Enjoy this intermediate yin yoga class exploring asymmetrical backbends which stretch deeply into your quads, hip flexors and psoas, building into Dragon Tail …
hey everyone i'm Devi Daly and in
today's practice we're going to dive
into the dragon poses and also the
cattail pose
i can guarantee you're going to feel
some new feelings and your quads
and your hip flexors and these are great
areas to work into if you do
a lot of sitting, if you want to improve
your posture
or if you're an athletic person who has
tight quads
from from cycling or running grab
two blocks and a strap and i'll see you
in a sec
come into a comfortable seated position
and one minute here to settle in
close your eyes and start to tune into
your breath
beginning here by welcoming the breath
and welcoming stillness
maybe a little bit of fidgeting needs to
happen a little bit of movement before
you fully settle into stillness for one
minute
shoulders and arms relaxed
hips and tailbone relaxed
and the breath flowing freely easily
enchanting alm bring your palms together
in front of the heart
one Om so inhale
Om
and release the hands gently open up the
eyes and
today's practice focuses on dragons
and cat tail pose so we come into
seiza position to begin
and in seiza you could have a block
between your feet
or you could have two blocks between
your feet or a block at the high height
or if it's comfortable for you sit
directly on your heels
and so this is our first pose to get
into this region that dragon pose and
cattail
want to ask of us to start stretching
into the quads and the thighs
and now to just give the body a little
bit of time to settle into this
we'll just do some things with the arms
to distract ourselves from what's going
on in the legs
so the palms face up and now taking it
into the finger fans, so bring your
pinkies in
and let one finger at a time follow with
the thumbs last
and now bend your wrists bend your
elbows squeezing the back of your heart
and press the arms forward palms are
open
good turn the hands and one finger at a
time pulling in
squeezing the back of the heart and
exhaling and pressing out
and again inhaling one finger at a time
and squeezing in and exhaling and
pressing forward
and turn the hands one finger at a time
bring it in and open it out
and now one more time bring it in
squeezing in and exhaling forward
one more time in this last direction
pull it in
and exhale out
good release the arms back down
and now taking it into hands and knees
and then into the dragon pose
with the right leg forward so we'll get
into
a few of the variations of dragon pose
today
the hands starting on either side of the
foot is
dragon pose number one and if you feel
more comfortable doing this with blocks
under your hands
feel free to do that
one and a half minutes in this variation
and then we'll shift to a
second variation and i do like to do
this with blocks under my hands
and you can shift your weight to the
right to the left
so that you find the stretch that you
want to find here
the point of this pose the target area
is to
stretch the back leg the front of the
thigh and the front of the hip
and so if tilting over to the left helps
you do that go ahead and tilt to the
left
maybe put more weight on your left arm
or vice versa
and now taking it in for our second
minute and a half
both hands on the ground or both elbows
on the ground
or elbows on a block or a couple of
blocks
and i want you to feel free to swing
your torso out to the left
and or walk your right foot farther out
to the right side so that you can have
space here plenty of space to get an
angle that feels comfortable
the target area continues here to be the
back leg the front of the leg
and maybe also moving into some front
leg sensation
and slowly bring it back up and step
back through downward dog if you've got
the blocks you could have the blocks
under your hands
for downward dog
walk the legs and downward dog feeling
the difference between the right thigh
the left thigh
after doing that first side
and now let's move it on to dragging on
the second side so your left leg comes
forward
lifting up maybe
blocks under the hands maybe hands on
the floor
and thinking back then here so we're
stretching into the front of the right
thigh and hip
but also doing an asymmetrical back bend
so can the arc of the torso
in relation to the leg be more like a
back bend than a
forward bend and that's why the blocks
can help because sometimes
if you have short arms like me it's hard
to get
that back then but you can get it by
messing around with your hips right side
left side
getting different angles
and it's important to not have any
discomfort in the back knee if you're on
a hard ground
or if your mat is not super thick then
do
take the time to put a blanket folded
blanket or some kind of
extra padding under your back knee
and now taking both hands onto the
inside of the foot
elbows to the floor or elbows on the
blocks
or if it feels better to stay up on
straight arms you can totally stay there
and slowly releasing once again downward
dog
and when you're ready dropping down
knees to the ground
child's pose hips back toward the heels
one minute of resting here in child's
pose
and coming up and
sitting or lying down actually we come
into
half saddle is where we're going so
you're either going to start sitting
or lying down depending on which version
