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Summertime Yin Yoga Mini for You

May 31, 2024
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Yin Yoga sequence for summer fire element heart-small intestine

Having been blessed to live for so many years on the magical coast of southern Maine, a favorite portable practice for me was always taking it to the beach, so this Yin Yoga Mini is full of salty surf! But no matter where on Mother Earth you might be journeying to rejuvenate this summer, this Yin flow is sure to tend to your Yin tissues and speak to your heart.

Taoists teach that aligning with the energies of Nature supports our ability to stay balanced and to flourish and thrive, so I hope you enjoy this small but mighty Yin flow as you steep in the sights and sounds of summer.

Yin Yoga meditation for starting your class
Arriving to Your Mat

Find an easy seated position on your mat.

Feel the earth beneath you, supporting you and calling you home to this present moment.

With eyes open and soft, take in the beauty around you. See the play of color and light, shapes and shadows arising.

If it’s comfortable for you, when you’re ready, close your eyes.

Attune to the atmosphere around you using your inside eyes.

Listen for sounds arising from far away and for those closer to you.

Feel for the sensations of the air on your skin.

As you breathe easefully and mindfully, become aware of any scents.

Let your attention move deeper inward now.

With kind attention, take some moments to notice how you’re feeling…body, mind, and heart.

Offer the whole of you a warm and welcoming embrace.

Notice if there’s an intention you’d like to set to serve as an orienting compass for your attention for your practice.

Take a moment to honor what arises.

Remind yourself to move slowly into each shape and to find and stay with mild sensation. This is your time to let go of the weight of any expectations and enjoy simply being.

Shoelace with Twist (1.5min) to the Right. Counterpose- after untwisting, pause at center to observe the effects for a few moments.  Then do the other side.

Physical Focus- Hips, Legs, & Spine

Shoelace Pose summer Yin Yoga flow
Shoelace with Upright Twist, Right

Sit on a single-folded blanket and extend your legs in front of you.

Establish a neutral pelvis position so that your lower spine has its natural slight inward curvature.

Bend your right leg and place your outer right leg onto your left thigh.

If the hips and knees allow, rock a bit onto the left outer hip and bend the left leg wrapping it underneath the right bent leg.

Curl your toes gently toward their respective shins to help stabilize the knee joints.

Rotate your upper body to the right, initiating your twist from the pelvis allowing the left sit-bone to lift a touch to accommodate the SI joint. Continue to twist gently up through the spine from the lumbar to the upper back, and lastly through the neck, as if your spine is a spiral staircase.

Place the right hand behind your right hip to provide additional support for your spinal column and to stabilize your twist.

To ease out, inhale slowly, and as you exhale untwist back to center.

Pause a few moments in stillness to observe any effects of the twist, then do the other side.

Shoelace with forward bend (1.5min), Counterpose- in Savasana lying on your back (1-2min)

Physical Focus- Hips, Legs, & Spine

Shoelace summer yin yoga flow
Shoelace with Forward Bend

Establish an anterior tilt of the pelvis so that you have a slightly exaggerated inward curve of the lumbar spine. This will help to prevent loading the lower back when you forward bend. As needed, place additional height under your seat.

Inhale deeply and as you exhale, hinge from the hips and slowly lower your upper body over your legs.

Keep length in the spine or choose to round the back as it feels best for your lower back.

Relax the hips, legs, and shoulders. Relax the jaw and all the muscles of the face as you linger for a bit of time in the shape.

Sleeping Swan (3-5min), Counterpose- in Savasana lying on your back (1-2min), then do the other side.

Physical Focus- Hips & Legs, including the hip flexors and quads

Swan pose summer yin yoga flow
Swan
Sleeping Swan pose summer yin yoga flow
Sleeping Swan

Place a single-folded mat on the back third of your mat as padding for your knees.

Begin in tabletop position staying aware of knee sensitivities.

Slide your right knee forward to your right thumb.

Extend the left leg behind you with your left thigh facing the mat and your toes pointed behind you.

Slowly slide the right foot toward the left edge of your mat until you feel a light sensation of tugging through the Glute-IT band area of your right outer hip and leg.

Curl the right toes gently toward the right shin to support the right knee.

If the right hip is lifted off the mat, try nestling a block or blanket underneath it to allow your muscles to relax and release more.

Slowly lower the upper body forward over the right leg.

To ease out, press your hands onto the ground and slowly lift your upper body upright.  Rock a touch to the outer right hip and sweep the left leg slowly out to your left side and around you and to the front of your mat.

