Yin Yoga Sequence for Stress Relief

Top anti-stress poses in Yin Yoga

yin yoga sequence for stress relief
Yin Yoga Sequences

Learn about the stress-relieving properties of Yin yoga and try soft Yin yoga sequences to release, ease and calm the body and mind.

Introduction

Yin yoga is a deep and meditative practice that focuses on stillness and passiveness. Static and slow, it allows the focus and release to go deeper into the connective tissue and does not cause undue muscle tension or an unnatural increase in heart rate.

This doesn’t mean no effort or focus is involved.

On the contrary, the levels of concentration and attention to breathing are very high. It takes some time to get used to such a profound practice.

Yin Yoga and Stress Relief

To understand how Yin Yoga helps with stress relief you must first acknowledge that tension accumulates in your body at a subconscious level.

Whenever you experience stress, you may not closely notice how your face changes expression, how your muscles get tighter, or how your breath becomes faster and more shallow, but your body certainly does.

Your natural reaction to danger – the fight-or-flight response – takes place on a hormonal level and settles deeply in your tissues and muscles.

You need to make a conscious effort to be able to communicate with it and help your neuromuscular system to relax and stay balanced.

The slow and cool yin energy that you experience in Yin yoga focuses on that communication.

It gives you time to pay attention to your body and mind in stillness and softness. It creates space for you to listen and experience the stretch and follows it with deep breathing.

And it’s a very personal and self-understanding practice, where acceptance and kindness towards yourself play a very important role.

In the beginning, you might start to hold on to the poses for 30 seconds up to three minutes, and later on progress to 5-10 minutes or more.

Remember that listening to your personal needs is the best guide in any practice.

The Learning

Stress relief in Yin yoga is achieved in a conscious and slow-paced environment where attention to breathing will help with the loosening and subsequent de-stressing.

Top Anti-Stress Poses in Yin Yoga

Here are a few Yin yoga poses that can be safely used by anyone starting their journey with yoga, as well as seasoned practitioners.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

The Child’s pose is a gentle and relaxing forward bend that is most recommended to relieve back pain and calm down the mind.

How to get in:

Begin in a kneeling position, with your hips resting on the feet – big toes touching and heels apart.

Take a deep breath while elongating the spine towards the sky, and while exhaling slowly hinge from the hips, roll forward with your hands behind, aiming to place your forehead on the ground.

Or you can keep your hands by the sides of your torso, or extend them forward for a shoulder and upper backstretch.

Recommended hold timings:

Up to 5 mins with slow and conscious breathing. Or longer after regular practice.

Coming out:

 If your hands are extended forward, place them gently behind, next to your feet. Breathing in, start lifting your chin, look forward, and gently rise to a kneeling position. To balance out, extend your legs forward.

Tips:

  1. Place a blanket or cushion under your hips if there is any discomfort in your knees or ankles.
  2. Your knees may need to be wide apart and that’s fine. Listen to your body and do not force yourself into a pose.

Abdominal Twist Pose (Jathara Parivrittasana)

This pose is most recommended for realigning the spine, opening the chest, and regulating digestion.

How to get in:

Begin in a supine position with your hands open into a T shape, palms facing up. Breathing in, hug the knees closer to your chest.

Breathe out slowly, lower the knees to one side of your body, and turn your head in the opposite direction.

Recommended hold timings:

Up to 3 mins with slow and conscious breathing. Or longer after regular practice.

Coming out:

Inhale to slowly bring your head and knees back to the center, pressing your hands to the ground, Then straighten your legs forward. Repeat the twist at least three times on each side.

Tips:

  1. Try keeping your shoulders flat on the ground – your knees might not come to the ground in the twist and that is fine. You may place a pillow or bolster on your side for support.
  2. Turning the head to the side is not necessary, especially if you feel any discomfort in the neck or shoulders. Remember to listen carefully to your body and allow it to guide you through the pose.

Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)

This pose helps relieve back pain and open the hips and groins. It also brings a sense of calmness and security and helps with connecting to your inner child.

How to get in:

Lay comfortably on your back and slowly hug your knees to the chest.

Open the knees to the sides and flex the feet.

Place your hands in between your knees and reach to hold on to the soles of your feet, grabbing them from the outer sides.

From here, slowly begin to pull your knees and feet closer to the ground and armpits, opening the hips wide. Aim to keep your shoulders and backbone flat on the ground and breathe, allowing your hips to open up in their own time.

Recommended hold timings:

Up to 3 mins with slow and conscious breathing. Or longer after regular practice.

Coming out:

Let go of your feet and gently hug your knees to the chest. Rest your feet on the ground with your knees bent, then slowly straighten them out completely.                                                                                          

Tips:

  1. To get used to this pose you may start with a Half-Happy Baby pose.
  2. If you find it difficult to reach the soles of your feet, try using a yoga belt to go around your feet, ankles, calves, or thighs. This will help you to keep the shoulders and lower back flat on the ground.
  3. Happy Baby might feel tight and unstable at the beginning. Try adding some soft rocking movements from side to side to ease into the pose.

