Hey friends, Nina here, your Yoga & Meditation guide at Your Super.
Have you also felt a bit overwhelmed by neverending to-do lists, emails, and meetings? Managing your personal and work life?
Sometimes, creating space for yourself to calm down really goes a long way.
In this article, I want to share 4 calming Yin Yoga poses for stress relief with you. These simple asanas (physical yoga postures) allow you to unwind and calm down the nervous system, even if you’re short of time.
Yin Yoga is a slower-paced yoga style that really helps to work into the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as our 'rest & digest mode.
While most forms of yoga focus on building muscle strength and increasing flexibility, yin yoga centers on stretching the deep connective tissues, such as ligaments, tendons, and deep fascia – the tissues that surround the muscles.
This deeper connection is why yin yoga is often called ‘yoga of the joints’.
So while you’re practicing, try to focus on whether you’re clenching your jaw or holding on to any tension.
The following asanas have a soothing and calming effect on our nervous system:
1. Seated Forward Fold (Caterpillar Pose)
How to do Caterpillar Pose:
- From a seated position, legs outstretched in front of you, fold forward from the hips, allowing your spine to round.
- A micro bend in the knees is fine.
- Relax your legs and allow your feet to naturally fall outwards or inwards.
- Lengthen your spine on the inhale and on the exhale slowly drape your chest over your legs.
- The aim here is not to have a straight spine but to keep a soft rounding through your spinal column.
- To bridge the gap between your thighs and upper body and to give you more support, place a bolster or pillow on your legs and gently rest on the support.
- Remain in this pose anywhere from 3-5 minutes.
Benefits of Caterpillar Pose:
- Stretches the spine and the hamstrings.
- Soothing effect on your nervous system.
- Stimulates the kidneys and adrenal glands.
- Massages the digestive organs through breath and compression.
- Stimulates the urinary bladder meridians along the spine.
2. Swan Pose
How to do Swan Pose:
- From all fours, slide your right knee forward, more or less behind your right wrist.
- Pay attention not to stress your right knee: bring it inwards or towards the edge of the mat to avoid any discomfort.
- Place your ankle somewhere in front of your left hip and flex your foot.
- Tuck your left toes under and slide your foot towards the back as far as you comfortably can. Make sure that your left leg is in line with the upper body and rest on the top of the foot with the toes tracking backward.
- Stack your arm bones on top of each other and allow your body weight to sink down.
- You are looking for a stretch in your hips, hip flexors, and mild stimulation of the sacral region.
- Hold for 1 to 3 minutes.
- And then repeat on the other side.
Benefits of Swan Pose:
- Increases toe mobility and strengthens the ankles.
- Stimulates the spleen, gallbladder, liver, stomach, and urinary bladder meridians. Increases hip mobility.
- Stretches the hip flexors and psoas. Strong physical and emotional release through the hips.
- Stimulates the liver, kidney, and spleen meridians through the front body extension.
- Stimulates the gallbladder meridian through hip rotation.
3. Balasana (Child's Pose)
How to do Child's Pose:
- Place your hands and knees on the ground, with your hands flat and your fingers pointing forwards.
- Keep your spine and neck parallel to the ground and your eyes looking down.
- Bring your knees as wide as the mat (if this is accessible to you) and your big toes together.
- Push your hips back and down, lowering them onto your heels, and rest your head on the ground.
- If you need to close the gap between your forehead and the ground, feel free to place a pillow or yoga block underneath your head for support.
- On each exhale, visualize breathing into your lower back.
- Stay in this pose anywhere between 2-5 minutes.
Benefits of Child's Pose:
- Gently stretches the spine and is always a nice counterpose for backbends.
- Inclines the head so the heart can rest instead of trying to force blood upward to the brain.
- Can relieve back and neck pain when the head is supported.
- Psychologically soothing when feeling cold, anxious or vulnerable.
- Gentle compression of the stomach and chest benefits the organs of digestion.
4. Legs up the Wall
How to do Legs up the Wall Pose:
- Sit sideways with your right or left side against the wall.
- Exhale and gently swing your legs up onto the wall and your shoulders and head lightly down onto the floor.
- Coming into this pose may take some practice. Your sit bones don't need to be right against the wall, depending on the tightness of your hamstrings. Experiment with the position until you find the placement that works for you.
Benefits of Legs up the Wall Pose:
- Reverses the blood flow.
- Alleviates headaches.
- Boosts energy.
- Soothes menstrual cramps.
- Relieves lower-back pain.