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In spring, those aspects of us that have been dormant over the winter months begin to awaken. Just as nature enters a cycle of renewal, growth and expansion—so does the energy within us.
The following yin yoga sequence focuses on the Liver and Gallbladder Meridians, which support the body’s natural digestive and detoxification functions. This practice is all about embracing the opportunity to shed old unwanted layers and making a conscious choice to begin again. With each passing exhalation, invite a sense of softening in order to let go of mental and physical tension. As you inhale, take in the warmth and nourishment, embodying an overall sense of vibrancy.
10 Yin Yoga Poses for Spring
Starting in a comfortable seat, take a few deep, clearing breaths. Close your eyes and allow yourself to become more present with each cycle of breath.
Once you have arrived and feel grounded, let’s begin.
See also Why Try Yin Yoga?
From a kneeling position, tuck your toes under and draw your weight back, encouraging your hips to release toward your heels. If you knees are sensitive, use a blanket or bolster for extra cushioning. You may also consider using blocks under your hands and leaning forward in order to lessen the intensity. By stretching the soles of our feet, we awaken the entire body and stimulate almost every meridian point. You’ll feel energized after this one!
When you are ready to release the posture, lean forward into your hands, untuck your toes and mindfully draw the tops of your feet onto the mat. Move slowly to allow your body to adjust. Take as much time as you need before moving into the next shape.
See also 4 Tenets of Yin Yoga
Again from a kneeling position (with the toes untucked this time), start to walk your hands behind you, lifting your knees off the mat any amount. You should feel a moderate to intense stretch through the top of the foot, ankle and shin. Try and be mindful of relaxing your neck, shoulders and jaw. Breathe deeply into the sensations while accepting the experience to be as it is—without needing to control or change it.
When you are ready to come out, lower your knees and walk your hands forward toward a tabletop position. Try alternating between flexing and pointing each ankle and circular movement (both clockwise and counter-clockwise))
From tabletop, take your knees wide enough so there is a gentle tension in the inner thighs and draw the hips back toward your heels (similar to wide-legged child’s pose). Stretch your arms out in front and rest them gently anywhere that feels comfortable. At about the halfway point, consider deepening your pose (if it’s appropriate for you today) by pressing into your hands and either widening the knees even more or inviting the hips to come forward, away from the heels. You may need to adjust your hand position, so use please use as many props as you need for this one. Once you’ve settled, try and relax again.
When you are ready to transition out, press into your hands, shift your weight forward as you draw your shoulders over your wrists and carefully step your knees into to center (be careful not to drag them). From here, make your way to a seated position with your legs stretched out in front for a few breaths.
3–4 minutes per side
From your seat, cross your right thigh over your left, bending at the knee. If that feels OK, you can bend the left knee too, bringing your heels toward your hips. Next, begin to walk the left hand away from your body and reach your right arm overhead. Look down to to keep your neck relaxed. When your right shoulder begins to fatigue, simply draw your right hand to your left shoulder and let your left cheek rest on your right hand.
To come out, release your torso back to upright and stretch out your legs. Don’t forget to do the second side.
See also Solar-Powered Yin Practice
3–4 minutes per side
Again from a seated position, draw your right shin parallel to the front of your mat, then stack your left shin on top. In the instance where the range of movement in your hips feels limited, simply allow the left foot and shin to release in front of the right shin. With your sitting bones grounded, walk your hands forward (any amount), softening through the spine. You may keep your arms straight or consider coming to your forearms. Remember that your edge is different every time you come to your mat, so it’s important to listen to your body.
To release the pose, walk your hands back and slowly stretch out the legs before moving on to the left side.
See also Settle In for Solar-Powered Yin
3–4 minutes per side
From either tabletop or Downward Dog, draw your left knee toward your left wrist and stretch your right hip back. Keep your torso upright for a few breaths before folding the spine forward and relaxing your arms, shoulders and head. At this point in the sequence, you’re probably feeling all kinds of sensation, so the challenge is not to get caught up in that story but rather to use each cycle of breath as an opportunity to start again.
When you are ready to transition out, press into your hands, straighten your arms and lift your hips up to make your way back to table or Downward Dog. Then, move on to the right side.
See also Slow Down with Yin Yoga
Laying back on to your mat and make sure you have a block or bolster nearby. Walk your feet in so that you knees and bent and point up to the sky. Then, press into your feet to lift your hips, sliding the block (or bolster) under your hips (more specifically your scrum). Allow your weight to release onto the block/bolster and find a comfortable place to rest your arms with the chest open. At the half way point, if you’d like to deepen your edge, you can extend the legs out so that your heel move towards the edges of your mat. As always, if that feels too deep, come back to bent knees. You can always try extending one leg at a time.
To release the shape, draw your hands by your side and walk the feet back in. Very carefully, press into your feet to lift your hips and remove the block before you set your hips back down, this time on to your mat. Take a moment to check in and ask what would feel good for your body right now and do that. Sometimes, drawing the knees into the chest feels instinctive but other times, extending the legs to savasana seems more fitting. Please listen to your body.
See also Sweet Surrender: 9 Yin Yoga Poses
4–6 minutes per side
From your back, take your legs up to tabletop, shins facing up. Next, cross your right thigh over your left and release both legs to the left. Keeping your right shoulder anchored, slide a bolster or blanket under your legs if you need to. Now, stretch your arms out and relax your entire body. With each exhalation, soften your body even more.
When you are ready to come out, engage your belly and use your elbows to draw your legs back up to center, uncrossing your legs. Rest a moment between sides then repeat on the right side, this time cross the left thigh over the right and releasing both legs toward the right.
I opted for Reclined Butterfly in the place of a more traditional Savasana in keeping with our meridian theme, but you are welcome to substitute. From a reclined position, walk your feet together and allow your knees to open wide. Draw one hand to your belly and the other to your heart. Surrender completely now, letting go of the postures that have come before and any expectations that you have about your practice. Stay as long as your wish.
Soak in the warmth and nourishment of your practice and allow it to sustain you this season. Repeat often.
About our expert
Dani March is a Toronto-based Registered Yoga Teacher and Master Lifestyle Coach. She is the visionary behind LivOn Purpose™ – a modern yoga teacher training that combines the yin and yang aspects of yoga with the underlying current of transformational work. Originally drawn to her own mat by the strong and graceful movements of Vinyasa Yoga, she later fell in love with the stillness and meditative aspects of Yin Yoga. As a devoted and lifelong student of yoga and meditation, Danielle dishes out inspiration, soulful strategies, tangible tactics, resources and a fresh perspective.