Yin Yoga Artwork
Season 4 - Episode 4

Cup of Yin

45 min - Practice


We go deep into the inner and outer hips while waking up the leg channels with various Yin postures including supported Gomukasana (Cow Face Pose), Dragon Pose, and supported twists. You will feel restful and at ease.
What You'll Need: Mat, Square Bolster, Blanket

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Welcome back. In this practice we will dive a bit deeper into the inner and outer hips and waking up the leg channels a bit. So you might want to bolster for this practice or a blanket. We're going to start supine on our back and as you roll onto your back you're going to set your feet up like in preparation for bridge and then press your feet into the floor, lift your hips and bring if you have one the bolster right underneath your sacrum. And take a few moments, let everything settle and then from here we'll bring our right ankle on top of the left thigh, stretch the arms out to the side and then begin to rock from side to side. So we'll start with a little bit of movement just to warm up before we ease into the hips. And so rolling onto the inner outer edge of that left foot as you rock from side to side. You might find that right knee wants to fall towards the floor or maybe the foot moves across the body towards the floor. Nice. Now you might stay with this, you might begin to draw the left thigh, the left knee into the chest moving into a reverse swan or pigeon shape. And then from here if it's comfortable weave your hands through the window there and find the back of the left thigh or top of the shin and see what it feels like to flex the right ankle a bit. And we'll be here for just a few minutes. You can also do the shape up against the wall which can be a nice way to kind of alleviate any tension through the shoulders, the neck, the fingers. And then here in the shape notice the quality of your breath and any areas you can soften. Maybe the eyes, the mouth, the fingers, kind of the usual areas that you like to cleanse your grip. You can stay in the shape if it would feel nice you might stretch your left leg up towards the sky and maybe point and flex the left foot a few times. Here are a few little pops and cracks in my ankle, maybe circle the ankle out in one direction, spring some juice back into the ankles and the other direction. Ah, it feels so nice. And you might stay here, you might bend that left knee again just for another moment or two here, kind of feeling that stretch most likely through the outer right hip, piriformis muscle. And in the yin practice we're offering ourselves to these yin-like shapes passively. So allowing the muscles to soften and relax around the bones, around the hip joint. Yeah, you might allow for a soothing exhale, releasing any tension or stickiness. Okay, so now when you're ready exhale release the hands, free the left foot to the floor and then release that right foot down. You might keep the knees bent or stretch the legs out and then just allow the thighs, allow the legs to shake a little bit from side to side, relaxing some of the effort, arms might stretch out. And we'll take a clearing breath between sides, inhale and exhale everything. So now as you're ready bend the knees, soles of the feet on the earth. We'll bring that left ankle on top of that right thigh and then again we'll start with the side to side rocking. So kind of cruising on to the inner outer edge of that right foot. And notice how it feels through your spine, through the lower back and the sacrum. And with the bolster this feels quite actually comfortable and cozy. And maybe the knee falls towards the floor, maybe the foot falls towards the floor. You might stay with the side to side rocking today, you might choose to draw your right knee in towards the chest. And if it makes sense, weave your left arm through the window there and find the back of the right thigh or top of the shin. You might need to re-lengthen the back of your neck and let the shoulders release down. Maybe offering a flex through the ankle as you want to open the hips, sending the knee away. From here you might allow for an inhale and exhale and softening through the jaw. Breathing into where you feel the sensation, allowing for that sweet, full exhalation emptying. You might stay in the shape you're in, you might feel good to stretch the right leg up towards the sky as you let that left hip open. And then point and flex the right foot, stretching through the top of the foot, drawing the toes towards the face. And then maybe making some circles with the ankle, a little snap, crackle pop, symphony of sound in the ankles. And then you might stay with this, you might bend the knee and take a few more moments here in this reverse swan pigeon-like shape. Eye of the needle. Easy in the eyes, the back of the heart. Inhale here. And with an exhale, release the hands, lower the right foot of the floor and then just free your left foot down to the floor. You might reorganize your pelvis a little bit, keeping the knees where they are, stretching the legs out, stretching the arms out, taking up space and then just shaking the legs out a bit. Nice. And then bend the knees, bring the soles of the feet to the floor, press through the feet and then push your bolster, if you have one, down, down, down towards the heels and then let the spine release down to the floor. And we're going to bring the soles of the feet on the bolster for a few moments and let the knees go wide in this elevated butterfly shape. Just finding this symmetrical shape after kind of stretching and opening the outer hips. You might keep the hands resting on the belly, you might stretch the arms overhead and maybe find the elbows with the hands as you wiggle and lengthen through the spine. Nice. And then as you're ready releasing the arms, we're going to guide the knees towards each other and then roll to a side. Use your arms to press yourself up and from here we'll come into a dragonfly shape. So we'll bring the legs wide so you might have a bolster, a blanket underneath your sitting bones and then stretch the legs out. So it's similar to Upavishta Konasana. And then taking your time to settle into the sensation, right? So there's a lot of information happening through the hips, the groins, the leg lines, the hamstrings. And for you it might make sense to lean your hands back behind you and just work on lengthening your spine and breathing into where you feel the stretch. We've been talking about finding this appropriate edge of sensation. If and when it feels right, you might begin to walk your hands out a bit further. And oftentimes leaning a little bit from side to side can just help communicate to our nervous system, all right, it's not forever and there's a way to come out of the stretch. Get any support underneath you, a bolster, a blanket and then beginning to offer ourselves to stillness for a few minutes. And notice if you've rushed into it, you've gone too deep. You can always walk your hands back or sit up or use props so that it feels better. I'm allowing the body to invite you in slowly. And you might choose to gradually surrender the weight of your head. Notice the quality through the hands, palms facing down versus up. And begin to relax some of the effort, if any, in your legs and the feet.