you're going to do so
the mellower version is to lie on your
side left side
i'm lying on my left side and then hold
your right foot in your hand behind you
and you could also lie all the way down
maybe resting your head on your hand
that's version number one version number
two
is to sit with your right foot next to
you with the knee bent
and then to lie back like this maybe on
the elbows maybe back
over a pillow or a bolster or maybe all
the way onto the ground
so your knee will tell you which version
if you try this version and your knee
has pain then that's a sign
to do the other version so
two minutes here on each side getting
into this
same range of motion this is a lot of
our asymmetrical
back bending positions today we're going
to really open up
the front of the body and kind of settle
into this
kind of it's a different energy to focus
on back bends in
yin because yin is so
inward right and quieting and
yet backbends can bring us out of that
into
our places of fear or
needing a little bit of courage and so
we find the balance between
those two knowing that they're a little
bit juxtaposed
and so here sometimes there's some fear
or concern about sensations
in the lower back and
if it's a sharp pain that's something to
listen to it might be opposed to skip
today but if it's just kind of
discomfort or
a dull pain or an achiness or just a
deep stretch
feeling um or of the bones kind of
doing their thing and that they do in a
back bend which is
rub against each other if it's any of
those kinds of things that
you think aren't dangerous then just
work on breathing into it letting the
body
soften into the uncertainty the fear
whatever might be there
if you're lying on the back it might
feel good to have the arms in different
positions over the head or out to the
sides
and releasing the pull so
come to a resting position on your back
and just take a few breaths here before
we move to the second side
and letting the eyes open and coming
into your pose
on the second side whether that's the
lying on the side version holding the
left leg this time
or dropping the leg back into the half
saddle on the second side
in half saddle if your knee is not on
the ground no worries sometimes the knee
doesn't go to the ground and
as long as there's not pain in the knee
that's fine you can see my knee
doesn't go to the ground particularly on
this side as long as you're getting the
stretch in the front of the thigh
front of the hip in front of the thigh
that's what's important
and slowly releasing and
transitioning to a position on the back
this time
one full minute resting on the back with
the eyes
closed legs and arms can be as wide as
you want
feeling into the energy in the body what
is moving
what's alive is there any discomfort
fear
is the quality of the energy different
when you
have come out of a more back bending
position than forward bends which is
what we
are often doing in our yin practice
and now bending your knees hug them into
your chest please and wrap the arms
around the legs clasp the fingers
and gently rock side to side
and now circle the knees one hand can
come onto each knee
nice and slow circles three times in one
direction
and three times in the other direction
and now coming into a
supported bridge pose or golden gate
pose so block
comes underneath the hips for this and a
standard size block will usually be at
the middle height for
people but you can also do the low
height or some people like the high
height or two blocks on top of each
other
use a stack of books if you don't have a
yoga block
or a firm pillow or bolster
three minutes here i promise we will
counter stretch and do some forward
bending
but continuing right now to get into
this back bending motion
this pose a little more in the upper
body so the half saddle was for the
lower body and now we're getting into
the same range of motion
back bending for the upper body and
spine and you might feel this
as well in the hip flexors and the psoas
in the front of your hips
so the legs can be straight ahead with
the heels on the ground as wide or as
narrow as
feels good to you or the other option is
to have the knees bent feet flat
in the supported bridge pose
knees again narrower or wider as you
choose
and one is not necessarily more
deep than the other they're just kind of
different
slightly different sensations
and slowly release have your feet flat
on the ground lift your hips off your
block
and rest in supta baddha konasana so
bring the soles of your feet together
and let your knees open
wide and let your hands rest on your
belly
and feel the breath here rising and
falling in the belly
and bring the knees back up to center
open the feet
out to about the width of your mat if
you're on a mat
or shoulders or maybe a little wider
than your shoulders we're coming into
the windshield wipers
side to side knees to the right and then
knees to
the left and so you might like your feet
farther away from you
closer to you or whatever distance
feels right for your legs and hips just
a little release here
i always like to have my arms overhead
in this position it does
something wonderful on my sacrum
side to side maybe turning the head the
opposite way that the knees go every
time if that feels good
and bring the legs back up to center
draw the knees into the chest and roll
onto your right side or one side or the
