Yin Yoga Sequence, Balance the Summer Heat

The summer is the yang or heat building time of the year.  The warmer temperatures means more time being active which increases the yang in the body.  Of course practicing yoga, yang or yin, period can help the body but sometimes the body craves a slow down.  Taking time to slow down with a yin yoga sequence and practicing heart opening poses can help to cool the body. Since summer time brings about heat, internally and externally.  Most of us experience joy and excitement when the summer comes.  It means more time to do things during daylight hours, usually more time with friends and family and more time outside.  These are all things welcomed after a long winter of cold and darkness.  Even if you live in an area that doesn't get snow in the winter, the days are shorter and cooler.  This can bring about more seclusion.  So getting out during the summer months can be a welcomed change.

Getting out more can bring the temperature of the body up.  Although the change in season is usually met with joy, it can cause an imbalance.  Being more active releases heat throughout the body and can even evolve into excessive heat in some bodies.  Adding a balancing practice like yin yoga a couple times a week can help to balance the body and mind.

I am one of those people who is active all year.  However, I become more excited to be outside in the summer so have a tendency to work my body harder with workouts and playtime.  The following sequence has elements that help to cool and relax the body and mind.   I love heart openers any time but especially in the summer.  It helps to slow things down while opening my heart area.  Legs up the wall is one of my go to poses.  The summer and travel make my ankles and feet swell.  Getting my feet up in a soothing and relaxed way helps to recirculate the blood flow and reduce inflammation helps.

This yin yoga sequence will help to balance the heat that can build up in the body and mind.

Yin Yoga Sequence to Balance the Summer Heat

yin yoga-melting heart pose

yin yoga-melting heart pose

Melting Heart Pose (anahatasana):  From hands and knees (tabletop pose), walk the hands a foot or so in front of the shoulders, keep the hands shoulder width.  On an exhale, release the chest down toward the mat, keeping the hips up and inline with the knees.  Rest the forehead or chin on the mat (or a block if the head doesn't quite make it), keeping the arms working toward the top of the mat.  (If there's pressure on the shoulders keep one arm extended while bending the other placing the forearm in front of the head on the mat.  Switch arms halfway through.)  Hold this pose for 1-4 minutes.

thread the needle

thread the needle

Thread the Needle:  Come to tabletop pose (hands and knees), making sure the wrists are under the shoulders, knees under the hips.  Inhale the right arm up toward the sky, exhale and thread the right arm under the body, between the left arm and knee.  Place the right shoulder onto the mat, turning the head to the left.  Breathe here for 1-3 minutes, allowing the shoulder and upper back (back of the heart) to open. Inhale back to table top and switch sides.

yin yoga, half child's pose

yin yoga, half child's pose

IMG_9625-640x427.jpg

Half Child's Pose: From tabletop pose, inhale the right leg out to the side.  Keep a little bend in the knee and place the sole of the right foot on the floor (if accessible for the knee, otherwise place the heel down and allow the toes to point up, slightly).  Exhale the hips back toward the back of the mat.  Left sitting bones will be working toward the left heel, stretching through the inside of the right leg and groin.  Place the forehead on the mat or a block.  Hold for 2-4 minutes and repeat on the left side.  

sphinx

sphinx

Sphinx:  Lay face down on the yoga mat.  Walk the hands out in front, bringing the elbows under the shoulders.  Press the forearms into the mat, spreading through the fingers and gazing down in between the forearms.  Extend the feet back, pressing the tops of the feet into the mat.  Inhale the belly toward the spine, hollowing out the belly.  Press the hip points into the mat.  Stay here if that feels like enough or inhale the chest forward, exhale the shoulders down away from the ears and gaze forward.  If there is any pinching in the low back, lower the chest and head back down toward the mat until the pinching has released.  Hold here for 2-4 minutes.  Release the whole body down to the mat, bringing the hands to stack, elbows out to the sides and resting the forehead or a cheek on the back of the stacked hands.  Breathe here for at least 5 breaths allowing the back body to relax.

caterpillar pose, yin yoga

caterpillar pose, yin yoga

Caterpillar (paschimottanasana):  Come to sitting and extend the legs out in front of the body, bringing the inner legs to touch and hands down by the hips.  Inhale sitting up tall, extending out through the crown of the head.  Exhale leaning the torso forward, walking the hands on the outsides of the legs toward the feet.  Stop coming forward when the stretch is felt in the back of the legs.  Bend the knees slightly or place a rolled up blanket or towel under the knees, if there's any pulling or tension in the low back.  Release the head and neck, placing a block or stacked fists under the forehead for support if desired.  Hold pose for 2-5 minutes and gently release the torso back up to a seated position.

supported fish pose

supported fish pose

Supported Fish Pose (matsyasana):  Sit on the yoga mat and place a block or smaller foam roller, toward the upper end of the mat behind.  Lower the upper body down onto the block, gently, making sure the block is between the shoulder blades.  Release the head down toward the mat if it feels alright for the neck.  If not, bend the elbows and clasp the hands behind the head, using the hands to support the head and neck.  Alternatively use another block under the base of the head.  Keep the knees bent or extend the legs, deepening the pose.  This will lift the chest up to help open up through the chest.  It also helps to activate the crown chakra (for more information on the seventh chakra, click here).  Hold pose for 1-4 minutes, breathing into the chest and front of the body.  When ready to release, gently lift the torso up and remove the block.

supine twist

supine twist

Supine Twist (supta matsyendrasana):  Come to laying on the mat, face up.  Inhale the knees into the chest while releasing the arms out to the side in a "T".  Alternatively bend the elbows to 90 degrees (cactus the arms) if that feels more comfortable.  On an exhale, release the knees over to the right, gazing up or out to the left.  Breathe here for 1-2 minutes.  Inhale the legs back to the center, exhale to the other side.  Twisting poses are great for reducing bloat, aids in digestion and releases the spine.

yin yoga, legs up the wall

yin yoga, legs up the wall

Legs Up the Wall:  Sit sideways at a wall, swing the feet up the wall, rolling onto the back.  Extend the feet up toward the sky with the hips as close to the wall as possible.  Hands can rest on the belly or arms can rest out to the sides of the body, palms facing up.  Close the eyes and breathe.  Relax the body and rest here for 5 or more minutes.  When ready to release, gently bend the knees, sliding the feet down the wall, knees toward the chest.  Take a few breaths here, roll to one side and come up to sitting.  Namaste.

If you liked this sequence, you might like this Yin Yoga: Heart and Lung Meridians post.  Also please visit my YouTube channel (Alt Yoga Vibe) for more yoga and fitness videos.

Cheers,

Val

Disclaimer: The information on this website (Alt Yoga Vibe) is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical treatment or hands on instruction.  If you are experiencing any severe pain or symptoms, please consult a healthcare practitioner.