Having completed a meridian-based yin yoga teacher training a few years ago, what has remained with me is a very fine morning routine (in the evenings I never get around to it), the "kidney series".
Note: Yin poses are different from traditional Yoga poses. Firstly they are held much longer, from 3 to 5 minutes each (I tend to stick to 4 minutes). The intention is to let go of your muscular effort to begin to effect the connective tissues in the body. By reaching the connective tissue, the idea is that you are accessing the deeper meridians in the body which follow these tissues.
Why do I focus on this kidney series? As we get older our kidney "chi" or "qi", the kidney essence gets weak and we need to nourish it to strengthen our water element; our blood, joints and the "juiciness of our bones".
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidney is the powerhouse of the body, supplying reserve energy to any organ running low on Qi. So I want to support this powerhouse and I chose the following set of postures:
I start with "butterfly " or "Tara" pose:
You can also use a prop, like a yoga block or a (set of) cushion to rest you head and slowly ease into the position with time and patience!
Next, I like to do a seated twist to both sides
If you are not flexible enough to hold the outside of your thigh, just hug the knee and/or put your back hand on a yoga block
I then move into "Forward bend" or "caterpillar" as it is called in yin yoga:
Modifications while working towards this pose:
- with atigth lower bac, open your feet apart or sit on a cushion
- with tight hamstrings, bend the knees and place a bloster under the knees
- you can support your head with your hands
"Saddle pose" on a bolster. A favourite for stretching the thigh muscles, opening the sacral-lumbar arch, and opening the heart:
You might not want to lean quite as far back when first practising this posture.
- Use props to create less of an incline, keep your feet under your hips
- If you feel a lot of pressure under your feet, use a folded up blanket to soften the impact
- You might also straighten one leg for half-saddle!
"Happy baby" - a deep hip opener:
- you can do a half-"Happy Baby", stretching one leg out and feeling how your back comes lower to the ground, switching legs
- you can hold your shins or knees it it is difficult to reach the soles of your feet
- you can place a cushion under the tailbone or head to feel more comfortable
"Snail" pose - deeply stretching the whole spine, stretching hamstrings, and squeezing thyroid and adrenal glands as well as heart, stomach, and pancreas:
- if your feet are not touching the ground you can place a bolster under them
- (I like to support my knees for a bit before the backsides of my legs are nicely stretched)
... and then I finish up with "straddle pose" or "dragonfly, which opens the hips, groin, and stretches the hamstrings:
- you can lean forward upon a bolster (plus cushion or block), just keep the back as straight as possible
- with tight hamstrings you can place cushions under your knees
... and to finish things off, Ii like to do a nice open side stretch, resting one elbow on the ground, as well as turning and bending down to the foot over each outstretched leg, bringing my nose on the knee!
Namasté and enjoy my "yin kidney series"!
Beata, all-round encourager:: of art and artists of Nepal, of a preschool in Kathmandu, of the great work of encouragement based on Adlerian psychology and the Theo Schoenaker's concept!