Spring is the season you often associate with balance and renewal: you get to spend a little more time outside under blue skies and warm weather while still emerging from the slow season of winter.
With this spring comes an opportunity to work on that renewal and the newfound sense of vitality. Yoga, as always, can be helpful to help ease you into a time of rebirth. Like flowers and trees, however, you’re allowed to take your time to gently come back out of your hibernation.
Below, you’ll find a Yin yoga sequence to practice at the beginning of this new season and as often as you need to calm your nervous system.
Before you get all your props together, set the mood for your practice. Yin yoga is a very soft kind of yoga in terms of movement but can be intense for your inner world.
You might enjoy a journaling practice before getting into this Yin yoga sequence, kindly letting your mind know it’s time to release what’s not serving you. You’ll be moving from a state of high activity into its opposite, changing the frequency of your nervous system, in scientific jargon, you’ll be moving from your sympathetic system, the one that has you respond to your surroundings in a “fight or flight” mode, into a parasympathetic system, also called the “rest and digest” system.
Get everything you need to your space: a warm cup of tea to sip on as you write, props such as cushions and bolsters to sit on, maybe a block or two, a blanket, and your coziest jumper and pants. Grab a pen and journal, your favorite candles, incense, sage, or palo santo, and a speaker or headphones to play a little music to add to your Yin yoga sequence.
Press play on one of the playlists below, light everything up and open your journal to a blank page. You can use the following questions as prompts:
Choose the questions you feel drawn to and let your mind speak through your fingers. Try not to judge yourself for your thoughts, allow all feelings to come and rest on paper. Once you write your reflections down, you allow them to take the importance they need while allowing your mind to unwind without them using up your mental energy.
Music to Wake Up to by East Forest - East Forest is a very talented artist. You’ll find some of his music in this playlist along with other tunes to figuratively wake up to. Its title fits the season perfectly.
Winter playlist by Giulia Pline - Although this playlist is called “winter,” it’s a little more energetic than the previous playlist and also includes some East Forest tunes, mixed in with Indian artists and other soothing sounds.
Yin Yoga: Spring by Michaela Olzinger - A playlist filled with soft voices, languages from all over the world, piano notes, and Indian instruments.
A Novo Amor radio by Spotify - Novo Amor is a fantastic artist who plays tunes with a soothing voice and notes. This radio will surprise you with acoustic guitars and low voices like those of Ben Howard or The Paper Kites.
Try to stay in each pose as long as it feels comfortable, aiming for about 3 to 5 minutes. You can start in the first pose focusing on creating a “360” breath, using up all the space in your lungs, feeling the air fill them up into your back, sides, and belly, relaxing your shoulders and the muscles in your face.
For a fully immersed experience, close your eyes and relax your gaze behind your eyelids, only opening them at the end of the practice (or when you really can’t place the bolster like you want to).
Legs Up a Wall
Sanskrit: Viparita Karani
Take your mat to a wall (or simply use a rug if available), get into a tiny ball on your side, your buttocks touching the wall. Then roll over to lift your Legs Up the Wall, letting your arms rest on either side of your body like a T, in a cactus shape, or placed on your heart and belly. Choose the option that will help you get into this practice with ease.
Supported Forward Fold
Extend your legs out in front of you and place your bolster on top of your upper legs. Depending on your abilities and needs, you might place your bolster on its low side and rest your entire upper body on it or prop your forehead up on its shorter side, using the bolster like a stick. Rest your arms and hands on either side of your body and observe the sensations in your back body as you breathe in this position.
Sanskrit: Parivrtta Kapotasana
Lie on your back, bend your knees and place your feet close to your buttocks. Take your left ankle above your right knee, opening your left knee to the side. Stay there with your right foot anchored on the ground or place your hands under your thigh, lifting your foot up. Your head and shoulders should feel relaxed on the ground. Make sure you’re not forcing anything here - this is meant to help you relax, bring feelings of balance, so avoid tensing up in your arms and shoulders.
When you’re ready, move to the other side.
Sanskrit: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Place a block under your sacrum, your feet as wide as the mat and knees knocked into each other. Hug yourself placing each hand on opposite shoulders, with the option to open your arms into a cactus shape after a few minutes. First gathering your energy, then opening yourself up to what the world will offer you this Spring.
Lie on your back and cross your left ankle over the right and grab your left ankle with your right hand. Keep them like so and move your feet and hands to the right. You’ll feel a stretch in your left side. Adjust this pose moving your shoulders and/or legs a little more to the side as needed.
When you’re ready, come back to center and move to the other side.
Place a bolster under your knees and let them fall out to the sides as you relax your hips, legs, ankles, and feet. Let your arms rest on either side of your body, palms facing up to the ceiling. You can shimmy your hips, your shoulders, and even your head before resting fully into this final pose.
You can finish this sequence resting in seated meditation, finding gratitude for the opportunity to experience yet another spring with openness, ready to welcome the newness of the season.
Expert Tip: Make sure to move as slowly as you need between each pose. There is no rush, just your own rhythm to follow. You also want to choose a “reset” pose in between poses. This might be Savasana or Lotus Pose (seated with your legs crossed like in meditation). It might help you come back to your intention in between fleeting thoughts taking your focus away.
Enjoy this special time of the year to practice kindness and patience with yourself. Come back to this Yin yoga sequence as often as you need, and try it outside with the birds singing if the weather allows it.