I truly believe the body has the potential to heal the body. After my yin yoga training this past winter, I have developed a deep love for yin yoga, the Chinese meridian system, and the impact of our chi, or energy, in the body. I could go on and on, but for the sake of this post, I’ll keep it simple.
A 60-minute Yin Practice to Support the Immune System
(Don’t have time for a full 60-minute practice? Choose two to three of the poses below and hold each for two to three minutes. Enjoy ten to 15 minutes of immune-support bliss!)
This practice focuses on the Chinese element of metal, with an energetic emphasis on the lungs. Incorporated into this yin sequence for the immune system, you will find chest openers, twists, and mindful breathing practices. All designed to release the body of stagnant energy, detoxify, and support the immune system.
Featured poses: Criss-Cross Arms, Melting Heart Pose, Open Wing, Supine Twist, Reclined Fish, Legs up the Wall and Savasana.
Begin your practice with ten mindful breaths.
I like to use an extended exhale technique to calm the mind and bring my nervous system into a parasympathetic state. Worry, stress and anxiety trigger our fight or flight response, sending the nervous system into a sympathetic state. This releases hormones and chemicals into the body, such as adrenaline, which can weaken the immune system. A weakened immune system can make you more vulnerable to viral infections and frequent illness.
Extended Exhale Technique: Come to a comfortable seated position and close, or lower, the eyes. Take a deep breath in through the nose and a big breath out of the mouth. Seal the lips and continue by breathing in and out of the nose. On the inhale, breath in for three counts. Exhale for six counts. Repeat for at least ten breaths.
Begin your practice in child’s pose for five breaths, bringing your awareness to the present moment. Slide forward into Criss-Cross Arms, with the right arm closer to the body, palms facing down towards the earth. Remain here for three minutes. Slowly release out of the pose and spend one minute laying flat on the belly, with the arms by your sides. Then, switch sides, returning to Criss-Cross Arms with the left arm closer to the chest. Hold the pose for three minutes. Release the pose by returning to child’s pose for one minute.
Slide forward into Melting Heart pose, bringing the hips directly over the knees and melting the chest down towards the earth. You can place the chin, or the forehead, onto the mat. Hold the pose for five minutes. Breath deeply. To come out of the pose, press back to child’s pose or laying flat on the belly for one minute.
Come to laying face down on the mat. Move into Open Wing pose by extending the right arm straight out from the shoulder and placing the left palm under the left shoulder. Turn your gaze to the left. As you begin to press into the left palm, stack the left hip on top of the right hip, possibly bringing the left foot onto the earth. Hold for three minutes. Return to laying flat on the belly, with the arms by your sides for one minute. Repeat Open Wing pose on the left side. Hold for three minutes and then rest on the belly for one minute, observing the sensations in the body.
Gently make your way onto your back. Hug both knees into your chest and then extend your left leg flat onto the earth, keeping the right knee hugged in. Use the left hand to cross the right knee across your body for Supine Twist. Turn your gaze to the left and hold the pose for three minutes. Bring both knees back into the chest for one minute, to neutralize the spine. Switch sides, crossing the left knee across the chest, towards the right. Hold Supine Twist for three minutes. Bring both knees back into the chest for one minute, maybe rocking side to side to massage the lumbar spine.
Bring a bolster or rolled up blanket under the upper back for Reclined Fish pose. Let the head rest towards the earth and cactus the arms to the sides to expand the chest. The legs can be extended flat or place the feet on the earth, bending the knees. Hold Reclined Fish pose for five minutes. Remove the bolster, place both feet on the earth with knees bent and rock the knees side to side.
Bring your mat towards the wall, shift the hips as close to the wall as possible. You may like to fold a blanket under the hips. Extend both legs up the wall and relax. Stay with your Legs up the Wall for five minutes. Gently roll off the wall to one side, lowering the legs to the earth. Lay in a fetal position on one side for one minute.
Make your way into Savasana, laying flat on the mat or with a bolster under your knees. Relax your arms down by your sides, with the palms facing up. Take up some space with your legs and allow the feet to fall open to the sides. Close the eyes and breath naturally. Remain in Savasana for five to ten minutes.
I hope you enjoy this yin yoga sequence and reap the benefits. Thank you to my beautiful model student, Jenalee, for allowing me to photograph her practice.
Cheers to a happy, healthy season for all.