Yin Yoga Artwork
Season 4 - Episode 6

Fluid and Spacious

45 min - Practice


Alana guides us in a Yin practice to find more space and freedom in our necks. We move through postures like Butterfly, Dragon Fly, Frog, and Half Saddle with nice, long holds. You will feel relaxed.
What You'll Need: Mat, Square Bolster, Blanket (2)

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Let's begin to find and create a bit more space and freedom through our neck in this yin practice. So come into a comfortable seated position you might prop yourself up on support and we'll just start by reaching our left arm out and rolling the shoulder forward and then bring the back of the hand to either your sacrum area or you might bring it up between your shoulder blades and then just softening the chin downward towards the chest and then rolling the right ear towards the shoulders. So stretching away from that left elbow any amount and begin to breathe into where you feel the sensation. Again initially it might feel like a wall of resistance allowing yourself to pause and check in with your eyes, your jaw, your face and breathing into where you feel the edge or sensation. You might stay right where you are you might invite some slow gentle movement up through the head, through the neck, maybe looking up towards the right. Nice, softening that right shoulder and arm down. More moments here. I'm still allowing the breath to be smooth and relaxed and then gradually letting the right ear roll towards the right shoulder and softening the chin down towards the chest, letting the left arm free and relax, letting the head lift. Allow for a clearing breath. Inhale and exhale and then we'll reach the right arm out, roll the shoulder forward and bring the back of the hand to get out of your sacrum or you might then nuzzle it up between your shoulder blades, drawing that right elbow in towards the body and you might stay with this. You might soften the chin down towards the chest and then rolling the left ear towards the left shoulder. So away from your right elbow and this side might feel totally different. I know for me it does. So you might hang right here where you feel the sensation. You might, if it makes sense, invite some slow easy movement up through the neck and the head. Just inviting awareness into areas that might feel a bit sticky or stuck or tense. You might send your gaze up in the direction towards the left, relaxing through the right side of the mouth, the jaw, the face and allow for an inhale. Nice, full exhale and then gradually when you're ready let the left ear roll to the left shoulder and then roll the chin downward towards the chest, stretching the back of the neck and free the right arm. From here let the heart rise and let the head lift. Let's find a clearing breath. Inhale and generous exhale. And then we'll find the shape of a butterfly again, one of my favorites. You might sit up on support like a blanket or a bolster and we'll bring the soles of the feet away from the hips, knees wide, coming into that baddha konasana shape, bound angle shape and with the heels further away, taking your time to ease into the forward fold. We've been kind of thumbing the inner leg lines and massaging the soles of the feet and the ankles. If that would feel nice you might kind of work that a bit. A nice way to set the tone for your practice, cultivating this tenderness and self-care, self-compassion, acceptance and then gradually releasing into the forward fold. Again any support under your head that would feel good, you might set yourself up with that.

