A New Moon Yin Yoga Practice for the New Year

The first new moon of the year takes place on Sunday, January 2. According to astrology, this is an auspicious time to set your sights on what you would like to create in life, which coincides nicely with setting your intentions for 2022.

While it can be easy to get caught up in the “New Year, New You” culture, the reality is that it is the same you. Nothing has changed about you just because the Gregorian calendar said it was a new year. In fact, I believe that nothing needs to change about you. What could be a new endeavor, however, is seeing your true self more clearly, and embracing yourself in such a radically compassionate way that you feel new to you.

The new moon is the first of the eight phases of the moon. It cannot be seen from Earth. In this darkness, we are compelled to turn inward, reflect, and listen to what we truly desire for ourselves. From that place of deep listening, through the practice of pratyahara (often translated as “the conscious withdrawal of energy from the senses”), we are able to divine what we are being asked to bring to the forefront of our lives. These heart intentions are not resolutions around superficial behaviors. Rather, they are guideposts to walking into our vision and dharma (or “life purpose”).

 

A Yin Yoga practice for deep listening during the new moon

Remain in each of these Yin poses for 3 to 5 minutes. During that time, consider the questions, mantras, and affirmations included with each pose. They are intended to inspire deep listening and reflection. If you like, journal about your thoughts after class.

                                   (Photo: Tamika Caston-Miller)

Wide-Knee Child’s Pose

How to: Widen your knees apart and bring your toes to touch. Lean forward from your hips and allow your heart to settle onto the mat. Allow your arms to rest alongside your ears and your hands to relax. Notice the connection between your hands, heart, shins and the mat. Take a deep inhale and then exhale and soften. Invite grounding into the Earth. Remain here for up to 5 minutes.

Reflection: What is my heart’s deepest desire?

Release: Walk your hands back toward your body and sit on your heels for a few breaths.

(Photo: Tamika Caston-Miller)

Praying Mantis

How to: Come to all fours. Place 2 blocks on the medium height just in front of your fingertips. Keep your bum above your knees, as you bring your elbows to the blocks and surrender to gravity. Relax your neck. Your hands might come together behind your back in prayer hands. As your chest floats just above the mat, feel for the opening along both underarms. Remain here for up to 3 minutes.

Affirmation: Inhale: I am open to [fill in the blank]; Exhale: I receive [fill in the blank].

Release: Come into a closed-knee Child’s Pose (similar to your previous pose but with your knees together).

                       (Photo: Tamika Caston-Miller)

Dragon and Twisting Dragon

How to: From all fours, step your left foot forward next to the inside of your left hand. Blocks beneath your hands can be helpful to create more space between your thighs and chest. Shift your hips forward and feel for an elongation along your inner right thigh (hip flexor). Remain here for 2 minutes.

(Photo: Tamika Caston-Miller)

Bring your right hand or forearm to the mat or a block. Place your left hand inside your left thigh. Twist to face your left thigh and stack your left shoulder over your right shoulder. Remain here for 2 minutes.

Reflect: Even when compressed in places, I am opening elsewhere.

Release: Come back to all fours, tuck your toes, and reach your hips up and back into Downward-Facing Dog Pose. Repeat on the other side.

(Photo: Tamika Caston-Miller)

Wall Butterfly

How to: Come to lying on your back and bring your legs up the wall. Bring the soles of your feet together with your knees bent and bowing out to the sides. If you experience low back pain, you might find relief by tucking a folded blanket or bolster underneath your bum. Remain here for 5 minutes.

Reflection: Fully receive without utilizing your thinking mind.

Release: Bring your hands under your thighs and close them like a book. Send your legs straight back up the wall for a few breaths. If using a bolster, remove it from underneath you.

(Photo: Tamika Caston-Miller)

Wall Dragonfly

How to: From lying on your back with straight legs, widen your legs apart from one another. Feel for the connection between your back body and the mat as you let go of all muscular effort. If you experience hypermobility in the hips, you can place blocks or bolsters underneath your thighs, calves, or foot to provide more stability. Remain here for 5 minutes.

Reflection: Invite ease into your body by extending your exhale.

Release: Bring your hands beneath your thighs, slightly bend your knees, and bring your legs together. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet against the wall. Rest here for a few breaths.

(Photo: Tamika Caston-Miller)

Supported Waterfall

How to: Push your feet to the wall to lift your bum and, if desired, place a bolster under it. Float your legs up the wall and bring them hip-distance apart. Let your legs rest against the wall. Feel for a release from your head to your sacrum. If your legs tend to slide and you notice muscular effort to keep them in place, place a strap (or belt) around your shins near the knees. Remain here for 5 to 15 minutes.

Affirmation: Inhale: I am open to [fill in the blank]; Exhale: I receive [fill in the blank].

Release: Slowly bend your knees and ease your way onto one side. Stay here for as long as you like before coming back to seated.

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