Tag Archives: Yin Yoga

Yoga Challenge Day 23

Since yesterday’s practice, I knew I needed to fit in some recovery and mobility work to “fix” my hips and shoulders before moving on. Luckily, Kelly Starrett had two shoulder mobility WODs in line (this and this) that helped immensely. I didn’t have a bar and had to get creative, but with a little help managed to give my shoulders a really nice stretch. Finished that session off with a few minutes’ worth of Garudasana arms.

I dealt with the hips in the afternoon. I used the following Yin sequence to work mostly on external hip rotation, going progressively deeper:

  • Start out in Easy Square (simple cross-legged position) for 3 minutes, then go into Full Square (aka Firelog) for another 3 minutes. Make sure the calves are stacked, the feet flexed, and use a block and/or blanket to support the knees as needed.
  • Do some Windshield Wipers to loosen up, then repeat on the other side.
  • Switch focus for a bit to the hip flexor by going into Baby Dragon for 2 minutes.
  • “Flap” the bent leg a few times before settling into Winged Dragon for another 2 minutes.
  • Bring the knee back to a Baby Dragon position before sliding the foot of the front leg towards the opposite hip to come into Swan. Keep the foot flexed, get comfortable, and drape the upper body over the bent leg in Sleeping Swan for 3 minutes.
  • I like to come into Crocodile (plank on elbows) as a counterpose. Repeat Dragons and Swan on the other side.
  • To finish up, do some Reclining Twists for a couple of minutes per side, and then relax in Shavasana for 5 minutes or so.

A short sequence (didn’t take more than 40 minutes), but enough to put a smile on my face 🙂


Yoga Challenge Days 17-18

Had Internet trouble yesterday and couldn’t post, so here’s my update on the last two days.
I did a strength training session yesterday morning. This is my fifth workout and somehow it seemed easier, even though I’m steadily progressing to more difficult exercises. No DOMS, except for just a little bit around the wrists – did my very first one-arm let me ins 🙂
In the afternoon, I did Yin Yoga following Erin Fleming’s Yin Yoga: The Essential Practice CD. Overall, it was a balanced sequence putting emphasis on spinal work without overlooking the hips. Counter-poses were subtle to non-existent but that didn’t detract from the practice. Another peculiarity, which I’ve noticed only in a handful of classes before, was the placement of Shavasana after meditation at the end. I can’t say I liked that as I was feeling detached and groggy afterwards, when going through Shavasana first, then sitting in meditation usually leaves me relaxed but centered.
As for today, my monthly started early and put me out of commission for just about everything. I decided to revisit the mWODs I’ve done so far and add a new one to my repertoire.
So, in the morning I worked on squatting, and hip extension, while in the afternoon I worked on the calves and psoas (mWOD day 4). Not as relaxing as a Yoga practice might have been, but I’m not really clear on what poses are appropriate for that time of the month and which ones I should avoid.

Yoga Challenge Week 2 Wrap-Up

I started out the day with various aches and pains – lower back, hamstrings – but I guess that’s to be expected after a strength workout. So, I was on full restorative mode today.

In the morning, I repeated yesterday’s mWOD (the 10-minute squat), which just about took care of my lower back stiffness; I also noticed that my ankles were significantly looser. I followed up with rehab exercises for my shoulder, and finished up with mWOD day 2, a hip opener. It actually was like pulling on the back leg from a low lunge position (exactly the kind of pose I was complaining about yesterday!), except that the back calf is flat up against a wall. I couldn’t stretch the hips because my quads were too tight (possibly due to DOMS). However, it wasn’t until I tried the couch variation that I was able to get deep into the hip flexors.

I did a Yin Yoga session in the afternoon that left me energized and kink-free:

  • Butterfly
  • Straddle (sides and middle)
  • Cat pulling its tail
  • Square
  • Twisted Roots

I stayed 3 minutes in each pose, but unfortunately had to skip Shavasana due to lack of space (I had my niece doing the poses along with me, and my room could barely accommodate us both).

It’s been a rather peculiar week. My stress levels must have been rather high, because sleep quality has been low and the pattern irregular. Yoga has helped me keep my energy at decent levels overall, but I feel my mood is on a downward spiral. Upcoming week’s goal is putting in some much needed nap time and cutting out caffeine completely in addition to going from Primal to strict Paleo for at least the remainder of this challenge.

Yoga Challenge Day 11

Thankfully, yesterday’s scare left me with nothing more serious than DOMS, though oddly enough it wasn’t my hamstring that was sore but my hip. Go figure… Even so, I took it relatively easy today.

Does housework count as a workout? Let me see, I broke a sweat, was a little out of breath, and my muscles complained afterwards. Yeah, I think it’ll do 🙂

An afternoon Yin Yoga practice was in order after that. Needing to focus on the hips, I decided to adapt a sequence I was led through during the Yin Yoga class I took the other day on YogaVibes:

  • Baby Dragon for 2′
  • Winged Dragon for 2′
  • Sleeping Swan for 2′
  • Square for 4′

I did this sequence first on the right side, then the left. It was pretty intense as with each pose I was working deeper into the hip. By the time I came out of Square on each side, I could barely move my limbs! Afterwards, I stayed in the low position of Windshield Wipers (internal hip rotation) for a couple of minutes as a counterpose to the sequence above and to stretch the psoas all the way round the lower back. Shavasana closed the practice.

Yoga Challenge: Launching Week 2!

Going strong! I woke up this morning and I was hyped. Considering it had taken me 4 days to recover from my first strength training session, I was surprised that my body felt great so soon (2 days) after the second one. Still, I chose to be cautious and let one more day pass before another bodyweight workout. I wanted to do Yoga, but I wanted to be led for a change. So, I went over to YogaVibes, and picked two 60-minute classes for today.

