The people (you my lovely loyal readers) have spoken and they (you) want longer Yin Yoga classes! So I bring you this introspective and meditative long hold practice.
These 6 poses are held for five minutes a piece, in each variation and each side when applicable. This length of time will give the body the ability to open up slowly on its own, to get you deeper into the pose without passing your edge (start shy of your full extent), and increase your flexibility.
As you hold each posture, bring your awareness to the breath, and keep the mind from wandering.
Holds of this length are better suited to someone who is familiar with practicing Yin Yoga. However, if you are newer to Yin and/or yoga, you are welcome to exit them sooner, when you feel you have passed your edge.
As time passes you will find your body opening up and the pose becoming more comfortable and easier to hold. If this is not the case, ease off or come out of the pose.
You may want to set a 5 minute timer to start with each pose, so that you are not constantly thinking about the time. OR allow yourself to stay in the pose for as long as the body wishes. Whichever method is more your style.
These poses make up the entirety of this week’s 90 minute practice over on my YouTube channel.
1. Wide Legged Child’s Pose – From kneeling, bring the big toes to touch and the knees as wide as comfortable. Walk the palms forward, bringing the forehead to rest either directly on the mat, on the hands or on a block for support. Settle here, with the hips resting toward the heels. Let your belly fall soft, and your shoulders slide down the back to free up space for the neck. Let the jaw and face relax as you let go of the day off of the mat. After 5 minutes, ease gently out of the pose.
2. Thread the Needle – Making your way to hands and knees, thread the right arm underneath you until the right shoulder and ear come to rest on the mat (or a block or blanket as needed). The left hand can stay in close, or the arm can extend outward. Draw the left shoulder down the back, and keep the neck long. Take a moment to check that your hips haven’t wandered and remain stacked over the knees. This pose is a twist, which originates in the mid to low back and works its way up to the shoulders. Send the breath into the rib cage, feeling it expand and contract. Slowly and mindfully switch to the other side.
3. Swan (Pigeon) Pose – Time to get deep into those hips! Returning to table top, bring your right knee to rest on the mat directly behind the right wrist. Reach the left leg long behind you. Even the pelvis so that you are not shifting your weight more to one side or the other, but rather directly on top of the legs. To help with this, you may need to prop yourself up with a block or blanket underneath the right glute. Choose whether you wish to keep the torso lifted upright, or to fold forward, bringing the head to rest on the hands or a block. Relax your body into the pose, surrendering to the floor rather than fighting against it. If you have a hard time sending slow and steady breaths throughout the body you may have gone too far, ease off of the pose. After 5 minutes has passed, carefully exit the pose and repeat with the left leg forward.
4. Reclining Leg Stretch Sequence – Grab a strap as you make your way to laying flat on your back on the mat. Bend your knees, and bring the soles of the feet to the floor. Lifting the right foot, wrap the strap around the ball of the foot and extend the leg towards the sky. Keep the arms grounded, holding as low on the strap as you need to accommodate for this. You may keep the left leg bent, or for a more intense stretch, reach the leg long on the ground. Engage the arms just enough to pull the leg closer toward the belly as you open to the stretch. Keep the ankle in line with the hip for this first section of the sequence. After a fair hold, take both sides of the strap in the right hand and open the leg towards the right side. Hold this for the same amount of time, then return to center. Next, switch the strap into the left hand, crossing the leg over the body towards the left side. Keep the right shoulder pinned to the ground, so that this iteration is more of a reclined spinal twist. At any point bend your knee as much as needed. Hold again for the same length, bring to center, and then allow the leg to rest down on to the mat. Now repeat the three stretch sequence on the left leg.
5. Supported Bridge Pose – Staying reclined on the mat, grab a block and set up for supported bridge. Lift the hips up and slide the block under (I suggest starting at the middle height and adjusting as needed). Hug the right knee in to the chest, clasping around the front of the shin or inside of thigh, whichever is accessible to you today. Extend the left leg out in front of you. Feel your head and shoulders grounded. Following a 5 minute hold, switch the legs.
6. Waterfall Pose – From the last pose, bend your knees and return the feet to the ground, lifting the hips to slide the block to its lowest height, before returning the hips to the block. Settling in to the block for support, extend the legs to the sky for a floating version of legs up the wall. If you want the support of a wall and are close to one, you may let the toes touch. Take a bend in the knees as needed. Let the arms rest at your sides, with palms turned upwards. Be grounded, and allow the legs to feel weightless. Take this chance to release yourself and reflect on the practice you just had.
Having trouble deciding when to exit a pose? Want some soft music to accompany you? Come practice alongside me in the video below.
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