Yin Yoga for Acceptance & Letting Go
“In psychological terms, acceptance means assenting to the reality of a situation without attempting to change it, protest against it or run away from it. This does not mean we like the situation or give whole-hearted support to it, but there is a simple recognition of the truth that this is the way things are in this moment.
It is a common view that we need to bring acceptance to the things we do not like, but really it applies to all the things of life…. Acceptance is a posture that is full, alive, present to life and an active welcoming of whatever is happening. It is not resignation or submission or collapse. It is a breathing-in of life in all of its manifestations. It is an active meeting of life in the moment, a simple recognition of that which is right here, right now.” John Kirkwood The Way of the Five Seasons
Principles of Yin
-Find an appropriate edge (as you come into the pose, note the place where you meet resistance or tension- this can be physical, mental, or emotional. Hold an soften.)
-Be Still and Soften the Muscles
-Hold for Time
-Slowly release the pose
Pause between sides/ poses up to 1 minute, noticing circulation and energy movement through the body.
Wide Knee Child's Pose Twist (each side)- 3 minutes
Slide your knees as wide as is comfortable for your body. With your exhale to twist, draw your left shoulder towards your right knee. If it's comfortable, wrap your right arm around behind your back to deepen the opening and release.
After the 3 minutes, release the bind, inhale to come out of the twist and exhale to childs pose for a few rounds of breath (if you're newer to yin you can hold up to 1 minute) pausing and noticing. As you're ready twist towards the left side. To release, come out of the twist, step the legs together and draw the hips back to embryo (childs pose with the arms by the sides). Pause and connect to the energy and circulation as it moves through the body.
Quarter Dog (each side)- 3 minutes
In this Yin version of Downward Facing Dog, your knees are grounded and your hips are stacked over the knees. Start with your right arm bent and your left arm extended. You can rest your head on your arm, the floor, or a prop. You can also turn your head towards the bent arm. Focus on breathing clear light energy into the lungs with each inhale and releasing anything heavy or dark with each exhale. Pause between sides in childs pose.
Sphinx- 4 minutes
Roll up a blanket and slide it below your belly button but above your pelvis. Your elbows are under your shoulders. If your head drops too far down, use a prop under the forehead to support your natural cervical curve. Breathe full breaths allowing the belly to gently push into the blanket. To release, you can slide the blanket out and come all the way onto your belly for long prostration, arms extended overhead. Pause and breathe, belly relaxed.
Seal (or Sphinx)- 3 minutes
Repeat Sphinx or straighten the arms to come in to Seal. If you would like, you can lift the heels of the hands so you're on the fingertips. Stay for 1 minute then bring the hands down for the last 2 minutes.
Open Wing (each side)- 3 minutes
Extend your arm out to the side at a slight diagonal, fingertips roughly in line with the forehead. Keep the arm at this angle as you roll slightly towards that arm, creating gentle compression on the shoulder joint. If the head doesn't rest comfortably down, use a blanket beneath the head. If the arm goes to sleep or you get any sensations of tingling or numbness, release and do less. Pause between sides, resting the head on the forearms.
Wandering Dragon (each side)- 4 minutes
Step your left foot into a wider lunge. Start to draw your right hip bone back as you walk the arms towards the right upper corner of your mat, coming into a side bend. This is a low range of motion pose- allow your pelvis to lead the movement. Soften any gripping or tension in the shoulders and face. Hold in stillness.
After that side is complete, walk the hands to center, stepping the leg slowly back to tabletop before softening into childs pose. Pause and breathe, noticing circulation and sensation. Repeat the pose on the second side.
Lateral Dragonfly (each side)- 3 minutes
Fold your blanket and turn it so it's in a diamond shape. Sit on the corner of the blanket, with the sits bones at the edges, allowing your pelvis to rotate forward. Slide a block alongside your inner left leg. Take the hands behind your head, allowing the right elbow to rest towards your cheek. Move the torso forward and slightly towards the left (another low range of motion pose), elbow resting on the block. If there's any rounding in your lower spine, you can elevate the hips more and allow the legs to slightly internally rotate. To support your left knee, you can slide another blanket under it. Between sides, pause with a neutral spine, arms by your side.
Dragonfly- 4 minutes
After your lateral bends, return to center and fold forward. You can use the block under the forearms or head, being mindful of any rounding of the lower spine. Add the additional blanket if needed and allow the slight internal rotation of the legs. There is also the option for blankets under the knees or bending the knees to support any strain. Pause with a neutral spine before slowly sliding the hands under the hamstrings, bending the knees, and drawing them to center. Notice any sensations.
Twisted roots (each side)- 5 minutes
Arriving on your back, cross the left knee over the right and drop both knees to your left. If the right shoulder isn't grounded, prop the legs with a block or blanket. Find your edge and soften into it. Allow the breath to fill your lungs and expand your ribs. Pause between sides in shavasana.
Supported fish- 5 minutes
Using a thinner bolster or rolled up blanket, recline with the head supported and the hips off the prop. Soften the heads of the arm bones down towards the earth. Breathe fully, allowing the exhale to become slightly longer than the inhale. You can choose how you would like your legs in this pose- something that will help you relax and let go. You can visualize bright clear light in the heart space with each inhale, filling you up and radiating out. With each exhale, let go like steam from an exhaust pipe- grey and cloudy.
After the pose is complete, slide your props out of the way and return to your back. Pause with a neutral spine or draw the knees into the chest. Use any props you would like for your final relaxation pose.
Shavasana- 6 to 10 minutes
Metal Element in Chinese Medicine
The Metal Element corresponds with the Lungs (yin) and Large Intestine (yang) and the Autumn season. The Lung energy helps to strengthen the immune system and govern the Qi, for fully deeper breaths. It’s what we take into our body and what we release. The Lungs help to circulate the fluids through the body, moving impure fluids to the kidneys. They extract the goodness from the air we breathe and nourish all the organs. The Large Intestine desends impure waste to eliminate. Together they help with the process of acceptance and letting go. Taking in what we need and letting go of what isn’t serving our highest good. It’s the ability to know our own worth. When out of balance, it can show up as being out of breath and trouble breathing, dry cough and throat, being constantly thirsty, headaches, sore throat, constipation, not being able to move through difficult emotions and experiences, and unprocessed or inconsolable grief. For more, click here.
Images from Natural Health Zone
Lung Meridian (left) and Large Intestine meridian