Category Archives: Yin Yoga

#WellnessWednesday: Reclining Butterfly

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a sequence that included reclining butterfly. You’ll find this pose not just in yin and restorative classes, but in other hatha class as well.

How to do it: Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor and bring the inside edges of your feet together. Bring the soles of the feet to come together while opening the knees wide. If your knees don’t rest on the floor, used blankets, yoga blocks or some other support to support the legs so that your muscles can relax. Turning your palms up helps roll the shoulders and collarbones open.

Benefits:

  • Increases blood circulation to the organs in the lower abdomen
  • Stretches the inner thighs and groins if the feet are close to the body; opens the connective tissue of the hip joint if the feet are farther away
  • Increases range of external rotation in the hips
  • Calms the nervous system

 

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Peace and love,

Debra

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#ThoughtfulThursday: A Yin Yoga Resource List

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A teacher friend of mine introduced me to yin yoga a long time ago by teaching it occasionally in her yoga classes. I have to admit I didn’t love it at first. The long holds were a challenge for me to settle into and coming out of the poses made me feel like my joints were super old. I learned to accept the practice eventually and realized that it improved my more yang yoga practice.
Fast forward years later to when I was looking at teacher training programs. At that point, my intent was deepen my own practice and not teach. The evening I visited, the studio was culling some of their books and offered them to trainees and those of us visiting. I was looking over the books, when one of the trainers handed me Paul Grilley’s book. She simply said, “This looks like what you need.” I wasn’t sure what to think, but I love yoga and I love books so I thought, “What the heck.”
Fast forward again, and I teach yin yoga three times per week. It’s one of my favorite styles of yoga to practice and to teach. Here are some of the resources I use when I teach with a brief review of each.
Note: All of the resources here have sample practices included.
Clampett, Cheri, and Biff Mithoefer. The therapeutic yoga kit: sixteen postures for self-Healing through quiet yin awareness. Healing Arts Press, 2009.

I love Biff Mithoefer’s yoga kits. You get a book with discussion of the poses and more, a CD to use for practice or listen to cuing tips, and flashcards that are helpful to use when teaching. I admittedly haven’t used this kit as much as the one listed below, but this is a great resource for yin/restorative classes.

Clark, Bernie. The complete guide to yin yoga: the philosophy & practice of yin yoga. White Cloud Press, 2012.

This is by far the book I used the most. It has lots of detail about the poses and counterposes, the meridians, and a lot more. It’s fabulous.

Grilley, Paul. Yin yoga: outline of a quiet practice. White Cloud Press, 2002.

This is a great quick read from the person who helped make yin yoga what it is today. This is the book that made me want to dive deeper into yin.

Mithoefer, Biff. The yin yoga kit: the practice of quiet power. Healing Arts Press, 2006.

Like the kit referenced above, this is very user-friendly. I use the flashcards the most as quick reference points during classes. It’s also great to use the CD when I want to practice yin at home without keeping a constant eye on the clock.

Powers, Sarah. Insight yoga. Shambhala, 2009.

I use this resource the least but it’s good nonetheless. I did a great weekend intensive workshop with Sarah Powers several years ago and her perspective on yin has definitely influenced the way I teach. This is a great resource for those who want to mix more yang elements into their practice or teaching.

Feel free to share any resources you use or questions you have in the comments below.

Peace and love,

Debra

#WellnessWednesday: Easy Resting Pose

Last week, I shared a sequence that included easy resting pose. Easy resting pose, sometimes called constructive rest, is exactly what it name says: a simple shape that allows deep rest for the mind and the body.

How to do it: Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor, allowing the knees to fall toward each other. Let your hands rest comfortably on your rib cage. Support your head with a folded blanket. Set a timer for the amount of time you would like to practice. Soften the low back and the hips. Direct your breath to anywhere you feel tension. Then allow yourself to just be.

Benefits: This pose relaxes the whole body and releases tension in the iliopsoas muscle.

