s easy to get burdened with the busyness of a new season. We get going so fast that we forget to take time to slow down and reset.

Our legs carry us to and from all the busy activities and keep us strong and rooted as we see change happening all around us. This particular sequence is a little gratitude flow for the legs that do so much to keep our foundation strong in the midst of hectic times. So take about 60-75 minutes of time to slow down and work through these poses. Release your hold on distractions as best as you can and you will feel renewed after you complete these poses!

Side note: To really experience the benefits of yin yoga, you must get curious about sensation. Rather than focusing on a physical destination or how flexible you are, hone in on finding surges of sensation and then breathing space into them. Pause in the moments you feel a lot, breathe through it, and then when the intensity settles, allow your breath to take you into a sweet spot of stillness.


These poses will target the four quadrants of the legs: the quads (tops of legs), inner thighs, hamstrings (backsides of legs), and the outer hips.

My Playlist

Sukhasana/ Easy Seat Pose (3 min) – it’s crucial to take a moment of observation and reflection before moving into the practice. Enjoy a few moments in a simple seated pose. Practice lengthening the breath up through the belly, ribs and into the chest. At the tops of the breaths, hover in the space between inhale and exhale. That space is representative of what you are doing for yourself now – taking a time out to observe. I think of it like a pause in time for a moment to listen and feel. Exhales guide the breath down and root you into your seat. Spend a few moments here breathing consistently and deeply, creating a fresh space for your practice. Set an intention that is personal for you. It can be as simple as a word (ex: “rest”) or as complex as a prayer….or maybe something else entirely.

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Butterfly Pose (3 min) – Draw the feet in together and create a diamond shape with your legs. Feel free to support your knees with props if it feels appropriate for you today. Take a few breaths upright to lengthen the spine and then gently explore sensations as you move forward into a fold.

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Wide Leg Fold (7 min) – Rise up from butterfly and straighten the legs out to either side into a wide “V” shape. Breathe a few moments upright and then let an exhale guide you forward.

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Seated Forward Fold (3 min) – Situate yourself into staff pose with the legs extended straight out in front of you. Locate a firm seat (use a blanket under the hips if your low back is strained in any way). Elongate the spine with a few rounds of breath and then fold forward, bending the knees as it feels necessary. I like to use a bolster under my chest or a block under my head (pictured), so get creative with props and find a place to land here.

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1/2 Pigeon Pose (6 min) – Come into a table top position and draw the right knee up to the right wrist then walk the foot over to the left, tucking it in toward the groin as needed. Extend the back leg long and use any props under the right hip if there’s uncomfortable space there. Sit upright for a few breaths, then find a fold that feels good here.

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Firelog (Double Pigeon) Pose (3 min) – From pigeon, rise up and then swing the back leg around. Option A is to just cross the left ankle in front of the right (Sukhasana) or stack the left ankle on top of the right inner knee. If the left knee is high above the right foot, use a block/blanket to close out the space (top left photo in picture below). You can stay upright, perhaps adding a shoulder variation OR you can fold forward.
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**repeat 1/2 pigeon and firelog on the other side**

Toe Stretch (2 min) – Come to a table top position and tuck all 10 toes. Begin to drop your hips back to the heels (like childs pose). You can keep the hands placed on the floor out in front of your knees or sit completely on the heels and rest the hands in your lap. To make it more intense, inch the knees forward while keeping the toes tucked (even the pinky toes!). This is technically not a leg stretch (for the most part), but is an excellent release for all the tiny muscles, bones, and joints that line your toes. It’s areas like these that don’t get much attention when we think of stretching, so this can be very intense. Breathe steady inhales and exhales through the sensation.

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Hero Pose (with option to recline) (5 min) – Come out of the toe stretch back into table top for a moment and gently pat the tops of the feet on the ground behind you. Then, keeping your knees at hips distance, open your feet out wider than the hips and begin to sit back in between the heels (use a block under your seat here if it’s too much on the knees/ankles – there should be no pain, just sensation). You can stay upright the entire time, or you can begin to recline. If you have a prop under your hips, only go as far back as your forearms. If you do not have a prop, you are welcome to lower all the way down, but make sure there is no pinch in the low back.

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Banana Pose (3 min) – Make your way onto your back. Begin to take the left heel over to the upper left hand corner of your mat. Then, move the right ankle over to meet it or cross it over the left. Keeping your hips grounded, begin to scoot your shoulderblades to the left so you create the shape of a banana with your body. You can reach the arms overhead here if it feels nice.

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Reclined One Knee Twist (4 min) – From banana, make your way back to center and draw the right knee into the chest. Release your right arm to the side like half of the letter T and then draw the knee across the body to the left side using your left hand. Keep the right shoulder heavy into the earth and if it feels good in the neck, send your gaze to the right.

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**repeat banana and twist on the other side**

Reclined butterfly (1 min) to Legs up the Wall (7 min) (or alternate savasana position) – Draw the heels in together and open the knees wide. Just resting for a few moments to observe all the space you’ve created in your body with the practice.

Then, when your ready – find a wall and sit with it at one side of you. Begin to lay back onto your spine and then swing the legs up the wall. Allow all of the goodness of your practice and the release in the legs to begin to settle in and through you as you rest here for several minutes letting everything relax.

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Namaste!

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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.

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*repeat on other side*


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

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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.

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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.

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

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*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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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*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.

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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.

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Namaste!


 

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

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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(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.

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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).

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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)

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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.

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(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.

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(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!

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