Described as “hot chocolate for the body”, yin yoga is a restorative practice that focuses on holding poses for an extended length of time. Kylie Gates shares her three favorite poses that can help you relieve stress and unwind – in just 15 minutes.

If you’re feeling a little burnt out and in need of some serious downtime, these poses are just what you need! I love yin yoga because it’s slow and meditative, giving us space to turn inward and tune into both our mind and the physical sensations of our body.

As you may know, our bodies are comprised of yang and yin tissues. Muscles are yang, so in order to be strengthened, they must be subject to yang activity (repetitive movement that creates heat). Shorter holds, dynamic stretching (e.g. sun salutations) and programs like BODYATTACK and RPM target yang tissue.

To target yin tissue – the fascia and connective tissue – we need a different approach. Connective tissue responds best under a slow, steady load, which is why yin yoga poses that are held for between three and five minutes is ideal. Gently stretching connective tissue in this way causes it to get a little longer and stronger – exactly what we want!


While you’re in each pose, search to find stillness. Quiet the chatter of your mind and focus on using your breath to stay in the present. Avoid fidgeting or moving around so you can release fully into the posture. You want to feel a deep sensation, but be careful to never stretch to the point that it's painful.

These poses are perfect for right after a workout, or just before bed to help you glide into sleep. They’re great for everyone, especially cyclists and those of us who sit down at a desk for several hours a day. Moving through these three poses will only 15 minutes, so it’s easy to slot into your day.


Banasana pose is a yin yoga pose

Lie on your back, legs straight, arms overhead. With your butt firmly anchored on the mat, move both your legs to the right. Use your right foot to keep your left foot in place by crossing at the ankle. With glutes still anchored on the mat, bring your upper body to the right, allowing your spine to bend to the side, clasping your left wrist with your right hand.

THE BENEFITS: This pose creates lateral flexion of the spine. It is a wonderful stretch for the side body that targets muscles such as the obliques and iliotibial band.

“It stretches down the whole side of your body and you have the most relaxing and restorative feeling spread across you. I love the Bananasana Pose.” Khiran Huston, Les Mills Instructor.


Swan pose during restorative yin yoga

Starting on all fours, slide your right knee forward behind your right wrist. Bring your right foot into your groin and flex the foot to stabilize ankle and knee. Be careful not to place undue stress on your right knee. Extend your left leg long behind you. If you experience any knee pain, bend your back knee so your legs are at a 90/90 position. Extend your body forwards as you breathe in. As you breathe out, relax over your leg, softening through the upper body.

THE BENEFITS: The pose is great for relieving tension in the hips and lower back.

"When I take time to do the Swan Pose it doesn't just help the tension in my hips, it allows me a few moments to create mental clarity.” Khiran Huston, Les Mills Instructor.


Frog Pose is a common yin yoga pose

Begin in tabletop position on your hands and knees. Keeping your knees bent and your ankles in line with your knees behind you, turn your toes out to the sides. Rest on your forearms with your elbows beneath your shoulders, placing your palms together, or on the floor. You can also extend your hands forward, resting your chin or forehead on the floor.

Option: Tadpole variation – with big toes together.

THE BENEFITS: Frog Pose targets the muscles in our adductors, hips and core. It can help alleviate tightness in our lower back that comes from spending long hours at our desks or in the car.

"This pose works wonders for my tight hips! I always love spending time enjoying the Frog Pose after cycle workouts." Khiran Huston, Les Mills Instructor.

Kylie has put together a suggested playlist for this practice.

  • Start with the Banansana Pose, stretch one side as Something In The Water plays and the other side to I’ve Been Waiting.
  • Move to the Swan Pose, stretching one side as If I Move To Mars plays and the other side to Eyes Closed.
  • Enjoy the Frog Pose as Crazy plays.

You can try more of Kylie’s favorite yoga poses during this 45-min Vinyasa Yoga Flow or try BODYBALANCE.


Kylie Gates is Creative Director for LES MILLS CORE™, BODYATTACK™, SH’BAM™, BODYBALANCE™ and LES MILLS BARRE™ and a certified yoga teacher. Originally from Perth, Australia, Kylie has lived all over the world regularly presents on LES MILLS workouts. She currently resides in Auckland, New Zealand and when she’s not doing all things Les Mills, you can find her walking along the beachfront or cooking up healthy treats!

This article originally appeared at www.lesmills.com/instructors/instructor-news/stretch-with-kylie-gates/