Yin Yoga embraces the essence of Taoist philosophy: living in harmony with nature. It’s a calm, restorative, healing approach that balances the Yang, active, and often aggressive nature of being that predominates our society. Try this summer yin yoga sequence to stay balanced this season.
According to Taoism and Chinese Medicine, humans are actually microcosms of nature. Summer is related to the element of fire and to the Heart and Small Intestine organs in the human body, as well as the Pericardium & Triple Burner (which do not exist as functional organs in Western anatomy). When the energetic channels that connect to these organs are out of balance, we could experience more heat in the body which may manifest as headaches, high fever, high blood pressure, mania, delirium, anger, constipation/dry stools, rashes, sleep disturbances, and more.
Through yin yoga, we can increase the flow through the Heart, Small Intestine, Pericardium, and Triple Burner channels. The slow, mindful approach is cooling in nature and is the perfect solution to the problems mentioned above. By cooling and grounding in the heat of summer, we can also maintain inner harmony. Try this Summer Yin Yoga sequence to stay cool & balanced!
Cool Down With Summer Yin Yoga
This Yin Yoga sequence dilates the Heart, Small Intestine, Pericardium, and Triple Burner energetic channels (in addition to all the others that reside in the upper body). Hold each posture for 2-5 minutes while releasing with gravity. As you let go in the muscles, the stretch will move deeper into the connective tissue, which is where the energetic channels reside. Stretching the connective tissue is perfectly safe as long as you’re not moving quickly in and out of the shape.
You’ll experience more space and freedom in the chest, arms, upper back, neck, and around the scapula in addition to finding equanimity in the heart and a wider perspective in the mind.
Eagle arms forward bend
Stand with your feet hip joint width apart or slightly wider. Reach your arms out in front and cross them over your chest at the upper arms. If you have the flexibility, continues winding around the forearms and joining up the palms. Let your knees bend as you fold forward at the hips. Allow your arms and head to be heavy to release around the scapula, upper back, and neck where the Small Intestine channels traverse. After holding for 1-2 minutes, unwind the arms, allowing them to hang. Repeat on the other side.
Prone Arm Cross
Lay on your belly and start with your arms out to the side. Sweep them forward as you lift your torso away from the ground and cross deeply at the upper arms. Reach the fingers away from each other. Once at your maximum stretch, relax your weight down onto the arms. When ready to exit, engage your core muscles to lift the torso and gently unwind the arms. Rest in neutral, prone, until ready to cross the arms the other way.
1/4 Downward Dog
From hands and knees, place one forearm to the ground under the shoulders perpendicular to the spine. Reach the other arm straight out in front. Relax your chest down and forearm down. You may want to stretch in cat pose before going to the other side.
Come down onto your belly again for a deep chest/front shoulder stretch. Bring one arm out to the side with the elbow bent and palm down (this position creates a deeper stretch than with the arm straight and palm turned up). Use your other hand to tip your body over to the side. Place your legs in a position that helps you stay sideways for the appropriate amount of time. Rest on your belly in neutral, then go to the other side.
Fish in Reclined Bound Angle
Sit up with the soles of your feet together and your knees opening out to the sides from your hips. Place your hands under your buttocks. Lift your chest, reclining onto your forearms. If it feels safe, slowly bring your head to the ground.
Lay on your back with your feet on the ground, knees bent. Lift one leg, crossing it deeply at the upper thighs. Continue bringing the knees over into the direction of the cross. Open your chest to the other side, letting your arm move over head or out to the side to open the chest. Turn your head in the direction that feels best for your neck.
Be sure that you’re moving out of the Yin postures just as slowly as you’re moving into them. In between postures, give yourself some time in stillness to observe the energy circulating through your body into the places that need it. End in Savasana or a seated meditation.