Peace and love,

Debra

#WellnessWednesday: Keep It Simple Yin Practice

This week’s yin practice is focused on keeping things simple with accessible poses. I put it together while thinking of a friend who has knee issues. A lot of yin poses can strain the knees so these poses focus on opening the hips and back while keeping the knees safe.

Each pose can be held three to five minutes and you can use as much support as you need to make yourself comfortable.

(Note: Sorry I haven’t had time to get photos of all the poses, but I’ll get them eventually!)

PhotoGrid_1516803356769.jpgEasy Resting Pose: Lying on your back, bend your knees and bring your feet to the floor with your knees bent. Your feet should be a comfortable distance from your hips. You can choose to support your knees with blankets or a bolster. (Click here for more info.)

PhotoGrid_1516803549622.jpgReclining Butterfly: Staying reclined, heel-toe your feet together until the inside edges are touching. Let your knees open out to the side while bringing the soles of the feet together. You can support the legs with blocks or blankets, especially if your knees are not close to the floor.

Supported Caterpillar: Come to a seat and stretch your legs out in front of you. Support your knees with a blanket or bolster. Lengthen the spine and fold from the hips over the legs. If you want to give your internal organs a little massage, you can keep the legs close together; if you want to make a little more room for the breath, separate the legs a comfortable distance apart.

Crocodile: Transition to lying on your stomach and stretch your legs out behind you. Let the legs be a little wider than hip distance apart and rotate the legs out from the hips so your toes turn out. Bring your arms forward and let the hands stack on top of one another. Bring your forehead to your hands and breath. For a slightly deeper back bend, make gentle fists to take the forehead a little higher.

Twisted Root: Roll onto your back and bend your knees and bring your feet to the floor. Cross your right leg over your left with your knees close together. Shift your hips a little to the right and let your legs drop over to the left. You can support your legs with a bolster and your right shoulder with a blanket for comfort. Make sure to do both sides

Mermaid: Bring your bolster across your mat. Bring your legs to deer pose and lie on your side with your waist supported by the bolster and bottom arm extended. You can either let your top arm rest on the body, reach overhead, or rest behind you. Keep your shoulders stacked. Make sure to do both sides.

Supported Twist: Turn your bolster to parallel with your mat and sit with your hip next to the short end of the bolster, legs out to the side away from the bolster. Turn your torso to face the bolster and place hands to either side of it. Lengthen the spine before releasing your torso onto the support of the bolster. Depending on what’s most comfortable for your neck, you can turn your head toward or away from the knees. Again, make sure to do both sides.

Pentacle: Lie on your back and take your legs wider than the hips, letting the feet turn out. Extend your arms straight out from your shoulders, palms turned up. Stay in this one for 10 to 15 minutes.

Hope you enjoy!

Debra

Global Running Day

June 7 is Global Running Day. Whether you’re a newby or an experienced runner, yoga can be a great cross-training activity to aid in recovery and improve performance. Yin poses like dragon and frog can be great for deeply opening the hips. Another pose that can be great and gets into the hips at a different angle is cat tail pose.

Cat Tail (suggested hold time 3-5 minutes)

Contraindications

  • Go gently with lower back issues

Getting into the Pose:

  • From seated, twist to the right and lean onto the right elbow. Bring top leg forward and to the side. Bend the right (lower leg) and take foot with the opposite hand. Pull the hand toward the buttocks while pushing the foot away.
  • Can also start from lying down.

Modifications

  • (Easiest) Stay propped up on elbow.
  • (Intermediate) Extended bottom arm straight out from shoulder above the head.
  • (Fullest) Recline so that both shoulders are on the floor, making it a reclining twist

Benefits:

  • Good counterpose for forward bends
  • Mildly compresses lower back
  • Opens quads and upper thighs

Meridians & Organs Affected:

  • Stomach and spleen
  • Urinary and kidney (more with deeper twists)
  • Gall bladder (if twisting rib cage)

Joints Affected:

  • Lumbar, sacrum
  • Ribs (if twisting)

Chakras Affected:

  • First (muladhara)
  • Second (svadhistana)
  • Third (anahata)

Coming Out:

  • Release foot and roll onto front

Counterposes

  • Hug knees into chest
  • Child’s pose

Enjoy the day!

