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This passive practice uses long held poses to gradually open up the body and improve your flexibility.
These 7 poses will give you a full body stretch, working specifically the hips, hamstrings, shoulders, and low back. Hold each one for somewhere between 3 – 5 minutes.
With each one, keep in mind the 3 principles of yoga. The first is to find your edge, the place with just the right amount of sensation but no pain. Then find some stillness. And hold the pose.
Have 2 blocks handy for this sequence. You may also want to have some yoga jellies or blankets to pad the knees. Or even cushions for propping the body up.
1. Supported Fish – Set up the blocks on your mat on their second level. The first one will be vertical in between the shoulder blades. The second will be horizontal and support the back of the head. Lower down on to the blocks, moving them if you need to until you find some comfort and support. If you want to add some extra hip opening the knees can fall out to the sides, and soles press together in butterfly shape. Otherwise, you might extend the legs out straight or bend the knees and keep the feet flat on the mat. Let the arms fall wherever feels good, possibly at the sides or up over the head.
2. Wide-Legged Fold – From a seat, extend the legs out to the sides. As wide as still feels reasonably comfortable. Turn towards the right leg, bringing the blocks along with you. Fold towards the shin. Use the blocks or other props to support you as needed. If it’s difficult to fold, you might also prop the hips up on a blanket. There is no need to push deeper, the body will naturally open up into the fold. Less is more. Relax the arms, let your spine round. Breathe here for the desired length. Then slowly ease out and switch to the left leg.
3. Straddle Fold – Keeping the legs in the straddle position, come to the center. Start to fold straight forward. You can always bring a bit of bend in to the knees. Relax down, supporting yourself with props as needed. Settle in to the shape. Send your breath in to the low belly or low back. Rest your arms, shoulders and head.
4. Dragon Pose – Come to kneeling. You may want to pad the left knee here, with a yoga jelly, a blanket, or doubling up the mat. Step your right foot forward to the top of your mat, in between the palms. You might want to have the blocks under the hands, have the palms flat on the floor, or come down on to the forearms. Choose the variation that works for you. Relax the hips and let gravity pull you down. Soften your shoulders away from the ears. Relax the belly. If you feel any pinching or pain, ease off or come out of the pose early. Listen to your body.
5. Child’s Pose with Thread the Needle – Bring your big toes together, and take the knees as wide as you like. Reach your left arm under and lower down on to the left shoulder and left ear. You may want to extend the right arm up overhead, bring it to the low back, or press in to the fingers. Relax the rest of the body.
Repeat 4 and 5 on the other side.
6. Sleeping Swan – Lower down on to your back. Bend your knees and bring the soles to the ground. Cross your right ankle over the left knee. Flex the foot and press the right knee away from the body. Hold here or reach the hands through and draw the legs in to the belly. Relax your shoulders, upper back and head. Using just a little bit of arm strength to hold the legs in. Keep the legs relaxed. Focusing on the outer right hip. Release the legs, and take any bit of movement the body wants. Then switch sides.
7. Savasana – Extend out on the mat. Dropping the toes out, lowering the arms to the sides. Roll the shoulders away from your ears. Turn your palms up to the sky. Remove the tension from the face, shoulders and neck. Notice how your body feels in this moment as you end your practice. Give yourself the permission to slow down as you move forward with your day.
Prefer to be guided in and out of poses, so you just have to rest in to them? Check out the video below.
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