In the morning, I warmed up with a slow vinyasa for 15′, then did a level 1 Iyengar class. Pretty basic stuff: Chair, Eagle, Tree, Triangle, Pyramid, Side Angle, Half Moon, Warrior II, Bridge, and some very juicy twists among others. Although there are times when I am eager to get out of a pose and move on to the next one, I must admit that I like this static kind of practice best. I guess the main reason why is that I am usually unable to follow a led vinyasa class, losing control of the breath about 10 minutes in, and feeling completely wiped after 20 minutes or so. Slow flows practiced at home are the only way that works for me, which means that if I want to do a recorded vinyasa class I like, I need to study the video/podcast, then do the poses at my own pace. A lot of homework is involved and, honestly, I’m not always up for it; so, I opt for less dynamic classes instead.

I did a Yin Yoga class in the evening. In general, we are taught to balance yin and yang, e.g. do Yin Yoga in the morning, as it’s a yang time of day. However, I’ve been feeling wound up tight late at night, even having trouble sleeping. So, I decided to do some Yin Yoga to balance this yang state of mind. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the class I picked, but it was more a matter of personal preference rather than any lack of ability in the teacher. All the Yin Yoga classes I’ve come upon in YogaVibes (they’re not that many to be truthful) are taught in a fairly chatty manner, which I dislike – I like to practice Yin with as little said beyond instructions as possible. There was an interesting sequence, though, that I really appreciated: Baby Dragon to Winged Dragon, to Sleeping Swan. I thought I would start weeping at some point, but my hips were definitely looser coming out – afterwards, I managed to do Square pose with the legs stacked instead of crossed for the very first time! In addition, the practice worked its magic and as I write this my body feels utterly relaxed. I think I’ll be falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow tonight.

Yoga Challenge Day 2!

Just finished my workouts for the day, and I’m feeling a bit like roadkill.

My Yin Yoga routine this morning was focused on the spine, warming up in Caterpillar, then moving on to Butterfly. Although Butterfly is often used as a warm up pose, it gives me a deeper stretch in the sacrum area, which was exactly what I was aiming for today. On the other hand, I get more of an upper back stretch in Caterpillar due to the size of my belly; still, I find that when I let my head hang in this pose, the stretch extends down to the base of the spine. I followed up with Banana, Twists, and Corpse pose. All in all, a highly satisfying practice, especially since it helped loosen the pinch I woke up with in my lower back.

I thought I’d step out of the beaten path for at least a couple of workouts per week and do something other than Yoga. Although I have a stationary bike (yes, I have found ways to enjoy a nice ride indoors), I wasn’t that keen on using it today. So, I opted for a body-weight workout instead. I did Vinyasa with lunge and Warrior variations for about 15′ to warm up, and then went through 2 rounds of 5 exercises performed back-to-back at 12 reps each. It took me no more than 10′ but it was pretty intense. I picked the exercises from Mark Lauren’s Body By You – pulling, squatting, bending, perpendicular pushing (e.g. push-up), and in-line pushing (e.g. overhead press) movements. Although I’ll probably follow the progression as presented in the book, I did adapt the workout format (I favor circuit training over the suggested straight sets). I finished with some static stretching, but I know that I’ll be feeling it tomorrow. Better schedule some restorative Yoga.

Yoga Challenge Day 1!

The idea of doing something like a 30-day Yoga challenge and posting the workouts has been buzzing around in my head for a while now, so here goes nothing.

For over a month now, I’ve been doing Yin Yoga daily, and it makes me feel so good that I’m not willing to give it up. However, it would be pretty difficult to add more time for fitness to those 60- to 90-minute practices. Therefore, I’m cutting back my morning Yin Yoga to half an hour or so, and adding another 30′-60′ of more muscular (Yang) exercise in the afternoon.

Given the fact that Yin Yoga sessions can be luxuriously long, the only way I can limit them to a mere half-hour is by using focal points, and concentrate on one body part (hips, legs, spine) at a time. For instance, my hips felt a bit tight this morning, so I decided to focus on them. Here’s my 30-minute Yin Hips routine:

  • Square pose, i.e. Sukhasana with a forward bend – you could do Shoelace instead (the girth of my thighs makes it an impossible pose for me, though)
  • Sleeping Swan, rising to Swan for the last minute or so (probably my favorite Yin pose)
  • Bananasana
  • Twisted Roots, i.e. reclined twists with Garudasana legs (even with barely crossed knees, this variation adds a nice hip stretch)
  • Corpse pose

I stay in each pose/side only for 3 minutes to keep this practice short, but also spend some time in counterposes – Windshield Wipers after Square and Crocodile (plank on elbows) after Swan.

The entire sequence basically revolves around the Swan pose, using Square pose as a warm up and Banana to stretch the hips from a different angle. Twists and Corpse are my standard closing poses.

If you’re interested in Yin Yoga and would like to see the poses explained and demonstrated, be sure to check out Bernie Clark’s YouTube channel.

For my afternoon practice, I needed something more active without going overboard, so I opted for a short plain ol’ Hatha routine, playing around with Happy Baby, Sphinx, Cat, Down Dog, Tree, and Mountain among other poses. Oddly enough, even though I was revisiting these most basic of poses, I got to experience them in an entirely new way. For instance, Happy Baby and Sphinx feel completely different when performed the Yin way compared to the traditional, Yang way. As weird as it may sound, in such a short time, my body had forgotten how the poses felt like when performed in a Yang manner. As a result, the poses I did today felt new. I wonder what else I might discover on the way…