other and come on up
to a sitting position with half
butterfly as
our next pose right leg forward
left leg bent and so as you come into
this half butterfly pose
you can have a folded blanket under your
seat or as much of a lift a pillow
or a couple blankets we come forward
over the leg
and this might be creating
quite some sensation after doing a
number of back bends
to begin our practice so notice what's
here
feeling into the hamstrings the spine
ease into it
three minutes on each side
very slowly now come on up
when the spine comes upright just pause
here
notice what you feel
and come into half butterfly on the
second side
and slowly release the pose
coming up right with the spine and
continue
all the way down onto your back closing
the eyes and
resting here
one full minute of rest
notice how the body is responding to
forward bending backward bending
feel the rebound
and bend your knees hug them into your
chest
wrap the arms around lift your head up
toward your knees
and squeeze into a ball maybe holding
opposite elbows
and release back down roll to one side
and come up for dragon phase two
and so you'll need a strap
and possibly a block or two
for what we're moving into next so
use a belt or a any kind of
strap thing strap like thing
have it nearby we're not going to use it
immediately we'll take the right leg
forward and come into a supported
version
of dragon so the block for me being kind
of a
short person one block is enough but
for a lot of people two blocks is good
and some people like to have it
right under the bone the sitting bone
some people like to have it farther
forward in the meat of the thigh
that's totally up to you
and wherever you've got that block this
is where you can really start to
experience the back bend here
i like to take this other block onto
the left side and then get my weight a
little over onto that hand
so that it just kind of helps me get the
stretch where i want it in the front of
the hip
it may or may not be the same for you
but that's
just a way you can control the tilt of
your hips
left and right now you can stay right
here this might be good for you
both hands on the thigh if you want and
then you can start to
inch the leg forward moving toward
the splits so this is a supported dragon
split here
inching this leg forward as much as you
like or as
little as you like and if you want to
start going into
a lower version you just take your block
down a notch
not everyone's hips do this so
love your body no matter what it's doing
don't try and force it
sometimes it's a matter of flexibility
that you can eventually work through but
sometimes it's your bones that aren't
gonna
permit this movement
and so you're staying up here maybe with
a block under the thigh
if you don't have blocks you can still
do this with hands clasped
on the thigh like this and perhaps
starting to
bring the leg forward if you can get
your hands on the floor to support you
some some of you might be or somebody
out there might have the range of motion
to just drop
down to the floor easily
without a block
and so because our target area in dragon
pose
is the left hip and thigh the front of
the hip and thigh
we keep the torso upright so often
splits pose
there's a version where there's a
folding forward over the front leg and
that would target the hamstring so i
would call that
a variation of half butterfly pose
whereas when we keep the torso upright
here it's a variation
of our dragon pose because it has a
totally different target area
i'm pressing down on the top of my right
thigh
right up near the hip crease that might
feel good to you to get a little bit of
external rotation in that leg
all right slowly now extract yourself
from whatever
position you got into
step back for a moment in downward dog
and step your other leg forward
left leg forward
block or blocks under the thigh
and again maybe you're staying here or
maybe starting to explore
inching the foot forward maybe just a
few inches
maybe farther maybe taking the block
down
one or two notches
well i actually only have – oh i do have
two notches
so i'm teaching you a more
extreme version today and we often don't
go to this and it's not
to imply that this is a pose that
you should try to achieve in yin. This
is really just one version
of the dragon pose, it's one of the many
variations of dragon pose – if it serves
you to do it with the legs
wide like this then you have another
tool in your toolbox
if your body is staying more in a dragon
pose and that feels like your limit
today
then then you're still working into the
target area it's just an exploration of
the variations today
not uh you know just always in yin yoga
it's not about achieving the pose
it's not the body doing the pose it's
the pose doing the body
the pose doing for the body what we are
trying to achieve
very good let's take it back up back
into downward facing dog
before our next and final
adventure of dragon
so right leg forward and now
coming into dragon tail pose
and there's a few ways to get into this
so without props it looks like
this i'm going to walk my right foot out
to the side i'm going to angle myself so
you can see a little better
bend my back foot up this is the part
that's not available to everyone that's
why you have your strap
and so this is a wonderful way to get
into the quads and hip flexors
with or without the strap so ways to
