Yin Yoga: The Three-Part Daoist Breath

Daoist (Taoist) breathing system has been used for centuries. This technique allows you to connect with your chi (qi), slow down breathing (inhales and exhales) and to smooth out physical tension, astral or emotional blockages, and calm the mind.

I initially learnt the Three-Part Daoist breath from Bernie Clark, and subsequently again when I met Paul & Suzee Grilley. Both had their subtle variations. Paul & Suzee did a Four-Part Daoist  breath standing. Bernie showed us the seated variation. The variation I’ve shown in the video I have is similar but not exact.

Remember, the INTENTION is to improve quality of breath, the help you feel more alive and build your chi. Take your time, repeat as many times as you like. Find a quiet space and any comfortable seated position.

First, close your eyes. Take a moment to place your mind in the area of energy, whether it is the Dantian, other chakras or your hands. Use your mind to cultivate, move and empower the chi (energy).

  1. Inhale. Using the middle fingers or palm, guide the chi up as you lift your arms overhead.
  2. Exhale. Bring your hands behind your head and use your palms to push energy out to the sides. You may drop your head a little.
  3. Inhale. Bend your elbows and using the fingertips to shoulders softly. You may want to lift your heart and let your third eye (between the eyebrows – upper dantian) lift slightly.
  4. Exhale. Use your palms forward, push palms and round your back, let your chin go down towards your chest.
  5. Inhale. Turn your palms up from upper dantian. lifting the chi maybe looking up as you arch your upper back.
  6. Exhale. Descend the chi with your palms down in front of lower dantian in front of navel. You may want to pause here and inhale, expand belly, exhale relax and repeat for a few respirations. You may want to start again at step 1 or finish.

  
I’m forever grateful for my teachers Bernie Clark, Diana Batts from Vancouver, BC CANADA. Last but not least, gratitude to Paul & Suzee Grilley.

Bye Bye buggy 

The past few days have been a haze. Without my vessel, my body, I was unable to function normally. What I suddenly woke up to on Thursday at 1am was a virus, a bug — that left me in the bathroom for the rest of the night. I fought so hard. I nestled into child’s pose. I even tried mayurasana to get the “poison” out. I didn’t have any strength. 

By the time 4am came around, my mind was not listening to my body. I put on my clothes and make up. Drank some tea and ate crackers. Then, left to teach my 5:30am sculpting class. 

The students were so forgiving. It was perfect choreography but less energy and less model weight-lifting on my part. Ahhh…after the class I felt accomplished, like I had beat the darn bug.

Next was teaching Yin at 6:30am. Lights off, I’m on this central nervous system high. I’ve got this! Just drink more water!!!! Whew. Made it. 

8:45am. My yang yin class. I’m introduced to a new student who has physical limitations. Mind spinning. My body is tired, stomach churning but I keep thinking I’ve got this! I sure hope she comes back.

Crash. I’m at home. Eating bananas, toast, applesauce. Nestled under my favorite blanket with a cold sweat and chills. My body is mad at me. The bug is winning.

I needed to pull back. I didn’t listen. The expectation from what I did every single Thursday was set. I needed to pull back and put that expectation aside. I had caught a stomach virus. My body needed to rest to fight the infection.

My vessel collapsed. Relapsed. Was gasping for rest. “How is the bug going to bye bye if you can’t rest?” I asked myself.

After 5 days of no sleep and abdominal pain, I finally needed to get medical attention. Thank goodness for doctors. They are the healers of the garden.

As I reflect, I’m thankful for my body. For my organs. For the functionality. For what it gives me everyday. It’s not the perfect J-Lo body I crave, but it’s my temple. Be thankful for what you have and in that gratitude is contentment.

Bye Bye buggy!

BROKEN WING (AKA OPEN WING) POSE

Here’s a wonderful pose that opens the pectoral and bicep tissue. It’s almost like a chest stretch if you take you palm to the wall and turn your body away from the arm at the wall. I’ve heard this pose called “Open Wing” and “5-Point Arm Pigeon.”

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Yin meridians stimulated are: Lungs (LU), Heart (HT), and Pericardium (PC).  These are metal and fire elements of the 5-Element Theory.

