I wanted to share this sequence because this busy time of year often sees us neglecting our own personal practice in hopes of checking more off the never-ending "to-do" list. My hope is that this set of poses will help inspire you to spend a little bit more time on your mat this season & to open up areas of your body that might be feeling neglected this time of year. If you find the sensations intense, first breathe deeper. Use this time on your mat as an opportunity to return to your breath as well as a feeling of openness and ease in your body. Cozy up next to the Christmas tree and get ready to melt away.
60(ish) minute Holiday Yin Sequence
(Or pick and choose 1-3 postures to wind you down each evening)
Optional: playlist if you're looking for inspiration!
Reclined on bolster or blanket roll (5 min) – Begin your practice by lying the full length of your spine back onto a bolster or several blankets. Allow your chest to open and your arms and legs to take up space. I chose a reclined butterfly pose for my legs here but legs can be in whichever position is comfortable for you.
Twist on block & blanket (3 min each side) – Begin by propping your hips onto a block (or stack of books.) Scoot your hips all the way to the right until your right hip is totally off the block but your left hip is still in contact with it. Lift & straighten your right leg. Take it across the body to the left side of your mat. You can prop that foot onto a blanket/block if needed. Open your arms out into a “T” or cactus shape to create more expansion across the chest here. As you breathe, pay special attention to your outer left hip as it pushes into the block. Breathe into that intensity and notice the tension melt away with each exhale.
*repeat twist on the other side*
(Roll to belly)
Sphinx (5 min) – This stretch will help to gently stretch and release the vertebrae in the lumbar spine and help to restore natural curvature. On your belly, rise up to your forearms. Place your elbows to land beneath and a little beyond your shoulders.
If you want to hang your head and feel no pain in the neck as you do so, feel free to drop the chin toward the chest and create a small side to side movement.
Rest on your belly for a few moments before moving to the next pose.
Threaded Needle + Option to extend leg (3 min each side) – Come to tabletop pose and take your left leg out to the side. Place your foot in line with your opposite knee. You can keep your hips lifted or you can drop back to a child's pose variation depending on what feels nice. Take your right arm to the sky and then thread it across and through over to the left. Let the side of your head and shoulder hang heavy here. You can decide what you’d like to do with the left arm (reach it forward or perhaps thread it behind the back). If there’s any pain in the extended leg/knee, just pull it in and only worry about the upper body in this posture.
*Repeat threaded needle on the other side*
Frog (5 min) – Nothing like a juicy hip stretch to wake up those wintry joints! Starting in tabletop, begin to walk your knees away from one another, keep your hips situated in between your knees (not shooting overly forward or back.) You can eventually turn your feet out to big toe edges as long as it feels good in your ankles/knees to do so. Stop when the sensation grows and pause to breathe until you can find a place of stillness. You can drop to your forearms, bring your chest to a bolster, or relax your forehead to a block here.
If the pose is altogether too much, press back to a wide-leg child's pose instead.
Pause in a knees together child's pose with the arms relaxing back for a few moments to counter before moving on.
Toe Stretch + Neck Release (2 min each side) – Come back to sit on your heels with the toes tucked under. Walk your hands back, rest them in your lap or keep them in front of you resting on a block or the floor.
You can keep it simple here with just the toe stretch or add this gentle neck lengthener. Take your left hand behind your back and grab ahold of the right tricep with the left hand behind your body. Find a gentle tension between pulling the elbow back and drawing it forward. Take an inhale to lengthen the neck and then on your exhale, drop the left ear to the left shoulder. Take a few breaths here to explore the intensity and then make your way to center and do the other side as well.
Gently walk forward out of the toe stretch and pat the tops of your feet onto the floor behind you to release your feet before moving on.
Supported Bridge (3 min) – Come onto your back and begin to prop your hips onto a block (or stack of books) beneath your sacrum (that flat space at the base of your spine). Once you feel grounded here, you can take your feet forward and arms overhead if you’d like. Slow your breath and rest steadily here.
Banana (2 min each side) – Begin to walk your hands and feet toward the right side of your mat, keeping your hips grounded in the centre. You can cross the left ankle over the right and grab the left wrist with the right hand to add a bit more intensity here. Breathe into your left side body.
Move to the other side of the pose.
Savasana (7-10 min) – Come to your back (or any comfortable resting position) and relax your entire body. Allow for all the effort that got you through your day and your practice to fade away as you lie back and soak up this new space in the body and mind.