New Yin Yoga Practice Video

In a yin yoga style practice postures are softly held (mostly on the floor) for long periods of time. 

Holding a yin yoga posture creates circulation in the tissues and joints keeping them flexible and supple, calms the nervous system, and increases circulation of Prana or Qi in the energetic channel system of the body.

Holding poses also encourages the dropping of attention inward to a place of meditation and contemplation. Much of our lives these days is very "yang".  We are busy, goal oriented, and focused on activity. Many of us often rely on external measures when seeking validation. On the other hand, yin yoga is a practice of slowing down and trusting the inner promptings of the body.

While the term "yin yoga" was more recently coined, a slower more contemplative approach to yoga practice has been around for a very long time within the yogic tradition. One of the aims of yoga is to create balance and integration in the body, heart, and mind. A yin style practice helps to create an environment where balance can occur.

When first beginning a yin yoga practice it can seem like the practice is boring or too passive but just because it is slow and simple does not make it easy. In fact, as you hold the pose notice how the mind tends to try to "escape". Perhaps you drift into thinking about past pleasant memories or maybe you find yourself mired in critical or "comparitive" mind.  When this happens allow what is happening but aim to bring yourself back to the present sensations in the body.

I'm delighted to announce that I am finally releasing another free yin yoga practice video. This practice is just over an hour and was shot at a beautiful coastal location. You can watch a short preview below and if you'd like to receive the full video just sign up with your email and I'llll send it right to you!

To get free access to my latest hour long yin yoga video enter your email below and you'll be sent right to the video:

Watch a little preview here:

 

If you're interested in learning even more about yin yoga you can purchase a yin yoga practice video based on the wood element. Or study with me in my Mindful Yin Yoga Online program.

 

Strengthen Your Core

Strengthen Your Core

Over the last couple of months I've been exploring Thomas Myer's book Anatomy Trains, and the teachings of Tias Little, in a series of posts related to the "myo-fascial" lines, planes, or sheaths of the body.

These planes are a wonderful way to understand how movement, including asana (yoga postures), affect the physical structure of the body. In addition, the planes provide a helpful map in understanding how to use body mechanics and movement, therapeutically, to address specific imbalances.  

Read More

Yin Yoga Sequence for the Spleen and Stomach Meridians

Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Spleen and Stomach

Within our yin yoga practice we can practice sequences of poses that directly target areas of the physical body as well as specific meridian lines. Meridians are considered channels where Qi or Prana flows. Qi is the basic life force of the body. Having enough Qi flowing smoothly in the meridians is key to health and longevity in body and mind.  

While each pose effects multiple meridians at a time we can combine the poses in a sequence to emphasize one or two meridians.

The sequence below targets the Spleen and Stomach channels. Watch my video on the digestive system to learn more about coming into harmony with these earth element channels.

Acupressure Point Spleen 6 (San Yin Jiao)

Add pressure to this point during the below sequence to increase targeting of the Spleen meridian. According to Chinese Medicine the Spleen can become stagnant with too much processed or sweet food. Pressing this point is especially helpful if you've been feeling heavy or you've been having digestive disturbance.

The point is located on the inner side of the leg. Measure about 4 finger widths above the inner ankle. Most people find a place near this area that feels a little more sensitive. Use gentle pressure to begin and slowly increase. Hold the point anywhere between 30 seconds to a minute or so dependant on your preference.

Yin Yoga Sequence for Spleen and Stomach Meridians:

** Hold poses between 3-5 min. depending on your ability

Wide Knee Childs Pose

Dragon Pose

Sleeping Swan/Pigeon Pose

Childs Pose

Saddle Pose

Dragonfly Pose

Butterfly Pose

Savasana

I hope you enjoy the sequence! Let me know in the comments if you tried it out and what you discovered :)

Open the Ventral Plane

ventral plane

Myofascial Sheaths

The "myo-fascial" lines, planes, or sheaths provide a helpful map when trying to understand how patterns of positive and negative stress relay and transfer through the structures of the body. In previous weeks I explored the lateral plane and the dorsal plane. Follow along in an exploration of the ventral plane below.

The Ventral Plane

The ventral plane of the body is similar to what Thomas Myers in his book "Anatomy Trains" refers to as the "superficial front line". When standing, the front line of the body functions as a continuous sheath of tissue. Overall, the front plane helps to balance the back (dorsal) line creating balance in the body. It is also responsible for a kind of 'lifting up' of certain bony structures such as the pubic bone, and the rib cage. The ventral plane also helps to protect the organs in the torso that would otherwise be exposed and vulnerable.                

The ventral sheath starts at the top of the feet and travels up the front of the legs (tibialis anterior and quadriceps), to the pubic bone, and all the way up the front of the torso (rectus abdominus) to the sides of the neck (sternocleidomastoid).

