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Yin Yoga Asanas

Longer, more passive holdings of yoga poses can condition you to sit longer— and more comfortably.

By Paul Grilley

Dragon Pose (Yin Variation of Runner's Lunge)

Begin on all fours. Step your left foot up between your palms and ease your right knee back until you feel a stretch at the front of the thigh and groin. Lift your torso upright and rest your hands on your left knee for balance. Allow your right thigh to descend toward the floor, stimulating the stomach and spleen meridians at the front of the thigh. You may also feel this pose in the groin of the left leg, stimulating the kidney and liver meridians. You can experiment with challenging the ankle and Achilles tendon by bending the front leg more deeply. Once you've found a position you want to explore, remain still for 1-5 minutes. Repeat on the other side.

Seal Pose (Yin Variation of Bhujangasana)

Lie face down with your hands on the floor in front of and to the sides of your shoulders, fingers pointing out at about a 45 degree angle. Every body is different, so you'll need to experiment to find the best hand placement, the distance you prefer between your legs, and the amount you engage or release the spinal muscles. In Seal, unlike traditional Bhujangasana, it's fine to support your weight on your arms and release your spine. You can also let your shoulders move up and forward unless your neck feels pinched; this pose focuses on arching the lower spine. Hold for at least a minute, working up to 5 minutes. Seal Pose stretches the front of the abdomen, gently stimulating the Manipura Chakra, the plexus of the meridians that control digestion.

Saddle Pose (Yin Variation of Supta Virasana)

Sit on your feet with your knees spread comfortably apart (more than hip-width but not so far you stretch the inner groins). Lower your torso back toward the floor, supporting yourself on your elbows, your head, or if you're quite flexible, the backs of your shoulders. If you feel too much strain in the lower back or if you want to focus more on stretching the feet and legs, sit between your feet instead of on them. You can increase the stretch by extending the arms overhead. Hold for at least a minute, eventually working up to 5 minutes or even more. To come out, lean or roll to the right and release the left leg; then lean or roll to the left and release the right leg. Saddle Pose stretches the feet, ankles, knees, thighs, sacrum, and lumbar spine. It also stimulates the digestive meridians of the legs—the stomach, spleen, and gall bladder meridians.

Square Pose (Yin Variation of Sukhasana)

Sit cross-legged with your left shin on the floor, roughly parallel to your torso, and your right shin on top of the left, the right outer ankle resting on top of the left thigh near the knee. Try not to let the foot sickle, straining the outer ankle. This pose stretches the connective tissue of the outer thighs and buttocks, stimulating the kidney, liver, and gall bladder meridians. If possible, bend forward to provide a stretch for the lower spine. As with all yin poses, start out conservatively, taking a position you can gradually deepen for 3-5 minutes, rather than starting with a more aggressive pose you'll need to back out of.

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Reader Comments

Stew Daroux

I have real trouble getting into Saddle Pose given that I have very tight ankles. Can you suggest a variation please? Thanks

suzanne cacanindin

try this site ... has links with pictures!



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