Types of Yoga

12 Yin Yoga Poses to Awaken Dormant Energy and Recharge Your Practice

This sequence is full of hip-openers and spinal twists to help you balance energy and nourish your qi.

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This sequence is designed to nourish and circulate your qi. If this energy is stagnant (you feel stressed, irritable, and your body feels tense, achy, or painful), this sequence will help you relax so that your qi circulates more freely. If your qi is deficient (you have low energy, a weak voice, tendency to easily catch colds, and poor digestion), this sequence will help to rebuild it.

See also Yin Yoga 101: 3 Poses That Build Strong, Healthy Qi

Butterfly

Josh Summers
Jeff Nelson

From a seated position, draw the soles of your feet together and slide them away from you, creating some space between your pelvis and heels. Gently fold forward, allowing your spine to softly round and your head to drop toward your feet. You can rest your elbows on the floor with your head in your hands, or place a cushion on your feet to rest your head on. If folding forward is challenging, sit on a folded blanket. Hold for 3–5 minutes.

Target areas: inner thighs, outer hips, and spine

See also 6 Steps to Tame Anxiety: Meditation + Seated Poses

Sphinx

Josh Summers
Jeff Nelson

Lie on your stomach, and place your elbows under your shoulders. Let your weight rest into your forearms. Allow your lower back to relax, softening your abdomen and thighs. You’re looking for mild compression in your lower back. If you don’t feel this subtle stress, try pressing your palms down and straightening your elbows to increase your spine’s extension. Hold for 4–5 minutes.

Target area: lower back

See also A Yoga Sequence to Target Sources of Back Pain

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Open Wing

Josh Summers
Jeff Nelson

Lying on your stomach, take your right arm out to the side—90 degrees or less from your torso with your palm facing down. Then, press your left hand into the floor to roll onto the right side of your body. You’re looking for sensation across the right side of your chest, shoulder, and right arm. Try bending your knees and possibly opening your left leg up toward the ceiling by standing your left foot on the floor. This last action can increase sensation in your right arm, but if it’s too much, leave your left knee and leg down. Hold for 3–4 minutes on each side.

Target areas: chest, shoulders, and arms

See also Hip-Opening Yoga Poses

Wide-kneed Child’s Pose

Josh Summers
Jeff Nelson

Open a blanket wide to pad your knees. Then, from Tabletop (with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips), take your knees wide with the intention of gently stressing your inner legs. Move your hips toward your heels, and either place your arms overhead or rest them along the sides of your body. Hold for 3–4 minutes.

Target areas: inner legs and spine

See also Poses for Your Spine

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Dragon (A)

Josh Summers
Jeff Nelson

From Tabletop, take your right foot between your hands. With your right knee more or less above your right heel, slide your left leg back (taking care to pad your back knee with a blanket) and allow your hips to sink down. Then, spend 1 minute in each of the following variations on your right side, rest in Child’s Pose for 1 minute, and repeat each variation on your left side.

Inside Dragon Move your right hand to the inside of your right foot. You can place your hands on blocks, keep your hands on the floor, or consider lowering your forearms to the floor. Your right knee and foot may move to the right as well.

Target areas: hip flexors (back legs), adductors, hamstrings (front legs) and outer hip (front legs). 

See also Poses for Your Legs

Dragon (B)

Josh Summers
Jeff Nelson

Twisted Dragon From Inside Dragon, keep your left hand on the floor, take your right hand to your right knee, and twist your torso to the right. Your right knee can drift to the right here—it doesn’t need to stay directly over your heel.

Target areas: hip flexors (back legs), adductors, hamstrings (front legs) and outer hip (front legs). 

See also Yoga Anatomy 101: Hip Adductor Need-to-Know

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Dragon (C)

Josh Summers
Jeff Nelson

Gecko Move back to Inside Dragon variation, then walk your right foot forward so that your right heel is in front of your right knee. How far you take your right foot forward will depend on how much sensation you feel. You can remain on your hands or lower your forearms to the floor.

Target areas: hip flexors (back legs), adductors, hamstrings (front legs) and outer hip (front legs).

See also Get to Know Your Hamstrings: Why Both Strength & Length Are Essential

Swan

Josh Summers
Jeff Nelson

From Tabletop, draw your right knee toward your right wrist. Bring your right foot in front of your left hip, and slide your left leg back—seeking sensation in your right outer hip and the front of your left thigh and avoiding sensation in your right knee. Consider supporting your right hip with a blanket or block; also consider letting your right hip come all the way to the floor, allowing your left leg to externally rotate slightly. Hold for 3–5 minutes, then switch sides.

Target areas: outer hips (front legs) and hip flexors (back legs)

See also Hip Flexor Anatomy 101: Counterposes for Sit-Asana

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Caterpillar

Josh Summers
Jeff Nelson

From a seated position with your legs straight in front of you, fold forward, allowing your spine to gently round. Consider sitting up on a folded blanket or two and resting your head and arms on a bolster or cushion. Relax your legs and spine; it’s OK if your legs externally rotate a little when you do this. Hold for 4–5 minutes.

Target areas: backs of the legs and spine

See also Pain in the Butt (or Back or Leg …)

Bananasana

Josh Summers
Jeff Nelson

Lie on your back, bend your knees, and bring your feet to the floor. Lift and shift your hips to the right. Straighten your legs, walking your feet toward the left corner of your mat and crossing your right foot over your left. Try to keep your left hip down and scoot your upper body to the left as well, creating a banana shape. Bring your arms overhead, bending your elbows and lightly clasping your wrists. Hold 4–5 minutes, then repeat on the other side.

Target area: side body, especially your waist

See also Free Your Side Body: A Flow for Your Fascia

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Twisted Root

Josh Summers
Jeff Nelson

Stay on your back and bend your knees, keeping your feet on the floor. Cross your right knee over your left. Then, lift and shift your hips a little to the right. Roll over to your left side in a modified fetal position, then slowly take your right arm out to the right side, allowing your upper right shoulder to rest toward the ground. If this is challenging, initially keep your right hand on your right waist, then gradually reach it out to the side to deepen the twist. Hold 4–5 minutes, then repeat on the other side.

Target areas: lower spine, pelvis, and upper body

See also Yoga Poses for the Pelvis

Corpse Pose/Pentacle

Josh Summers
Jeff Nelson

Return to lying on your back, and rest your arms alongside your body with palms facing up. Release any muscular tension, allowing your body to rest and fully relax. Consider a wider version of Corpse Pose (called Pentacle) by taking your arms wide overhead and moving your feet beyond your hips. Hold for 10 minutes.

Target areas: chest and arms 

See also Chest-Opening Yoga Poses

See also Yin Yoga 101: 7 Common Myths About Yin Yoga

About Our Pro
Josh Summers is a licensed acupuncturist, Yin Yoga teacher,
and the founder of Summers School of Yin Yoga in Boston. He teaches workshops and trainings in Yin Yoga throughout the United States and Europe and is co-author of the books The Power of Mindfulness and The Buddha’s Playbook: Strategies for Enlightened Living. Learn more at joshsummers.net and join him for a transformative six-week online Yin Yoga immersion: yogajournal.com/yin101.

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