There’s a common misconception that Yin yoga practices have to be long. In some ways, this makes sense because Yin yoga as a practice is one of stillness, patience, and surrender. Devoting long periods of time to it can be transformative, but you can still enjoy the benefits of a Yin yoga practice if you don’t have a large window of time. Whether it is 10, 20, or a full hour, any amount of time spent practicing a Yin yoga sequence can help you completely rest, digest, and redirect your energy.
Practicing this short yet effective Yin sequence is ideal for whenever you need to restore balance, calm down, or ease your way into a restful evening. It will facilitate the transition from alert and focused to a more mindful and relaxed state of body, spirit, and mind. Hold each asana (pose) for three minutes (use a meditation timer if you have one), and move in a way that feels supportive between each pose.
Supported Child’s Pose:
To begin, bring your knees mat-width apart. As you keep your big toes touching, let your hips sink back and down toward the ground. Then, walk your hand forward and fold your upper body forward, placing your forehead on the floor. If you discover that either your hips or forehead can't reach the floor, place a yoga block, blankets, or a bolster underneath your forehead, chest, or torso. After a 3-5 minute hold, be sure to make your transitions intuitive and mindful.
Sleeping Swan Pose:
From all fours, bring your right knee to the ground at the back of your right hand. Move your right foot toward your left hand. As you slide your left knee back, release your hips toward the ground. If this is uncomfortable for your right hip or knee, keep your right foot closer to your groin. For extra support, place a folded blanket underneath your right sit bone and fold your body forward, either coming to the ground or onto a bolster. Surrender in this pose for three minutes, then repeat on the opposite side.
Come into sphinx pose by lying face down on your mat. Keep your feet hip-width apart, then lift into a passive, supported backbend by placing your forearms on the ground, elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Keep the back of your neck long and your shoulders and face relaxed. If this feels too intense, take your elbows wider to lessen the backbend, or come out of the pose sooner.
Lying on your back, bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to release out to either side. Place a cushion or block underneath your thighs so the knees are supported. Open your arms out to a T-Shape, coming into reclined butterfly pose. Focus on the front of your body opening and softening, while your body relaxes into the ground.
Make any final movements your body may need before coming to lie flat on your back with your feet mat-width apart in. Have your arms beside your body, palms facing up. Close your eyes, giving yourself time to gently observe how you feel after this Yin yoga practice. This may be the pose that you want to stay in the longest! When you've completed the Yin sequence, remember to move slowly and mindfully, and try to savor the calm that you have just cultivated through your practice. And finally, reflect upon any shifts that you may feel and note how the difference it makes in the rest of your day or evening.