If you know me, you know how much I love Yin Yoga. And I’m not the only one. Not without a reason more and more people are discovering and falling in love with the Yin Practice. Why?
The name Yin comes from a well known Taoistic symbol Yin and Yang, which shows a perfect union of opposites. There is always a bit of Yang in Yin and vice versa.
The answer is our crazy, demanding, rushing, accelerating world. Our world tends to be constantly in the Yang state – always taking action, having a stressful lifestyle, working too many hours, doing too many things at once. As a result we risk a burn out, our sleep and digestion are not good, we accumulate tensions in the body, we never feel really rested… There seems to be not enough time or space for the Yin side – the aspect of our lives that is much slower and gentler, that allows us to relax, digest, be patient and peaceful.
In order to be balanced, rested and full of energy we need a healthy relationship between these two polarities.
We need to balance out the Yin and Yang and learn how to slow down again.
Yin Yoga is a gentle, restorative yoga style where poses are held passively for longer periods of time. During the practice we learn how to relax consciously and feel our body again. Breath and body awareness are very important aspects that take our practice beyond the physical level. We start to let go of not only the muscles, but also stress, unwanted emotions, anxiety, the feeling of not being enough.
But we are enough and already perfect as we are! You just need to slow down, be gentle, take time for yourself and rest.
These are the poses that will literally prepare you for a goodnight sleep. All you need is a mat, one or two blocks or a bolster and maybe some candles and incense. Essential oils like Lavender or Ylang Ylang have a wonderful calming effect and will also help you relax. Send me a message if you want to know more about these wonderful oils.
In Yin Yoga, the poses are held for at least 3 minutes, up to 5 or more, to allow the pose to work. You can keep your eyes closed for the entire practice.
Never practice with pain. Discomfort and feeling deep stretches is ok, but when the pose hurts or is not good for you, trust your intuition. Nobody knows your body better than you do!
1. Supta Badha Konasana – Laying Butterfly
Lay on your back and bring your feet together. Place your arms alongside your body, the palms are facing up. You can also place blocks under your tights to support your knees. Relax your shoulders, arms and face. Close your eyes and bring your awareness inside. Notice how your entire body automatically relaxes in this pose. Breathe deeply and slowly into your belly. You can also place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Feel how your belly is rising with each inhalation, and falling with each exhalation.
2. Supta Parivartanasana Variation – Laying Twist
This is one of my favorite variations of laying twist. For that, place your left ankle above your right knee. Stretch your arms to the sides or cross the fingers together behind your head. Whatever arm position feels more comfortable for you. Inhale and lengthen your spine, exhale and place you left foot and right leg on the right side. Feel the stretch on your left side. Both shoulders should stay on the mat. Your head is in the neutral position, or you can look to the right if that feels ok with your neck. Feel free to experiment with your left foot position in order to intensify or reduce the twist. If something feels uncomfortable in your knee, just release the ankle from your knee. Breathe deeply, and feel how the tension in the hips and gluteus releases with every exhalation. Repeat the second side.
3. Apanasana – Knee To Chest
Bring your knees together and hug them into your chest. Feel the gentle stretch in your lower back. Rock here a bit from side to side. Feel your head heavy on the mat. Your face, neck and shoulders are relaxed. Feel your belly touching the tights as you breathe in, and your knees falling deeper into the chest as you breathe out.
4. Ananda Balasana – Happy Baby
From Apanasana, open your knees to the side and grab the outside of your feet with your hands. You can either stay here, which is a great hip opener, or go further by opening your feet up towards the sealing. Support your knees with your elbows and push with your elbows a bit to the outside and with your hands down to feel the opening in your hips more intense. Also here, you can rock gently from side to side for a moment. Close your eyes if that feels comfortable.
5. Pigeon Pose
For this pose you will need one block and a bolster or cushion. Start in table top position and bring your right foot in between your hands. Place the foot closer to your left hand, slowly lower your hips and put one block under your left hip to level them. With straight arms, make sure your body is comfortable here and you feel no pain or discomfort, especially in your knee. Lower on your forearms directly on the mat or on a bolster. Relax your shoulders and soften your face. Feel the opening and stretching in your hips. Even if the pose is becoming intense, keep on breathing deeply and calmly. Send your awareness where you feel the pose most intensely and stay present.
After staying here for about 3 to 5 minutes, carefully return to table top position and do the second side. Notice if you feel any difference, maybe one side is more tight than the other?
6. Balasana – Childs Pose
From table top, open your knees and bring big toes together. Exhale and sit on your heels, bringing your forehead down. Allow your belly to rest in between your thighs. Feel the weight of your head on the mat. Let your arms and your shoulders melt down. Feel how your lower back releases in this pose. Breathe deeply and calmly into your belly and into your chest, with every exhale allow your belly and your chest to contract. Allow yourself to surrender into this deeply grounding pose.
7. Viparita Karani Restorative – Legs Up
This is a very simple and restorative inversion, that will instantly bring you peace. Going into the pose may seem a bit complicated at the beginning, but actually it’s quite simple: sit with one hip on the bolster, lay on one side, then turn on back and lift your legs up. Arrange your upper body, shoulder blades flat on the back and make sure your neck is comfortable. Bring your arms alongside the body. Close your eyes and turn your awareness inside.
8. Shavasana – Final Relaxation
Prepare yourself for the final relaxation. For that, maybe you want to cover yourself with a blanket or a pullover, or maybe wear socks, as the body cools down while you don’t move it this pose.
Lay comfortable on your back, with your arms alongside the body, palms facing up and your legs falling a bit apart, heels wider than hips. Relax your face, neck and shoulders. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply and slowly, and feel with every exhale how your body is sinking deeper into the mat. Relax here for about 5-10 minutes, or more.