We'll be offering ourselves to these yin shapes anywhere from two to five minutes, with the primary intention of awakening or stretching the connective tissue. And the connective tissue, it responds to these long passive static holds, allowing the muscles to soften and relax around the bones, be feeling that drag of the connective tissue through the cervical spine as the head releases, softening through the lower belly and allowing the sacrum to feel spacious and wide. And notice the quality through your hands. And in this practice you might bring some attention towards the back body, breathing into the back of the heart, allowing the breath to travel down the spine towards the kidneys and nourishing and supporting the kidney energy all the way down towards the sacrum, low back, hips. And most likely there's a dull, wide, warm, maybe burning, achy sensation through the back body, right, across the spine, down through the lower back, the sacrum, the hips. Oftentimes this quality of sensation indicates the stretching or the response of the connective tissue. Last few moments here, allowing the shape to have a bit more of you somehow. Last few moments, softening again through the mouth, the tongue, the jaw. And gradually as you're ready, rolling your way up and taking a moment or two to pause. Oftentimes it's in the moments of pausing where the yoga begins to flow. Magic, that movement, that flow. From here we'll move into Pravrita Janu Sureshasana. So revolved head-to-knee pose, bringing the right sole of the foot towards that left inner thigh. And you can stretch that left leg out and taking a few moments here to settle in. You might stay with this, you might slide the left hand down the left leg and we'll inhale, reach the right arm up to the sky, softening that left shoulder down the back. You can work reaching that top arm overhead, you can bring the back of the hand to the head and then perhaps revolving the rib cage towards the sky. You might keep your left hand on the floor, you might even prop a block underneath the forearm or stretch the arm down towards the ankle. So this shape offers a beautiful opportunity to stretch and open the side body, creating a bit more space through those intercostal muscles between the ribs, which are our primary muscles of breathing, respiration. Perhaps feeling a deep stretch in that low back area through the hamstrings, the hips. Notice what you prefer to do with your top right arm, maybe it's resting on your hip around the low back area, maybe it feels nice to lengthen and stretch the arm overhead. A few more moments here, breathing into the shape. When you're ready, lead with a top arm, let it carry you back up, marinating in that sweet sauce. And then as you're ready, lean back, free that right leg and into the shape of dragonfly and then we'll draw the left sole of the foot in towards the right inner thigh and is settling in. And you might stay here, you might reach that right arm down as you inhale the left arm up to the sky and going down through the sitting bones as you reach and lengthen out through the fingers, finding that side body stretch and opening. Again, you might stay with this, you might bring a block underneath your right forearm for support or slide the hand down towards the ankle, maybe stretching that top left arm up out and over towards the right. Any movement here as you settle in, you're evolving the rib cage and the heart towards the sky, we're supporting the top hand behind the head, offering ourselves to this quality of inner stillness for a few more moments. Breathing into where you feel the sensation stretch.

And then as you're ready, inhale, lead with the top arm, let it carry you back up, wherever up may be. Taking a moment here, notice how you feel and tracking that feeling tone through the body. Allow for an inhale and exhale. Then lean back and free that left leg back into that dragonfly wide shape. You might shake the legs out a little bit. From here, we'll transition into frog. So as I come into frog and you look at it and you're not quite sure, you're like, I don't know how that's gonna work for me, you might just stay in the dragonfly to stretch the inner hips, groins, hamstrings. I'll demonstrate one possible direction coming into frog. It can be nice to have a bolster out in front of you for an option and then working with two blankets, one under each inner knee can feel really nice. So setting that up. And then from here, I'm gonna let the knees go wide. Oh my goodness. And you might stay up on your hands. So it's kind of like a frog seal shape. You might choose to lower the forearms onto the bolster. And now the placement of your ankles and knees. Generally, with the knees right beneath the knees, the ankles right below the knees, tends to be a bit more, offer a bit more sensation. If you bring the feet in closer to your sitting bones, it offers a different sensation. Maybe not as intense. So finding the placement that works best for your knees and your hips. I'm gonna track my ankles over the knees. Again, you might stay up on your hands in more of a seal shape. You might lower down more towards the shape of sphinx onto the forearms. And then beginning to relax the effort here in the shape. So allowing gravity to assist in this softening and releasing towards the earth. And most likely there's a lot of sensation and intensity through the inner groins, right? The inner hips. If there's any pain in the knees, you might pad them a bit more. You might come out of this shape. Generally, the closer the pelvis is to your heels, if you draw yourself back in the direction of your heels, the more flavorful, the more intense it is through the pelvis and the hips. If you position yourself so you're a little bit further away, it kind of brings you out of that intensity for a moment. And working with your breath here can be quite useful. Breathing into where you feel it. Allowing for that full exhalation. Softening any layers of tension, gripping, holding. I find this is one of the more spicy and curious shapes in the yin yoga practice. So you want to approach this slowly, tenderly, with care.

Again, within the fire here, you might offer the element of water through the low belly, through the pelvis. Perhaps inviting some of the qualities of yin into the shape. Cool, damp, feminine, earthy, lunar, receptive, yielding. Last few moments here. And perhaps resting in a bit of stillness within the intensity. Might allow for one final exhale. And then gradually taking your time coming up onto the hands. There are two possible exit routes usually. So one might be swimming onto your belly, spinning the thighs in, finding that internal rotation. The other one, which I'll demonstrate, is bringing the heels a little closer together and drawing the knees in. Wow. And then you might just take a moment to sit back on your heels if that's available, coming into a hero's or virasana. And still allow for a clearing breath.