Supported Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

A gentle backbend and chest opening pose can help with relaxing the shoulders and improve posture and spine flexibility. 

How to get in:

Sit with legs extended forward and place a supporting yoga bolster or blanket roll behind your sitting bones.

Gently begin to lower onto the support and allow your hands to rest naturally on the sides of your body.

Rest the head back touching the ground. Here, accommodate your shoulders and open up the chest while breathing gently in and out.

Recommended hold timings:                                                                                                 

Up to 3 mins with slow and conscious breathing. Or longer after regular practice.

Coming out:                                                                                                                           

Press firmly into the forearms and begin by raising your sight and neck upwards. Using your core muscles and supporting your arms, lift yourself gently into a seated position.

Tips:

  1. If you feel any discomfort in the neck while resting the head back, use a pillow or block for additional support. No sensation of pain or pinching should be felt in your practice, so feel free to add any additional cushioning you need.
  2. You may try focusing on your upper chest and upper back while breathing in. This will help with opening up the upper ribs and will help with releasing shoulder tension.

Legs on the Wall Pose (Vipritta Karni)

A calming and rejuvenating inverted pose that elongates and relaxes the back muscles and brings rest to tired legs and hips. 

How to get in:                                                                                                                      

Begin by lying on your side and moving your hips as close to the wall as possible. Walk your feet onto the wall and extend them straight above your hips.

After getting into the first alignments you can now slowly lift your pelvis and move your shoulders a bit closer to the wall.

You may keep your arms relaxed on the sides or in a T shape for additional support and chest opening.

Recommended hold timings:                                                                                           

From 5 to 10 mins with slow and conscious breathing. This is a gentle and soft pose that you can stay in for as long as you feel comfortable.

Coming out:                                                                                                                   

With your buttocks connected to the wall, start slowly hugging the knees into your chest and allow your body to roll naturally into a side resting pose.

Hold this posture for as long as you need to, breathing slowly and deeply.

Once you’re ready, support yourself with both hands firmly on the ground and lift to a comfortable sitting pose.

Again, hold this posture for as long as you need to – you may get into a meditative state if you wish to, being mindful of how you feel and breathe.

Tips:

  1. Spread your feet wider apart if you’d like to experience more opening in the groin area and hip flexors.
  2. When dealing with high blood pressure, put a cushion under your head. Keeping your chest and head higher than the hips will be helpful in this case.

The Learning

Anti-Stress Yoga poses focus on gentle and subtle movements. Acceptance of one’s place in the pose and not forcing oneself into a stretch is most important in Yin yoga, as well as in any relaxation practice.

Yin Yoga Anti-Stress Sequences

The sequence below is suitable for beginners, regular practitioners, and anyone in need of a soft, relaxing, and cleansing practice.

The gentle hip and chest opening poses will help with releasing tensions on a muscular and emotional level.

And a few spinal and neck twists will support cleansing and realignment of the posture.
No equipment is needed for this sequence, but feel free to add cushioning in any pose according to your needs.

60-minute Anti-Stress Yin Yoga sequence:

  • 3 to 5 min Child’s Pose (passive)
  • 3 to 5 min Heart Melting Pose
  • 3 to 5 min Cat and Cow Pose
  • 3 to 5 min Abdominal Twist Pose
  • 3 to 5 min Butterfly Pose (side to side neck twists)
  • 3 to 5 min Staff Pose (forward bends and side stretches)
  • 3 to 5 min Child’s Pose (active)
  • 3 to 5 min Camel Pose
  • 3 to 5 min Seated Forward Fold
  • 3 to 5 min Happy Baby Pose
  • 5 to 7 min Corpse Pose
  • 3 to 5 min Auspicious + Meditation

Takeaway

Practicing Yin yoga may take you through deep relaxing states, as well as strong emotional moments. Each asana (yoga pose) sends focus and care to a different yet always fully connected part of the body and mind. Allow stillness and conscious breathing to guide you through these experiences.

The Bottom Line

Stillness, conscious breathing, and the slow-paced energy of Yin yoga calms and balances the nervous system while elongating the body on a muscular level.

Stress accumulates not only in our minds and thoughts but can cause serious tensions in the body. Following a gentle Yin yoga sequence can ease and help with relaxing such spaces, especially when entering practice with compassion and self-acceptance.

If you want to take your learning of Yin Yoga to the next level, we suggest you look at our Online Yin Yoga Course. With visual representation of the poses and things to keep in mind, you’ll be delighted no end when you finish this course.

Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga. She is known around the world for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was also recognized as a Top 20 International Yoga Blogger. Her writing on holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and other international magazines. Meera is a yoga teacher and yoga therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.

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