If you have about 30 - 40 minutes to practice at home, here is a short sequence designed to release the hips, belly, shoulders, and neck, effectively reversing the effects of extended sitting and bringing circulation and vitality back to the body.
To practice you will need a mat (or carpeted floor works), a rolled blanket, and a timer. If you use your phone make sure it is in airplane mode so that you won’t be disturbed!
Yin yoga works at the level of fascia, connective tissue, joints and bones. Find relaxation in each pose and then hold for longer periods of time to effect the deeper layers of the body. Because the passive stretches are sustained, it’s common for sensation to arise and sometimes intensify. If the sensation is not painful, merely uncomfortable relax into it and observe it. If ever you feel a sharp or sudden pain sensation, back away, modify, or skip the pose.
Start by laying on your back, extending your left leg long and hugging your right knee into the chest. Thread the fingers around the knee, then completely relax the arms, legs, entire body. The knee might naturally start to sink to the right, this is fine. Relax here for 1 - 2 minutes.
Release the right foot to the ground and scoot the hips slightly to the right. Open the arms wide, into a t-shape. Lift the bent right leg and bring it over to the left side as you roll onto your left hip. Place your rolled blanket under the right knee. Relax the entire body, focus on your exhales, and releasing all tension. Relax here for 3 - 4 minutes. When you are done, go back to the first pose and do both of these on the left side.
Bring the soles of the feet together, knees open wide. The arms can be anywhere that feels supportive. If the sensation in the groin and inner thigh area is very intense to the point of causing tension you may want to place blocks or two rolled blankets under the knees or thighs. Relax here for 2 - 3 minutes.
Keeping the knees bent, bring the soles of the feet wide and knees rest together. The arms may rest anywhere that is supportive. Feel heaviness and relaxation moving into the feet, legs, pelvis and lower back. Relax here for 1 - 2 minutes.
Without rushing, make your way up to all fours and move through some gentle, slow cat-cow.
Keeping the hips stacked over the knees, walk the arms and torso forward and allow the forehead to rest on the earth, or a block. If you are quite open and it feels good in the neck, you can draw the shoulders down and rest your chin on the earth instead of the forehead. Relax here for 2 - 3 minutes.
Slither forward onto your belly, resting the tops of your feet and bringing forearms down to the earth. Stack the elbows under the shoulder heads. Release all tension, all muscle contraction allowing the spine to melt towards the ground. Gaze can be neutral, or you may rest your forehead on your blanket. Relax here for 4 - 5 minutes.
Come into hands and knees and place the blanket across the center of the mat. Slowly lay over it so that the low belly rests against it. The blanket should be across the body somewhere between the hip bones and low ribs. Rest your head on your hands. If you feel any pain or extreme tenderness here, just lay on the floor, in the same way, without the blanket. Relax here for 1 - 2 minutes.
Press yourself up to hands and knees. Bring the knees, ankles and lower legs together. Rest your hips on your heels and fold forward, with arms alongside the body, forehead to the ground. You may choose to modify this by bringing a blanket under the forehead or allowing the knees to widen. Relax here for 3 - 4 minutes.
Place the rolled blanket under the back, running along the spine and ending at the upper Thorasic spine (right above the upper shoulder blades.) Draw your shoulder blades down your back and extend the arms out to your sides. The head may rest on the floor (more throat opening) or a blanket or pillow (less throat opening.) Legs could be bent or straight here, whichever feels best. Relax here for 4 - 5 minutes.
Bring the blanket roll under the hips, running across the body and supporting the sacrum. Extend the legs and arms to the sides. If this causes discomfort or pain in the low back, bend both knees bringing feet to the earth. Relax here for 3 - 4 minutes.
Slide the blanket roll under the knees. Create space between the feet and between the arms and the body. Slide the shoulders together and down the back. Relax completely here for 5 - 15 minutes. This is a great time to practice this September’s Yoga Nidra recording!