A Yin Sequence for Home Practice
Here’s how you can implement it easily into your day without needing to travel to and from a yoga studio. A pranayama breath practice, 6 poses and Savasana. All you need is about 40 minutes. You can do this on a mat or in bed. Your choice.
Remember to notice if you wander off in thought, and use your breath as an anchor to bring you back into presence, either by fully focusing on it, noticing the in breath and/or out breath. Or by feeling it move and flow through you as your body expands, contracts, softens. It can help to use visualisation here, imagining the breath/energy flowing throughout your entire being. You can play gentle music or simply practice in silence. You can also use the Insight Timer app to time your practice or you can estimate the time held in each pose. I usually intuitively estimate. Feel free to adjust the timing to suit your needs.
Also note that you don’t need to push past your edge when you practice Yin. Make sure you are only going to about 50% and that you are comfortable. If you find there is discomfort, adjust and back off as needed.
Pranayama > Wide-knee Child’s Pose Twist (Right + Left sides) > Sphinx Pose > Closed-knee Child’s Pose > Dragonfly > Caterpillar > Reclining Butterfly > Savasana.
- Grounding/ Bhramari Pranayama (5 minutes – 2 rounds of 5) – Start with a short breathing practice, sitting comfortably on a bolster (if you have one). Place your right hand over your right ear, and your left hand over your left ear, so that you can’t hear anything. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in, and on the breath out, make the sound of “Mmmm” for as long as you can (it might sound like a humming bee). Do this 5 times, and then after your fifth time, bring your hands back to your lap and sit in the resonance for about 30 seconds. Then repeat another 5 times, again sitting in the resonance after your fifth “Mmmm”. The idea here is to allow any thoughts to dissolve and to take your awareness inward. You will notice that you won’t be able to hear your own thoughts or what’s happening around you. Notice how you feel, if you feel grounded and if your awareness/presence has shifted.
- Pose 1 (5 minutes – 2.5 mins each side) – Wide-knee Child’s Pose Twist – Send your knees out wide, mat distance apart and big toes to touch (if you can). Thread the needle by taking your right arm and wrapping it under your left, so that you right shoulder and right cheek are resting on the ground. Repeat on left hand side after 2.5 minutes. If this is not accessible for you, you can come into regular child’s pose and rest your forehead on the ground/mat/bed, allowing your belly to drop towards the ground. Or place a bolster long ways in front of you, between your legs and allow your chest and whole body to relax into the bolster. Turn your head to one side if you are using a bolster or pillow. If you find that your hips are quite tight, you have to keep your bum up high and can’t get down to low, you can experiment by place a folded blanket between your bum and the back off your legs for support. Close your eyes.
- Counter pose to release – Press back onto your heels and then move forward into a tabletop. Have your hands stacked underneath your shoulders and your knees stacked underneath your hips. Start with a neutral spine and soften your neck. You can straighten one leg at a time back behind you for a few breaths. Then move through Cat-Cow poses for about 6 breaths, keeping your eyes closed or gaze soft, if you can.
- Pose 2 (5 minutes) – Sphinx – Come down to lay on your belly. There are some options here with this pose. Have your feet about hip distance apart. You can bring your forearms out in front of you, and place your elbows underneath your shoulders. Or you can place a bolster underneath your chest and make a resting place for your chin with your hands in a “lotus flower” type position. Whichever option you choose, you can relax the whole lower half of your body and keep some engagement in your shoulders so that you’re not collapsing forward and putting strain on your neck and lower back. Close your eyes.
- Counter pose to release – Make a pillow with your hands, one on top of the other. Rest your forehead on your heads for a few breaths, continuing to lay on your belly. Then bend your knees and sway your hips from side to side for a few breaths, to release in your lower back.
- Pose 3 (5 minutes) – Closed-knee Child’s Pose -Press yourself back onto your heels, then bring your knees together and bring your forehead down onto the mat, allowing it to rest against the mat. Again, if you find that your hips are quite tight, you have to keep your bum up high and can’t get down to low, you can experiment by place a folded blanket between your bum and the back off your legs for support. Close your eyes.
- Counter pose to release – Do the same as above with tabletop and Cat-Cow.
- Pose 4 (5 minutes) – Dragonfly – Come into a seated position with your legs straight, your right leg stretched out towards the right hand side and left leg stretched out towards the left hand side. You can place a bolster long ways in between your legs and fold forward onto it. You can go without the bolster or you can stay high and sitting up. Close your eyes.
- Counter pose to release – Come back up to a seat and place your hands behind you, leaning back on your hands and opening your heart towards the sky. You can also bend your knees and sway your hips side to side.
- Pose 5 (3 minutes) – Caterpillar – Straighten your legs out in front of you. You can place a bolster long ways on top of your legs and fold forward onto it, hinging at the hips, You can also go without the bolster. If you find your hips are tight, bend your knees slightly and play around with raising the height of your seat by sitting on a blanket, block or bolster.
- Counter pose to release – Repeat the same as above with Dragonfly, leaning back onto your hands.
- Pose 6 (5 minutes) – Reclining Butterfly – Using a bolster or pillow (if you have), place it long ways behind you, starting at the base of your spine. Recline back onto your prop, opening up at your chest and heart-space, with your arms by your sides and palms facing up, open to receiving. You can use blankets or blocks (if you have) underneath your knees if you find they sit quite high and your hips are tight. Allow your whole body to relax, and melt into your bolster/mat/bed. Close your eyes. If you start to feel like this pose becomes too strong in your thighs and hips, feel free to straighten your legs.
- Counter pose to release tension – Bend knees and sway hips from side to side for 3-5 breaths. Straighten legs for a few breaths.
- Closing (5 minutes) – Savasana – The final surrender. Straighten your legs and release your arms by your sides, opening in the chest, rolling your shoulders down your back and keeping your palms facing upwards, open to receiving. Have your legs so that your feet are wider than your hips. You can place a bolster underneath your knees for extra support as an option. Allow your whole body to relax into the ground/mat/bed. Rest on the edge of awareness of the thinking mind and enjoy the stillness.
Once you’ve finished your practice, notice how you feel. And then see if you can keep this up consistently. Even on days where you may only have a spare 10 minutes. 2 poses is better than none 🙂
Those of you who would like a shorter Yin practice sequence, get your 20 minute sequence here.
DISCLAIMER: The content in the post is written from my own personal experience and training as a yoga teacher. It is not intended to replace medical or lifestyle advice from any other practising health professional. Any individual who chooses to follow this information, does so at their accord and responsibility.