Waiting Yin

February 19, 2015

Just a few days ago I was at my gynecologist's waiting for a routine checkup. My gynecologist is usually so overbooked that even if I arrive at my reserved time, I still have to wait for at least an hour to be called. And this time, I guess most people want to finish everything before Chinese New Year, my waiting time was one hour and 40 minutes. Insane.


As sitting actually put more stress on our lower back than standing, I gradually become very uncomfortable and felt my energy stagnant. So I slowly started to do some yin poses while waiting - a much better alternative to browsing on my facebook obsessively!


Here are some poses you may do while you're waiting - for doctor's appointment, restaurant tables, meeting with boss, family gatherings...of course, this list is in no way exhaustive, so let your intuition guide you. Here I would like to thank my mum for taking these pictures at our BIG Chinese New Year dinner while we were waiting for it to start.


***Follow your inner body wisdom to do less, more or none, for longer or shorter. Below are only suggestions. If you have any health concern, consult your doctor before attempting any yoga practice. Exercise caution. If you feel something is not right, it probably isn't! So don't put yourself into any injurious or painful situation. Yin yoga is a passive, gentle practise. ***


It's not necessary to follow any order here or do all the poses. Let your intuition (and time) guide you.


  1. Graceful Bow. This is a gentle neck stretch. Put your left hand on your left thigh, wrap you right hand around at the back and hold on to your left arm. Turn your chin slightly to the left, around 45 degree and bow your head forward. The exact angle you turn and tilt depends on your needs. As long as you have a stretch on the right side of the neck or the back of the right neck , you're doing the pose. The hand positions are only leverage. You may walk your left hand forward (with your right hand holding left arm as shown in the picture) to create more stretch on the right side of your neck. More is not necessarily better. As you're going to stay on each side for 2 minutes, there is no need to rush. Just use gravity and relaxed muscles to deepen the stretch -  which will come natuarally as you relax. Also, you don't have to stay at the same angle for the whole duration of the pose. Follow your tissues to adjust accordingly. To come out, release your right hand from the back and use it to gently bring your head back to centre and then support it up. Sit for a few moments to feel the rebound - the energy/chi/fluid flowing through the area which we have just stretched. When you're ready, change side.     


  2. Eagle arms. This is a great stretch for the trapezius at the back of our shoulders. Some people might even feel the stretch at their upper arms. Start from position (c) where you wrap you arms and hold on to opposite shoulders. Then keep your elbows as close to each other as you can and bring your forearms up with backs of the hands facing each other as shown in position (b). If your proportion and flexibility allow, you may wrap your hands around with palms facing each other (a). Again, where you put your hands are only for leverage. Whatever hand position that gives you the most effective stretch at the back of your shoulders or upper arms will do. Explore different heights of the elbows - close to your chest or high up at your shoulder level? Regardless of how high you keep your elbows, keep your forearms away from you for an effective stretch. Since our bodies are all different, for some people, they might find variation (c) more effective than (a) or (b). Another variation (d) you can try is to bend your body forward with your eagle arms, hooking the elbow at the front of the knees as another kind of leverage. This variation might add a back stretch for you too! Stay for 2 minutes and change side.


  3. Willow in the Wind. Place your right arm slightly away from you on your right side. Raise your left arm and side bend to your right. Feel the stretch along your left side body, as shown in (a). You can rotate your chest downward or upward to stretch different parts of your torso. Relax your neck. I sometimes like to bend my top arm and put the top hand at the back of my head as shown in (d). I find this variation effective and less tiring. You can explore each side for a minute and change or keep the whole sequence more flowy, staying on each side for 30 seconds or so but keep changing sides. You are the boss!


  4. Finger Fans - I love this sequence taught by Suzee Grilley to activate the energy in my palms and arms - which are the energy channels to our hearts  :) . 1) Arms out in front of you at shoulder level with palms facing up. One by one, curl your fingers (from pinkies to thumbs) in. 2 & 3) Continue to curl your wrists and elbows in. 4&5) Push your palms out to the side. 6&7) Turn palms up and curl your fingers, wrists and elbows in. 8&9) Push your palms out in front of you. Repeat for as many times as you feel good. I love to connect these movements with my breath - inhale, I curl everything in; exhale, I push out. When you are done, just soften your arms and rest them on your laps. Feel the energy and chi in your palms and arms.


  5. Sitting Cat-Cow. This pose is to bring movement to our spine. Inhale, lift your chest and push it forward, look up (not back!) and arch your lower back. Exhale, round your back and push it back, drop your head and pull your tummy in. Repeat for as many times as your spine feels like.  


  6. Chicken Wings/Angry Birds and Ape. Sorry I couldn't come up with some names that are more glamorous. But these names do describe these forearm and wrists stretches perfectly. a) Chicken Wings. Fold your hands at your wrists and put the back of the hands against your side body. Fingers pointing down. Adjust where you point fingers and how high you place the backs of your hands against your body to give yourself the most effective stretch. Beware of your facial expression, otherwise you become an Angry Bird. b) APE. My students actually came up with this name and it just stuck! We usually do this in class kneeling, so we do look like apes. Put your hands foward and by your sides. Palms up, back of your hands on the couch, fingers pointing to yourself. You can adjust how far forward you put your hands to give you the stretch you need now.


  7. Seated Twist. This is one of the most instinctive things you want to do when you want to release the tension in your spine. So just find a good leverage with your hands and legs. You can grap on to something behind you with your back hand when you twist and pushing against your leg (while your leg resisting) with your front hand. You can stay on each side for a minute or 30 seconds but change more times. Your body naturally knows what to do. Whatever makes you feel good is probably the thing you need.


  8. Seated Forward Fold. This is more about releasing the tension at your back than a hamstring (the back of your thighs) stretch. But if you feel both, that's fantistic! Have your legs forward in width that makes it easiest for your pelvis to tilt forward. How much you straighten your legs are not that important here as the focus is your back not hamstrings. Let your back round and neck and arms relaxed. Stay for 2 to 4 minutes. Explore with how wide you want your legs apart, legs turn in or out. To come out, slowly roll yourself up, especially if you have low blood pressure. Stay quietly for a few moments to feel the rebound.


  9. Warrior Heart. Similar to the Seated Forward Fold but we add a stretch to your chest now. First, interlock your fingers behind you, lift your chest up and forward. Then bow forward and bring your hands over your head - this is only an intention, whether your hands are really over your head does not matter. What matters is whether you have a stretch across the front side of your torso and/or upper arms. If you feel compression (i.e. "stuff" or bones pinching each other at your BACK, let your elbows bend and go out.


  10. Folding Flag. This is a glutes and IT band stretch, i.e. your butt and the outside of your thighs. Lift your left leg and rest your left ankle on your right thigh, closer to the right knee. Fold forward. You can keep your spine straight or round. The focus is on your glutes and I.T bands now. Do you feel any stretch?Explore different orientation between your upper and lower body - upper body fold to the foot side or to the knee side? How are the stretches different? You might not feel any different but you won't know until you try. Changes in orientation might allow you to stretch different part of those big groups of muscles. Stay for 2 minutes and change side.



Happy New Year of Goat! I wish you all happy fascia and juicy joints! HAHA :D xxx

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