Debra

 

National Frog Month

April is National Frog Month. Frogs are an important bellwether species for our planet — when frogs are healthy and abundant, an ecosystem is healthy. There a number of actions that both children and adults can do to help build awareness and improve the environment.

In honor of National Frog Month, I wanted to share one of my favorite yin yoga poses (second only to dragon pose for me). Here is more information about frog pose.

Frog (hold 3 to 5 minutes)

Contraindications

  • Bad back: use support
  • If there is any tingling in the fingers, take hands wider or extend one arm at a time

Getting into the Pose:

  • From all fours, spread the knees as wide as possible and sit back to heels
  • Arms can be at your side or stretched overhead
  • Rest chin or forehead on floor

Modifications

  • Can separate the feet as wide as the knees
  • Hips can come up and forward if the stretch is too intense
  • Support chest on bolster

Benefits:

  • Stretches groin, hamstrings and back
  • Aids digestion and eases cramps

Meridians & Organs Affected:

  • Liver, kidney, spleen, urinary bladder

Joints Affected:

  • Hips, lower back, shoulders

Chakras Affected:

  • First (muladhara)
  • Second (svadhistana)
  • Third (manipura)

Coming Out:

  • Come to child’s pose or slide forward onto belly, bringing legs together

Counterposes

  • Child’s pose
  • Apanasana

With joy,

Debra

National Wear Red Day

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The first Friday in February is the American Heart Association‘s National Wear Red Day, part of their Go Red for Women campaign. Heart attacks and strokes cause one out of every three deaths of women annually. It’s a day that’s especially poignant to me because my mom and her mom and sister have cardiovascular disease. Their experiences with heart disease and cancer led me to obtain Yoga of the Heart certification.

Education and healthy living can help prevent some incidents or reduce the effects of cardiovascular disease. Yoga can be part of a healthy lifestyle, whatever your current fitness level. Please note: you should always check with your doctor before beginning any fitness regimen. Yoga teachers and styles run the gamut from vigorous and fitness-oriented to quiet and meditative, so doing a little research and trying different classes can help you find what works best for you.

photogrid_1486141601211.jpgOne of my favorite heart-opening poses is anahatasana, or heart-melting pose.The anahata, or heart, chakra is the balancing point between our lower level and higher level chakras. It associated with love and compassion and making decisions based on our higher self.

Note: If getting down on the floor isn’t accessible to you, you could do this pose seated in a chair. To do the seated version, sit toward the forward edge of a chair with the spine straight, hold on the back of the chair with your hands close to the seat, and arch the back and lift through the heart.

Anahatasana

Contraindications

  • Bad neck
  • Tingling in hands

Getting into the Pose:

  • From hands and knees, keep the hips directly over the knees
  • Walk the hands forward and pivot shoulders so head comes between the arms (upper body is in the same position as in downward-facing dog)
  • Allow chest top drop toward the floor
  • Hold 2 to 5 minutes

Modifications

  • If shoulder pain, walk hands wider than shoulder distance apart and/or rest chest on a bolster
  • If neck pain, support the head with a folded blanket or block
  • For knee pain, blanket underneath
  • Toes can be tucked under for stability
  • For more intensity, rest chest and/or chin on floor (looking up between the hands)

Benefits:

  • Stretches middle and upper back
  • Opens shoulders
  • Softens heart

Meridians & Organs Affected:

  • Urinary Bladder
  • Stomach and spleen lines
  • Heart and lung meridians

Joints Affected:

  • Upper back and neck
  • Lower spine
  • Shoulder/humerus joints

Chakras Affected:

  • Fourth

Coming Out:

  • Walk hands back under shoulders or slide forward onto belly

Counterposes

  • Child’s pose
  • Cat/cow
  • Downward facing dog
  • Sleeper

Sources: Paul Grilley, Yin Yoga: Outline of a Quiet Practice; Biff Mithoefer, The Yin Yoga Kit: The Practic of Quiet Power; and Bernie Clark, The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga: The Philosophy & Practice of Yin Yoga

Peace and love,

Debra

Appreciate a Dragon Day

wp-1484626664053.jpgIt’s Appreciate a Dragon Day!

