7 Yin Yoga Stretches to Help You Slow Down
Finally, some space to consider what you actually want from your day, your week, and your life.
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Unless I’m pulled out of my day-to-day hustle and reminded to step back, I don’t. So it’s been really powerful for me to set a calendar notification for that three-day period of the new Moon and set aside some time each month to be a lot less focused on my day-to-day routine and a lot more intent on checking in with myself.
The new Moon is a reminder to just pause and assess and not always push forward. I think of the new Moon as an opportunity to check in with my intentions, similar to how a lot of us might use the new year. I like to take the time to ask, how am I doing? What do I need?
I often draw Yin Yoga into the new Moon because it releases tension from the physical body and makes it a lot easier to tune into the mental and emotional body. It helps me be a little calmer, a little more silent, and better able to explore the beliefs I haven’t really acknowledged or feelings that I haven’t attended to in far too long. It’s a time to do less in general and give myself a pause so that I can then go back to my regular life and be more focused and creative.
Yin Yoga Practice to Help You Slow Down During the New Moon
The phases of the moon allow us to reflect and attune to the phases of our lives. Connecting to this monthly cycle with yoga practices calls up the inherent wisdom of nature that is inside us.
The new Moon is the beginning of everything, for everything begins in the dark. It gives us the beautiful gift of starting fresh every month. This is the most powerful time to dream, set intentions, visualize, and practice self-care.
As we release physical tension from our bodies, it becomes easier to release mental and emotional tension as well. Yin Yoga is a passive practice where we focus on the fascia and deep connective tissues. Try to relax your muscles as you hold the stretches for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Remember not to push or force yourself into the pose—less is more.
I recommend practicing the following sequence at night with very few distractions. If the weather permits, practice outdoors. Turn your phone off, grab your journal, light a few candles, and get focused. Throughout your practice, tune in to your innermost desires and notice what thoughts and emotions come up for you. The sequence is suitable for all levels of yoga students.
Supported Fish Pose
Lie back on two blocks so that they support your head and upper back, right between your shoulder blades. The blocks can be on their lowest or middle level, whichever one is most comfortable to you. Relax your arms by your sides and extend your legs out. Feel your rib cage expand with every breath you take and connect to your heart space. Hold for 3 to 5minutes before coming out of the pose slowly and mindfully.
Happy Baby Pose
Move your blocks off to the side and lie back on your mat. Draw your knees in toward your shoulders and press your tailbone into the floor. Stay here or progress into the full version of the pose by stacking your ankles over your knees and holding on to your big toes. Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.
Reclined Swan Pose
Bring your feet flat to the floor with your knees bent. Cross your right ankle over the top of your left thigh and flex your right foot. Thread your arms through your legs to grab the back of your left thigh or the front of your left shin. Draw your left thigh in toward your chest to stretch into your right hip. Hold the pose for 3 to 5 minutes before repeating on the second side.
Supported Bridge Pose
Place your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent and grab one of your blocks. Lift your hips up and slide the block under your seat. Your block can be on the lowest or middle level, whichever one is most comfortable for you. Make sure your block is under your tailbone rather than your lower back. Relax your arms by your sides and choose to either keep your knees bent or extend your legs straight for a deeper stretch. Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.
If you had your legs extended, slowly walk your feet back so they are flat on the floor. Place your block on its lowest level and lift your legs up toward the sky. Keep your arms by your sides or extend them up over- head for a gentle stretch in your upper body. Stay in this inversion for 3 to 5 minutes before easing out.
Bring your feet back to the floor and move your block out to the side. Open your arms into a cactus shape with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Lift your hips up and move them a few inches to the right before lowering your knees and thighs over to the left. Keep your head neutral or turn it to look over your right shoulder for a deeper twist. Hold for 3 to 5 minutes before repeating on the second side.
Extend your legs out one at a time, bringing your feet toward the corners of your mat. Soften your shoulders away from your ears as you relax your arms by your sides with your palms facing up. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, holding the pose for 5 minutes or longer.
When you’re ready to close your practice, you might grab a journal and write down any insights from your experience. You can also use the following prompts to guide your thoughts:
What is my intention for this new moon?
What is one word that describes how I want to feel?
What is important to me right now?
What am I needing more of in my life?
The following is excerpted from Year of Yoga, published by Mandala Publishing. Copyright © 2022 by Kassandra Reinhardt; Photo copyright © 2022 by Jessica Hodgson.
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About Our Contributor
Kassandra Reinhardt is an Ottawa-based Yin Yoga and vinyasa yoga instructor, YouTuber, author, and the face behind Yoga with Kassandra. She is on a mission to help others feel great with yoga. One of the first yoga instructors to embrace online teaching, Kassandra’s YouTube channel has grown to more than 2.1 million subscribers and has over 230 million views. Kassandra has truly provided accessibility to yoga and she is expanding her expertise further with the recent release of her guided yoga journal, My Yoga Journey: A Guided Journal, and her daily affirmation card deck, I Radiate Joy.