Settle In for Solar-Powered Yin

Connect with the warmth of the sun as you nourish your body and spirit with this revitalizing sequence.
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Connect with the warmth of the sun as you nourish your body and spirit with this revitalizing sequence.
woman with headache stretching yoga relaxing

Watch: A video of this Home Practice sequence can be found online at yogajournal.com/livemag.

Each spring, the sun's rays nurture all living things, inviting new life to blossom while comforting and reinvigorating the creatures that have survived the challenges of winter. This nourishing sequence designed by Dina Amsterdam, a San Francisco yoga teacher and the founder of InnerYoga, offers an opportunity to connect with that same nurturing, vital energy that exists within you.

You might choose to practice this sequence in a cozy spot in your home where the sun is streaming in—or simply imagine the solar rays gently illuminating and warming your surroundings. Then, settle into these long-held Yin Yoga-style poses and enjoy the quiet rhythm of your breath, letting your body relax and inviting yourself to receive the nourishment of the practice.

See alsoWhy Try Yin Yoga?

Amsterdam suggests that, as you practice, you imagine a cocoon filled with the warm radiance of the sun surrounding any areas of discomfort in your body. Relax again and again into the supportive warmth of the cocoon. The extended holds of these Yin poses, inspired by Amsterdam's longtime teacher, Sarah Powers, can sometimes make your body feel tender.

After such a deeply nourishing practice, give yourself some time to transition back to the fullness of life. Then, just as a tender green shoot celebrates its vitality by blooming fully in the presence of the sun, so you, too, will rejoin your friends, family, and activities, radiating your own vibrant delight in life.

Home Practice with Dina Amsterdam

To Begin: Turn inward. Lie in Savasana (Corpse Pose) with your knees resting over a bolster and your head resting on a blanket. Slowly release 5 sighing exhalations. Welcome the sensations in your body (aches, tensions, ease, and openness), allowing them to be as they are. Stay for 3 minutes.

To Finish: Rest and savor. Return to supported Corpse Pose. Feel the expanse of your whole being open to nourishment. Soak in the benefits of your practice.

1. Butterfly Pose

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Sit with the soles of your feet together 12 to 24 inches in front of your pelvis. Extend your spine forward with your chest lifted. Come as far forward as you can; then drape your upper body either over your legs or, if you feel any tension in your back, over a bolster. Allow your head to rest on the bolster, your hands, or your feet. Let go of all muscular effort. Visualize the cocoon of warm light surrounding you. Stay here for 3 to 6 minutes; then come up gently to sitting.

2. Half Saddle

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Bend your left knee, taking your left foot to the outside of your left hip. If it's difficult to sit on the floor with your left leg in this position, sit up on a block. Bend your right knee, and place your right foot on the floor. Walk your hands behind you and lie back, either over a bolster or, if you can continue, all the way to the floor. It's OK if your left knee lifts up. Relax into the pose for 1 to 5 minutes. Then come up and take the second side.

3. Lateral Dragonfly

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Sit on a folded blanket, extending your legs out wide. Let your legs remain passive and lean your torso to the right, taking your right elbow to your right leg or to a bolster. Rest your head in your right hand, and bring your left arm behind your head. Turn your attention toward the changing sensations in your legs, pelvis, and side body as you soften into the pose. Stay for 3 to 6 minutes; then lift up slowly and repeat on the second side.

4. Dragonfly Twist

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With your legs in Dragonfly position, lengthen your spine and twist your torso to the right. Hold your right outer thigh with your left hand. Take your right hand to the floor behind you or all the way around to hold your left inner thigh. Stay for 3 to 6 minutes. Slowly unwind. Pause a moment in the center; then repeat to the left.

5. Dragonfly

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Continue with your legs in Dragonfly and sit up tall. Walk your hands forward as far as you can, and then drape your upper body down, resting your head on a bolster or on the ground. Release your body to gravity, allowing space for your sensations. Stay for 3 to 6 minutes. Then lift your torso gently and use your hands to bring your legs toward each other with care.

6. Sukhasana (Easy Pose)

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Sit up on a folded blanket or bolster and come into a simple cross-legged position. Notice if there is any area in your body that feels discomfort. Imagine the cocoon of warmth and sunlight surrounding this area, and then let the walls of the cocoon expand to embrace your whole body. Sit for 2 minutes, feeling the effects of your practice.

7. Reclining Knee-to-Chest Pose

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Lie down on your back and lengthen your legs forward. Press your left thighbone down firmly. Hug your right knee into your chest with both arms and soften your right hip and groin. On an inhalation, extend your legs forward and your arms up and over your head, lengthening your body. On an exhalation, hug your left knee into your chest while grounding your right thigh. Continue moving slowly with your breath, alternating legs, for 8 rounds.

8. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)

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From the prone position, bend your knees and take your heels directly under your knees. Lift your hips and tailbone, and imagine hugging a ball between your thighs. Bend your elbows and lift your forearms perpendicular to the floor, palms facing each other. Press your upper arms and elbows down firmly to open your heart center and lift your hips higher. Expand your chest with 5 slow breaths. Release and then repeat 2 more times.

9. Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose), variation

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Take Reclining Knee-to-Chest, with your left leg extended. Interlace your fingers behind your right thigh close to your sitting bone and extend your right leg up. Flex your right foot and press your right thigh firmly into your hands. Take 8 slow breaths, release, and repeat on your left side. Repeat 2 more times on each side. Then hug both knees into your chest and let out a long sigh.

10. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)

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Lie back over a bolster with the soles of your feet together, knees wide, palms face-up at your sides. Visualize your body surrounded by the warmth of the sun. On your inhalations, breathe the sunlight into your whole body and hold your breath. Imagine every cell soaking in the breath like a sponge. On your exhalations, release fully. Repeat this 5 times and then let go completely for 3 to 6 minutes.

Watch: A video of this Home Practice sequence can be found online at yogajournal.com/livemag.