Selfcare Through Yoga - with Bronwyn Hendry
We’re flipping the switch on spring madness and declaring it the season of self-love. Whether upping your skincare regime to feature all natural products, committing to an entire month of healthy eating (with the occasional indulgence), incorporating 30-minutes of movement into your daily routine, taking a bubble bath, or having a guilt-free Netflix binge — there are so many ways to practice self-care.
One of my personal favourites is through yin yoga. Unlike yang yoga (your more common vinyasa flow class) yin is all about long, supported holds that work into your connective tissues. The long held poses are intended to apply a static stress on the ligaments, bones, joints and fascia sheets, leading to stronger, better organized and more lubricated collagen fibers after recovery. Beyond the physical realm, yin works on an energetic and emotional level — helping to trigger our parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response) and can be a great holding environment for mindfulness practices. Below are five of my favourite yin posters that are easy to practice at home. In yin, props are key — but if you don’t own fancy blocks or bolsters, books and blankets can easily do the trick.
Set a timer for 3-5 minutes for each pose. Once the pose is completed, take some counter movements to flush it out before moving onto the next posture/side.
Target area: lower spine compression
Benefits: gently restores natural range of motion in lower back and helps to stimulate the kidney/urinary bladder meridians (great for boosting your immune system).
*If this pose feels too intense, walk your elbows further away from your body. For more intensity, walk your elbows closer in. Avoid if pregnant or dealing with stomach issues.
Reclined Butterfly with Heart Opener
Target area: tensile load on the inner thighs with heart opening.
Benefits: calming for nervous system, great opening for your hips and heart.
*support knees with blocks (or books) to take stress out of hips. Remove blocks from under back/head and just lay flat on your back for a more restorative option.
Legs up the wall
Target area: hamstrings, low back, pelvic floor.
Benefits: soothes swollen or cramped feet and legs, relieves lower back tension, helps circulation and returning blood back to the heart.
*can practice with a blanket under low back for more support.
Target are: tensile load on the lateral shoulder line.
Benefits: help release tension in the shoulder. Stimulates the large and small intestine meridians.
*avoid this pose if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding or suffer from severe shoulder injuries. If it’s too intense, practice with your knees apart in child’s pose/layer props under target arm for more support.
Target area: tensile load on the inner shoulder and chest line.
Benefits: stimulates heart and lung meridians. Can help to release tension across the chest.
*avoid this pose if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding or suffer from severe shoulder injuries. If it’s too intense place a blanket between your legs or rest your top leg on the ground. For more intensity, cross your top leg behind you.
Bronwyn Hendry is a local yoga teacher at Junction 9 and Calgary Hot Yoga, freelance writer and social storyteller for @lululemonyyc. In her free time, you can usually find her skiing, surfing, mountain biking and enjoying time in nature. She’s passionate about all things wellness, and equally passionate about relaxing with a spicy gin Caesar. All in the name of #selfcare.