Welcome back to this week’s pairing of yoga and Care By Design Effects! Today I will be pairing one of my favorites, the Relax Effect with a soothing yin practice to end your long workday. The reason why this pairing is so complimentary is because Yin yoga is about being able to relax into the pose without pushing yourself past your body’s edge. When you exceed your body’s limitations, especially while holding poses for longer periods, you can injure yourself. That is why being able to stay soft and relaxed through this practice can help encourage relaxation through your mind and body. So, grab your favorite Relax Effect product and meet me on your mat!
How to begin: If you’re taking the soft gels for the practice like I am, be sure to take it 30-45min prior, so that you may feel the effects throughout the whole session.
Background: Yin yoga is practiced by holding postures for 1-5 min at a time to develop flexibility through the connective tissues (ligaments, tendons, and facia). When we put minor stressors on the connective tissue, the body responds by making those and the supporting muscles stronger. Beginners may hold poses up to 2 min or to their body’s tolerance and increase from there. Remember to find balance between the stretch and your comfort zone and utilize props to bring the ground up to meet you.
What you will need: A yoga mat or rug, two yoga blocks, pillows or a bolster, chair (if no props are available).
- Standing forward fold (Uttanasana): Stand tall with your feet hip distance apart. Begin by dropping your head and rounding through the neck and upper back. Keep folding forward until you get to your edge. Place the blocks underneath your hands if you can’t quite reach the floor. You may use a chair for upper body support and bend your knees if your hamstrings are very tight. Hold for 2-3min.
- Garland pose (Malasana): Widen your feet slightly from hip distance and turn toes out 45 degrees. Then take a big squat and see if you can stay low with the heels on the ground. If this pose is inaccessible due to tightness in legs, hips, or ankles, use a block underneath your bum for support or a rolled towel under your heels. Make sure you keep your spine tall while you place your hands at your heart center with elbows against the inner thighs to deepen the stretch. Hold for 2-3 min.
- Prone rest or Cat/Cow pose (Cakravakasana): This pose is a transition and counter pose to the previous two. Take a moment of rest on the belly and let the blood circulate throughout your body, helping to neutralize the deep fold in the front of the hips. If staying still sounds boring, do a few rounds of cat/cow on your hands and knees. Hold for 2-3min or 5-10 rounds of cat/cow.
- Head to knee pose (Janusirsasana): Transition to your seat. Start with your left leg extended forward and with the sole of the right foot against your inner left thigh. Place a pillow underneath your extended leg if it feels too tight. Begin a forward fold and engage your core to support your lower back. Hold for 2-3 min on each side.
- Saddle pose (Supta Virasana): You will need two blocks or a chair for this pose. Take a seat between your heels (which creates a deep bend in the knees). Recline back onto the mat with the blocks underneath your shoulder (med height) and one under the head (highest setting). This posture helps to stretch out the psoas, quads, shins and ankles. If the deep bend in the knee is inaccessible, place a pillow underneath your bum for support.
- Seated Forward Fold (Uttanasana): Sit with both legs extended (use a pillow under your bum if your hamstrings are tight). Then, forward fold towards the toes and hold for 2-3min. This will help to counter the big backbend of the last posture.
- Corpse pose (Savasana): Finish the session by lying comfortably on your back and breathe deeply. Place pillows under your thighs or head for comfort. Enjoy for as long as you’d like and enjoy the rest of your day/evening!