Nowadays, staying at home can bring about feelings of grief, anxiety, and isolation. Luckily, the slow-paced, quiet practice of yin yoga can help you embrace the quietude, and restore ease and energy back into your body, and plant good intentions in the mind.
Here are 5 postures you can do at home, in bed or on your mat. Do these by yourself or video call some friends and ask them to join you.
5 Yin Yoga Poses for Anxiety
1. Child’s Pose
Otherwise known as balasana, child’s pose is a resting position that helps you settle in as you begin your practice. It decompresses and creates space in the lower back, naturally massages the internal organs and boosts circulation, and calms the nervous system.
How To: On your mat or on your bed, sit your hips down to your heels and rest your belly onto your knees. Stretch your arms forward and relax your forehead down. Scan your body from the tips of your toes all the way to your hips, up to your shoulders and neck, then finally to the crown of your head. Stay here from 1 to 3 minutes, observing your breath and the shape of your body.
- If you have difficulty bringing your hips to your heels, place a blanket between your back thighs and your calves.
- If your forehead cannot touch the mat or your bed, place a cushion underneath your forehead.
- If your belly feels uncomfortable resting on top of your thighs, take your knees out wider and rest your belly in between your inner thighs instead.
2. Half Butterfly
Just like child’s pose, half butterfly is a forward fold that signals the nervous system to come into a state of rest and relaxation. It also helps release tension in the glutes, hamstrings, and inner thighs, which may often feel tight after long hours of sitting.
How To: Extend both legs in front of you. Then, bring your right leg in towards your chest and open up the right knee to the side. Press the sole of your right foot on your left inner thigh. Keep the left leg extended as you soften the left foot and let it splay over to the side. Crawl your hands forward, allowing your upper body to drape over the lower body. Let your spine round as you fold forward. Rest your head on top of your thigh. Stay here from 1 to 3 minutes, then repeat on the other side
- Keep supported in this pose by resting your chest and forehead on top of a pillow, bolster, or cushion.
Backbends bring your spine into extension, as well as stretch and expand the front body. They also help increase lung capacity, allowing you to breathe more fully and deeply even if you live in a small, enclosed space. A prone backbend like sphinx is gentle yet invigorating enough to restore vitality back into the body.
How To: Lie on your belly, with your legs extended behind you. Take your elbows underneath your shoulders, press down onto your forearms, and gentle lift your chest, neck, and head up. Draw the shoulders back and reach the heart forward. Close your eyes. Hold for up to 3 minutes, before gently coming down and relaxing back on your belly.
- If you would like a deeper backbend, come into seal by walking the hands closer to your chest, pressing down onto your palms, and straightening the arms.
4. Supine Twist
Similar to backbends, twists help rehydrate the spinal discs. They also help alleviate pain and discomfort in the mid to upper back, improve shoulder mobility, and stabilize the hips. A supine twist feels especially soothing and comforting.
How To: Lie on your back. Bring the knees to the chest, and extend your arms to the side. Drop your knees to the right side, and gaze over the left shoulder. Stay for a few minutes, then repeat on the left side.
- If you have tight shoulders, take your arms in cactus position by bringing your arms out to the side and bending at the elbows at 90 degrees. Open your palms up to the ceiling, and relax.
- If you have a hard time bringing your knees all the way down to the side, pad your lower knee with a blanket or pillow.
5. Viparita Karani
This mild inversion is also known as legs up the wall pose, and it has an entire alphabet of benefits. First, it helps soothe tired feet and legs, and promotes better circulation across the lower and upper body. Second, it improves hormonal balance and even alleviates menstrual cramps for women. Lastly, it promotes feelings of relaxation and grounding while keeping you uplifted—which are truly what you need during slow, yet unsteady times.
How To: Set up your mat by the wall. Then, bring one hip close to the wall. Extend one leg up, followed by the other. Lie down, then crawl your hips closer to the wall until your lower body is fully supported by the wall. Bring your arms across either side of your waist, and open your palms up to the sky in pure surrender. Stay for up to 5 minutes.
- If you don’t have enough wall space, stack a few pillows on top of one another and prop your legs on top of them as you lie down.
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