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Although the long, dark days of winter have had their upsides our annual festival of hibernation and quiet reflection can result in physical stagnation, foggy fatigue, and a sluggish immune system.
According to the principles of Ayurveda, water is the primary element of winter. With a Yin practice that focuses on the water element, we can stimulate the flow of chi and restore an overall sense of vibrancy and vitality in the body. The stimulation of chi can also take you out of the stagnation in life and help you move through your intentions and move forward, setting up your mind, body, and life for success once spring arrives.
This 40-to-60-minute, spinal-focused sequence is designed to target the Kidneys and Urinary Bladder meridian pair, which are the primary organs that move water through the body. In these shapes we are stimulating meridian lines that run down the spine (in front and in back of the body), as well as down the back of the legs and up the inner thighs.
From a wide-legged seated position, start to release the spine into a forward fold. You may choose to stay up on your hands or deepen the pose by slowly releasing onto your forearms. Hold for 4 to 6 minutes.
To come out, press your hands into the floor as you slowly lift your torso. Then reach your hands beneath your knees to bend them and draw the legs together in front of you. Rest for at least 1 minute.
With legs stretched out in front of you, begin to walk your hands forward, rounding your spine (any amount available) and releasing your chin toward your chest. Relax your back and jaw. Hold for 4 to 6 minutes.
To come out, slowly draw your torso back up, using your hands on the floor for support. Rest for at least 1 minute.
From a tabletop position, step your right foot forward. Place your hands on blocks on either side of you to allow the hips to settle toward the earth while the chest extends upward. Hold for 4 to 6 minutes. After about 2 to 3 minutes, if it feels appropriate, you may lower onto your forearms to deepen the experience.
To come out of the posture, press up to your hands and then shift your hips back in space, making your way back to tabletop. Rest for at least 1 minute—and don’t forget to do the left side.
Child's Pose, Tadpole Pose, or Frog Pose
Start in tabletop, positioning your knees a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Then send your hips back toward your heels. Find a comfortable arm position—extended in front of you with the palms facing down or next to your torso with the palms facing up—and relax your neck and shoulders. If Tadpole is too intense on your knees or inner thighs, come back to Child's Pose, which offers some of the same benefits. Hold for 4 to 6 minutes.
If it feels accessible at the halfway point, make your way from Tadpole into Frog. Bring your hands forward, then shift your hips forward in space so hips are in-line with knees. You may feel more supported if you prop yourself on your outer forearms and bring your hands together; just make sure to keep elbows below shoulders in a 90-degree angle.
When you are ready to come out of the posture, place your hands by your shoulders, lightly press into them, and step the knees back to center in a tabletop position.
Lie down on your back and draw your knees toward you so they stack above your hips and form a 90-degree angle with your feet. Release both knees to the right side. (If you prefer, you may also perform the pose with one leg: Keeping your right leg straight on the floor, draw in your left knee, straighten it so it's perpendicular to the floor and release it across your body to the left side.)
Allow your arms to settle in any comfortable shape, such as hands resting on your chest or arms extending out in a “T” straight. Hold for 4 to 6 minutes.
To come out, draw your legs (or leg) back to center and bring both knees into your chest. Rest for at least 1 minute, then do the other side.
Happy Baby Pose
Still lying on your back, draw your knees toward your chest and grip the outside edges of your feet. Widen your knees, aiming for your armpits, and position your ankles above your knees so your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Gently press your feet into your hands while gently pulling your feet down.
Invite a gentle, subtle rocking from side to side before you find a sense of stillness. Hold for 2 to 3 minutes. When you are ready to come out of this shape, you can release your arms and legs into Savasana.
Make yourself comfortable, adjusting legs and arms so they are able to relax. Settle in the pose for 8 to 12 minutes.
with love + light
Hayley @ radiant being