Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Liver Gall Bladder Yin Yoga Session

Spring is the time of year for rising energy.

Spring is the season when the liver and gallbladder organs are most active and they are associated with the functions of storage and distribution of vital energy. This yin yoga sequence is will passively stimulate and balance the liver and gall bladder meridians to support you through the spring transition towards the brighter and longer days. It is crucial to support these organs to maintain vitality, health, and balanced emotions during the spring time! 

The Liver 
-stores and filters blood
-stores nutrients 
-converts carbohydrates, fat, and protein into one another
- manufactures hormones and enzymes
- essential for digestive, circulatory, and excretory functions
- regulates chi
- rules the health of muscles, tendons, nails, hands, and feet
- sense organ is the eyes
- responsible for balancing emotions

The Gall Bladder
- secretes digestive enzymes to break down fat
- ability to follow our path in life
- capacity to regain equilibrium after shock

Follow this Liver Gall Bladder Yin Yoga sequence to stimulate and balance this meridian pair for a relaxing and rejuvenating spring time practice! 

If you have never practiced yin yoga before check out my blog post to find out more about starting a yin yoga practice at home!  
How to start a yin yoga home practice

Here is an overview of the spring yin yoga sequence: (this entire sequence can last anywhere between 35-90 minutes depending on how long you hold each pose) 

1. Toes pose with Apan Mudra {2 minutes}
2. Ankle counter stretch {5-10 breaths}
3. Pentacle pose {1 minute}
4. Butterfly pose {3-5 minutes}
5. Pentacle pose {1 minute}
6. Sleeping swan pose RIGHT SIDE {3-5 minutes} 
7. Square pose LEFT SIDE {3-5 minutes} 
8. Pentacle pose {1 minute}
9. Sleeping swan pose LEFT SIDE {3-5 minutes} 
10. Square pose RIGHT SIDE {3-5 minutes} 
11. Pentacle pose {1 minute}
12. Dragonfly pose RIGHT SIDE {2 minutes}
13. Dragonfly pose LEFT SIDE {2 minutes} 
14. Dragonfly pose FORWARD {2 minutes} 
15. Pentacle pose {1 minute}
16. Twisted roots pose RIGHT SIDE {1 minute} 
17. Twisted roots pose LEFT SIDE {1 minute} 
18. Final Pentacle pose {1-5 minutes}

Tips to remember for any yin yoga practice: 
 * Only move to your appropriate edge. Every body will look different in these postures. 
 * There should be no pain in your body and especially the knee joint. 
 * If there is pain, back out until your comfortable, try a prop in a new spot, or skip the pose all together.
 * If you are new to yoga, please seek the experienced support of a certified yoga teacher.
 * Relax all of your body parts as well as your thoughts by using your mind as a tool to stay present. 
 * Be conscious of over stretching any body areas as well as be sensitive to any injuries.
 * If you have any questions please contact me for more info. 
 * Stay still in the posture and allow time and gravity to do the work. 
 * Embody the yin energy by surrendering and using the exhale breath to soften your body completely.  
 * It is helpful to have a timer with a relaxing bell sound so you don't have to keep an eye on the clock. 

Here is a detailed outline for this class sequence: 
We begin our practice in Toes pose. Hold toes pose for 2 minutes, watching your breath, arriving in your body, and gently opening the meridians as they start and end in the feet. 

1. sit in a kneeling position

2. fold your toes under the ball arch of the foot
3. fan your small toe out wide to ensure an even stretch
4. you should feel a nice opening on the arches of the feet
5. relax your upper body and watch your breath 
6. if this pose is too intense lean forward to take some pressure off
7. you can also sit on a block if you have sensitive knees and ankles

Apan Mudra is very relaxing and grounding. It stimulates the liver gall bladder meridian pair by way of the wood element. If it is comfortable through out the class you can return to this mudra (hand gesture that locks or opens energy) to help bring the mind back into focus. 


As a counter stretch to the toes pose, we move backward into the Ankle Stretch pose. Hold this pose for 5-10 long slow deep breaths. This pose should feel like a nice release after opening the bottom of the foot. 

