As much as we might want to deny it, sweater weather is just around the corner (at least here in North America). With that always comes the impending threat of a cold. Get ahead of it this year by upping your overall health and vitality, and stretching your lymph nodes.
Your lymph nodes are concentrated through the inner groin, inner thighs, the chest, the armpits, and the neck. This Yin sequence will move from the bottom up, starting with some inversions.
Have 2 blocks and maybe a blanket at the ready as you roll out your mat.
1. Legs Up the Wall – Bring your mat lengthwise and close to the wall. With a block handy, lower down on to your back. Bring the block under your hips, lifting them higher than the heart. Extend the legs up the wall. You don’t need to be right against it, but your heels should be resting. Option one, is to leave the legs straight. Option two, is to extend the legs out to the sides in a straddle. You should still be able to relax and hold this pose for a few minutes, so be sure to find your edge and not go past it. To get in to the lymph nodes under the arms, you may also want to open them out to the sides (or in cactus, or over head).
2. Happy Baby – Remove the block under the hips and lower down flat. Take the knees wide as you clasp hold of the feet, big toes or shins. Guiding the knees down towards the armpits, while simultaneously kicking the heels up (so ankles stack over the knees). Elbows inside of the knees can be used to guide the legs further open. Keep your tailbone and low back rooted down. Relax your head and shoulders, not working too hard in the upper body here. After a few moments, roll over to one side. Staying for a few breaths in a fetal position.
3. Winged Dragon – Coming up to table top, you may want to place a blanket to support what will be the back knee. Step your right foot to the outside of your right hand. Begin to roll on to the outer edge of your right foot, opening the knee and hip to the side. Walk your hands towards the left, and extend the arms out. Lower down on to the forearms, maybe bringing the forehead to a block. This is a deep and intense yin yoga pose, so be sure to find a form you will be able to hold for the allotted time (about 3 minutes). Repeat on the other side.
4. Dangling – Bring the feet a bit wider than the hips. Fold forward, bending the knees as deep as desired. Relax your arms down to the ground, a block, or clasp opposite elbows as I have done here. You may also want to do this against the wall, with the hips resting. Relax your head, release the tension from the neck. Since you are upside down, and standing, you will just want to hold this pose for about 2 minutes.
5. Shoelace with Archer Arms – Stack your right knee over the left one (or you can opt for cross legged instead). Reach the right arm up to the sky. Bend your right elbow, and place the fingers down on the back of the neck. Push your elbow back and point it up to the ceiling. Stay here, or also reach your left hand under to clasp hands, a strap or on to your clothing. The emphasis here is on your right armpit. Keep tall through the spine, avoid arching and rounding in bad posture. Repeat on the other side.
6. Seated Neck Release – You can do this one cross-legged or any other seat that works for you, as long as you can sit nice and tall. Roll your shoulders down and away from the ears. Drop your left ear towards the left shoulder. Keep your chin slightly lifted, so it’s roughly parallel to the ground. To deepen this neck stretch, you can bring the left hand up and to the right temple (to create more space between this ear and shoulder). You might also want to crawl your right fingers out to the side. Soften your jaw, tongue, and cheeks. Switch it to the other side.
Take the time to close with a nice juicy savasana.
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