Are you dealing with a lot of stress or anxiety? Your body might be holding on to it, and you may notice tension and tightness in the body as a result. Getting on your mat is a great way to stretch it out.
Yin Yoga is also a mindful practice, allowing you to tune in to the breath and focus on letting go of what has you feeling anxious.
If your mind wanders while you hold these poses, come back to the breath, use a mantra to focus on, or notice the physical sensations.
Find your edge in each posture, where you experience sensation but not pain. Find some stillness and comfort, then hold each pose for 3-5 minutes.
You will want to have a couple of thick cushions or a yoga bolster at the ready for these 5 poses.
1. Neck Stretch – Start in a comfortable seat, lifting tall through the torso. Roll the shoulders down and away from the ears. Let the stress and tension go. Inhale through the nose, then exhale out through the mouth. Close your eyes. Drop the right ear to the right shoulder. Notice any tension lingering in your jaw and facial muscles. You might bring the right hand on to the left temple and/or crawl the left fingers out to the side. You can play with the angle of your chin in order to feel a deeper stretch in either the back of the neck or front of the throat. Lift gently back to center. Then repeat to the left side.
2. Deer Pose Variation – Arrange the cushions or bolster at the back of the mat, turn to the long edge of the mat so the pillows are to your right side. Bring the right shin parallel to the longer edge of your mat. Bring the left shin in line with the top of the mat. This variation will focus more on the spine than the lower body. Rotate to face the cushions or bolster. Lay down on them, readjusting as needed. Bring your forehead down or turn on to one cheek. Take time to get comfortable in this gentle twist, then hold for the desired length. Slowly lift up after time is up.
3. Forward Fold – Extend your legs out in front of you. Keeping legs straight or with a slight bend in the knee. Let your spine round, as you passively fold down. Turn the palms up. No muscular engagement here, instead allow the body to open and fold naturally. Relax the shoulders.Lift up slowly.
Repeat Deer Pose Variation by turning to face the other long edge of your mat.
4. Butterfly Fold – Bring the soles of the feet together, and drop the knees out to the side. You decide how close you bring the heels in. Turn the palms up to the sky. Fold and release down, rounding and passively folding. At most sensation here should be at a 4 on a scale of 1-10.
5. Deer Pose – Turn to face the top of your mat. Keep the props behind you. Bring your right shin parallel to the top of the mat, creating a 90 degree angle. Bring the left shin parallel to the long edge of your mat, with another 90 degree bend in the knee. Focusing on the internal rotation in the back leg here. Walk your hands back until you feel the start of a stretch in the left hip and inner groin. You might be able to lower down on to the bolster or pillows. If this is too intense, lift up.
Repeat on other side.
If you prefer not to worry about the length of time and how to do each pose, practice along for the full 40 minute practice below.
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