Updated: May 20
Fun theming for a Yin Yoga class
I love leading my "nature inspired" Yin Yoga class for my students. It's a fun way to theme the class and a great way to teach your students the Yin names for the poses. Because of the nature theme, it helps you to remember pose names. It also just puts your mind into a place of nature, which essentially helps you to relax.
Planning a nature themed Yin class is really simple.! There are many poses that have nature names. It's really just thinking about the smartest way to link them all together. There's nothing worse in Yin when the transitions aren't smooth or intentional.
An example of a "not so good" transition in a Yin sequence would be to take your students from a reclined pose, to a seated pose, back into a reclined pose again and then seated once more. 🤦♀️
When planning a sequence, it's important to link together poses that have a natural flow to one another. Making your students lay down, get up, lay down and get up again isn't smooth... and nobody wants to get up and down that much! 😂
When I created this 15 minute Nature Yin class sequence, I started with a peak pose in mind, SNAIL POSE. This pose DEFINITELY requires some preparation. With my peak pose in mind, I can choose other "nature inspired" Yin Yoga poses to fill out my class and make sure they flow together nicely.
First, let's take a look at Snail Pose.
ASANA LAB: SNAIL POSE
One of the deepest releases of the whole spine
Relaxes the heart, brings more blood flow to the head, drains the lungs, and compresses the internal organs, giving them a great massage
This pose puts a lot of pressure on the neck; be cautious! Avoid if you have any neck problems
Not recommended for anyone with high blood pressure, upper body infection, vertigo, glaucoma, or a cold; also women during their menstrual cycle may find it better not to do this pose
If you have any lower back disorders which do not allow flexion of the spine, then do not attempt this posture
Do not do this posture if you have recently eaten or are pregnant
Getting Into the Pose:
Start in a lying down position. Lift your hips and support them with your hands. Allow your back to round (unlike the Plough pose (Halasana) in which we strive to keep the spine and legs straight) and your feet to fall over your head toward the floor. Position the weight of your body onto your shoulders; note how much weight is on your neck - some is okay, but not too much!
Alternatives & Options:
There are many intermediate stages to this pose. For beginners, or those not wishing to invert, replace this pose with a seated, straight leg, forward fold (such as Caterpillar)
There are three stages to the posture:
Support the back with the palms.
More challenging is to place palms under the feet and lower the feet to the floor, or rest them on a bolster.
Most challenging is to bend the knees toward the floor (the deepest rounding for the spine).
Very challenging option: with the knees bent toward the floor, twist until both knees are on one side of the head. Remember to do both sides
If legs are straight and feet are touching the floor, the hands can come to the floor behind the back. Hands can be apart (easier) or together (if there are no shoulder problems), but be careful; bringing the hands together could aggravate rotator cuff problems
Coming Out of the Pose:
The simplest way to come out is to keep the knees bent and hold your hips. Allow yourself to slowly roll down. Your head will likely lift up as you come down. Don’t strain to keep your head on the floor
More challenging is to come out with the legs straight and holding the feet. Slowly roll down, holding the feet as a way to slow your descent
After coming out, lie down for a few breaths with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor
Do Windshield Wipers then a gentle back bend, such as lying on the stomach, or a mild spinal lift. Come up only halfway
Gentle Fish (Matsyasana) helps to release the neck and move the spine into extension
If Fish pose is too much, if the neck feels weak or tweaked, do an Upward Facing Cat instead
Meridians & Organs Affected:
All internal organs are massaged and compressed, and each breath adds to the massage
Urinary Bladder lines are deeply stretched
The full spine
Recommended Hold Times:
Three to five minutes
Similar Yang Asanas:
Halasana (Plough) or Karnapidasana (Deaf Man's Pose)
Prepare the neck first by doing gentle forward neck bends
A nice alternative is Happy Baby, which allows the sacrum to lift off the floor
Allow the spine to fully round. Do not try to keep the spine straight and the hips high
To plan a class with Snail Pose, It's really important to get the spine ready for that intense forward flexion. This includes your neck! Check out the quick 15 minute sequence I've created here:
BADASS YIN: NATURE FLOW - SNAIL POSE
Butterfly Pose - Neck Rolls - 3min
Caterpillar Pose - Chin Tucked - 3min
Dead Bug - 1min
Snail Pose - right - 1min
Snail Pose - left - 1 min
Snail Pose - center - 1 min
Supported Fish - 2min
1. Starting the sequence in Butterfly Pose is a great way to kick off the nature theme and you can use it as an opportunity to work into the neck. Since Snail Pose has a very deep forward flexion of the spine, it's good to make sure your neck is prepared for that deep work.
I love neck rolls and your students will too. Your head is heavy and the neck does a lot of the heavy lifting. Give it some love!
2. A seated forward fold like Caterpillar Pose is a gentle way to work into the forward flexion of the spine, and you can prop yourself up to make this a very supportive and relaxing start to class. Just make sure you tuck your chin so you can work into the back of your neck. This pose is a smooth transition from Butterfly Pose as you just need to extend the legs out.
3. The intention is to end this class laying down, so from Caterpillar, we lay all the way down for Dead Bug pose (aka Happy Baby). This helps give the spine AND hips a chance to open up even more before Snail Pose.
4. Now it's time for the Snail Pose sequence. We'll spend 1 minute in a different variation of Snail pose. You can do this with the legs straight (similar to Plow Pose) or with the knees bent (like Deaf Man's Pose).
5. At this point, we've spent a lot of time working into the forward flexion of the spine. To neutralize this and add some extension to the spine, we close the sequence with Supported Fish. Not only is this pose a great alternative to savasana, but it's also a great counter pose to all of the forward folds we've been doing.
There you have it, a nature themed Yin Yoga flow with Snail Pose as the star!
What did you think? Let me know by leaving a comment or sharing this blog! 🤗💖
Practice with me to the BADASS YIN: NATURE FLOW!
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