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12 Yin Yoga Poses to Release Stress

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Yin yoga is a subtle practice that is suitable for all students. It marries balance and the connection between the mind, body, and soul to realign the energy system in the body.

Yin yoga has two distinct nature; the duration of asana and breathing pattern that brings you to a journey inward. You would usually hold a pose for five to ten minutes compared to Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga which would lengthen in a pose for a count of five to ten breaths.

We are all bombarded with daily pressure that eventually manifests in the body. So, people are seeking ways to keep the body away from stress. The body has a way to trap stress in the lower back and hips where all of the unexpressed anger is stored, shoulders; when you feel too overworked, and the jaw—from clenching because of anxiety.

Yin yoga has the power to create mental stillness and clarity through passive and contemplative practice. It’s ideal for stress relief because it focuses on breath control to relax tense muscle tissues.

woman in white top doing plank on yoga mat beside the sea

Yin Yoga Poses

Pose 1: Sphinx Pose

Gearing up into the pose:

  • Come onto the belly and walk the hands forward.
  • Align the wrists to the elbow.
  • You can place the elbows slightly ahead of the shoulders, forming a sphinx pose. Be sure that the elbows don’t splay out to avoid an internal rotation of the shoulders.
  • Engage the shoulder muscles to avoid collapsing the upper body.
  • Keep the feet hip-distance apart.
  • Lift the belly—lengthening the space between the belly and navel to create a backbend.

Modifications and variations:

  • Place a folded blanket or mat under the ribcage to lift the upper torso higher.
  • Use blocks under both elbows or practice the seal pose to deepen the backbend.

Pose 2: Butterfly Pose

Gearing up into the pose:

  • Begin from an easy-seated pose.
  • Place both soles of the feet together.
  • Interlock the fingers and hold on to your toes.
  • To adjust the pose according to your flexibility, bring the feet closer together to increase the intensity while placing the feet further away from you will lessen it.

Modifications and variations:

  • Put a pillow, blocks, or a rolled-up mat under your knees to ease the tension.
  • Try reclined butterfly pose or use the wall for support.

Pose 3: Dragon Pose

Gearing up into the pose:

  • Start in a tabletop pose and place the right foot in between hands.
  • Adjust the ankle directly underneath the knees.
  • Slowly inch the back foot out and gently roll onto the top edge of the kneecap.
  • You may rest your hands on your knee or position the palms on the mat inside of the right foot.
  • Hold each side for 1 minute.
  • Switch to the other side.

Modifications and variations:

  • Place the elbows on the mat or your blocks for a low-flying dragon pose.
  • Try the winged dragon variation. You may rest on your forearms or your hands.
  • If the variation is too strenuous, rest a block behind the knees.

Pose 4: Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose

Gearing up into the pose:

  • Sit with either side of the body against the wall.
  • Lift the legs onto the wall while supporting yourself with your forearms.
  • Make sure that the sit bones are resting comfortably on the wall.
  • You can bend or straighten your legs.

Modifications and variations:

  • Rest the hips and or the lower back on a pillow or blanket.
  • Place the soles of the feet against the wall if it is hard to keep the legs straight up. Adjust the bum so that the knees are directly in line with the hips.

Pose 5: Reclined Twist Pose

Gearing up into this pose:

  • Lay on a flat back position with the soles of the feet on the mat.
  • Hug the knees to the chest, then rock from side to side to massage the back.
  • Stretch the arms out to the side, rooting the fingers onto the floor.
  • Bring the navel down and scoop the tailbone up.
  • Deep inhale, then slowly exhale while melting the knees to one side. You may bring the knees close to the chest to deepen the stretch or push the knees away from the chest.
  • Pin the opposite shoulder into the earth to broaden the chest.
  • Hold for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Move on the other side.

Modifications and variations:

  • If the shoulders are too tight, you can rest one palm on the lower back and the other on the knees for a supine spinal twist 1.
  • Try supine spinal twist with eagle legs variation for a deeper stretch.
  • You may use a pillow between or under the knees to support the lower back.

Pose 6: Wide-Knee Child’s Pose

Gearing up into the pose:

  • Come on to tabletop pose with both knees wider than hip-distance apart and big toes to touch. You may widen the knees to intensify the position.
  • Draw the hips down the feet and extend the arm out in front of you.
  • Take deep long breaths.

Modifications and variations:

  • Try the reclined wide-knee child’s pose for back support.
  • Lay the torso and head on a rolled-up mat or a pillow.
  • From here, you may want to attempt the child’s pose bowing yoga mudra.

Pose 7: Dragonfly Pose

Gearing up into the pose:

  • Begin in a comfortable seated pose, then extend the legs wide.
  • Inhale, bring the arm up. As you exhale, bring the arms down to the ground.
  • Keep the spine upright to avoid collapsing forward.

Modifications and variations:

  • Bend the knees to modify the pose. Or, place a block or blanket under the knees if the hamstrings are too tight.
  • You may sit on a block to elevate the hips—lengthening the spine.
  • If you are avoiding forward folds, try the reclined variation. Use the wall for extra support.
  • For advanced practice, you may attempt the dragonfly with a twist or the lateral dragonfly pose.

Pose 8: Open Wing Pose

Gearing up into the pose:

  • Begin by lying on the belly, then extend the left arm to the left side.
  • Roll on to the left while bending the right leg. Bring the soles of the feet to meet the ground outside of your knees for support.
  • Keep the head in line with the spine.

Modifications and variations:

  • You may place a towel under the left shoulder for an extra cushion.
  • You can bring the right arm back to meet the left to have a deeper stretch.

Pose 9: Fish Pose

Gearing up into the pose:

  • Lay on your back.
  • Slightly lift the pelvis off the floor.
  • With the palms facing down, slide it under the hips.
  • Inhale, press the elbows to lift the back, neck, and head off the floor.
  • Rest the tops of the head down on the floor. The weight should rest on the elbows.

Modifications and variations:

  • Rest your torso and head on a bolster or a pillow to modify the position.
  • You may raise your arms to the sky in a prayer pose if you are confident enough to execute it.

Pose 10: Corpse Pose

Gearing up into the pose:

  • Lay flat on your back.
  • Bring the arms out to the sides.

Modifications and variations:

  • Rest the thighs under a bolster for a supported version.
  • Place a sandbag on your hips or both arms to encourage digestion and relaxation.

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