Breathing into this static hold. If your mind is busy, active, wild, crazy, you might tether your attention towards your breath. And without any strain or force. And oftentimes straining or forcing our breath can be more destructive than forcing our body into a shape. It's not quite wanting to go into or ready to go into. Because our breath being the most direct pathway to our nervous system. And at times, depending on the shape and the sensation, the breath might be quite active. You might be breathing into an edge. Other times, you might find that the breath is quite soft and relaxed and hardly there. And oftentimes, as the mind becomes more and more quiet and at ease and still, the breath follows that pattern. Okay, and then slowly take your time, use your hands to walk yourself back up. It's taking a moment to pause as you sit up. Allow for that natural clearing breath to occur. From here, we'll move into a spicier hip opening called shoelace. And you might know this as Gomukhasana. So we'll bring the left leg underneath us and bring the right leg on top. And you might find leaning forward to kind of stack the knees is helpful here as you come in. Definitely having something underneath your sitting bones is useful. And looking to ground our sitting bones down. Finding that earth quality through the pelvis, through the hips. And your feet might be closer to your hips, closer to your body. Your feet might be a little further away. It's really going to depend on the rotation of your femur bones and your hips. If you're more inclined towards internal, external rotation, it'll depend on your knees and your ankles. Usually the further the feet are away from the hips, the more sensation, the more curious it can be through the legs. So finding an appropriate position. And oftentimes that takes a bit of wiggling and movement. And then settling in. So from here, you might stay right where you are, sitting up. It might feel nice. Nice isn't quite the right word. But your body might be wanting to go a little bit deeper. So you might walk your hands a bit further out in front of you. Just kind of tasting that through the hips. And I feel that earthy rooted quality down through the sitting bones. The other option shape to explore here is a side bend. You might reach your right arm out. And then lift your left arm up to the sky. You might stay with this as you draw the right shoulder down the back. You might choose to bring that left hand behind your head for support. And weaving the breath into the ribs on that left side. And revolving the rib cage in the heart towards the sky. And if you need it to be even spicier, you might tip toe those right fingers out a bit further. Soften the elbow, maybe even coming onto the forearm and stretching the arm overhead.

And finding a place where the neck and head feel good. They feel comfortable. Maybe it's looking down. Maybe it's straight ahead. You can also bend the top arm, find a little cactus opening through the shoulder. And if you're in the side bend, when you're ready, inhale, come all the way back up. A few more moments here to settle. Allowing the base of the skull to feel wide and spacious. Easy in the mouth and the lips, the tongue. For me, most of the sensation is in that outer bottom hip. So that left hip. Might allow for a exhale. And this four minutes here might feel like eternity. And up and down, and down. When you're ready, slowly, carefully release and use your hands here to support the unwrapping, unwinding of the legs and then let the legs go wide again in that dragonfly just for a moment just to kind of shake it out, relax the effort through the legs and tracking the feeling through the body. Clearing breath, inhale and exhale. And then as you're ready, second side, good thing they only have two sides and not four. So we're going to bring the bottom right leg underneath and that left leg on top or the opposite. Then you might lean forward to help kind of stack the knees, organize your feet and then sit on down. Any wobbling that's useful here and settling in. And you might stay right where you are, upright. You might choose to walk the hands out a bit further. And wobbling from side to side can be useful, helpful. Releasing the weight of the head. And soothing the fire in the hips with a bit of water through the belly, ease through the eyes. And if you're in the forward fold and happy, you might stay where you are. You might choose to walk your hands up and move in the direction of a side bend, side stretch. So reaching that left arm out from the hip and inhale, reaching the right arm up to the sky and grounding through that right hip and sitting bone as you reach and find a bit more length through that right side.