And from here, we'll transition on to our belly for just a little bit of movement. So you can bring your blankets off to the side. And you're working with a bolster. And come onto your belly. And I find after a frog prone can feel quite nice. And let the elbows go wide, forehead resting on the hands. And just allow your pelvis, your hips to shimmy a little bit side to side. Oh, this feels really good. How does it feel for you? Nice. And then bend the knees and let them go side to side. Reverse windshield wipers. Nice. And then releasing the feet, bring the palms underneath the shoulders, press your way up and back into child's pose for a moment. Just sinking the hips back towards the heels, forehead towards the earth. Nice, full exhale. Emptying. Feeling the energy of this shape. And as you're ready, we'll transition up and come into a half saddle shape. So we'll start by extending the legs out, straight out. And it might feel nice to use your bolster or blankets behind you just to have the option if you want to recline. And as you extend your legs, we'll bend the left knee. You can bring your left hand onto that left knee and then carefully draw the foot back. So you want to position so that your left sitting bone and flesh are on the earth. And notice how this feels through your foot, your ankle, and your knee, right? So if this is not the position for you, you might roll onto your side like in a lounging Buddha and just reach back and grab your ankle. We'll do that a bit later in this season. And you might stay right here. You might prop something underneath your right sitting bone just to even out the pelvis. You might choose to slowly begin to lean back a bit, which increases the sensation through that top of the left thigh there. You might stay here if and as it makes sense for your body. If it's appropriate, you might lower onto your forearms and then maybe releasing onto your bolster. You can have the upper back resting on the bolster and then settling into sensation. And just notice what you choose to do with your arms if you're reclining supine, right? Hands might rest on the belly, out to your sides. You might stretch the arms overhead resting on the bolster, making any adjustments here, and then settling into the shape. And if you find that the sensation is overwhelming or if you're in too deep, then back out, right? Find your way up and out of the shape. Otherwise, we'll be here for about another minute or so.


2 people like this.
This is a fantastic and deep practice that I'm so grateful to be able to do with you at home. Thank you, Alana.
Alana Mitnick
I'm so happy to hear this, Lori. Thank YOU for being here! I know this side bend is one of our favorites. xoA
Joan J
1 person likes this.
Alana, so delighted to experience another lovely Yin session. Love the neck stretches, much needed. The long stretching with use of the bolster made the poses more open for me. Always grateful for your teachings💮🌾
Alana Mitnick
Hi Joan - I'm so happy that you're soaking up this season of Yin practices! I find that neck stretches are pretty much always needed. I'm glad you enjoyed the long stretching and bolster... it's so nice for opening the side body. Grateful for your presence and practice. Namaste xoA
Anne C
1 person likes this.
Alana, I am really enjoying all the Yin practices! I find these sessions a lovely way to finish my day and help me relax for sleep. I have loved the stillness found in each posture.
Alana Mitnick
Beautiful, Anne. I am so delighted to hear this. Yin helps me unwind and prepare for sleep, as well. Such a deeply nourishing practice. With Love, Alana
2 people like this.
wonderful practice. many thanks.
Alana Mitnick
So glad you are here, Matthew! Namaste, Alana
Robin K
2 people like this.
Dear Alana,
I've tried a practice of yours before, but somehow I didn't realize you do yin, which I love. Could you advise on a way to start watching your videos? Do you have seasons starting with 1, and do you recommend starting from the beginning?
thank you
Alana Mitnick
Dear Robin, So happy to be practicing together! I love the yin practice too! While you could do with any video of the season, I suggest starting with the first practice of the season Meet Your Edge, where I introduce the main talking points around yin and some of the simpler shapes. I also suggest the previous seasons 1, 2, and 3, with Kira and Kate. They are wonderful. Stay close. Warmly, Alana
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