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The Winter Solstice marks an auspicious shift in daylight, when we begin to emerge from the darkness back into the light. On the shortest, darkest day of the year, we are urged to call on the divine light from within. The long dark days of winter can lend themselves to physical stagnation, fatigue, and hibernation. In this yin yoga sequence, we honor the pause before we are called to expand once again.
Start in a comfortable easy seat, inviting in several soothing breaths. Close your eyes and allow yourself to settle into the present moment. Once you have arrived and feel centered, let’s begin.
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From a seated position, extend your legs out in front. Begin to walk your hands forward until you reach your first sign of tension or edge. Round your spine forward and relax your legs. You may choose to bow your head forward to invite a deep stretch through the upper back, shoulders, and neck. Breathe into the back of your body, with a special focus on the low back and legs.
Stay 30–40 breaths. To come out, walk your hands in and press up to an upright seat.
Dragon Lunge (Right and Left)
4–6 minutes per side
From a tabletop position, step your right foot forward. Reach you hand to blocks to allow your hips to settle down toward the earth and your chest to extend. At about the halfway point, if it feels appropriate to deepen, you may lower onto your forearms. To come out of the posture, shift your hips back in space, making your way back to table. Don’t forget to do the other side.
Tadpole or Traditional Child’s Pose
From a tabletop position, walk the knees wide, and send your hips back toward your heals. Find a comfortable arm position and relax your neck and shoulders. To come out, press into your hands and begin to stack your torso over your hips.
Lie back on your mat with a block or bolster nearby. Walk your feet in with knees bent, pointing up to the sky. Press into your feet to lift your hips, sliding the block or bolster under your hips (more specifically your sacrum). Allow your weight to release into the prop and find a comfortable place to rest your arms with the chest open. You can choose to extend your legs out so your heels move toward the edges of your mat. If that feels too deep, come back to bent knees or extending one leg at a time.
To release the shape, draw your hands by your side and walk the feet back in. Very carefully, press into your feet to lift your hips and remove the block before you set your hips back down onto your mat. Take a moment to check in and ask what would feel good for your body right now and do that. Sometimes, drawing the knees into the chest feels instinctive but other times, extending the legs to Savasana seems more fitting. Please listen to your body.
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Knees-to-Chest Pose or Happy Baby
On your back, gently draw your knees into your chest, holding on to your chins or the back of your thighs. Do what feels good in your body, perhaps slowly rocking from side to side. Alternatively, you may move in to Happy Baby by drawing the soles of your feet up and allowing the knees to fall wide. Stay as long as you need before moving to Savasana.
See also 4 Tenets of Yin Yoga
Now, lay back, release the lingering sensations from your practice. Come into stillness and surrender the weight of your body to the earth, staying as long as you need. When you feel ready to awaken, deepen your breath and emerge into the light.
About Our Expert
Dani March is a Toronto-based Registered Yoga Teacher and Master Lifestyle Coach. She is the visionary behind LivOn Purpose™, a modern yoga teacher training that combines the yin and yang aspects of yoga with the underlying current of transformational work. Originally drawn to her own mat by the strong and graceful movements of Vinyasa Yoga, she later fell in love with the stillness and meditative aspects of Yin Yoga. As a devoted and lifelong student of yoga and meditation, Danielle dishes out inspiration, soulful strategies, tangible tactics, resources and a fresh perspective.