The term yin yoga comes from the ancient Taoist Chinese tradition of yin and yang. Yang relates to rhythm and repetition, creating heat in the body. Yin is passive, cooling the body through prolonged stillness. Seemingly opposite forces – yet interconnected. Often referred to as yoga for the joints, Yin Yoga can also be described as a LIFE CHANGER for those with tight hips and hamstrings. Let’s face it, there really couldn’t be a better time to include add it into your daily practice, since many of us are WFH with probably not the best posture in the world!
Unlike more dynamic styles of yoga, Yin is the perfect practice to stop, slow down and seriously savour. Here 5 yin yoga poses to help you slow down.
When practicing yin yoga poses, aim to spend 3-5 minutes in each pose (or on each side of the pose in some cases). Try to avoid fidgeting, instead find a place in the pose where you can comfortably be with the sensation. Meditate on your breath and the physical sensation to stop your mind from wandering and if any postures cause pain, readjust or come out of the pose entirely.
Sleeping Swan (Pigeon pose / Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) – A deeply delicious hip opener that helps release the emotional seat of the body whilst stretching out those meaty glutes!
How to do it: Coming into sleeping swan from downward dog or all fours, bring your right knee to your right wrist and angel your shin across your body, so your right heel is facing towards your left thigh. Try to lengthen and straighten your left leg away from you on the floor. If you’re craving a stronger stretch move your right shin parallel to the front of your mat. Lower your upper body to the floor either resting on your elbows or making a pillow with your hands and resting your head on them. Practice on both sides.
Melting heart pose (Anahatasana) – Allow your chest, shoulders and upper back to soften as you melt your heart to the floor.
How to do it: From all fours, stick your bottom in the air and stretch forward with your arms (similar to how a cat or dog would stretch). Imagine you’re trying to get your armpits to touch the floor. Either rest your head on a block, the floor or turn it to one side. In this pose, I like to take a moment to think of something, someone or somewhere that I’m grateful for. It seems a fitting thing to do in this heart-focused pose.
Butterfly (Bound angle pose / Supta baddha konasana) – Folding forward and turning in on yourself helps calm the nervous system down. You also get a great lower back and inner thigh stretch in this pose.
How to do it: From a seated position, bring the soles of your feet together and then slide them away from you. Allowing your back to round, fold forward, lightly resting your hands on your feet or on the floor in front of you. Feel free to rest your head on a block or cushion if it doesn’t feel good to let it hang.
Square (Fire log pose/ Agnistambhasana) – Breathe deep yogis, because this is the Mother of hip openers! Sit with it though, once you get past the initial struggle it’s a beautifully grounding, space-creating posture.
How to do it: From a seated position, place the left foot or ankle on top of the right knee and slide the right foot forward until it is directly below the left knee. Glue the buttocks to the floor, sit tall and then start to lean your torso forward, tilting at the hips. Feel free to continue sitting upright if leaning forward is too much and if this pose hurts your knees, come out of it and simply cross your ankles. Practice on both sides.
Reclining supine twist (Supta Jaṭhara Parivartānāsana) – Twisting at the end of the practice helps to restore equilibrium in the nervous system and release any tightness in the spine.
How to do it: Lying on your back, draw both knees into your chest. Open your arms to the side like wings and drop the knees to one side. Turn your head to the alternate side to enhance the twist.
words by Sally Lovett, founder of Stretching the City, a yoga and wellbeing company that provides corporate wellbeing to companies all over London.