Happy Mental Health Awareness Month Friends!
Mental Health Awareness Month 2022 is in full swing and I wanted to share with you some of my favorite Yin Yoga poses that help me feel positive after a tiring workday.
If you’re looking to add some easy Yin Yoga asanas for your yoga routine this month, I’ve got a few posture ideas and tips for you!
What is Yin Yoga?
Yin Yoga is a slow yoga practice based on Taoist (spiritual tradition of Chinese origin) concepts of Yin and yang. It was founded in the 1970s by martial arts expert and yoga teacher Paulie Zink, a Taoist yoga teacher.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, Yin can be a stable, feminine, passive, cold, and downward moving energy. On the contrary, yang is a constantly changing, masculine, active, hot, and upward moving energy.
Based on the analogy of Yin and yang, the stiff body with tight tissues, tendons, and ligaments is Yin, while the continuously moving muscles and joints are Yangs.
Hence, the yoga asana you hold for a prolonged period is Yin Yoga. In contrast, the yoga asana that you perform with more active, dynamic movement is yang yoga (the traditional yoga).
How to Start a Yin Yoga Practice?
The process of executing Yin or traditional yoga is similar, but the names are different.
Usually, the significant difference between Yin and traditional yoga practice is that yin poses are performed with more connective tissue exertion by concentrating on one focal point.
Therefore, being a yin yoga practitioner, you need to stress holding a specific yoga pose for at least five minutes or more. An advanced Ying Yoga practitioner can hold one yin pose for even more than 20 minutes.
During prolonged holds, yin teachers usually give “Dharma Talks” (Buddhist moral stories) or the anatomy of a pose.
If you are a beginner to Yin Yoga, start by holding each pose for a minimum of 60 seconds and slowly build your way up to holding the poses for longer.
4 Yin Yoga Poses for Revitalizing Mental Health
1. The Caterpillar Pose
Caterpillar pose is a yin version of the traditional Pashchimottanasana – Seated Forward Bend.
Getting into this pose:
- Start by sitting in a seated Staff Pose. Stretch out both legs straight in front of you.
- Now gently start by bending forward and folding your upper body over your legs.
- While you lean forward, make sure to arch your lower back.
- In case bending feels uncomfortable and tight in your hamstrings. Bend your knees and place a cushion below them for support.
- Ensure you are not lengthening your spine by reaching your head to your toes as we do in the traditional yoga pose. Instead, bring your head just above your knees and hold the pose.
- To come out of this pose, lift back up in the staff pose and relax.
The forward folding caterpillar pose will help you release tension from your neck, shoulders, spine, back, and hip muscles.
This yin pose can be an excellent way to ease the Parasympathetic nervous system by calming down anxiety symptoms like lack of sleep, unwanted stress, and low self-esteem.
Lying onto the stomach compresses all the muscles around your abdomen, stimulating your digestive and reproductive functions.
2. The Sphinx Pose
Sphinx pose is a yin version of the traditional Bhujangasana – Baby Cobra Pose.
Getting into this pose:
- Lie Down onto your stomach and spread your legs out, toes pointing.
- Make sure your pelvis is tight and engaged, gently pressing down into the mat.
- Place your elbows around the chest. Inhale deep and lift your chest up like a Sphinx.
- Rest on the ribs, keep your neck straight and gaze in front. This is the point you hold the pose.
This pose is usually preceded by a deeper backbend known as Seal Pose in yin yoga and Full Cobra in traditional yoga.
- For a deeper backbend, transform into Seal Pose, gently lift your elbows from the ground and hold the same pose on your palms.
- For better stimulation in the cervical spine, try dropping your head backward and lengthening your neck.
- If the head or neck feels heavy, start moving your neck in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions.
- Release the pose and relax by doing a Child’s Pose. It’s an excellent counterpose for Sphinx and Seal.
This pose has an intense compression and stimulation on the sacral-lumbar arch in your spine. People with a herniated disc, neck pain, and back pain may find this Yin pose very therapeutic.
Sphinx pose provides a good organ massage to your lower back, sacrum, abdomen, and chest area, stimulating the Urinary Bladder, Kidneys, Adrenal Glands, and Lungs.
[RELATED READ: My 3 Phase Restorative Yoga Practice For Recovery From Injury]
3. The Swan Pose
The Swan pose is the yin version of the traditional Eka Pada Rajakapotasana or One-Legged King Pigeon pose.
Swan pose is moderately a yang pose, as it allows some extent of dynamic movement throughout the transition.
Getting into this pose:
- Start with a downward-facing dog pose.
- Slide your right leg forward, and place it on the ground.
- Place your right leg forward such that the right knee is touching the back of your right wrist and your right foot is touching the back of your left wrist.
- At the back, extend your left leg straight out, toes pointing.
- Hold the pose as you feel your hip flexors getting stretched.
This yin pose is usually preceded by a deep hip stretch known as Sleeping Swan Pose in yin yoga and Sleeping Pigeon in traditional yoga.
- In case you feel extra flexible, start by leaning forward.
- Lay your chest and arms onto the ground and gently extend your arms forward.
- Repeat the same on your left leg, then release and relax by doing a counterpose like a downward-facing dog.
This pose provides deep external rotation of hip flexors and extensively opens your femur bone inside the hip socket.
Swan pose will release tension from all over your lower body muscles like quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors.
Sleeping Swan will help you lengthen your tight spine, shoulder, and upper back muscles. It will provide a deep tissue massage to organs like the Liver and Kidney, Groin, Stomach, and Urinary Bladder stimulating them to function more efficiently.
4. The Saddle Pose
The saddle pose is the yin version of the traditional Supta Virasana – Reclining Hero Pose.
Getting into this pose:
- Start by simply kneeling and sitting in a hero pose.
- Make sure your knees are touching, and your feet are far separated.
- Place your butt in between your legs so that it touches the ground.
- Now, recline back onto your elbows first. Make sure your lower back is slightly arch’s.
- If this feels uncomfortable, place a few cushions below your lower back to get some support as you continue to hold.
- If you feel flexible and comfortable, lie down on the floor entirely, arch your lower back, extend your arms over your head, open the chest, and hold the pose.
The saddle pose releases tension from your spine by stretching your lumbar and sacral vertebrae. It also stretches out your thighs, feet, quads, shoulder blades, chest, and arms.
It is well known to stimulate organs like the Kidneys, Stomach, Spleen, Urinary Bladder, Heart, and Lungs.
What Does the Science Claim?
According to a scientific investigation of 5-week Yin Yoga practice on 100 people, researchers found reduced physiological and psychological risks related to chronic lifestyle diseases like anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, and insomnia.
7 Health Benefits of Performing Yin Yoga Daily
Following are the seven health benefits of yin yoga:
1. It increases muscle flexibility.
2. It enhances mental concentration.
3. It helps to balance your “Chakra” energy.
4. It helps to develop a sense of breath awareness.
5. It helps to stretch deep connective tissues, ligaments, and tendons.
6. Promotes deep tissue relaxation due to increased blood circulation.
7. Treats myofascial pain syndrome, which occurs due to chronic tightness in tissues.
The Bottom Line
Yin Yoga is the best way to connect with your inner self. It is an ideal meditative practice for people dealing with physical and mental trauma.
It is a perfect workout for busy bees who don’t want to get into vigorous workout routines like running, sprinting, jumping, or strength training.
If you are a beginner, start by reaching out to a certified Yin Yoga instructor for professional advice.
Also, using a variety of yoga props that provide extra support and modification options will help you stay safe from unwanted injuries during your practice.