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Are you working towards splits? Be them middle or front? Or another pose that requires a great amount of hamstring flexibility? Or just trying to improve flexibility in this area? These 5 Yin yoga poses will help.
Each of these poses should be held for a minimum of 2 minutes, but can be held upwards of 5 minutes. Take a moment to find your edge, where you feel some sensation but not pain. Settle in and find stillness. Then hold the pose for the desired length of time. If you feel a need to fidget, this is a good indication that you’ve gone too far. Less is always more with yin.
You will need a strap (or a belt will do) and also 1 block.
1. Reclined Leg Stretch Series – Come to lay down on the back. Loop the strap around the ball of the right foot and extend the leg up. Don’t hyper extend or lock up the knee, keep a small bend in the knee. Relax the upper arms on the mat. Release the tension from your head, neck, and shoulders. If the raised leg starts shaking, you can bend the left knee, or even the extended right leg. Take both sides of the strap in to the right hand, opening the left arm out to the side. Open the right leg out to the side. Push down in to the opposite hip. After a moment or two, bring the leg back to center. Take the strap in to the left hand, opening the right arm to the side. Lower the right leg across the body to the left, coming in to a spinal twist. Hold here for a moment or so, then return to center. Repeat through on the other side.
2. Caterpillar Pose – Come to seated. Straighten the legs in front of you, with your feet hip width apart. Round and fold over the legs. Prop yourself up here if you want using cushions, a bolster, or block. Alternatively, let your head dangle. Keep a small bend in your knees. Relax your arms down beside you, with palms up. Relax your neck, let the chin be heavy. You may feel this stretch all the way up the back body, as well as the hamstrings. Slowly ease your way out of the fold.
3. Half Butterfly – Keep your right leg extended out to the side. Bring your left foot to the inside of the right thigh. Come into a side bend here, bringing your right elbow to the ground or a block in front of the right knee. Rest the head on to the fist or palm. Bring the left hand behind you, towards the low back, to help pull the shoulder back. Release tension from the jaw, neck, and shoulders. Ease out and switch sides.
4. Straddle Fold – Extend both legs out to the sides. Fold straight out to the center. Let gravity do the work as you fold down. You may also use props to hold yourself comfortably in the pose here. Or dangle to allow your body to open further in to the pose as you hold. After the desired length of time, use the palms to ease slowly out of the fold, and slowly bring the legs together.
5. Reclined Child’s Pose – Laying down on the mat, draw the knees into the belly. Hold still, or invite some rocking side to side. After a moment here, make your way into Savasana for at least 5 minutes. Take the time to notice any differences in the legs now.
Prefer visual or auditory cues? Watch the video below.
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