Woohoo! I’m so excited about this one! Anyone who comes to my yin classes knows that dragon is my favorite pose. (Shameless self-promotion: Come see me at one of the three locations where I teach yin.) I love, love, love it because my hips are tight, tight, tight and this gets into them in lots of different directions.

So think of your favorite dragon and dive into this pose.

Dragon How To:

Getting into the Pose:

  • Come into low lunge with front knee over the ankle and back knee on the floor

wp-1484626652737.jpgVariations:

  • Baby dragon: hands frame front foot and torso in line with/on top of forward thigh
  • Dragon flying high: arms or hands rest on front thigh, chest lifted (intensifies stretch on hips)
  • Dragon flying low: Bring both hands inside foot, can come down to elbows
  • Twisted dragon: From dragon flying low, push knee to the side and rotate the chest to the sky
  • Winged dragon: arms inside, gently rock to outside foot a few times before holding the knee out

Modifications:

  • Support the knee and shin if back leg at 90 degrees
  • Advanced: lift back knee

wp-1484626646670.jpgBenefits:

  • Stretches groin, ankles, hip flexors & quads
  • Frees the pelvis
  • Can help with sciatica

Meridians & Organs Affected:

  • Stomach, spleen, liver, gall bladder, kidneys

Joints Affected:

  • Hips and ankles
  • Lower back (when in back bending positions)

Coming Out:

  • Move back knee forward and step into down dog

wp-1484626642459.jpgCounterposes:

  • Down dog
  • Child’s pose
  • Half splits

Sources: Paul Grilley, Yin Yoga: Outline of a Quiet Practice; Biff Mithoefer, The Yin Yoga Kit: The Practic of Quiet Power; and Bernie Clark, The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga: The Philosophy & Practice of Yin Yoga

Peace,

Debra

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Humanitarian Day and Schedule for Week of January 16, 2017

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Happy Humanitarian Day!

Today is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. despite the fact that tomorrow is the official national holiday. To honor the birth of Dr. King, today marks the first of three Emancipation Days of Respect. These Days of Respect were established in 2009. Humanitarian Day (different from World Humanitarian Day) is meant to honor King and others who fought and died to end segregation during the Civil Rights movement.

Dr. King is one of my personal heroes. His methods and ideas were, and still are, radical in the best sense of the word. In an era where we seem deeply divided by our differences and fears, the principles of meeting hate with love, darkness with light, fear with courage, and taking right action should inspire us all and remind us that we are all connected.

Related Emancipation Days of Respect are Victims of Violence Holy Day (April 4th, the date of Dr. King’s assassination) and Dream Day Quest and Jubilee (August 28th, the anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” Speech).

Schedule

Here’s where I’ll be this week.

If you’re joining me for the Basics Series, we’re focusing on core work and back bends this week.

A new session of Yin Yoga begins this week at Yoga Balance. It’s a six-week series ($72/6 weeks) but you can drop in anytime ($15 drop-in rate).

Monday

Wednesday

Thursday

Saturday

Sunday

Peace and Love,

Debra

Schedule for the Week of September 5, 2016

 

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I’m very excited to bring my favorite form of yoga – Yin – to two more venues this week.

This Thursday, the 7:15 p.m. class at Yoga Balance is changing formats to Yin. This is the beginning of a four-week session running from September 8 through September 29; you can sign up for all four classes for $48 or you are welcome to drop in for $15 per class. You can call 765-775-5120 to register.

And I’m super excited to return to what feels like my Indy yoga home, Dragonfly 360 (formerly All People Yoga Center, where I did my teacher training), for a weekly Yin class on Sundays at 2 p.m. Drop-ins are $17 and there are other pricing options available. Come see me if you’re in Indy!

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Namaste,

Debra

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