For those of you who are unfamiliar with the meridians, they are the energetic pathways of our bodies. Chee (or energy) flows along these channels, and if they are blocked it can’t move freely. We can open different meridians with yin yoga poses, the ones demonstrated here focus on the heart and lung meridians.
These poses, as with other yin yoga asanas, should be held for extended periods of time (I suggest between three and five minutes). While in each position, surrender, focus on your breath and let gravity do the work.
In these postures you should not push yourself past your comfort level to the point of experiencing discomfort or pain. Keep the intensity level around a four or five out of ten.
Grab a set of blocks, and possibly a strap, and calmly work your way through these six poses. If you want to be guided through them, feel free to watch my Yin Yoga for Heart & Lung Meridian video.
1. Supported Fish Pose – A great heart opener to start your practice. Grab your blocks and set them up so that one will fall between the shoulder blades and the other will support the head. You can choose to set them at the lowest or middle level, whichever feels best to you without causing any pinching. Slowly lower yourself down onto the blocks. Let your arms fall out to the sides, palms turning upwards. Extend your legs long and comfortably wide. Soften through the jaw and close your eyes.
2. Shoulder Opener – Sitting up nice and tall with your legs crossed, reach your right arm up. Bending your elbow, place the right hand in between your shoulder blades. Either bring your left hand up to press gently on the right elbow, or reach under and back to clasp your fingers behind you. If the reach is close but you can’t quite grasp hands, use a strap to make the pose accessible. Stay seated tall and relax into the pose. To make this pose into a hip stretch as well, feel free to take shoelace legs. Switch sides.
3. Sphinx – Laying on your belly, bring your hands, palms and elbows shoulder distance apart. Your feet should be about hip distance apart. Draw your shoulders back as you lift the heart and chest up from the mat. Walk your forearms forward to lessen the intensity, or back to deepen the stretch.
4. Bow Tie – From Sphinx, cross your right arm in front of the left, with palms facing up. Reach as far as possible, aiming to stack your elbows one in front of the other. Slowly bring the forehead down to the mat or onto a block, at whichever level is comfortable. Remember to breathe and relax as you enjoy the sensation of the pose. Repeat with left arm in front.
5. Puppy Pose – Make your way to a table top position, and check that your hips are stacked over your knees. Walk hands forward, coming onto the forearms and bringing your head to the mat (keeping your hips in place). Since we are focusing on the upper arms today, bring your hands together, bend the elbows and reach fingertips toward your upper back. Keep the core engaged.
6. Banana Pose – Lying down on your back, bring the hips to the far right side of the mat. In opposition, take your head and feet to the left, creating a banana like curve in the body. You may want to bring your hands over head. Feel the stretch this pose is providing all the way down the right side body. After several minutes, shift hips to the left and head and feet to the right.
If you need a little extra motivation to stay in each of these delicious stretches a little longer, do follow along with the 45 minute practice below.
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