Winter; aka the part of your cycle where you bleed can bring aches and pains, not just confined to the uterus, but the entire pelvic area and surrounding areas. This sequence helps to ease tension and congestion in the glutes, hamstrings, lower back and pelvis.
It also encourages relaxation and rest which helps to truly embrace the energies of Winter, when we are encouraged to turn inward, and our natural rhythm at this time is to rest and rebuild. If you are feeling tired, this sequence can provide the restoration you need. I hope you enjoy it. Put on some calming tunes and relax…
Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Sit up against a bolster or cushions and gently lower down so that the lower back is fully supported. Take the soles of the feet together and knees open to the sides – the legs can be supported for more comfort. Arms lay by the side of the body, palms facing up.
Breathe into the belly as deeply as possible, bringing your awareness to your pelvis and hips. With every breath, invite softness and ease. Allow the breath to settle into its own rhythm. Stay here for 5-10 minutes.
Knees to Chest Pose (Apanasana)
Draw the knees into the chest, and think of drawing the tailbone down towards the mat which keeps the pelvis in a more neutral position than just tilted back and lifted. Take deep full breaths as you allow your hips, particularly the front of the hips to soften and relax. With every breath soften the belly, chest, neck, head and face. Move the hips in circles if that feels good. Hold for 1-2 minutes.
Single Leg Knee to Chest Pose (Apanasana Variation)
Bring one knee in towards the chest and hold. Again, think of the tailbone drawing down. Bring awareness to the breath, full complete breaths, softening the hips, front of hip, belly, chest, and upper body. Relaxing and softening. Hold for 1 minute. Repeat on the other leg.
Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
From knees to chest pose, draw the feet back towards the face with the hands, either wrapping your peace fingers around the big toe, or hold the back of the calves or side of feet. Draw the knees down towards the mat and again make the effort to draw the tailbone down and experiment with that action. Hold for 1 minute, adding movement side to side if it feels good.
Reclined Hand to Big Toe Pose with Strap (Supta Padangusthasana)
Bring the knee into the chest and wrap the strap around the ball of the foot. Extend the leg to whatever level of straight works for you, but work on having a straight leg as much as possible, which may mean the leg cannot be pulled back so far – this is good. Hold the strap down low so as to keep the shoulders and arms as relaxed as possible. Hold for 1 minute.
Reclined Hand to Big Toe Adductor Stretch Variation (Supta Padangusthasana Variation)
With the strap still around the foot, take the leg out to the side as far as you can without the hips lifting and excessive stretch being created. Hold for 1 minute.
Reclined Hand to Big Toe Abductor Stretch Variation (Supta Padangusthasana Variation)
Hard to show in this pic, but now take the leg across the mid line of the body. Keep the hip down as much as possible and tailbone grounded. Hold for 1 minute. Repeat the sequence of hamstring stretch, adductor and abductor stretch on the other leg.
Cat & Happy Dog Sequence (Cat – Cow)
Come to all fours, wrists under shoulders and knees under hips. Pelvis and spine are neutral to start. On an inhale, lift the tailbone and then one vertebra at a time extend the spine, the sternum glides forward and up, the gaze lifts forward. This is Happy Dog. Exhale draw the pubic bone towards the sternum and then one vertebra at a time, flex the spine, sternum down, chin tucked in. This is Cat. Repeat this sequence 5-10 x.
Add On: Angry Cat. In Cat position (flexed spine) sit back towards the heels on the exhale. Inhale and move back to Cat. This creates space and length in the lumbar spine.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Press back to Child’s Pose. The hips move towards the heels, forehead down. Arms reach back alongside the hips. A blanket or cushion can support the head and hips if needed. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths.
Seated Spine Twist or Half Lord of the Fish Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Extend the left leg out long and cross the right foot over the outside of the left leg above the knee. If accessible, bend the left leg and lift the hips to bring it back, heel alongside the hip. Take an inhale to lengthen your spine. As you exhale rotate your sternum to the right, right hand down behind your hip and left hand supports the right leg, squeezing it into the mid line. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths, ensuring the breath is flowing and full, using the exhale to squeeze and twist a little more. Repeat on the other side.
Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)
Extend the left leg out long on the mat, right foot to inner thigh. Sit up on the sit bones with a neutral pelvis as much as possible (a blanket can help). Inhale and lengthen the spine. Exhale and fold at your hips, tilting the pelvis forward, leading with the sternum. Reach to the shin or toes. If this feels ok you can bring the sternum and head down towards the leg, but this is only when you have developed good range in the hamstrings and hips/lower back. Go as far as you need to create space and release tension. Enjoy this release rather than force. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths.
Revolved Head to Knee Pose (Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana)
Tuck the left elbow on the top of or inside of the left thigh or knee. Open the sternum towards the right leg and reach overhead towards the left toes. The left fingers can hold the left toes or rest on the leg or mat. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths. Repeat both poses on the right leg.
Wide Leg Forward Fold (Upavista Konasana)
Take both legs wide. Sitting up on sit bones, pelvis neutral (remember that support with blanket is great). Inhale to lengthen the spine. Exhale to hinge forward at the hips and fold forward, leading with the sternum. Stay more upright in a neutral spine like this, or fold down and lower the sternum and head further. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
Laying on your back, bring legs through knees to chest and raise the feet towards the ceiling. Support the pelvis with a cushion if you wish. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Corpse or Relaxation Pose (Savasana)
With or without a support under the legs, lay on your back, arms outstretched and legs wide and feet turned out. Relax and soften with each breath in and out. Allowing tension to drop, sinking into yourself. Your body gets heavier and heavier. Enjoy this pose for 5-10 minutes.