Self Protection and the Front Body

A common postural indication of imbalance between the front and back plane is a person who's front body seems to sag down, or draw in, and who's back body seems to lift up. This posture resembles a person who feels threatened (similar to the startle response). From this perspective a yoga practitioner can understand the relationship between a tight or shortened abdominal area and how this possibly indicates self protection and/or a lack of true personal power which classically resides in the belly center (3rd chakra).  

"SRADDHA VIRYA SMRTI SAMADHI PRAJNAPURVAKA ITARESAM"
"A space of nourishment for growth is preceded by trust, strength, mindfulness, focus and refined knowledge" ~ Yoga Sutra 1.20

While experiencing the below poses reflect on your relationship to sraddha (trust). Connect with your innate intelligence within that knows you are capable. Rest in a place of knowing you are safe in this moment and that your divine nature helps to guide every moment of your life. 

Movement to Open the Ventral Plane

Before you begin lay on your back and bring your attention into your body. Notice if you seem to be holding yourself up from the ground. Bring your attention to your lower abdomen, and the center and top of your chest. Observe any gripping or tensing, and notice any feelings or tightness. Sense whether your shoulders seem to fall forward towards your chest (lift off the floor). As you settle bring your breath deeper into the body and consciously relax your belly, chest, and shoulders. 

Backbends help to open and lengthen the ventral plane. Start with smaller backbends and add twisting poses before deeper backbends. This will encourage the bands of tissue that run horizontally (abdominal obliques) and the bands that run vertically (rectus abdominus) to mobilize and slide more easily against one another. Use the below poses to open and feel the ventral sheathing for yourself:

  • Vajrasana (broken toe) - Kneel on the floor, tuck your toes, and sit back on your heels. Work towards having all ten toes tucked and don't allow your heels to fall out to the side. If sitting all the way back is too painful place a block on your heels to sit on or place your hands on a chair in front of you to reduce the pressure on the feet. Use this pose to open the front of the foot (retinaculum and extensors).
  • Danurasana (bow) with bolster - Place a bolster horizontal across your mat. Lay on the bolster (under your low ribs and upper belly). Place your elbows and forearms on the bolster. Bring your feet and knees close together. Bend your knees and grab your flexed feet with your hands. Roll your shoulder blades back and in. Kick into your hands with your feet to lengthen the front of your body. In this variation your hips, thighs, and knees can stay on the floor. Focus on drawing the coccyx (tailbone) in and lifting the sternum up.
  • Supta Virasana (reclined hero's) - Sit between your feet with the sitting bones firmly rooted. If your sitting bones don't contact the floor use a block or another support under you. Place your feet beside your outer hips with your toes pointing directly back.  From this position lean back and support your spine on a bolster or lay directly onto the floor. Lengthen your sacrun away from your lumbar and don't allow the knees to splay out to the sides. As much as possible track the thigh bone (femur) in a straight line with the hip.
  • Salamba Setu Bandhasana (supported bridge pose) - Place a bolster lengthwise on your mat and a block at the end of the bolster. Loop a yoga strap around your thighs. Make sure the loop is tight enough to keep your legs together. Support your sacrum and legs with the bolster and place your feet on the block. Lay your shoulders and head off the bolster on the floor. If you have lower back pain here use more height under your feet or bend your knees. Soften across your belly and throat.

I hope that helps to open your ventral plane :) Thank you so much for reading! Follow along on an exploration of the planes of the body by signing up for my mailing list. And make sure to leave a comment below if you have questions or comments!

Yin Yoga Sequence for the Heart and Lung Meridians

Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Heart and Lung

Within our yin yoga practice we can practice sequences of poses that directly target areas of the physical body as well as specific meridian lines. Meridians are considered channels where Qi or Prana flows. Qi is the basic life force of the body. Having enough Qi flowing smoothly in the meridians is key to health and longevity in body and mind.  

While each pose effects multiple meridians at a time we can combine the poses in a sequence to emphasize one or two meridians.

The sequence below targets the Heart and Lung channels. You can learn more about the Fire element (related to the Heart) in this video and this post. And if you want to learn more about the Lung meridian watch my video on the metal element and the season of fall.

Acupressure Points Lung 1 and 2 (Zhong Fu and Yun Men):

During this sequence focus on creating space around these points. Some of the poses will compress these points and others will release the compression. Pay special attention to the flood of energy and blood to the area when releasing. These points are especially helpful if you're working with Lung congestion, troubles breathing or you're processing grief.

The points are located at the top of the chest in the "delto-pectoral triangle" which is the small groove below the intersection of the collarbone and the shoulder on either side of the upper chest.

Yin Yoga Sequence for Heart and Lung Meridians:

** Hold poses between 3-5 min. depending on your ability

Wide Knee Childs Pose with Twist

Close Knee Childs Pose

Sphinx Pose

Melting Heart Pose

Dragonfly Pose

Caterpilllar

Supported Bound Angle

Reclined Twist

Savasana

I hope you enjoy the sequence! Let me know in the comments if you tried it out and what you discovered :)