make this
easier are a block under the hand
which just brings you farther and back
it makes it easier to get
to your leg and a strap around your foot
one or the other if you don't have both
could help
like so
another way to explore this
is to use the wall back up to the wall
left foot up the wall right knee on the
ground or left foot left knee on the
ground
and the knee is right against the wall
so that's
not it so this is like a foot away from
the wall
but i want to have it right back to the
wall not away from the wall
and now i can take it into the lunge
here
and i may or may not want to lift up
higher blocks under the hands can help
this variation or hands on the thigh
those of you getting into that dragon
tail pose
with or without the props then you'll
want to
focus on finding the back bend in the
pose
which means taking your right shoulder
back
taking your head back in space
and think about bringing the back of
your skull back towards your left
toes
this set of poses is kind of intense no
matter
which way you put it together so we're
not going to do a full three minutes
we're
doing a minute and a half
which is already up so go ahead and
release
take it back to downward dog or find
some way to transition
to your second side with your left
leg forward
a helpful tip here for the dragon tail
pose is
that it can be it can make the pose more
awkward to try and keep your front foot
and hand near each other
like is often taught in lunging
positions and instead think about taking
the foot and hand farther away from each
other
so you have more of a tripod of your
body on the ground
and slowly release and make your way
into a resting position one minute
ah settling into whatever is
moving now
after getting deeper into this
channel the stomach and spleen
channels are the tcm meridians that
we're
focusing on
feel your breath
and now bending the knees
draw them in gently rock side to side
and roll all the way over onto your
right side
and you might want to have a block
or a blanket for me i'm going to use a
blanket for my head we're moving into
cat tail pose so
not everyone wants anything under the
head but i like to have a blanket for my
head
and then you may or may want your strap
again
so we lie on the right side on the elbow
and earlier we did the half saddle
variation like this we're going to do
the opposite leg now as we move toward
cat tail we take the
right leg up so you're lying on your
right elbow your right leg comes up next
to you
and then your left knee bends in front
of you and now
instead of thinking about going back on
my hip
i'm thinking about going forward i'm
actually kind of wriggling to get the
front of my right thigh
on the ground more and if this is
difficult for you then
that's where your strap comes in strap
comes around the foot
do what you got to do to get into some
sort of a
clasp here even if the leg is quite a
bit farther down
and from here you can start to take it
down
rest your head on your hand or on your
pillow
and then start to open it back
so inching the right shoulder forward
bringing the left shoulder back toward
the ground
additional propping you could have a
pillow or a couple blocks
under your left knee and foot
and your right hand could spread out to
the side or it could
come onto the outside of the leg
an additional thing some people like to
do
if they have the flexibility for it is
hold the
left leg out to the side with the right
hand
or you can use a strap for the same
thing
and again we're not going for contorting
into uncomfortable poses
but instead finding new ways
new variations exploring variations and
i show you all these variations so that
you have choice
so you know which ones work for you
and which ones don't
this is what i call one of the
double duty poses or multi-purpose pose
it's both a twist
and a back bend asymmetrical backbend
and a twist
and releasing rolling back to center
and coming into it on the second side
so once again starting out on your left
side
and now bending your left foot up
holding with the hand or your strap
and now inching forward so the front of
your left thigh is coming toward the
ground
right knee more toward the ground and
then
inching the left shoulder through
and slowly releasing
and slowly making your way into legs up
the wall pose
or legs elevated on furniture on a sofa
on a bed whatever you've got
which will be a wonderful way to end
this practice
getting some length into the lower back
once you find your resting position
taking a full
breath in to fill the belly to fill the
heart to fill the ribs to fill the back
and a big long exhale
settling in
and allowing each exhale to carry you
a little bit further toward your center
a little bit more toward that place of
peace
toward this place of inner knowing
softening into the rhythm of your breath
and now bending the knees and rolling
slowly over onto one side
make your way up to a comfortable seat
spine tall
and closing with one chant of all
bring your palms together in front of
your heart sit up tall with your spine
notice the space here the space inside
and from that space chanting with me
inhale
namaste
if you have any feedback for me any
comments or any questions
please leave them in the comments below
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see you next time

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