embracing change: cultivating the courage to make choices
a yin yoga sequence - images by Julie Ansiau
Have you ever experienced the voice inside of you calling Now Or Never? We know when it’s time for a change, but we are at the same time horrified to make changes and to jump into the unknown. Yet whenever you look back on your own life, those moments that implied a scary change and jump into the unknown led you to the best experiences in your life, didn’t they?
I was very scared to leave my familiar world behind when I turned 30, i left my husband, my job, my country and moved to Los Angeles, where I didn’t know a single soul. Looking back it was very scary, but the best decision of my life. It lead me to yoga, it lead me to meeting many inspiring wonderful friends and teachers and eventually to live the life of my dreams. And guess what, it wasn’t at all about pushing hard and fighting my way, it was about embracing my vulnerability, my softness and learning to let go and surrender. Once I practiced this more often, things magically fell into place and I was faced with wonderful opportunities in front of me, where I just had to choose between yes and no.
The practice of yin yoga is a wonderful tool to embrace our softer, intuitive side. It helps to strengthen our intuition, which leads to more courage to follow our heart and live our dreams. You can learn to make choices by observing more clearly, by accepting and embracing change.
The following sequence will include forward and back bends, as well as some hip openers and soft stretches. Focus on the language of your body, when does it say yes, when does it say no, where do you feel the yes/no, in your heart, in your belly? Practice becoming familiar and in tune with your body’s language is very powerful and healing. Letting be whatever is present, releasing emotions and stories is the goal of this practice. We store a lot of these emotions in the hips, so enjoy the deep stretching here. All poses are held for 5 min, if not indicated otherwise.
Please allow in-between poses for neutralising stretches like table top, down dog, windshield wipers.
1. wide legged childs pose
To start sit back onto your heels with your knees wide, so your belly can rest. Your head may rest on a block or the floor. Breathe deeply into your back body. If you like to add a twist bring your left arm underneath your right and breathe into the stretch. If it feels too much for your shoulder keep both arms stretched out in front.
2. seated and sleeping swan
Begin from a Downward facing dog, lift your left leg up and shake it out, gently opening your hip. Now bring your left knee outside your left wrist and slide your right leg back a bit. Slowly find your way into this pose, remember not to engage your muscles. For the first variation stay on your hands in seated swan and find your edge, after about 1 minute release completely into sleeping swan. You can use a pillow or block to support your chest/head, find what works for you and then stay here for your remaining time. To release lift back up again and shake it out and then repeat on the other leg.
3. half shoelace pose
Come to sit up with both legs straight in front of you. Place your hands behind, lean back and shake out your legs. then keep your right leg straight and bend your left knee over your right leg. Fold gently forward, placing a block or any other prop on your knee to support your head. Maybe rest your arms on extra blocks as well, see what works best for you and release into the pose.
After 5 min come slowly up, shake out and switch your legs.
We are addressing our gallbladder meridian, which is responsible for decision making! Come to lie on your back and move your hips over to the right side of the mat. Then move your legs over to the left corner and bring your right ankle over your left. If this feels too much you can also just rest your feet next to each other. Then stretch your arms over your head, walk your chest over to the left, grab your right wrist and breathe deeply along the frontline of your right side. Release and repeat on other side.
5. full shoelace
First see if this variation is available to you, otherwise skip it. Bend your right knee and fold your left knee over it, feet go out to the side. Chin can be resting on your top knee, elbows can be on blocks or on the floor. Deep stretch for the hips, make sure to breathe deeply and release if you feel any sharp pain. After 5 min release legs, windshield wiper and switch with your right knee over your left.
Open your legs wide and let your feet fall out to the side, no muscular engagement please. Lean forward and rest your elbows on one or many blocks, so that you can rest your chin in your hands and stay here for 5 Min. If it’s too uncomfortable to rest your chin in your hands you can also sit up higher and rest your arms on blocks. Breathe deeply, remember to exhale through the mouth once in a while.
7. Square Pose - Fire log
Sit tall and start by bending your left knee and lining up your shin to the front line of the mat. Then bend your right knee and place the right shin over the left. You can place one or two blocks between knee and ankle for support. and then surrender into the pose. Hold for 3-5 Min, it’s intense., back off if you need to.
8. spiderman release
My favourite resting pose! come to lie on your belly and lift your left knee up in line with your hip and then place your left ankle in line with your knee. Rest your head on your palm and look to your left knee as well. Feel your groin releasing with every breath and simply breathe and let go. After 5 min on the left side release onto your belly with legs straight, feel the release and then switch to the other side, lifting your right knee up.
Roll over onto your bag and hug your knees to your chest. Rock gently side to side to release the back and then straighten your legs and come into savasana. Stay here for a good 5 min rest and when you end your savasana bend the knees to your chest and roll onto your left (yin) side. Stay there for a few breath until you come up to sit for closing.
10. final meditation
To end come back up into your seat for a short meditation. Feel the sensations in your body and once again feel into your belly and into your heart and notice the space and sense of connection. Every time you come to practice you nourish this connection and learn to trust and embrace changes. Bring your hands together in front of your heart for a moment of gratitude to yourself for taking the time to nourish yourself.
For more Yin Sequences please scroll through my blog and sign up for my monthly newsletter. I hope very much this sequence was serving you well and wish you a wonderful rest.
UPDATE: Looking for more practices to deepen your yoga and transform your life? January 2019 I will be leading my online mentorship program CULTIVATING INTUITION again and it includes 5 Vinyasa Flow videos as well as 5 Yin Yoga sequences that you can download and keep a lifetime! For more infos click here