4 Easy & Relaxing Yin Yoga poses
Cold mid-winter mornings and short days don't encourage us to be active. You might feel like staying on your favorite armchair under the blanket all evening, but your body does need to move a little bit. Yin yoga is a slow-paced practice, that will be a great way to introduce a little bit of activity into your day and clear your head-space after the crazy-busy Christmas/New Year period.
If you are not familiar with Yin Yoga: it's a passive type of yoga where positions are held for a longer period of time - from 1,5 min for beginners to even 20 minutes for advanced practitioners! The aim of yin yoga is to work on deeper tissues such as connective tissues, joints, and fascia. It also really helps with flexibility.
Each pose can be treated as a "mini-meditation". While in the pose, don't let your mind to wander. Focus on your breath and keep checking how your body feels? Which areas feel super tight? Will it feel good to go a bit deeper into the pose?
Start from finding your "edge" in the pose - the point, on a scale from 1 (nothing) to 10 (pain), you are on about a 4. Close your eyes, relax your body and breathe deeply through your nose. Once you are in the position for a while and you feel that your body starts opening, you can try to go a little bit deeper into the pose with each breath out. Don't force your body to go too deep where the position is getting uncomfortable and you are struggling to keep your mind clear (and keep checking the time "How much left?")
1) Move your neck. Put your hand on the opposite side of the head and imagine you are gently "pulling" the ear up, stretching the neck and upper shoulder. Hold this position for 5/10 slow breaths (or even longer if it feels good!). Repeat on the other side.
Now time to work on the back of your neck and upper spine. Clasp your hands at the back of your head and lower the head closer to your chest. Don't press hard with your hands but let the weight of your hands and gravity do the work.
2. Butterfly pose. From a sitting position, bring the soles of your feet together and move them away from you. This position gently stretches your back and legs. It's generally ok to round your lower back in this pose unless you feel pain - then keep it straight. It's also up to you if you let your head drop. If it doesn't feel good in your neck, you might want to keep it straight.
Don't worry if you cant go all the way down like me on the photo. You can support your head on a bolster or yoga block as low or as high as it feels good in your body.
3. Half Happy Baby pose. Bring one of your knees close to your chest, then pull your foot parallel to the ceiling. Try to hold your knee bent in a 90-degree angle. You can grab your foot with your hand or if it's too far away - use a strap to gently keep it in position and deepen the stretch. The happy Baby position is a great (and quite intense) hip opener. If you feel any discomfort in your spine, don't let it roll up off the floor.
Switch legs after 2/3 minutes or you can lift both legs at the same time (this is the full Happy Baby pose and it might feel super intensive!)
4. Swan (often called pigeon) pose on your back. Getting into the pose isn't as complicated as it looks:) Simply bend one of your knees keeping the foot on the floor and bring the ankle of the other leg on that knee. Bring that knee (with the ankle on it) to the chest. Stay in this position 2-3 minutes on each side
If it is too difficult for you to grab your leg, use a strap like on the photo below. This pose is another deep hip opener, great if you spend a lot of time sitting down at the desk or car. I wouldn't recommend this position if you have bad knees.
Finish off your practice with Shavasana. Remember - every time someone skips Shavasana, a unicorn cries... we cant let that happen:) Give yourself 3, 5 or 10 minutes on the floor to scan your body and notice what differences you feel after the practice.
These 4 poses should leave you feeling relaxed and your body nicely open. Did you ever practice Yin Yoga? What are your thoughts?
Lots of love