Yin Yoga For Anxiety

by | Mar 3, 2020 | Yoga Therapy

Many of us on occasion experience a sense of restlessness and unease that some may label as anxiety. Anxiety can be felt in numerous forms and can differ from person to person. Commonly anxiety is identified as tension in the body or the spirit. In many cases, it is felt in both. Remember, you are not alone in this. This type of subtle blockage can be triggered by an unimaginable number of things.  As someone who has experienced anxiety most of my life, I know that the symptoms can’t be put into a “box”. The same goes for the physical and emotional triggers for anxiety. In this way, our experiences are all unique. 

 

If you experience anxiety as stress and tension in your physical body you may consider adding a Yin Yoga practice into your daily routine. If you’re unsure if your physical stress has an emotional link, try to identify the area of the body needing attention. Very often, the stress in the body manifests itself in our major joint systems. Our major joint systems carry the heaviest burden while supporting the physical body. Therefore, making them more susceptible to emotional pressures. They include the entire spine, shoulders, and hips. 

 

Yin yoga can be calming for both the body and the mind. Specifically, yin yoga poses support the joints through a process of detoxification. Yin yoga poses are traditionally held for 3 to 5 minutes. While the poses are being held, the joint system being worked is starved of vital nutrients and prana. Once the pose is released, a rebounding pose is introduced to encourage the rushing of nutrients back into the joint. This flooding of energy cleanses the joint of toxins and lowers inflammation. This flowing of energy can be felt in the emotional body as well as a sense of release.  Gentle yin yoga like the sequence for today can be practiced by even the most beginner yoga students, which makes today the most beautiful day to start. 

 

Practice these poses whenever you start to feel anxious or out of balance. You may even practice before you head into a stressful situation. Reflecting on your earlier practice creates an inner resource that you can bring yourself back to at any time. This sequence would be great right before bed, as it encourages a good night’s rest. For this sequence, you will need a mat, and one bolster or dense pillow. 

 

Crocodile Pose: 5 Minutes

My Vinyasa Practice Yin Yoga For Anxiety

Benefits: While most backbends are sending energy outwards, this gentle pose allows your thoughts to turn inward as you rest. In our lives, we spend a significant amount of time expending energy externally. Using your yoga practice as a time to reflect and spend energy internally can be incredibly moving. 

  1. Begin lying flat on your belly 
  2. Bring both arms forward to the top of your mat, elbows facing out with your hands stacked 
  3. Rest one side of your face, or your forehead on your hands
  4. Relax your legs, feel the weight of your body melt into the Earth. If resting one side of the face, switch halfway through
  5. Notice your breath and how the quality of it changes when resting on your belly. Notice the subtle rise and fall of your back body on each inhale

 

Sphynx Pose: 5 Minutes

My Vinyasa Practice Yin Yoga For Anxiety

Benefits: This moderate to intense stretch is energizing and revitalizing. The upper body opens around the heart center, creating a physical and emotional heart-felt connection with the Self. Having an open heart and learning to apply compassionate self-forgiveness can be a large step towards releasing chronic anxiety and stress. 

1. From Crocodile, bring your elbows in towards your sides. Forearms and palms pressing the Earth away 

  1. Lift the upper body and support your weight with your forearms
  2. Tuck the chin halfway to the chest, creating length in the back of the neck
  3. Allow the lower body, legs, glutes, and low back to be heavy and soft. Find strength in the upper body and send your energy out the crown of your head
  4. Breathe in and notice the expansiveness of your chest. Allow the entire chest, ribs and upper belly to fill with each inhale and soften with each exhale

 

Rebound: Child’s Pose: 5 Minutes

My Vinyasa Practice Yin Yoga For Anxiety

Benefits: This pose brings your parasympathetic nervous system online and as a result allows your body to relax into a rest-and-digest state. This pose also relieves the hips and low back of tightness. 

 

  1. Push through your hands and send your hips back towards your heels. The hips might actually touch your heels, and they may not
  2. Lengthen through your spine and bow your head to the Earth. If your forehead doesn’t touch the mat, you might consider supporting it with your block or bolster
  3. Relax the chest so it rests comfortably on your thighs
  4. Arms may reach energetically toward the top of your mat, or relax them softly at your sides
  5. Breathe and bring your awareness to each part of your body that is connected with the Earth. Remember that you are supported by and connected to all energetic beings

 

Supported Hero’s Pose: 5 Minutes

My Vinyasa Practice Yin Yoga For Anxiety

Benefits: This supported kneeling pose stretches the front of the thighs and opens the ankles. As it reduces blood supply to the legs, it quiets the sensations of the body. For this reason, some find it useful for meditation. 

