A yin yoga class featuring six poses opens the heart and upper back, brings ease to the morning or gently unwinds the day. Each pose is supported by props, allowing the body to relax and stretch the deep connective tissues between the muscles to provide better circulation and support to the joints. Chest, shoulder, back, and side waist opening allow spaciousness around the heart to breathe with more ease. As you linger in each pose, elongate your exhales to deepen your state of calm.
Level: Open-level class
Props: 2 Blocks & 1 Bolster
Focus: Forward folds and heart opener
Location: Lila Familia Production Studio, Vancouver, BC
Surrender to a state of quiet in the body by holding each pose for several minutes while you focus on your breath. Yin yoga creates balance in the mind and body by increasing the circulation of fluids and prana (life force/energy) to the organs; holding poses for a longer duration with the support of props helps release the fascia and improve overall mobility and function of movement. Fascia is the casing of connective tissue that supports the organs, muscles, bones, nerve fibers, and blood vessels in their place.
Fascia is the body’s sausage casing; it holds everything together and provides internal structure. The body’s fascia lines extend from the head to the toes with nerves that innervate and allow sensitivity and feedback. When the fascia is tight, it reduces the fluidity and overall function of movement, sticking to muscles and binding structures together. Releasing fascia allows the muscles and internal structures to slide smoothly over each other, increasing the function of movement and nourishing the muscles and nerves.
The muscles relax to allow the connective tissues to stretch and release through yin and restorative style yoga. This includes the fascial tissues. Relaxation and release of the fascia may profoundly affect the tightness and pain associated with the muscles, which is why complementing cardiovascular exercise with stretching and yin/restorative yoga is essential to the body’s health, longevity, and mobility. Releasing tight fascial tissues occurs over a period, not in one yoga class. Adding yin/restorative style yoga to your routine creates length in the connective tissues and allows the fascia to relax. Proper posture, simple stretching, and using a ball or yoga dowel to roll out the muscles also helps to keep the fascia healthy to prevent problems.
Yin Yoga Sequence
Lay on your back and place your palms on your lower belly. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the ground and let your knees come together to allow your legs’ muscles to relax. Take your feet a little wide and allow your body to become heavy on the ground. Breath deep, and with every exhale, become a little heavier as your rest on the earth. Imagine all of your muscles, letting go and relaxing a little more with each exhale breath. Stay here, or extend your legs down your mat. Feel your palms against your belly rise and fall as you breathe.
The first few minutes in this pose, as you breathe deep and get still, you’re telling your body to shift into rest and digest mode, a function of the parasympathetic nervous system where we feel safe, calm, and tranquil in body and mind.
Bananasana (supine crescent moon pose) passively stretches and lengthens the side body, supporting and releasing the muscles and fascia tissue from the shoulder to hip. Take your hands over your head and to the top corner of your mat, and move your legs to the same side. Hook one ankle over the other, and grab the wrist of the side you’re stretching. Rest your limbs on the ground and breathe deep into the lungs and ribcage.
Muscles of the side body lengthened in this pose include the obliques, intercostals, lattisimus dorsi, quadratus lumborum, and serratus anterior.
Sit cross-legged and place the two blocks on the second height in front of your legs. Place your bolster on top of the blocks length-wise so the bolster is balanced on the blocks. Place your forearms on the blocks and tap your forehead to your forearms or palms. Let your belly soften toward the ground.
This pose releases the muscle trapezius muscle at the back of the neck. The trapezius becomes strained from sitting, looking down at the phones or computer, and clenching the teeth and jaw. This pose also releases the adductor muscles along the inner thighs and groin.
Laying flat on your belly, you’ll move the bolster to the top of your mat and the two blocks to the upper corners on either side of your mat. Place the top of the feet, ankle, and lower shin on the bolster so that your toes are hovering off the ground. Place your upper arms from shoulder to elbow, on the blocks with your palms facing upwards. Take one cheek to the ground and breathe before switching to take the opposite cheek to the ground.
This pose creates a state of ease and groundedness with the abdomen on the earth. It releases the sternocleidomastoid muscles along the side of the neck and the front of the shoulder girdle.
Balasana (child’s pose) with the blocks stacked beneath the bolster, either on the second or highest hight, depending on how deep of a stretch you want along the back body. The bolster will run length-wise from the pelvis to the head. The lower your bolster and blocks to the ground, the deeper of a stretch you will feel along the spine.
This pose stretches and releases the lower back and hips. You may also feel a stretch across the upper back and back of the shoulders. A sense of groundedness, introspection, and safety nourish the body and mind by holding this supported variation of child’s pose for a duration.
Savasana (corpse pose) OR Matsyasana (fish pose) variation supported by props.
Savasana, come to lay on your back, take your arms and legs wide for traditional savasana, OR:
Matsyasana variation with props, place your bolster at the back of the knees to support the heels on resting on the ground. Option to place one block behind the head on the second or highest-hight. Place the other block on the widest-width between the shoulder blades at the back of the heart for a variation of supported fish pose Take your arms wide to either side with palms facing upwards to release and lengthen the muscles across the chest and front of the shoulders. Soften into the pose and breathe deep.