This tutorial was originally published on July 31, 2017.
A Yin yoga sequence is a passive yoga practice in which you hold stretches for longer periods of time. Physically, Yin targets the connective tissues in our bodies, and energetically, it balances out the meridians in our bodies. In Chinese medicine, the meridians are internal pathways that are responsible for carrying our life force or chi. This Yin yoga sequence is something I’ve found to be extremely beneficial to my peace of mind and well-being, especially in today’s fast paced lifestyle. A Yin yoga sequence helps balance out the active workouts so many of us do on a regular basis. Here is a Yin Yoga sequence that nourishes our heart and small intestines chi. When those two are in balance, we are able to access our innate happiness. Pay attention to your breath in each pose, making sure you’re never straining in any position. Hold each pose for 3-5 minutes.
1. Butterfly Pose– Sit upright on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. If it is hard to sit up over your hips in this position, you can raise your hips by sitting on a bolster or folded blanket. Bend your knees out to the sides as you bring the soles of your feet together. Place your hands on your ankles and adjust your heels so that you are making a diamond shape with your legs. Bend your torso forward, trying to rest your head on your feet. You may bring the hands together on the floor above your head. If this is not possible, you may use a block on your feet to hold your head up higher. Feel the stretch along the outside of your hips and lower back. Relax completely and hold the stretch.
2. Fish Pose– This stretch opens up your front body. Stay in your butterfly pose with your legs. Rest your elbows on the floor behind you as you lean back. Lift your chest to the ceiling as you arch your back and drop your head. You can keep your head forward instead if that is uncomfortable for your neck.
3. Wide Knee Child’s Pose With Twist– Start in Child’s Pose. While keeping your hips down and back by your feet, spread your knees wide apart. Take your left arm underneath your body and twist to your right. Rest the left side of your head on the floor with the left palm facing up. Take your right hand behind your lower back and let it rest there while you hold your pose. Switch sides after several minutes.
4. Sphinx Pose– Lie on your stomach and prop yourself up onto your forearms. Your elbows should be shoulder width apart and slightly in front of the shoulders. Hold your palms together and stay lifted by pressing gently into the floor so that you are not sinking in your shoulder blades. Keep your neck in line with your spine.
5. Lateral Dragon Fly Pose– Sit in a wide-legged straddle. Stretch your left side body as you lean over to the right, bringing your left arm up and over your head. Rest your head on your right hand with the elbow propped on the floor or elevated on a cushion. Hold for several minutes and then for the second part, rotate your torso so that you are now facing your right leg and stretch for a few more minutes in this position. Each hand rests on either side of your right leg and your head rests on your leg or a cushion. Repeat on the other side.
6. Snail Pose– This pose stretches the back and neck. Do not do it if you have any neck issues. Lie on your back and bring your legs over your head. Bend the knees, allowing them to fall to the ground. Keep your weight on your upper back instead of your neck. If your feet can’t reach the floor, take your hands and place them behind your lower back for support. If your shins and feet can reach the ground on either side of your head, reach your arms around and on top of your calves grasping one wrist with the other hand.
7. Lying Spinal Twist Pose– Lie on your back with your knees bent. Cross your right leg over your left. If you can, tuck your right foot behind the left calf. Exhale as you bring your knees down to the left while keeping your right shoulder on the ground. Bring your right arm above your head and relax it onto the ground with a soft elbow. You may prop your knees up on a bolster if they are not touching the ground or if you feel pain in your lower back. The closer your knees are to your chest, the more of a stretch on your back. If you want to get more stretch in your hips, then keep the knees farther down.
8. Savasana– Release all tension and allow the benefits of this Yin yoga sequence to sink into your mind and body with final resting pose. Lie on your back and allow your arms and legs to naturally fall away from the body. Keep your palms up and close your eyes. If you have any back pain, place a bolster underneath your knees. Much like a meditation, focus on your breath and scan your body for any residual tightness or stress that you can let go of.
As in all practices, we must remember that everything is connected. Our emotional/energetic bodies are deeply linked to our physical bodies. One does not get worked independently of the other.
Have you tried a Yin yoga sequence before? Did it make you feel restored and rejuvenated?
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