Pregnancy option: Seated comfortably interlace fingers behind (or use strap) behind and open chest.

Have a block and/or blanket available just in case. I typically marinate in this pose between 1-3 minutes. Remember to come out if there is any painful or electric sensation. Make sure you do both sides.  Enjoy!

  

 

YIN YOGA SEQUENCE: BALANCING THE LUNG MERIDIAN

To my Acupressure teacher Jason Frye, MSTCM, L.A.C —
 thank you for your teachings and inspiring me to create this meridian Yin Yoga flow.

The Lung Meridian Channel is the Yin aspect of the Metal Element. The deeper part of the Lung channel originates in the Zhongjiao or the middle of the abdomen (ref: The Concise Book of Acupoints, John R. Cross). LU1 is in the hollow 1 tsun inferior to the lateral clavicle and ends at LU11 on the radial side of the thumb at the corner of the nail. This Yin Yoga sequence is to create harmony in the Lung Meridian line. This sequence includes acupressure. You can also do this sequence without pressing on the points.

1. Start with locating LU1 acupoint. Cross arms and lightly press on the points. Then, lay down or stay seated for opening meditation and pranayama. Breathe into the lungs.

2. Half Cow Face Arm (R arm behind back), lay supine on arm (as shown below). However, take the left hand and continue to press lightly into LU1. Hold for 1-3 minutes.

Chest opener Yoga

3. Bananasana R side. Reach for LU7 or LU10 point and lightly press. Hold for 4 minutes.

4. Repeat #2 and #3 on the L side

5. Anahatasana also known as Melting Heart Pose. Option Childs Pose.

Melting Heart Pose
6. Broken Wing (Open Wing) Pose. Both sides 3 minutes.

7. Half Shoelace or Full Shoelace Pose. Arms behind back, holding opposite elbows into cubit crease at LU5. Option to just press LU5 with arms in front (if you cannot reach for the cubit crease). Both sides 3 minutes.

8. Chest Opener with Blocks. Hold for 5 minutes.

9. Savasana.

The Lung Meridian is known to control breath and energy. It assists the heart with circulation of blood. Any emotions of sadness, grief, irritation or even resentment may come up during the asanas. It is normal. Always use your breathing to help you ease in. If you would like to share any experiences of how you felt after the sequence, share your comments in my comment box.

Yin Yoga: Twisted Branches Pose

I was recently asked by a fellow yogini and reader what “Twisted Branches” pose was. There are different names to this pose, some yinsters call it “Crushed Wings.” If you look at the pose, it’s almost like garudasana or eagle arms in a prone position. 

I love this pose because it gets into my shoulders (especially posterior) and upper back. Every BODY is different, I’ve shown in my video clip here different options. Remember, if there is any pain or electrical sensation to come out. Your body is warning you and protecting you.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the yang meridians stimulated are: Small Intestine (SI), Large Intestine (LI) and Triple Warmer/Triple Burner (TW) lines. These are metal and fire elements of the 5-Element Theory. 

Pregnancy option: Seated comfortably with Eagle Arms (Garudasana arms).

Similar poses: Thread the Needle (from all fours, thread one arm under and let head rest on floor)

Have a block and/or blanket available just in case. I typically marinate in this pose between 1-3 minutes. Make sure you do both sides.  Enjoy!

Yin Yoga Teacher Training Annoucement!

I’m honored to share my love of the Yin Yoga practice! My 40-Hour Yin Yoga Teacher Intensive is coming up! You’ll learn:

  • Yin Yoga Principles & Philosophy
  • Physiology & Anatomy
  • Yin Yoga & Energy (chi, prana, meridians)
  • Practicum Flows
  • Class planning, sequencing and hands on teaching experience
  • Yin Yoga & Special Conditions

Please check under the teacher training tab to find out more. Two sessions coming up in September, 2015. Join me!

Side Seams Yin Yoga Sequence (Upper and Lower Body)

This sequence is targeting tissues throughout the side seams of our body. In my perspective here, I’ve also included targeting the tissues under the arms. Side seams can mean arms up or down. That’s my intention to this sequence.

