I feel as though we have come hurtling into the festive season this year at an alarming rate – as my Mum used to say “It just gets earlier every year…”. Maybe it’s because it really is getting earlier every year or maybe it’s because I’m getting older! I do love Midwinter – I enjoy the short days and long nights, the low almost Arctic sun, the excuse to light candles at, well, anytime of day, the snug-ness and the crisp chill in amongst the rainy days.
However, this time of year can place a lot of strain on us – whether it is the general rushing about, traveling, the partying, the hosting/entertaining, the expense, the prospect of spending time with some people you would rather not, the missing of beloved ones or the pressure to have an Instagram “perfect Christmas”. Hmm… this can all place a lot of strain on our overall well-being especially our mental health. So I thought I would put together a little Yin practice to support you through these weeks and help to move you into the coming year.
This little practice is primarily focussed around the Kidney/urinary bladder Chi but I always like to throw in some lung/large intestine work to support the immune system and help soothe any grief and sadness that can often feel so apparent this time of year.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a beautiful Midwinter, a positive end to 2018 and peace and wellbeing for 2019.
Love and light, Nadine xxx
If you wish to deepen your understanding of Yin and Restorative Yoga, Nadine’s 100-hour training starts in January 2019. Early bird discount closes at the end of December.
- Season: Winter
- Colour: Dark blue
- Mantra: Lam/Vam
- Element: Water
- Out of balance: Lower back problems, ear problems, lacking drive/enthusiasm, fear.
- In balance: ability to tap into our inner wisdom and gentleness, ability to cope with fear of change, willpower and healthy ambition.
- Season; Autumn
- Colour: White
- Mantra: Ham
- Element: Metal
- Out of balance: Muddled, cloudy thinking, lack of clarity, prolonged periods of sadness, inability to express emotions, breathing issues, skin complaints, recurring colds.
- In balance: personal confidence, courage, present mindset, and ability to “take in” on all levels, strong immune system.
Please remember to listen to your body and breath as you work through this practice – if you experience pins and needles please come out of the pose and move the spine by doing “cat-cow”.If you find that your mind is really drifting/spinning etc then you can use the mantras suggested, reciting them mentally on the exhale or you could visualise the colour relevant to the meridians.If in doubt, or you are new to Yin – just take a 2 minute time stay.So, put your phone on flight mode, set a timer… breathe and enjoy some time to yourself…..
Butterfly 2 -5 mins (kidney and lung)
From seated, place soles of your feet together and bend your knees, letting them fall out to the sides. Take your feet quite far away from your groin so you’re making a large diamond shape with your legs, then fold forward, using support under the torso or head
If you find folding forward too intense, sit on a folded blanket or to front edge of a block then just come as far forward as you can. Please listen to your lower back and knees and as you come forward, avoid hunching the upper back – aim to create some space in the front body.
Time up…. Inhale and roll back up to sitting, Slide hands under the thighs or knees to draw legs together,
Sphinx/seal 2 – 4 mins (kidney and lung)
Lying on your front, prop up on your forearms – elbows under the shoulders, upper arms perpendicular to the floor. Without force, allow your sternum to blossom forwards. If this is too strong on the lower back, then just slide your arms forward slightly so the lumbar arch is decreased. Please allow you legs to roll slightly inwards – “inward rotation” aka – “pigeon toed”.
You can place support under the rib cage if you like.
After a minute, you may wish to evolve into a Seal – turn hands out to a 45 deg angle then straighten the arms. I tend to take my hands a little wider to allow space in my shoulders. Avoid locking the elbows and please listen to the lower back – if it’s too much, then back off. This can have more of Yang edge to it so just be kind to yourself.
Time up… exhale and release back down. Take some breaths and slowly move back to child’s pose for 5 – 10 breaths.
Dragonfly 2 – 5 mins (kidney)
Take your legs realistically wide to the sides – they don’t have to be too wide! Place a rolled blanket or towel under each knee if needed and sit on support as mentioned in Butterfly. Then, fold forwards, either supporting on your forearms, or onto a bolster/ cushion, or deeper if you have the range of movement. Just take it easy.
Time up… Deeply inhale and slowly roll back up to sitting, hands under thighs/knees and draw legs slowly back together.
Lying twist 2 – 5 mins (kidney and lung)
Lying down, bend your knees and just off-centre your hips a touch to the left on your mat, then pick your feet off the mat and cross your left leg over the right (or not, if it’s too much – just sandwich your legs together)
Take legs to the right, arms outstretched or right hand resting on knees and left arm overhead on the floor. If it’s ok on your neck, turn your head to the left.
To boost kidney chi – keep knees at hip level
To boost lung chi – move knees up a little higher towards your right armpit.
Time up… Exhale – draw navel to spine and move legs back to the centre.
Repeat to the left side – so off-centre hips to the right, right leg crosses over left and legs to the left. Head can turn to the right and left hand can rest on knees with right arm resting on the floor.
Knees to chest
Simply hug knees to the chest 5 -10 times. This is a counter pose.
Savasana/legs up the wall (kidney)
You can take 5 – 10 minutes rest in śavāsana or take legs up the wall as an alternative.
For legs up the wall, have hips about 4 – 6 inches away from the wall and stick your legs up the wall. This should be a restful place!
Time up… exhale, please roll to the right, take a few breaths before coming back to sitting.