Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Stress Relief Yin

By Anytimeyoga @anytimeyoga

I started working with this sequence at the end of my first week of school — the first week back with students, not the preservice week. While nothing major went wrong, even a smooth first week of school comes with its own stresses.

I don’t know any of the kids’ names.

There are how many children in my sixth period?

What about my new team teachers? Will they be okay?

By Saturday, I was feeling some cumulative tension that wanted releasing. I tend to carry tension in my mid back as well as all around my hips, so this particular sequence helps me with that.

Stress Relief Yin

Time: 40-45 minutes

Props: I use a folded blanket under my back knee in dragon and under my extended leg knee in janu sirsasana. If folks typically pad up for pigeon or seated poses, it’s probably a good idea here. Similarly, having a block handy for head support (and so neck release) can be nice.

  1. Reclined twist, 3 minutes on each side.
  2. Rolling bridge, 5 rounds.
  3. Spinal rolls, 5 rounds.
  4. Twisting child’s pose, with the right arm reaching under, for 3 minutes.
  5. Low lunge, or dragon, with the right foot in front, for 3 minutes. I do use padding under my back knee. Additionally, for anyone whose hands don’t adequately reach the floor (enough to help support the upper body), placing the hands on blocks instead can work well. If, for whatever reason, my hip flexor is not getting enough sensation in the hands-down position — generally not applicable to me when I’m stressed, but sometimes — I might raise my torso to place my hands on my front thigh. But some days, that’s a little ambitious.
  6. Sleeping pigeon, or sleeping swan, with the right leg in front, for 3 minutes. I’m generally pretty good with just resting elbows on the ground, but I know some other people like to prop under any hip unevenness and/or under their forearms.
  7. Repeat the twist-dragon-pigeon sequence on the second side. Often in yin, I favor doing a single asymmetrical pose on both sides, followed by a symmetrical one. It does generally feel good, but this longer asymmetrical sequence is a welcome change. I know it’s strange to say that it “flows” better in a yin class, but… it flows better.
  8. Janu sirsasana, 3 minutes on each side.
  9. Butterfly, with the yin alignment, for 3 minutes. (See, what did I tell you about my asymmetrical-asymmetrical-symmetrical habit?) If I wanted a more restorative version, I might substitute reclined bound angle pose — but I generally really like this at the end of an asana sequence.
  10. Constructive rest for 3 or more minutes. Of course, savasana works here too, but I find that the internal hip rotation in constructive rest is a better-for-me counterpose to the external hip rotation of butterfly. And there’s nothing stopping anyone from taking constructive rest and then savasana.

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