Restorative yin yoga helps the body slow down and relax. Try this sequence by Eliza Millsom from Swisse Wellness to wind down at the end of the day.
Unwind with Yin Yoga
Hold each pose for 3-5 minutes to allow the muscles to soften and to cultivate a sense of ease in the body and mind.
Nurturing and passive, yin yoga is ideal for beginners or for anyone in need of some deep relaxation. It’s also the perfect practice to do at home, as you don’t need any special clothing or equipment.
“All you need is a quiet space, your breath and some warm clothes if it’s chilly,” says Eliza Millsom, a qualified yoga teacher and the education and training manager at health company Swisse Wellness.
This sequence of six poses helps to bring back a sense of connection to the body and the earth, says Eliza. “Grounding postures can help alleviate a sense of busyness and tension and stop the pattern of overthinking. This particular combination of postures is all about calming down the nervous system to induce a sense of deep relaxation.”
Eliza recommends doing this yin sequence before bed. “Treat yourself to some ‘me time’ and help the body and the brain prepare for sleep.”
Melting heart pose (anahatasana)
Start on your hands and knees then walk your hands forward, extending your arms. Allow your head and chest to drop towards the floor. If it’s more comfortable, you can support your head with a blanket or block.
Guide your hips back so they’re stacked above the knees, keeping hips lifted. Focus on expanding and softening through the front of the chest and the heart, breathing deeply into the shoulders, chest and spine.
Seated forward fold (paschimottanasana)
Sit with your legs straight out in front of you.
Drape your body forward, allowing your neck and head to become heavy without forcing them forward. Soften or bend your knees if you start to feel tightening in the backs of the legs. With each exhale, draw the chest and heart closer to the knees.
As a modification, this pose can also be done standing instead of seated.
Child’s pose (balasana)
Start on your hands and knees then spread the knees out wide and lower your bottom down to your heels; keep your sitting bones resting on your heels.
Slowly walk your hands forward, extending your arms, and allow your head and chest to drop towards the earth. Focus on gently grounding through the sitting bones and softening through the hips.
Closed seated twist (ardha matsyendrasana)
Sit in an upright position. Bend your left leg so your left foot is positioned alongside your right sitting bone. Bend your right leg and cross it over the left, resting your right foot flat on the floor. Place your right hand on the ground behind you, to help keep you grounded in the position.
As you inhale, raise the left arm up to the sky and, as you exhale, slowly twist the torso to the right, gently looking over your right shoulder. You can rest your left hand on top of the right knee, or on the earth just in front of you. As you hold the pose, focus on grounding the sitting bones deeper into the earth with each exhale. Repeat on the opposite side.
Legs up the wall (viparita karani)
Lie on your back and extend your legs directly up to the sky. You can rest your heels against a wall if you need extra support.
Alternatively, place a block, towel or pillow under the hips to keep the pelvis lifted. Rest your hands on the belly and focus on the breath as you lie in the pose. Inwardly, observe the blood moving from the toes all the way to the crown of the head.
This is the last pose but it’s the most important. Lie down in a comfortable position, allowing the legs to extend, with your arms resting gently beside the body and your head resting heavily on the ground. Try to remain fully conscious but relaxed as you tune into the subtle rhythms of the breath. Allow all the muscles of the body and face to soften and enjoy this beautiful meditative posture. Stay here for as long as you need.