If you’re feeling a little burnt out and in need of some serious downtime, this practice is for you! 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.
I’ve chosen three poses that will enable us to access the yin tissue – the fascia and connective tissue. Connective tissue responds best under a slow, steady load, which is why we hold the poses for 3 – 5 minutes. 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. It’s only 15 minutes, making it easy to slot into our day.
I’ve put together this suggested playlist for the practice. When the music changes, it’s time to change sides or move to the next pose. Enjoy!
Music: Something In The Water
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.
Benefits: This pose creates lateral flexion of the spine. This is a wonderful stretch for the side body that targets muscles such as the obliques and iliotibial band (ITB).
Repeat left side: I’ve Been Waiting
Music: If I Move To Mars
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.
Benefits: Great for relieving tension in the hips and lower back, and to help you relax your mind and body.
Repeat left side: Eyes Closed
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.
Benefits: Who doesn’t love this pose for giving us happy hips! 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.
Kylie Gates is Creative Director for LES MILLS CORE™, BODYATTACK™, SH’BAM™, BODYBALANCE™ and LES MILLS BARRE™. Originally from Perth, Australia, Kylie has lived all over the world and presented on numerous Masterclass videos for Les Mills, most notably BODYPUMP™ and BODYBALANCE. She is the former Training Manager for Les Mills Asia Pacific and is also a certified yoga teacher. 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!