Feeling Anxious? Try This 10-Minute Yin Yoga Sequence
Whether it's knee pain or anxiety, a targeted yin yoga practice offers gentle help for a variety of complaints. A yin yoga sequence has a very similar effect on our energies as an acupuncture treatment. The following sequences therefore correspond to the meridians that are relevant, from a TCM perspective, to the triggering of a healing process for a specific condition. You can decide how long you hold the positions or how intensively you carry them out on a completely individual basis and depending on how you feel each day.
Yin yoga for different anxieties.
There are many kinds of anxieties, and most are associated with loss of confidence—particularly our basic trust, which is marked in childhood. Anxiety is often noticeable on the physical level—for example, through increased blood pressure, tense muscles, and especially in the breathing. With anxiety states, the breathing becomes quick and flat, and there is often a feeling of narrowing or rigidity. Besides this, anxiety has an important protective effect, as it makes us attentive to real situations of danger.
The next time you feel anxious, try the below yin yoga flow, moving from one pose to the next.
The position stretches the entire back and the insides of the legs. It is particularly good for women during menstruation and is often a suitable yoga position in pregnancy (though you should consult your doctor first).
Butterfly works on the meridians of the liver, kidneys, spleen, and bladder. The side bend and rotation also stimulate the gallbladder meridian and, in the side bend, the small intestine, large intestine, and triple warmer meridian.
- Sit on the mat, place the soles of your feet together, and pull the feet toward the pelvis.
- Let the knees drop gently outward, or support the outsides of the legs with two blocks if this stretch is too intense for you. You can also sit on a blanket or a cushion.
- Relax the back, let your upper body sink forward passively, and place your arms where it is comfortable for you.
- If you want to try more variations, straighten up again and come into a side bend.
- Place the left hand next to the left knee and lean leftward with your upper body.
- Leave the right arm behind your back or take it above the head for more stretch. Then change sides and perform the side bend to the right.
- Remain in butterfly for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Then come back to the center and extend both legs again.
Easy Pose With Arm & Shoulder Stretch
This position opens up the hips and stretches the whole back as well as the arms and shoulders.
- Come into easy pose, your right arm crossed in front of the left.
- To make the position more comfortable, you can also place a cushion under the buttocks and support your knees by raising them.
- Bend forward in a relaxed way with a rounded back, and cross your arms so that your right arm is in front of your left arm and the palms are facing upward. Alternatively, you can grip the opposite shoulder.
- Then change the arm position by placing the palms downward on the opposite knees.
- Remain in easy pose for 3 to 5 minutes, including both arm positions.
- Then straighten up again, release the arms and legs, and move to and fro loosely a few times.
- Then change sides—crossing the left leg in front of the right one, and the left arm in from of the right—and repeat the process.
This position mobilizes the thoracic spine, opens the heart chamber, and stretches the shoulders and insides of the arms. The stretch is particularly effective on the meridians of the stomach, spleen, kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, and pericardium.
- Place a yoga bolster and a rolled-up blanket straight across the mat.
- Then lie down with your back on the bolster, which supports your pelvis and lumbar spine.
- Your shoulder blades are on the blanket, and your arms are placed alongside your head.
- If you would like to intensify the stretch, you can extend your legs, or for a gentler variant, leave your feet placed on the floor.
- Stay in rainbow bridge for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Then either sit up again with activated pelvic floor muscles, or roll to one side out of the position.
- Relax into a supine position.
This position stretches the front side of the body and the arms and stimulates the stomach organs as well. It also expands the lobes of the lungs and therefore supports deep breathing.
- Go onto all fours, taking your hands as far forward as possible. Your knees and pelvis are at the same height, and your hands are placed clearly in front of your shoulders.
- Let your breastbone sink passively toward the floor, and push your coccyx up actively.
- Place your forehead on the floor or on a blanket, and direct your breath to your back.
- Stay in the position for 3 to 5 minutes, including the right and left rotation.
- Let your buttocks release by sinking to the heels, and take your arms next to the legs so that you go into child's pose.
Child's pose is good if you need time to recover or if you wish to neutralize between exercises. The position relaxes the back, shoulders, and neck. It stretches the bridges of the foot and the ankles, relaxes the spine, and evenly massages the stomach organs. In child's pose, the focus is on the bladder meridian.
- In the classic child's pose, sit on your heels and let your upper body sink forward. Your arms are stretched out relaxed next to your legs, and your forehead touches the floor.
- If you wish, you can put a blanket underneath you. Alternatively, you can place one fist on top of the other and place your forehead on them.
- Keep your legs closed or open, whichever feels more comfortable.
- Remain in the position as long as it feels good, and then roll out of it again slowly.
Relaxed Supine Pose
Always carry out this position at the end of your practice, even if you may not think it is important. This gives your body time to bring the activated energies into unison and harmony, which is important for unfolding your capacity for self-healing. The position does not have any special meridian effect but supports the flow of energy in general.
- Lie on your back, with your arms a comfortable distance from the upper body so that you can breathe easily.
- Open your feet slightly and let the legs fall loosely to the side. Your head should be centered, and you can place it on a small cushion if this is more comfortable.
- Relax your whole body and give your weight to the floor.
- Keep your breathing calm and also try to let your mind be quiet.
- If you wish, you can run through your body in your mind, from bottom to top, and make contact with each individual area.
- Start with the feet, then move to the legs, then the pelvis, the spine, the entire back, the abdomen, the chest area, the shoulders, the arms, and the hands.
- Also relax the throat and neck area, and the face. Then relax your whole body consciously once again.
- After a quiet yin sequence, the final relaxation can be shorter than after a strenuous yang sequence. Yin or yang, 5 to 10 minutes in the position will probably be enough.
- You can close your session with a short meditation, if desired.
This excerpt is from Be Healthy With Yin Yoga: The Gentle Way to Free Your Body of Everyday Ailments and Emotional Stresses by Stefanie Arend (She Writes Press, August 2019).
Stefanie Arend is a renowned Yin Yoga instructor, holistic health coach, nutritionist, and energy worker. As the first German author to focus exclusively on Yin Yoga, she is the author of six books, including the classic bestseller, Yin Yoga: The Gentle Path to the Inner Center (2011) and Surya Namaskar: The Sun Salutation (2014), both of which were named Best Yoga Book of the Year in German-speaking countries. Be Healthy with Yin Yoga is her first English language book. For more information about Stefanie or to watch her videos, please visit her website and YouTube channel.