We’ve talked about some of the spiritual, emotional, and mental effects this last year has had on all of us.
Especially in terms of staying connected to the rhythm wave of our lives instead of losing the thread and desperately stroking to catch up to it.
Having your routine rocked can make it difficult to feel energized when you’re supposed to, and likewise to wind down when it’s time.
And after this last year? Being able to wind down is particularly important…
You see, stress weakens the immune system.
And a fully functioning immune system is more important now than ever, especially as the world opens back up.
However, lowering stress can seem impossible to some at this moment, depending on everyone’s individual circumstances.
Some have lost their income. Some suffered from the virus itself. Some have become caretakers for immunocompromised family and friends. Some live with manageable mental illnesses, but had never been in a high-stakes situation like this and have no frame of reference.
And while we seem to be pulling through this, it’s our responsibility to manage our emotional and mental states as best we can.
One thing that can help? Participating in deliberate, mindful, centering practices, including, but not limited to, yoga…
Especially as it relates to the Taoist classification of energies as being either Yin (passive, internal cooling, and downward) or Yang (dynamic, external, warming, and upward).
We went through a Yang yoga routine already to help start your day in an energized space.
Let’s talk about Yin yoga, and some moves that can center your energy and relax your body and mind.
Yin yoga is a popular yoga practice designed specifically to target the connective tissues, or fascia (the support for muscles, organs, bones, tendons, ligaments, and other structures) in your body — you know, the places that hold the most tension when you’re stressed.
Because of the longer hold times and the lengthening function of the poses, Yin yoga works to separate sticking points and break up nerve clusters.
Not to mention, they force you to be consciously still — not the same kind of still you are when you’re napping on the couch. A focused, mindful, active stillness.
Try this movement sequence to allow the body’s relaxing energy to flow:
- Sit on your mat with both legs stretched out as close as you can get to a 180-degree angle — as perpendicular as they can be to your straight spine. Using a bolster or prop, rotate your hips forward and lean your chest against the bolster. Stay in this pose for 3–5 minutes.
- Send the legs forward so they’re stretched out before your body. Lay the arms on the floor parallel to each leg, palms up, with the prop from the Straddle Pose laid across your thighs. Lean forward so that your chest is resting against the bolster. Stay in this pose for 3–5 minutes.
Half Shoelace Pose
- Keep the right leg stretched in front of you, and bring the left heel to meet the right hip on the floor, bending the left leg at the knee and resting the left knee overtop the right knee. Lay the bolster on the left knee and lean your head on it. Hands palms down on the floor at your sides. Stay in this pose for 3–5 minutes.
- Return to your caterpillar pose from Step Two.
Half Shoelace Pose, Inverted
- Keep the left leg stretched in front of you, and bring the right heel to meet the left hip on the floor, bending the right leg at the knee and resting the right knee overtop the left knee. Lay the bolster on the right knee and lean your head on it. Hands palms down on the floor at your sides. Stay in this pose for 3–5 minutes.
- Lay flat on your back on the floor with your arms at your sides and your legs out in front of you. The trick to a successful corpse pose is to relax your pelvis into the floor, and then address each body part respectively and make sure that you’ve released all tension. Stay in this pose for 3–5 minutes.
- Hug the right knee into the chest and breathe a few deep breaths. Then send the right arm out next to you on the floor, perpendicular to your body. Then, send the right knee across the body so that your right foot is next to on the floor, next to your left knee. Twist and stretch the spine, but remain facing upwards.
Reclining Twist, Inverted
- Hug the left knee into the chest and breathe a few deep breaths. Then send the left arm out next to you on the floor, perpendicular to your body. Then, send the left knee across the body so that your left foot is next to on the floor, next to your right knee. Twist and stretch the spine, but remain facing upwards.
Give this sequence a try in the evenings and let us know if you felt a difference in how you ended your day!
Did you feel relaxed and ready to sleep? Did your body release its tension? Do you think you’ll practice it again the next day?
If you enjoyed these thoughts and think we’ve got something in common, I have a feeling you’re going to love the Urban Monk Academy. It’s the home of every class I teach — from Qi Gong to Life Gardening to Dream Yoga and even Tantra — and for two weeks, you can try it for free.