You might stay with this. You might tip toe the fingers out, soften the elbow and stretch that right arm up out and over. You can also bring the right hand behind the head and then soften through that right jaw, letting the right hip get heavy. Consider weaving the breath into the ribs. Always finding a place where the neck and head feel comfortable. Finding that left shoulder soften down the back. Maybe even coming on to that left forearm if it makes sense for your body. And the side might feel totally different depending. So if you're in the side bend and you're ready, inhale, reach it all the way up. And taking a few more moments here in shoelace. Notice the quality through the hands. This practice and approach specifically targets our hips, the main joints, the hips, the knees, as well as the sacrum, the low back. Preparing the body and the mind for a more comfortable and successful seated meditation. Finding the meditation right here in the thick of sensation and the hips. Then when you're ready, carefully, slowly unwind the legs. And last time we'll just let the legs go wide into that dragonfly shape. Shake them out. A little shimmy. Nice. And taking a moment to pause. Maybe the palms open. Nice. From here we'll guide the knees towards each other. Guide the legs towards each other. And then set up for a table top. So we'll find a bit of cat cow before we come into a spicy dragon roll. No, dragon shape. Spread the fingers wide. And as you exhale, let the spine round. Tuck the toes under.

Stretching the back. And then inhale, finding that beautiful length and extension in your spine. And exhale again. Round the back. And inhale to lengthen. A few more rounds. Your own breathing pattern. Primary intention here is just to invite some fluid movement into the body after those long static holds. Side to side. Forward and back. Circles. Nice. And then from here we'll move into the shape of dragon or lunge. So bringing the left foot forward. You can also use blocks under the hands to raise the floor up. Padding that back right knee. Super useful. And then we'll start with some movement. So we'll just inhale and draw the hips back. Finding the hamstrings. And exhale. Sinking into the lunge. Two more times. Drawing back. And exhale. Lunge. Last time drawing back. And then exhale. Lunge. Nice. And allow for a exhale. Right? So oftentimes this shape tends to be quite spicy, quite heating, even a little agitating. Right? So you might even feel a little restless or angry in the shape. It's quite common. Right? So you might choose to stay low and let the head release. Surrendering to the earth. If and as you need to feel more sensation, you might begin to come up, letting the hands rest on that front left thigh. You might feel a bit of wobbling. And you might stay with this. You might choose to bring your hands behind your back. Finding the elbows. Feeling that space through the chest. And breathing. Again, if it feels like it's too much, too overwhelming, you might bring the hands down to the earth and then surrender the weight of the head. Which is what I'm going to do. Eventually offering yourself to a quality of stillness. And at any point if you find the sensation too much or way overwhelming, you can just draw your hips back. Get a little space and perspective. And then bend the knee again and sink back into your lunge. Here in the dragon shape, you might even stick your tongue out and allow for an exhale. Even a little side to side as it feels right. Last few moments here. And what would it feel like to allow the shape to have a bit more of you, right? Okay.

Nice, from deep in the dragon, as you feel ready, just slowly draw your hips back, finding a bit more space through that back, hip and thigh, hamstring, counter pose here. And then finding a way to release that left foot back and we'll come into a wide child's pose between sides, offering yourself to the earth. Nice, from child's pose we'll rise back up and bring the right leg forward for our beloved dragon shape or the opposite foot, whichever one that is. Nice, and we'll start by easing into it. So with your inhale draw your hips back, find the hamstrings, you can flex the foot and then exhale lunge, and inhale, draw back a bit, exhale lunge, one more drawing back and exhale lunge, again patting that back knee as appropriate and you might ease in with a little side to side, and you might find the side feels a little or a lot different in your hips, your knees, your feet, and allow for a generous exhale, kind of cooling the fire with some water.

And you might stay low here in dragon close to the earth where it's cooler, usually a bit more damp, you might choose to rise up onto the thigh, which can be a bit more fiery heating, intense, spicy. You might stay with this, you might bring the hands behind the back, finding the elbows and then letting the shoulders get heavy, and you might find some wobbling happening through the legs, and it's up to you, you might keep the eyes softly focused or closed, the soft gaze inward, and you're welcome to stay up if you are, you might choose to back it off and lay low in dragon, and find the shape always a bit humbling. And if the sensation is intense, come back to your breathing and breathing into where you feel the sensation, and finding that appropriate edge might emphasize or allow for an exhale and soothing the heat, and again knowing, we're finding out how the sensation changes with a bit of time in the shape. Hmm, last few moments here. And then slowly draw the hips back, finding some freedom through that right leg, back thigh, and then releasing into a wide child's pose, finding a way to draw the right leg back, knees wide, big toes towards each other, and child's for a few moments.

