This blue marble

– and yet it spins

My favorite yin yoga sequence

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flowerLovely ones, something quite different for a change: my favorite yin yoga sequence. Why? Because yin yoga complements both daily stress as well as most types of workout, including ashtanga yoga. Yin poses first stretch the muscles open and then go to work on the connective tissue: the fascia, tendons, and ligaments. Not only are knotted muscles relieved, but blood flow into joints increases, as does overall flexibility.

The trick is to find a version of a pose that works for your body. One that is challenging but soft enough to allow you to stay in it for at least two minutes, preferably four or longer. Any stretches that make you grind your teeth and sweat within thirty seconds have no place in yin yoga.

I believe in a yin practice designed for each individual body and its issues, depending on how it is built and how it is exercised. Here is my routine, and why I love each pose. Links lead to photos, instructions, and summary of benefits.

  1. Spinal twist, first gently with both legs bent and perhaps one hand pushing the top knee down. For me this works more on the IT tendon and fascia on the outside of the thigh than it does on the spine.
  2. Spinal twist, the deep version with one leg straight along the spine line and the other bent, knee nearing the floor. Both twists are essential for the health of my back and I sometimes do these in bed, first thing in the morning.
  3. Broken (or open) wing pose. It was not easy to find a visual description of my version. To stretch my chest and shoulders I roll over the outstretched arm with a straight leg, placing the other leg on the outside of the straight one and supporting myself with my free hand. Great pose if you spend hours in front of the computer on a daily basis.
  4. Butterfly pose. This is not for hips or hamstrings, but for stretching the lower back. I place my forearms and elbows on the floor in front of my shins, hands facing forward. I stay for at least five minutes, beyond relaxing my lower back muscles, until I feel the ligaments loosen.
  5. Fire log pose. Stretches first the glutes and then the deep hip and piriformis. Hip opener for lotus pose. I usually lean over to one side, supporting my weight on my forearms and placing my forehead on the top foot.
  6. Half frog pose. Leads into frog pose but stretches different adductors for me, the ones that go tight from running.
  7. Frog pose. The idea is to ultimately have your shins, knees, and thighs on the floor, but I have never seen anyone able to do this. This pose is nearly unbearable for me at times of high stress or anxiety, because it stretches deep groin and hip muscles, where so much emotion resides. I also find this nearly unbearable during my period and tend to skip it at those times.
  8. Savasana, preferably as a heart-opener with a bolster or block under my spine to stretch my chest and shoulders.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; January 2020)

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