Caterpillar (3-5min), Counterpose- in Savasana lying on your back (1-2min)

Physical Focus- Hips, Legs, Spine

Caterpillar pose summer yin yoga flow
Caterpillar

Sit onto a single-folded blanket and extend your legs in front of you.

Establish a slight anterior tilt of the pelvis so that your frontal hip bones are tilted a touch forward.

Root down through your sit-bones.

Inhale, and as you exhale hinge from your hips and lower your upper body over your legs.

Keep your spine longer and taller or if the lower back allows let go through the spinal column, rounding more forward.

If the upper body is dangling above the legs, a prop underneath can provide a welcome relief and allow the muscles to let go a bit more.

Keep the sit-bones rooted back and down to help alleviate strain in your knees.

If your hamstrings or knees are strained, try sliding a small rolled-up blanket underneath them or you could also add more height under your seat.

If strain remains anywhere in the lower body, try a One-Legged Caterpillar by bending your left leg and placing the sole of your left foot anywhere along your right inner leg. Remember to do the other side.

To slowly emerge, place the hands to the earth and walk them toward your seat as you tenderly lift yourself upright.

Expect to feel some tissue fragility as you transition slowly out of the shape and into your resting counterpose.

Gentle Fish (3-5min), Counterpose- in Savasana lying on your back (1-2min)

Physical Focus- Mid-Upper back, Lower back, Cervical Spine, Hip Flexors

Fish pose summer yin yoga flow
Gentle Fish

Place a rolled-up blanket lengthwise across the back third of your mat to serve as a support for your mid-upper back.

Place a block at its tallest height on the other side of your blanket to serve as a pedestal for your head.

Lie on your back so that the blanket is positioned underneath your mid-upper back.

Reach behind you for the block and place it underneath your head. Be sure the block is not compressing the neck. Play with the height of the block…you can lower the block or sett it to the side to go deeper if that’s what your neck requests.

Stay aware of light-headiness or dizziness that can arise from pinching an artery in this area. If this occurs, be sure to make an adjustment.

Position the arms wherever they feel best for your shoulders and body.

To slowly transition from this shape, recruit your core muscles and press your hands to the earth to slowly press yourself upright.

Slip the props to the side and ease yourself onto your back to rest and feel any echo effects of the pose.

Supine Butterfly (3-5min)- Counterpose- in Savasana lying on your back (1-2min)

Physical Focus- Hips, Inner Legs, Lower back (varies)

Supine Butterfly pose summer yin yoga flow
Supine Butterfly

Place a single-folded blanket on the back of your mat to serve as a cushion for your head.

Place two blocks at the middle of your mat and off to the side within reach.

Lie on your back with the blanket under your head.

Bend your knees and place your feet onto your mat with the inner edges of your feet touching.

Allow your knees to slowly wing open and out to the sides to form butterfly legs.

If supportive, place a block underneath each outer knee/thigh area.

Choose to rest your arms by your sides, overhead and onto the mat behind you, or perhaps rest one hand on the heart and the other over the belly.

Savasana (5-10min or longer as desired)

Physical Focus- whole self relaxation

savasana pose summer yin yoga flow
Savasana- Starfish

Luxuriate in Savasana lying on your back. Let your arms fall naturally by your sides or overhead.

Feel your body fully supported and cradled onto the good earth beneath you.

Let go of all efforts and enter in.

Let your awareness dive deeper inward coming to rest the vast and boundless heart of caring light within you.

Sealing Your Practice

sitting meditation summer yin yoga flow
Seated Close

When you’re ready, rise to a seated position.

Pause for some moments to acknowledge any gifts you've received from your practice time and all the ways they may benefit those around you.

Reorient your senses once again to the place around you.

Open yourself to the energies of gratitude surrounding you…

Gratitude for your body…strong, capable…

Gratitude for your mind and heart…lively, loving

Gratitude for family, friends…their kindness, their support

Gratitude for this earth…all of the beauty surrounding you, all the ways it nurtures and sustains us

Holding endless gratitude for all of life, this life, your precious life…and this precise moment in spacetime that will never come again.

For more detailed pose instruction, including pose modifications, variations, and substitutions, as well as a wide variety of guided meditation techniques, check out my book- Yin Yoga & Meditation: A Mandala Map for Practice, Teaching, & Beyond! Available on Amazon and other book retailers.

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