Yin yoga is an excellent way to lengthen the muscles and allow the body to slow down. A perfect practice for beginners who may be intimidated by quick flows and balance poses, a steady yin practice is also crucial for the more advanced yogi.
Why? What may be known as a slower, more restorative style of yoga, yin yoga offers so much more than making you more flexible. Yin yoga allows yogis of all levels to soften in all areas, including the body and mind.
Slowing down and not forcing yourself into a pose can allow you to create more space and go deeper within the breath and body. Sometimes we feel the need to push ourselves so far into a pose, practice, lifestyle, job, or situation that it can cause rigidness or roughness in our emotional state. This can be directly related to our physical state, causing tension in the body.
When we slow down to observe and see the process of each pose, our body sends a signal to release. We can feel the release or softness as an invitation to move farther and develop a conversation with our own body. This intelligence or conversation can transcend into our daily life as well, being observant, mindful, non-forcing, and waiting for natural progression. Yin yoga is a great practice to invite nourishment, growth, and balance into our lives.
Here are three simple yin yoga postures to encourage your body and mind to soften:
1. Child's pose
From a tabletop posture, release the hips to the heels. Find your breath and stay here for two to four minutes as you continue to find your breath. Deep belly breaths are helpful. Optional prop: block under bottom or forehead. Focus on softening the back and releasing tension from jaw.
2. Reclined hero pose
Come to sit between the knees, with the heels beside the bottom. Slowly lower to forearms, staying here a few moments. Continue farther if desired, releasing your back lower to ground.
As an option, use a pillow as a bolster under your back or head. Hold here for two to four minutes. Focus on breathing into belly for a 4 count, and relax the low back.
3. Dragon pose
From tabletop, step your right leg forward and lunge into the knee. Walk your right foot a few inches to the right. Bring both hands to the big-toe side of your mat. Rest here, or lower to your forearms after a few breaths. As an option, use two blocks under your hands. Stay in this pose for two to four minutes.
Repeat on the other side, resting in tabletop in between. Focus on lifting chest slightly here and softening shoulders down.