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Summer Solstice Yin Practice with Nadine

Summer Solstice Yin Practice with Nadine

Summer Solstice Yin practice

Happy Summer Solstice! Over the last few weeks here in Edinburgh some days have felt very far from “Summer” weather wise but we are indeed approaching the Summer Solstice on Friday 21st June. It is so lovely to leave Meadowlark after the evening classes to drive home to Dalkeith with the setting sun behind me- or in the last week – broad daylight. In Scotland we’re seeing only about 4 hours of darkness per night – and it has been lovely to wake up to practice early doors to the sun and birdsong.

As we make this transition from Spring to Summer it is a great time to make shifts in our Yin practice – moving from the Spring meridian lines of Liver and Gallbladder and the intense hip openers that come with them to the expansive heart openers and nourishing twists.

This little practice is primarily focussed around the Heart/small intestine Chi but there is also lung/large intestine meridian cross-over which supports the immune system and respiratory function – useful with higher pollen count.

Research shows that a lot of people find summer the loneliest time of year (contrary to the idea that Christmas is the loneliest time) – if you are feeling lonely it can be so hard to see groups of people gathering in the park, buying bar-be-que supplies, hanging out at the festival – this can feel a very isolating time. Hold your loved ones close – and let’s strive to open our hearts to strangers this summer.

The Summer Solstice is also the perfect time of year to embrace nature (whatever the weather!), start a gratitude journal, reflect on any goals/intentions you set at New Year or at Spring Equinox, learn new ways to heal and focus your energy on positive change.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful summer solstice. May any positive intentions you have seeded in the springtime flourish and grow for an abundant harvest in the Autumn.

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 2020. Early bird discount closes at the end of December.

Heart/Small Intestine Chi

    • Season: Summer
    • Colour: Red
  • Mantra: Yam
  • Element: Fire
  • Controls: Circulation/Assimilation
  • Sense: Taste – sense door is the tongue
  • Out of balance: Poor circulation, hardening of the arteries, cold hands and feet, heartburn, digestive problems, Emotionally feeling joyless, desperate, depressed – at the extreme intolerance and hatred.  Mentally, our sense of bonding can be obscured by depression.When the small intestine chi is out of balance – there is  a lack of sorting and emotions dominate the inner system.
  • In balance: feeling active, alive, full of vitality. Emotionally feeling warm and nourished, connected to our inner joy and harmony, able to build healthy relationships. Allows us to experience the basic meaningfulness of life and to remain focussed as we move through changes.

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 mantra suggested, reciting them mentally on the exhale or you could visualise the colour relevant to the meridians.

If in doubt, or if you are new to Yin – just take a 2 minute time stay.

If you are short on time and need a mini practice you could do the following –

Butterfly

Sphinx/Seal

Lateral dragonfly

10 breaths in a forward fold

Supine Twist

Knees to chest

Savasana

So, put your phone on flight mode, set a timer… breathe and enjoy some time to yourself…..

  1. Butterfly. 2 -5 mins

From seated, place the 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. You can place support under the knees if needed.

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.

Breathe here for 2 – 5 mins – if your head is feeling a bit chatty then you can begin to work on gently lengthening the exhale. Take it easy – working with the breath in this way should not be a strain.

Time up…. Inhale and roll back up to sitting, Slide hands under the thighs or knees to draw legs together,

  1. Wide-kneed child’s pose with a twist. 2 mins each side

From kneeling, bring big toes to touch and take the knees from hip width to mat width apart. If it is too strong to kneel, place support like a block or a bolster between the sitting bones and the heels. Alternatively, you can take a supine (lying) twist (see below). This will apply to shoulder problems too.

Sit back onto the heels and, supporting with your hands, turn your torso towards the right, then slide the left arm through the right to come towards resting on the side/back of the left shoulder. This sometimes gets called “threading the needle”.

The arm that is not threading can either relax onto the floor or wrap around behind the back.  You can also use support under the head if the neck is feeling strained.

Breathe here for 2  mins each side

Time up…. Exhale – return right hand to the floor, Inhale press into the right hand and draw yourself out of the pose. Repeat to left side. When it’s time to move the legs, avoid dragging the knees together, lift them one at a time and move them in.

  1. Sphinx 2 – 3 mins

Lying on your front, prop up on your forearms – elbows under 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.

Breathe here for 2 – 3 mins – you can transition to Seal Pose or choose to come out

Time up… exhale and release back down. Take some breaths and slowly move back to child’s pose for 5 – 10 breaths.

  1. Seal pose

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.

Breathe here for 2 mins

Time up… exhale and release back down. Take some breaths and slowly move back to child’s pose for 5 – 10 breaths.

  1. Lateral Dragonfly 2 mins each side

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.

Lean to the left side first, using support on the inside or outside of the left knee. You can rest your elbow on the support if you have the range or lean into your left hand taking care of the wrist. Please do take it easy.

The aim is to extend and open through the right side of the body and the right arm and rotate the right side of the rib cage towards the sky. Release down through the right sitting bone as it is going to want to lift up.

Please take care of your lower back and if needed use some abdominal strength with the navel moving towards the spine on the exhale to create lumbar support.

Breathe here for 2  mins each side

Time up… exhale and, drawing the navel towards the spine, draw yourself up and out of the pose. Repeat to the left side (so you’re leaning to the right and extending through the left side).

  1. Dragonfly 3 – 4 mins

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.

Breathe here for 2 – 4  mins

Time up… Deeply inhale and slowly roll back up to sitting, hands under thighs/knees and draw legs slowly back together.

  1. Alternative to Dragonfly – Full forward bend 3 – 4 mins

From seated, extend your legs forward and keep them at a mildly energised point – so not all fired up though not flopping out to the side. Fold forward, using support under the torso or head. Coming forward onto a bolster can be helpful as can placing a block under the head. You can place support under the knees if needed if the hamstrings and lower back feel restricted.

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 as you come forward, avoid hunching the upper back – aim to create some space in the front body.

Breathe here for 2 – 5 mins

Time up…. Inhale and roll back up to sitting,

  1. Lying twist 2 – 4 mins each side

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 heart chi even more – 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.

  1. Knees to chest

Simply hug knees to the chest 5 -10 times. This is a counter pose.

  1. śavāsana/legs up the wall

 

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. Here you can move into a meditation practice if you have the time.

Happy Summer Solstice!

 

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Meadowlark Yoga

Visit our studio on the edge of the Meadows, open 7 days a week offering Ashtanga Vinyasa and other styles of yoga.contact@meadowlarkyoga.com 43 Argyle Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1JT 0131 2287581