The Covid-19 pandemic and all the media coverage around it, can make us feel anxious and depressed. Proper self-care is more important than ever. By taking good care of your mind and body, you can weather the wildest storms.
Have you heard about the deep relaxing effects of Yin yoga? Yin postures stretch deeper muscles and loosen the pelvic area. They strengthen and relax the connective tissue and joints. Typical for Yin yoga is that positions are held longer, so that life energy can flow better through the energy channel (meridians). Each Yin yoga posture works according to traditional Chinese medicine on one or more meridians. Ideal for letting go of your worries and calming your monkey mind!
So, let’s have a look at 5 yin yoga postures that help us deal with emotions as anxiety and depression, or accumulated stress and fatigue.
This is one of the few standing postures in the Yin tradition, with a strong relaxing effect. The posture works on the parasympathetic nervous system, which provides rest and recovery. This is a nice posture to do when you feel restless or tense. It’s also effective for menstrual cramps.
Dangling creates an intense stretch at the entire back of the body and a slight stretch in the lower back. It also opens the hamstrings. In addition, the posture stretches the diaphragm.
Thanks to the intense stretch at the back of the legs, Dangling stimulates the bladder meridian. The pose also works on the spleen, liver and kidneys and the compression in the stomach area stimulates the digestion.
– Stand tall with your feet at hip width.
– Slowly bend forward from your hips, with your knees stretched or bent.
– Grab your elbows and surrender the head, shoulders and upper body completely to gravity.
– You can choose to place your hands on the ground and feel support from the earth.
– Stay in this posture for 3 to 5 minutes and then slowly roll up, vertebra for vertebra, on an inhalation.
– Adjustments: keep your knees deeply bent in this position if you have back problems. If necessary, rest your elbows on your knees. People who have high blood pressure, better skip this position.
In this pose you make your back spherical and relax your head towards your knees. The goal is not to reach your toes.
The posture creates decompression in the back, stimulates the kidneys and opens the hamstrings. The blood circulation and the elimination of waste products is enhanced. The digestive organs receive a massage through the compression of the stomach area. The intense stretch at the back of the legs stimulates the bladder and kidney meridian.
– Sit down with both legs stretched out in front of you. Now press your seat bones firmly into the ground.
– Breathe in and as you breathe out fold your upper body forward.
– Your back may be convex in this position, but keep your arms, shoulders and neck relaxed.
– Stay in this posture for 3 to 5 minutes – as long as it feels comfortable for you.
– Adjustments can be made if necessary: place a pillow or blanket under your buttocks for an extra tilt of the pelvis, or under the knees to relieve the hamstrings. For people with back problems it’s better to skip this one.
3. Sleeping Swan
This pose opens your hip and stretches the hip flexors and quadriceps as well as the deep buttock muscle.
The accent is on the pelvis, so you ground and release tension.
In this position, the liver and kidney meridian are stimulated as well as the stomach and spleen meridian on top of the leg and the gallbladder meridian on the outside of the leg.
Sleeping Swan influences your energy level and your emotional balance. Yin yoga postures work on the deeper tissues, therefore it is possible that emotions such as fear, anger or sadness come to the surface. Take a deep breath and release the emotions on the out-breath.
– Come on hands and knees.
– Bring the right leg bent forward until your right heel lies before your left heel.
– Stretch your left leg back, with the instep against the ground.
Keep your weight between your hips.
– Flex the front foot and slowly exhale the upper body to the ground. You can also rest on the elbows or on a block.
– Stay in the posture for 2 to 3 minutes and change sides.
– Adjustments: Skip this position in case of knee injuries. An alternative to this position is Eye of the Needle.
To protect your knee, it is best to keep the foot flexed before bending over.
4. Eye Of The Needle
This Yin pose causes the energy in the gallbladder and liver meridian to flow again. Both are important for a healthy balance of emotions and the health of your muscles and tendons. In addition, Eye of the Needle stretches the hips and hamstrings, relieving stiffness in the gluteal muscles, the hips and the lower back. The posture is regularly used as cooling down after exercise.
– Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
– Stay calm for one minute and become aware of your breathing.
– Place your right ankle above your left knee, the right foot is active.
– Grasp your fingers behind the left hamstring and pull the leg on the exhalation towards you. If this is easy for you, you can get deeper into the stretch by placing your hands on the tibia.
– Stay in the pose for 2 to 3 minutes. Then change sides.
– Adjustments: Don’t do this if your knees are injured. Make sure there is a very slight, natural curve in your lower back. Don’t push the lower back too hard into the mat to protect it.
5. Reclining Bound Angle
A hip opener with a therapeutic effect! This relaxing posture is effective for anxiety complaints and mild depression. Anatomically, the Reclining Bound Angle opens the hips and groin. This posture lengthens the back, while the abdominal organs, bladder, kidneys and reproductive organs are stimulated. This posture also stimulates the heart and improves blood circulation in the body. The Reclining Bound Angle therefore counteracts fatigue, stress and menstrual cramps. By relaxing and directing the breath towards the flanks, this effect is enhanced.
– Put a pillow or blanket behind you and start sitting with your knees bent.
– Bring the feet as close to your pelvis as possible and place the soles of the feet together. Then drop your knees outwards.
– Lean back on an exhalation; keep lifting your chest.
– Use your elbows to lie down.
– Relax your groin. Lower your knees as far down as possible, without tension in the groin.
– Tilt your pelvis to keep the lower back long.
– Stay in this position for 3 to 5 minutes, or as long as you feel comfortable.
– Relax more and more and focus on your breathing. Then come back up on an inhalation.
– Adjustments:be careful with knee, hip or groin problems. Press the heels firmly together so that the knee joint remains secure. For sensitive groins, cushions under the thighs are a comfortable support.
Yin As Counterbalance For Yang
With these 5 postures you can work on your own well-being in about half an hour. You choose how long you can stay in a posture and adjust your own workout.
Yin energy invites you to slow down. Unlike ‘doing’ it’s an energy to just ‘be’. Yin stands for peace, feeling, creativity and softness. Something we all desperately need in a society with predominantly yang energy (be active, keep going, perform, do things).
Enjoy your yoga practice and welcome the yin energy into your life.
With love ,