Have blocks, sandbags and a blanket. Each upper body pose is timed for three minutes. The lower body and supine poses are between 3-5 minutes. As always, listen to your inner teacher, your inner guru. If there is any pain or electrical sensation, please come out. Please consult your physician before attempting.

Opening Meditation

Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose, Thread the Needle Right Arm
Child’s Pose, Thread the Needle Left Arm
Anahastasana (targeting the tissues of the underarms) OPTION – use blocks or Half-Anahastasana
Child’s Pose, Reach hands towards left corner of mat. Place right hand on top of left and shift right sitz bones to right heel.
Child’s Pose, Reach hands towards right corner of mat. Place left hand on top of right and shift left sitz bones to left heel.
Twisted Branches, Right Arm
Twisted Branches, Left Arm
Broken Wing, Right Arm
Broken Wing, Left Arm
Come to seated position
Shoelace Pose OPTION – Half-Shoelace or Supine Shoelace Right Side
Shoelace Pose Left Side
Bananasasana  (Right Side) to Eye of the Needle Right Side
Bananasasana (Left Side) to Eye of the Needle Left Side
Twisted Roots Left
Twisted Roots Right
Savanasana

Yin Yoga Pose: Exploring Cat Pulling its Tail

Cats? What do cats have anything to do with yoga? Pulling its tail? Well, we don’t need to run around in circles for this one.  

I’m pretty fond of this feline-named pose in Yin Yoga. Depending on your intention, you can get into this pose with a different focus. I typically use this in different ways: a twist, quad/thigh opener, to navigate around the tissues around the IT band and its  a shoulder opener. Here are a few approaches or variations in this pose. Some of these ideas have come from my Yinsters (Yin Yoga students).

 1. This variation for most folks gets more awareness to the top outer hip. Also feel it in the back thigh and a nice twist. You can opt to bend the top leg and not perform IT band stress and focus on the twist and just quadriceps (which is not shown).

Yin Yoga: Cat Pulling its Tail with IT band focus (strap)

 

2. Depending on your range, you maybe able to grab both legs with your hands. Similar to the above track.

Cat Pulling its Tail without a strap
   

3. This is a variation for someone who cannot reach the back leg. Even if you can reach the back leg, try this and relax. Feel the back thigh open up with the twist. Note: I didn’t have a block for resting my top knee, but I recommend it. 

Yin Yoga: Cat Pulling its Tail Strap variation

 4. Same as #3, but top leg extended.

Yin Yoga: Cat Pulling its Tail, Strap Variation with top leg extended

 

5. Similar to #3 above. This one was discovered by my Yin student. He had it comfortable across his shoulder. Make sure you don’t constrict the chest. Angle it like the photo below for more comfort. 

Yin Yoga: Cat Pulling its Tail, Over the Shoulder Strap

6. Same as #5 but with and added IT band focus. 

Yin Yoga: Cat Pulling its Tail, Top Leg extended. Back leg to strap.

Remember to consult your doctor before performing any pose. Use props to feel supported, always find your Goldilocks position (not too little, not too much — just right). Explore the angles. Explore using props! You’ll be glad you did!

For more information on this pose on meridian lines, contraindications and more,   visit my teacher’s (Bernie’s) site at http://www.yinyoga.com/ys2_2.0_asanas_cat_pulling_tail.php.  Remember, everyBODY is different. 

Yin Yoga: The Golden Seed Sequence

The Golden Seed was created by Paul and Suzee Grilley, a yang sequence to move energy (chi) from the environment and in the body. Move with awareness. Cultivate the chi and use your breath to move mindfully. As always, please consult a physician before beginning any exercise regimen. 

Below presents my interpretation of the Golden Seed. It’s a combination of what I learnt from Bernie Clark and Suzee Grilley. 

First. Stand with your feed shoulder width apart and place hands in front of you abdomen with the palmar side facing up. Find your breath, calm and conscious.

1. Inhale circle your arms up to gather chi from the environment, bring your arms overhead

2. Make a loop overhead and cross your wrists as you squat into a Goddess Squat position and push palm our towards the sides. This is called “Open Horse”

3. Pivot feet, parallel feet and come into a wide leg forward fold (not shown). Let the arms rest on the ground. This is called “Elephant lays its Trunk.” 

