Are you missing those hands-on assists that let you melt into your practice? While there is no substitute for hands-on assists there are plenty of ways that you can assist yourself in your practice, and massage yourself that will do the trick - for now at least!
Try these yoga self-assists and self-massages to add an extra element of bliss into your personal yoga practice
Baddha Konasana Hip Unlocking
Baddha Konasana Hip Unlocking is an easy way to traction your own hips. Use this technique before a hip-opening practice to prepare your body for depth. Yoga teachers - your students will love this in the warm-up of your hip opening sequences. It feels SO juicy!
Begin in Baddha Konasana Stage 1:
Place your right hand on your right thigh with the heel of the hand right at the hip crease, with fingers pointing towards the knee. Ground your left hand beside your hip.
Lean over into the left hand and straighten the right arm. Apply pressure with the right hand to the right thigh so that you feel a release in the right hip. No need to over-effort it.
Hold for several deep breaths. Breathe into the right hip and right side body to encourage the body to open.
Keep hand positions the same.
Dip the right shoulder down to change the angle of traction in the hip.
Slightly twist your body to the left.
Continue to breathe deeply into the right hip and side body. Stay for several deep breaths.
Place hands on either side of the left knee.
Fold chest towards the left knee while maintaining a long spine.
Send breath into the right hip. Stay for several deep breaths.
Keep breath counts relatively equal in each stage. For example 5 breaths each stage or ten breaths each stage,
Repeat on the other side.
Self Collarbone Massage
This Self Collarbone Massage can be practiced seated or supine. Students can find even deeper relaxation in a Supported Fish Pose, with a bolster supporting the whole back body. This is great for a Restorative yoga class. This massage technique uses light to medium pressure and is easy to do on yourself. Add essential oils for a full sensory experience.
Set up in Supported Fish Pose. Make a ramp with two blocks and lay the bolster along the ramp. Lie down with the sacrum at the end of the bolster so the entire spine is supported.
Allow the left arm to rest by your side. If you need additional support, place a folded blanket under the left forearm.
Using the index and middle fingers of the right hand, begin applying light to medium pressure to the muscles just above and below the left collarbone. Start at the medial end of the collarbone, the part closest to the sternum.
Breathe into the collarbones, and press as you exhale. You can also scrub the fingers in place by moving back and forth as you press downward,
After 1-3 breaths in the spot nearest to the sternum, move an inch or so to the left and repeat. Repeat several times until you have moved across the entire collarbone and are at the shoulder.
Repeat on the right collarbone using the left hand.
After both sides are complete, rest in Supported Fish Pose for a few more breaths, or a few more minutes. Breathe into the collarbones and feel for the chest relaxing.
Self Neck Massage with a Block
Tech neck and other forms of neck tension are common complaints that have gotten a lot more common as more and more people are working remotely. This Self Neck Massage with a Block technique can be easily done at home or in a group yoga setting, especially as part of a Yin or Restorative sequence, or as part of cool down.
Set up by lying supine with bent knees. Place the edge of a block on low setting at an angle at the occipital ridge, just below the edge of your skull. The block should be angled with the angle of your neck rather than against it.
If the block feels unstable, place an additional block behind it for support.
Relax your head back onto the block. Take some deep breaths and wait for the neck muscles to relax.
Move the head from side to side along the block. Take your time moving very slowly side to side.
As you move, feel for any little knots or places that need extra attention. Spend extra time in these places. Relax your head into the knot for a few breaths, or if that is too intense, move the weight of your head onto the knot and then away from it slowly until it starts to relax enough to hold pressure there.
Another way to work these knots out is to cross fiber the muscle by tilting your chin up and down.
Spend at least a few minutes here, or longer if needed. Continually remind yourself to relax your jaw.
To come out, support your head with one hand. With the other hand, remove the block(s) from behind you and gently set your head down.
Side Body Fascial Release with a Block
This three part Side Body Fascial Release with a Block is great for releasing tension and making space in the side ribs to breathe more fully. It feels great before or after a practice with a lot of side planks or oblique work.
Lie on your right side with the block on the lowest height and the bottom edge of the block just below the bottom rib.
If this immediately feels very intense, you can stay upright on your right forearm for support. For more intensity, extend your right arm out overhead and lay your head on your right shoulder.
Breathe deeply into the right side body. You can stay still, or add a slight rocking motion forward and back to help release the fascia.
If you still need more intensity, extend your left arm overhead for added weight.
Stay for several deep breaths, or up to a few minutes.
Turn the block onto medium setting. Place the edge of the block just below your armpit, or just about at the armpit.
Lie on your side with your right arm extended out overhead. Your left hand can stay on the ground to help support, or if you need more intensity, reach the left arm over head for added weight.
Breathe deeply into your right side body. You can stay still, or add a slight rocking motion forward and back to help release the fascia.
You may want to adjust by moving the block up or down an inch depending on what you’re feeling.
Stay for several deep breaths, or a few minutes.
Don't let the lack of hand on assets get to you; these yoga self-assists and self-massages can be great additives to the end of your yoga class or great for your students to do on their own!
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