Described as “hot chocolate for the body”, yin yoga is a restorative practice that focuses on holding poses for an extended length of time. Kylie Gates shares her three favorite poses, with an accompanying playlist, to help you unwind. If you’re feeling a little burnt out and in need of some serious downtime, these poses are just what you need! I love yin yoga because it’s slow and meditative, giving us space to turn inward and tune into both our mind and the physical sensations of our body.
As you may know, our bodies are comprised of yang and yin tissues. Muscles are yang, so in order to be strengthened, they must be subject to yang activity (repetitive movement that creates heat). Shorter holds, dynamic stretching (e.g. sun salutations) and programs like BODYATTACK and RPM target yang tissue.
To target yin tissue – the fascia and connective tissue – we need a different approach. Connective tissue responds best under a slow, steady load, which is why yin yoga poses that are held for between three and five minutes is ideal. Gently stretching connective tissue in this way causes it to get a little longer and stronger – exactly what we want!
While you’re in each pose, search to find stillness. Quiet the chatter of your mind and focus on using your breath to stay in the present. Avoid fidgeting or moving around so you can release fully into the posture. You want to feel a deep sensation, but be careful to never stretch to the point that its painful.
These poses are perfect for right after a workout, or just before bed to help you glide into sleep. They’re great for everyone, especially cyclists and those of us who sit down at a desk for several hours a day. Moving through these three poses will only 15 minutes, so it’s easy to slot into your day.
I’ve put together this suggested playlist for the practice. When the music changes, it’s time to change sides or move to the next pose. Enjoy!
Lie on your back, legs straight, arms overhead. With your butt firmly anchored on the mat, move both your legs to the right. Use your right foot to keep your left foot in place by crossing at the ankle. With glutes still anchored on the mat, bring your upper body to the right, allowing your spine to bend to the side, clasping your left wrist with your right hand.
Stretch one side as Something In The Water plays and the other side to I’ve Been Waiting.
This pose creates lateral flexion of the spine. This is a wonderful stretch for the side body that targets muscles such as the obliques and iliotibial band.
Starting on all fours, slide your right knee forward behind your right wrist. Bring your right foot into your groin and flex the foot to stabilize ankle and knee. Be careful not to place undue stress on your right knee. Extend your left leg long behind you. If you experience any knee pain, bend your back knee so your legs are at a 90/90 position. Extend your body forwards as you breathe in. As you breathe out, relax over your leg, softening through the upper body.
Stretch one side as If I Move To Mars plays and the other side to Eyes Closed.
Great for relieving tension in the hips and lower back, and to help you relax your mind and body.
Begin in tabletop position on your hands and knees. Keeping your knees bent and your ankles in line with your knees behind you, turn your toes out to the sides. Rest on your forearms with your elbows beneath your shoulders, placing your palms together, or on the floor. You can also extend your hands forward, resting your chin or forehead on the floor.
Option: Tadpole variation – with big toes together.
Who doesn’t love this pose for giving us happy hips! Frog pose targets the muscles in our adductors, hips and core. It can help alleviate tightness in our lower back that comes from spending long hours at our desks or in the car.