  1. From Child’s Pose, roll up nice and slow until you are in a kneeling position
  2. Take your bolster or firm pillow and lay it behind you, so the long side is congruent with the long side of your mat
  3. Sit on the bolster with your feet tucked back and underneath your thighs
  4. Rest your hands on your thighs or in your lap
  5. Tuck your chin halfway to your chest, to create length through the spine and back of the neck. 
  6. Find your Drishti or your focus point. Allow your breathing to slow, stretch your spine up towards the sky and center yourself in loving kindness

TIP: To intensify this stretch, lean back onto the feet. To pacify this stretch, lean the upper body slightly forward

 

Supported Bound Angle Pose: 5 Minutes

My Vinyasa Practice Yin Yoga For Anxiety

Benefits: Release tension in your hips and lower back with this centering and calming pose. By resting your forehead on your bolster you can foster a sense of connection between your mental and physical bodies. 

 

  1. From Hero’s Pose bring the legs around and extend them long out in front of you
  2. Draw the soles of your feet together, and pull them in towards your body until they come to a resting place
  3. Bring your bolster around in front of you, and rest it over the soles of your feet so the long side is congruent with the long side of your mat
  4. Breathe in, and then fold over, resting your upper body and one side of your face or forehead on the bolster
  5. Allow your hands to reach forward and connect with the bolster, fostering a sense of security and grounding
  6. If resting one side of your face, switch halfway through 

TIP: If your upper body doesn’t rest comfortably on the bolster, you might stack another bolster or pillow on top of it for extra height

 

Supported Half Dragonfly Pose: 2 Minutes Each Side

My Vinyasa Practice Yin Yoga For Anxiety

Benefits: This calming dragonfly variation helps to loose up the hamstrings and release energetic blockages centered in the low body. 

 

  1. From Bound Angle Pose extend one leg out, drawing the sole of the opposite foot in towards your extended leg’s thigh
  2. Take your bolster and place it long ways over the top of your extended leg

3. Breath in, and then fold over, resting your upper body and forehead on the bolster

4. Allow your hands to reach forward, and connect with the bolster, just like in the previous posture

  1. After 2 ½ minutes, switch sides

TIP: If your upper body doesn’t rest comfortably on the bolster, you might stack another bolster or pillow on top of it for extra height

 

Supported Reclined Bound Angle Pose: 5 Minutes

My Vinyasa Practice Yin Yoga For Anxiety

Benefits: This pose allows for a gentle opening of your hips and the adductor muscles of your inner thighs. It can also ease digestive troubles and reproductive cycles because the open pelvis allows for a healthy supply of oxygen-rich blood. This supported version also opens up the chest and encourages steady breathing. 

 

  1. From Hero’s Pose lean forward and take pull the bolster out from behind you
  2. Adjust the bolster so it is centered on your mat, with the long side of the bolster congruent with the long side of your mat
  3. Bring both legs around so the soles of your feet are touching the mat, and your knees are up
  4. Bring your bolster so that the narrow side is right up against your tailbone
  5. Bring the soles of your feet together, widen your knees apart, and draw the heels up to rest against or close to the body 
  6. Lie back vertebrae, by vertebrae, until you are lying flat and resting completely on the bolster. 
  7. Allow your arms to rest beside your body and close your eyes
  8. Bring your attention deeply within your own being, and breathe

 

Supported Staff Pose: 5 Minutes

My Vinyasa Practice Yin Yoga For Anxiety

Benefits: In this pose, the back of your body and hamstrings are given an intense stretch. With your head tucked in and supported you create an opportunity to reconnect deeply with your inner being. 

 

  1. From Reclined Bound Angle Pose, tuck your chin to your chest and roll up slowly
  2. Gently extend both legs long out in front of you
  3. Bring your bolster around and place it long ways over the top of both of your legs
  4. Breath in, and then fold over, resting your upper body and forehead or one side of your face on the bolster
  5. Feel the rebounding of this pose. Notice any sensations that build throughout your lower body 

that were not present in the previous posture

  1. If resting one side of your face, switch halfway through 

TIP: Like the other folding postures, if your body doesn’t come to a complete rest with one bolster or pillow, you can add another on top of it. 

 

Savasana: 10 Minutes

My Vinyasa Practice Yin Yoga For Anxiety

Benefits: This is the ultimate calming and reflective pose. Ending your practice with Savasana allows you to bring the previous part of your day to a restful end, so that you may start the rest of your day exactly as your body needs you to. 

 

1. From Supported Staff, remove your bolster and set it off to the side

  1. Lie down on your mat with your legs stretched out
  2. Your arms may rest with your palms facing up or down at your sides

4.Lift your back slightly, and feel the spine elongate, then release 

  1. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath
  2. Allow the body to melt into complete stillness 
  3. Don’t worry, if you fall asleep it just means that your body needed the rest
  4. Allow any thoughts that may arrive to pass through your mind without attachment or judgment to them
  5. Stay here in complete relaxing awareness for as long as possible 

 

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