5 YIN YOGA POSES FOR RELAXATION

Yin Yoga, Yoga

5 YIN YOGA POSES FOR RELAXATION

In the Taoist Yin Yang symbol lies the secret to a harmonious life - balance. Yin energy is internal, passive and cooling while Yang is external, dynamic and warming. Many of us live our lives in the fast lane with Yang-like gym routines, long working hours and competitive activities. Popular yoga styles like Vinyasa and Ashtanga are also predominantly Yang. So how do we bring balance into our lives? Enter - Yin Yoga.

Yin is a yielding, passive and meditative form of yoga that strengthens the deeper connective tissues of the body.

By keeping muscles relaxed and holding poses for longer periods, Yin postures bring flexibility and mobility to the body and peace and quiet to the mind. Through this slow moving practice we internally explore the connection between mind, body and breath and harness the means to recuperate and recharge our prana.

When practising Yin, it’s important to remember the three tattvas:

• Come into the pose to an appropriate edge.
• Commit to stillness.
• Hold the pose for some time.

For ultimate relaxation, breathe slowly and steadily as you sink into these five Yin poses...

Reclining Bound Angle Pose

Hold for 3 to 5 minutes

Getting into it:

Lie on your back with legs stretched in front of you (place a flat pillow beneath your head if required). Bend the knees and draw heels in towards your pelvis. Press the soles of your feet together and let your knees drop each side towards the mat. Place your left hand over your heart and your right hand over your stomach. Relax the thigh muscles, letting gravity gently pull the knees towards the ground (a bolster can be placed beneath each knee for deeper relaxation). Close eyes, breathe deep, relax.

Coming out:

Rub your inner thighs to generate warmth then use your hands to slowly draw the knees together. Place the sole of each foot on opposite edges of the mat and let your knees knock in towards each other. Relax for a few moments.

Benefits:

• Deep hip opener
• Stretches inner thighs, groins and knees
• Reduces symptoms of stress, mild depression, menstruation and menopause
• Stimulate ovaries, prostrate, kidneys and gall bladder

Tip: In this position I first mentally draw my attention to my navel, following my breath and allowing it to become longer and deeper, then my heart where I recognise and release any emotions, and lastly my third eye where I recognise and release any thoughts.

Wall Caterpillar

Hold for 5 to 10 minutes or longer.

Getting into it:

Find an empty wall space (or cupboard door) and place your mat perpendicularly to it. Scoot on your bum sideways as close to the wall as possible. Swing your legs vertically up the wall as you lie down on your back. Rest with legs extended and the backs of the legs touching the wall. Place a thin pillow under your head if wanted.

Coming out:

Bend knees, slide soles of the feet down the wall towards you. Release feet from the wall and lean over to the right, use your hands to prop yourself back up into a comfortable seated position. Alternatively, stay poised and sink into another wall yin pose. 

Benefits:

• Gently stretches the hamstrings
• Reduces edema in the legs and feet
• Dislodges toxic build ups in lower body
• Calms the nervous system

Tip: I often get real comfy and read a book in this position.

Frog

Hold for 3 to 5 minutes

Getting into it:

Start in Child’s Pose. Sit on your heels and bring the crown of your head down onto the mat. Stretch your arms straight in front of you and rest your bum on your heels. Next, transition into Tadpole by separating the knees but keeping your bum on your heels. From here, move into Half Frog by lifting the hips in line with the knees and keeping feet together. If your body allows, end in Full Frog by separating the knees as wide as your feet.

Coming out:

Sit back into Child’s Pose or slide forward on your belly and relax in Crocodile Pose.

Benefits:

• Deep groin opener
• Aids digestion and relieves cramps
• Massages meridians of the heart, lungs and intestines

Tip: Choose which variation is the most relaxing for you and hold for the recommended time.

Sphinx

Hold for 3 to 5 minutes

Getting into it:

Lie on your belly with legs stretched straight behind you, feet together. Clasp elbows with opposite hands, walk elbows away from the body and then prop yourself up on your elbows. Don’t let the shoulders slouch or the bum tighten. If the sensation in the lower back is too deep, walk elbows further away. For a deeper sensation - open legs slightly and flex feet towards the sky.

Coming out:

Slowly lower your chest to the mat. Place your hands on top of each other and rest your chin on them. To release the lower back you can open the legs slightly, flex feet to the sky and gently drop your feet from side to side in a windshield wiper motion.

Benefits:

• Compression and stimulation of the sacral lumbar arch
• Tones the spine and alleviates bulging or herniated discs
• Stimulates the kidneys and adrenal glands
• Strengthens and opens lungs, chest and shoulders

Reclining Twist

Hold for 3 minutes or longer on each side.

Getting into it:

Lie flat on your back with your arms out in a T-shape, palms pressed into the floor. Draw knees into the chest and let them drop gently to the right as your turn your head to look at the left hand. This will stretch the upper back. To stretch the lower back - start with knees bent and soles of the feet planted on the mat before dropping the knees and turning the head. Repeat on the opposite side.

Coming out:

Roll onto your back and hug knees into the chest to release the sacrum. Stretch out the arms and legs with a well-earned sigh as you settle down into Savasana.

Benefits:

• Restores equilibrium to nervous system
• Internally rotates the hips
• Releases the spine
• Massages the stomach

Tip: Save this relaxing and rejuvenating twist for the end of your practice.

If you have limited time, rather select fewer poses and hold them for longer than try cram in more at shorter intervals. And no matter what, always make time for Savasana at the end of your practice. It’s during this final position that the nervous system strengthens, the mind quietens and the body restores.

This article has been written by Camilla Marsh, a yoga teaching, hula hooping, free writing nomad who trails the earth in search of beauty, magic and adventure. She writes about all things holistic, health and happiness related.

Tip: There are so many studios offering yoga in Cape Town that you're bound to find one with regular yin classes on the timetable.

Share Your Thoughts...

You must have Javascript enabled to use this form.