1. from toes pose, lean forward and place the tops of your feet onto the mat

2. place your hands behind you 
3. lean back to feel the opposite side of the foot open
4. listen to your body and stop at your unique edge
5. it is OK if the knees come off of the mat if it feels good in your body
6. it is OK to relax the head back gently but do not throw the head back. 
7. find a little lift in the heart
Next, we move into of my favorite poses in the whole world. Butterfly pose is a great low back, outer hip, and inner groin opener. Enjoy resting in this post for a total of 3-5 minutes. Embody the essence of yin yoga and completely surrender and let go! If your hips roll backwards in a seated position prop yourself up on a block, blanket, or cushion to give your hips a little lift. 

1. from a seated posture bring the soles of your feet together 
2. make a diamond shape between your legs
3. as you inhale lift your heart and lengthen your spine
4. exhale and round forward
5. allow your spine to round
6. relax all of the muscles in your body
7. continue to watch your breath


Between each posture rest on your back in a neutral posture. This pose is called Pentacle pose because your body is making the shape of a five pointed star. as you come back to laying on your back, take your legs out wide, arms out wide, and take up space. Continue to let go and allow your body to integrate the extra space and opening. 


From Pentacle pose, roll over to one side and gently roll yourself up to a seated position. Next we we move into Sleeping Swan pose. This is a great hip opener that you will truly see a big opening with. Hold this relaxing pose for 3-5 minutes. 

1. bring your knee up towards your wrist 
2. drape your shin on the
3. extend the back leg straight back.
4. inhale lift your heart
5. exhale round and fold forward
6. as usual, use your blocks to support your body in ease
7. relax your jaw, face, shoulders, hips, and entire body on to the floor.
8. if you have super tight hips prop up your hip with a prop to create more comfort. 
Moving directly from sleeping swan, we move into our next wonderful posture called Square pose. Again, maintain a relaxed state and meet your body at your own edge not pushing beyond or being forceful with your body. Again, hold this pose between 3-5 minutes.Always move out of the postures gently, slowly, and use your upper body strength to help support your transition.

1. from sleeping swan, swing your back leg around to the front of your body
2. stack your back shin on top of the bottom shin making two right angles 
3. if your top knee is really high, place a block or support under it to help you relax
4. inhale lift your spine
5. exhale fold and bow inward
6. it is OK  to let your spine round 
7. place blocks under your forehead to support your neck if need be 

*Release out of this pose gently and move back in pentacle pose. Repeat sleeping swan into square pose on the other side creating balance from right to left. Always move slowly and give yourself time to rest into pentacle pose to return to neutral and feel the benefits and affects of these powerful postures. Know that you are truly supporting your liver and gall bladder meridians and offering yourself a quiet space of introspection and surrender. 

Next we move into one of my favorite yin yoga postures, Dragonfly pose. This pose is very stimulating for the liver and gall bladder poses and helps to relieve low back pain and tight hamstrings. First, fold over the right leg, then the left leg, and finally fold in the center. You can hold each side for 2 minutes so you will be in this leg position for about 6 minutes in total. Remember to continue to let your whole body relax and let go!

1. From pentacle pose, roll over to one side and gently push yourself up to a seat
2. Turn to the right or left edge of your mat so that when you spread your legs wide, both heals are resting on the mat. 
3. Take your heals out as wide as they will go comfortably
4. Relax your ankles to make sure you are not engaging your muscles 
5. As usual, if you have tight low back and hips sit on a prop to lift your hips a little off of the floor.  
6. Inhale lengthen your spine. 
7. Exhale bow forward and relax your entire body.

When you fold to the right and the left, turn your torso in the direction of your fold towards the foot. First inhale to lengthen the spine and again, exhale to round forward. Only go as far as your body will allow you too with each and with out pain!

Lastly, we move into Twisted Root pose which is a supine twist with the legs crossed. If it does not feel good to have the legs crossed over one another you can do a simple twist instead with the legs not crossed. Fold to the right side first and then the left holding for 1 minute each side. Let go of all tension. Imagine the earth supporting you and pulling out any unwanted tension from the body. 

1. Move directly into twisted roots from laying on your back in pentacle pose. 
2. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. 
3. Wrap your right left over your left
4. Drop your knees to the left. 
5. Place a prop under your block to support the weight of your legs
6. If it feels good on your neck, turn your head the opposite direction
7. Come back to neutral before you repeat on the opposite side.

Once you complete twisted roots on both sides, remember to rest in pentacle pose for your final relaxation for anywhere between 1-5 minutes. Complete your practice by rolling up to seated and bowing to yourself. Acknowledge yourself and your practice with a silent gesture of gratitude. 

Lara's Touch

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