4. Pivot right foot approximately 45 degrees and place right hand down the center of your mat. Turn from navel up through the torso as you inhale, sending left arm skywards

5. Repeat other side

Yin Yoga: The Golden Seed
 
6. Return to Elephant Lays its Trunk 

7. Soften your knees and start to draw up earth Chi as you coil up to rise. 

8. Inhale arms at chest level, palms face up

9. Exhale stretch palms upwards and sink down into Goddess Squat position (Open Horse).

 

Yin Yoga:The Golden Seed
 
10. Draw your heart forward, as you hinge forward from the hips into “Drinking Bird” 

11. Slowly rise up, gather chi as palms face up (imagine chi (energy ball))

12. Sink chi, Palms face down. 

Yin Yoga: The Golden Seed

 

Repeat and enjoy!

Yin Yoga Sequence for Feet

Well…not only feet. This involves the ankles, Achilles’ tendon, the calves. Here’s a sweet, short sequence for feet. Be careful of your knees, remember — this should target tissues of the lower segment of the legs. Always consult a physician before starting. Remember, everyBODY is different. Ease in, listen and stay present. Let’s hope you feel like you have had a nice foot massage after this sequence! 

  1. Seated Japanese Seiza Pose (5 min)
  2. Butterfly Zipper Toes (5min)
  3. Half Toe Squat (inspired by Suzee Grilley) (3-5 min)
  4. Overstepping Dragon (3-5 min) 
  5. Half Dragon Splits (Dorsi Flexion) (3 min)
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 on other leg
  7. Ankle Squat (3 min)
  8. Dangling Pose with Mat Roll (2 min)
  9. Half Dangling on Mat Roll: Alternate, bend one knee, draw opposite heel down (1 min each side) 
  10. Savanana 

Happy Feet!



Sweet Feet Yin Yoga Sequence


Sweet Feet Yin Yoga sequence


Love, Truth at the Heart of Creation

I sat there. Overwhelmed by thoughts and emotions. How could this happen? Pinch me. Say it’s not so. My cousin, only in her thirties is no longer with us. Just married, with a young daughter. A beautiful chapter of her life, only to be abruptly taken away by a sudden heart attack.

I write this with a heavy heart, a lump in my throat and tears burning behind my eyes. My teeth are clenched. I played with this girl when we were children. Locking doors, hiding, running. We shared meals at the kids table during family gatherings and Chinese festivities. Then we all grew up. We stopped having traditional family gatherings when our grandmother passed. We didn’t see each other often, but knew we were all ok. As time passed, we entered a different phase in our lives. Married. Career. Children. I last saw Patti when she came out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant in 2007 and we got to catch up. I thought at that time, how wonderful it was to see her. We were all grown up. We smiled, we laughed, we were young ladies. How time had passed and it seemed like catching up with a dear old friend. Time lapsed. We never saw each other since.

Now she’s gone. No time to prepare, to finish things, to say goodbye. I can’t imagine how her husband, daughter, sisters or her father feel. To be a young widow, lose your mother suddenly, a missing link of sister circle, or outliving your child. I’m sad, angry, cannot comprehend.

I am still. I breathe. I pray. Then I read a post from her little sister. A sentiment. Absence makes the heart grow fonder she says. She says Patti’s passing is not a tragic love story. Yes, it’s tough. However, the next chapter of her love story still goes on in her daughter, Catherine… The love she brought and the lives she touched is the happily ever after. Another chapter begins.

As the new chapter begins, Patti will live in her daughter, her sisters, the lives she touched. Physically, she is not here. Spiritually, she lives on. Her essence, her legacy, her love. I’m overwhelmed by this sentiment, but I realize, it’s more…

“Love is not a mere sentiment.
Love is the ultimate truth at the heart of creation.”
– Rabindranath Tagore

Happily ever after. Let her love surround her family like a warm embrace during times they need it the most. Patti, I wish we got to see each other more often. I’ll cherish the times we shared. May you be safe in the arms of your Mother in heaven.