To some practitioners, Yin Yoga might not seem as challenging as the other types of yoga.
While on the surface due to its rather static and slow-paced nature it may appear that way – however in reality many of its demanding poses can pose a challenge even to the most experienced yogis.
Yin Yoga requires strength of will, endurance, and stamina as well as stretched and developed Yin body structures like tendons, ligaments, and bones that are achieved only through much perseverance and devotion.
Below you’ll find a comprehensive list of advanced Yin Yoga poses to challenge yourself.
Overview of Yin Yoga Poses
Generally all Yin Yoga poses have one thing in common – they are meant to be held for around 5 up to 10 mins.
Maintaining each posture for such a long time allows the practising yogi to transfer the stretching forces to the deeper Yin structures like the fascia, tendons, ligaments, and bones, thereby properly activating them.
The more dynamic and lively sequences in Vinyasa Flow or even Hatha Yoga cannot achieve that, as they promote the opposing Yang activation. Yin Yoga remains the best yoga branch to nurture flexibility, inner strength, and a deeper-lying range of motions.
When it comes to the classification of Yin Yoga poses, you can sort them by posture – seated, prone, supine, and others. Or by level – from beginners to advanced. In this list, we will focus on the latter.
How to know which Poses are Right for you?
As mentioned earlier Yin Yoga demands stamina, flexibility, a wide range of motions as well as the proper activation of the deep Yin structures of the body.
Since nurturing all of these qualities takes much time and dedication, you should ideally have some basic yoga training. Make sure you can comfortably perform the beginner and intermediate positions without discomfort or pressure before proceeding to the more advanced positions. Otherwise you’ll not benefit from the sequences or, worse still, end up injuring yourself.
At the same time it is important not to neglect your level of Yang activation when bringing your Yin Yoga routine up to the next stage.
Although the Yang structures including the muscles do not feature prominently in Yin Yoga, they are still used to maintain the postures; hence, one’s Yin and Yang development should be proportional.
The Advanced Poses List
Dragon Pose – Utthan Pristhasana
The Dragon Pose is perfect to open the hips as well as give the hip flexors and the quadriceps a proper stretch. You can get into it from the Table Top Position, the Dangling Pose, or the downward-facing Dog Pose.
Take a step forward with your right foot, placing it flat on the ground. Extend your left foot back until you feel the tendons in your right knee stretching. Next, lower your clasped hands to the ground inside of your right foot.
To do that you may have to extend your left foot further back. Then stretch your spine as you look forward and downward. Repeat on the other side.
For variety and a deeper stretch you can, for instance push your right, bent leg outwards with the corresponding hand.
Revolved Half-Caterpillar Pose – Parivritta Janusirasana
The Revolved Half-Caterpillar Pose will engage and open up your whole body from the top to the feet.
Because it is so demanding, it activates the hips, hamstrings, spine, lower back, sides of the trunk, and even the shoulders. In addition to a deep stretch, this pose provides a good massage to the organs.
To get into it start by sitting straight on the floor with your legs extended forward. Take your right leg up and place it straight on the right side of the trunk with the foot flexed and the toes pointing up.
Bend the left leg inward so that the left heel aims at the perineum and the left toes are gently touching the right inner thigh. Reach the right inner foot with the right hand and bring the right elbow towards the ground.
Twist the torso so that the top of the head points at the right foot while extending your left arm up to the side, until it grabs the right foot. Hold and subsequently repeat with the second leg.
Swan and Sleeping Swan – Adho Mukha Kapotasana and Kapotasana II
The Swan Pose and its Sleeping variation will greatly flex and open your back and the hips, as well as train your stamina for performing other yoga poses.
Starting from either the Cat Pose or the downward-facing Dog Pose, bring your right foot forward and place it behind the left hand while bending your knee making a 90-degree angle.
Meanwhile, keep the left leg extended back flat on the ground, with the sole of the foot pointing up. Extend and stretch your spine back – straightening your arms in front of the right shin and touching the ground with your fingertips will help with deepening the position. Repeat on the other side.
For the Sleeping variation, lower your trunk to the floor and lay flat on top of the front leg with your arms extended forward on the ground.
Frog Pose – Mandukasana
Even though it’s challenging the Frog Pose can indeed get relaxing, as it deeply opens the hips and the leg joints as well as creates a slight backbend to the body.
Get down on the floor on your hands and knees. Push your right knee to the side making a 90-degree angle with your thighs while flexing your foot perpendicular to the shin. Do the same with the left leg and try to widen your knees as much as possible. At the same time, keep your spine straight with a slight backbend at the bottom and your forearms flat on the floor.
Snail Pose – Halasana
The Snail Pose is great when it comes to mastering the control of body alignment, hence boosting confidence and self-awareness.
Start with the Corpse Pose, lying flat on the ground with your arms on the sides of the trunk. On an inhale, pull your knees closer to the body and then lift the legs while propping the lower back with your hands.
Let your feet fall over your head until they touch the floor. Secure your shoulders by pulling your shoulder blades together and stretching the spine. Lay your arms forward flat on the ground on the sides of the trunk.
Hope you found the list helpful and if you wish to learn even more about Yin Yoga, check our Yoga Alliance accredited Yin Yoga Teacher Training Certification Course. It will supplement you to bring your advanced practice to an even higher level. Many students who enrolled have raved about the immense learnings they got from this course.