Yin Yoga Asanas
Forward Bend (Yin Variation of Paschimottanasana)
Sit with both legs stretched straight out in front of you about hip-width apart or narrower. Drop your chin toward your chest to stretch the muscles and ligaments at the base of the skull; then lean forward and try to grasp your ankles or feet. Allow your thigh bones to move toward the floor but keep your thighs relaxed. Let your knees bend and your legs roll out slightly as long as you feel the stretch moving up along the legs, hips, and spine, all the way to the skull. Hold the pose for 3-5 minutes or even longer. Forward Bend provides a strong stimulus for the bladder meridian.
Snail Pose (Yin Variation of Halasana)
Lie on your back, lift your legs to 90 degrees, and then extend your feet back behind your head, rolling up onto your upper spine. If you're fairly stiff, it may take you several months to bring your feet to the floor. There are many possible ways to position your legs, back, and arms, but be careful in your experimentation. The less bulky connective tissues of the neck can be strained more easily than the thicker tissues in the thoracic spine. In each practice session, find the position you want to explore and settle in for 1-3 minutes.
Cross-legged Reclining Spinal Twist (Yin Variation of Jathara Parivartanasana)
Lie on you back and draw both legs halfway up toward your chest, knees bent. Cross the right leg over the left and then draw both legs to the left and toward the floor. The effects of the twist will vary depending on how high up you draw your knees, so you should experiment with different positions. The arms should be stretched out along the floor at shoulder height, although you can also use the left hand to gently draw the knees toward the floor or increase the rotation of the rib cage to the right. Twist along the whole length of the spine, bringing the right shoulder toward the floor. Hold the pose for 1-2 minutes and then release and repeat on the other side.
Paul Grilley taught yoga for 13 years in Los Angeles, CA and now lives in Ashland, OR. He has studied Yin Yoga in Japan with Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama.
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