Oftentimes coming out of these long static holds, it can feel quite kind of vulnerable and fragile and uneasy, beautiful, okay, so then from child's, we'll loop over onto our back for a spinal twist, and if you're working, if you have a bolster, bring it to the right side of you, because we'll use it for our one leg spinal twist. So rolling onto your back, draw your knees into your chest. Keep the left knee into the chest, stretch the right leg out on the floor, and we'll take a few moments to pause here with that left knee, and you can interlace the fingers around the knee there, it's gonna be a nice stretch for the back, and then we'll find a spinal twist to the right, so we'll bring the right hand on the left knee, and then position the bolster so that there's nice support underneath that left leg. So from the knee to the ankle, and then letting that left arm begin to open and release. And you might choose to keep your right hand right on that left leg, or stretch it out to the side, and also feel nice to stretch your left arm overhead.

You might begin with an inhale to lengthen, and then exhale to soften, and become aware of any muscles that are clenching, or gripping, or working, and allowing the muscles to really intentionally soften and relax around the bones. Having a place where the neck and head feel good. And we'll be in the shape for about another minute or so here. And the twist, where can you allow for more softening. Finding that space between the eyebrows and that corresponding point through the base of the skull.

Just allowing the breath to be smooth and relaxed. And then slowly unwind the body, leave with the top leg. Reorganize on your spine, and bring the bolster to the other side, the left side of your mat. And then draw the right knee into the chest, and stretch that left leg out on the floor. Hands might find that right knee.

Nice full exhale, moving into a spinal twist to the left, so that right leg moving across the body, bringing it on top of the bolster. So the bolster is supporting the knee to the ankle, and then letting the rib cage revolve to the right as the right arm releases. And you might find the right arm reaching out feels good. You might experiment with stretching that right arm overhead, and even letting the left hand rest on the outer right knee. Finding a position for the head and neck that feel good.

Just if there's any hardening around the mid-low back area, around the kidneys. Just allowing this area to feel a bit more full, inviting the breath down in this area. One of the theories with the connective tissue is that our meridians, which are those energetic pathways that carry the chi or prana, the meridians run through the connective tissue. And so by stretching the connective tissue, or awakening the subtle energy through the body, which might be stagnant or blocked, just allowing that energy to move a bit more freely through our body, through our system. Relaxing the internal organs.

And then slow as you're ready now, lead with the top leg and unwind. Nice. And then just stretch the legs out on the floor. Stretching into our starfish position, stretching the legs out, stretching the arms out, taking up space. Stretching in this wide open awareness, tracking sensation through the body.

From here, you might begin to ease into the shape of shavasana, be with support under your knees. You might choose to join me in a seat, seated meditation for a few moments. You might draw your knees into your chest if you're making your way up. Finding your way into a comfortable seat. Pulling yourself up if it would feel nice.

Just getting the alignment of your body just right for you and allowing your inhale to inspire a quality of length and space through the heart and the spine and the exhalation allow for that settling, softening, earthy grounding through your being. From this space, join the hands together at the heart. Namaste. Thank you.


Joan J
Alana this series is fantastic. I have such tight hips, and this Yin practice using a bolster helps me get into much deeper stretches. I love the stretch rocking the hips open at the start. I am anxious for more of your wonderful Yin sessions🍃🌾
Alana Mitnick
Wonderful to hear, Joan! I know my hips love to be slowly eased and rocked into stretching... and I'm so glad the approach resonates with you. Enjoy your practice and stay close. xoA
Jasmine T.
This practice was very relaxing for me, I would definitely do this again!
Alana Mitnick
Hi Jasmine T. - So glad you found this practice relaxing and enjoyable! Happy to be practicing together. Warmly, Alana
Tesa Urbonaite Dunn
So nice and relaxing! Thank you Alana:)
Alana Mitnick
Tesa Urbonaite Dunn - So happy to be practicing together. Glad you enjoyed this nice and relaxing cup of yin yoga. Rest well. xoA
Kit & Dee Dee
Much needed today. Thanks Alana
Alana Mitnick
Hi Kit & Dee Dee! I'm so happy to hear from you and to know that you enjoy the practice. Happy holidays and new year! xoA
1 person likes this.
This was gorgeous! I did a couple of hours of enthusiastic gardening this morning after a winter of almost inactivity. This was the perfect practice this afternoon to ease my aching muscles. Thank you.
Alana Mitnick
Wonderful, Ali! How nice to get your hands in the earth. Gardening and Yin Yoga sounds like a lovely balanced practice! xoA
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