For those of you who’re not familiar with Yin yoga, it is a slow-paced style of yoga with postures, or asanas, that are held for longer periods of time. For beginners, it usually ranges from 45 seconds to two minutes. Advanced practitioners may stay in one asana for up to five minutes or more.
Yin yoga concentrates on the lower part of the body like your hips, pelvis, inner thighs, and lower spine. This practice is designed to help you sit longer, and more comfortably, in meditation by stretching connective tissue around the joints.
Here are 5 Yin yoga poses you can practice to relieve yourself from stress. Please remember to hold the pose for as long as it is comfortable. As you practice regularly, you will be able to hold the pose for longer without discomfort. That’s how you know you’re progressing.
1. Pigeon Pose
Start from all fours (on hands and knees), bring your right knee forward and place it more or less behind your right wrist. Place your ankle somewhere in front of your left hip.
Slide your left leg back, straighten the knee and point the toes. Make sure your leg is behind your body and not drawing outwards and your heel is pointing up to the ceiling.
Draw your legs in towards each other to help keep your hips square. Gently lower yourself down and use some support under your right buttock if needed, to keep your hips level.
On an inhale lift your upper body, come on your fingertips, hands shoulder width apart, draw your navel in, tailbone down and open your chest.
On an exhale walk your hands forward on the fingertips and lower your upper body to the floor. You can rest your forearms and forehead on the mat.
Stay here for 5 breaths or longer and on an exhale try to release the tension in your right hip.
Balance your weight on both legs.
Come out of the pose by pushing back through the hands and lifting the hips, move the leg back into all fours.
2. Child’s Pose
Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips.
Exhale and slowly lay your torso down between your thighs. Broaden your lower back across the back of your pelvis and narrow your hip points towards your navel, so that they nestle down onto the inner thighs.
Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck.
Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso with your palms up, and release the front of your shoulders towards the floor.
Feel how the weight of the front of your shoulders pulls your shoulder blades wide across your back. Stay in this position for 30 seconds to a minute.
3. Seated Spinal Twist
Begin seated on your mat with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your right knee and place your right heel as close to your right sit-bone as you can.
Then bend your left knee and cross your left foot over your right knee. Plant it on the floor so your left ankle is next to your right knee.
Reach your left arm behind you and place your palm on the floor. Then bend your right elbow and cross it over the outer side of your left knee. Keep your elbow bent, or if you can, hold onto your left toes.
Keep your left hand on the floor for stability, or bring your left arm around your lower back. Reach for your shirt, or if you can, hook your fingers on the top of your right thigh. Gaze behind you and over your left shoulder.
Continue pressing your right arm into your left knee, and use each inhale to lengthen the spine and use each exhale to rotate further to the left.
Stay here for five or more breaths. Then release the twist, straighten your legs out in front of you, and do this pose with your right knee pointing up.
4. Wide-Leg Standing Forward Fold
Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Bring your hands to your hips. Turn to the left and step your feet wide apart. Turn your toes slightly in and your heels slightly out so the edges of your feet are parallel to the edges of your mat. Align your heels.
Inhale and lengthen your torso, reaching the crown of your head up toward the ceiling. Exhaling, fold forward at the hips. Keep the front of your torso long. Drop your head and gaze softly behind you.
Bring your hands to rest on the floor between your legs. Keep your elbows bent and pointing behind you. If your hands do not come to the floor, rest them on yoga blocks.
Shift your weight slightly forward onto the balls of your feet. Keep your hips aligned with your ankles, then walk your hands back even further.
Work toward bringing your fingers in line with your toes (and eventually with your heels), and bringing your elbows directly above your wrists. Strongly engage your quadriceps and draw them up toward the ceiling.
Lengthen your spine on your inhalations and fold deeper on your exhalations. Bring the crown of your head down further, resting it on the floor if possible.
Hold for up to one minute. To release, bring your hands to your hips. Press firmly through your feet and inhale to lift your torso with a flat back. Step your feet together and return to Mountain Pose.
5. Supine Butterfly
Begin seated in Staff Pose (Dandasana), with your legs extended in front of you on the mat. Bend your knees and draw your heels in toward your pelvis.
Press the soles of your feet together and let your knees drop open to both sides. This is Bound Angle Pose. Lean backward and bring your elbows to the floor.
Lower your back all the way to the floor and gently shift your buttocks from side to side, adjusting your position so your spine lengthens along the floor while maintaining the natural curve of the lower back.
Draw your shoulder blades gently inward and let your arms relax with your palms facing up. Relax your buttocks and lengthen your tailbone toward your heels.
Let your breath occur naturally and allow your body to feel heavy. Stay here for 1-10 minutes. To come out of the pose, draw your knees together. Then, roll to your right side and use your hands to press yourself up to a comfortable seated position.