A Yin Yoga Practice for Slowing Down and Connecting


In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it’s all too easy to lose touch with our inner selves, and with that, our emotional well-being may suffer. Yin yoga, heralded for its potential to foster deep introspection and emotional release, offers a sanctuary for those seeking stillness and a path to feeling their emotions. While many of the physical benefits of Yin Yoga are well documented, the lesser known emotional and physiological benefits are sometimes less explored. In Yin Yoga, the silent spaces between movements are just as important as the postures themselves. Ultimately, it provides the safe environment and grounding that we need to fully surrender and tap into what may be happening below the surface that we often don’t make enough time for.

The Body-Mind Connection

Traditional teachings have long posited the existence of a profound concept of the body-mind connection. When we experience emotional turbulence, it’s not just our minds that feel the impact—our bodies do, too. Stress and anxiety, for example, can trigger a cascade of reactions from the sympathetic nervous system, often manifesting as physical tension or discomfort.

Unprocessed emotions don’t just vanish; they can become lodged within us, leading to lingering somatic effects. Thankfully, pathways exist to aid us in moving these stuck emotions, and yin yoga is among the most potent.

Yin Yoga: Finding Stillness

Yin yoga introduces us to the art of surrender and supports the transition from the ‘fight or flight’ mode of the sympathetic nervous system to the restful embrace of the parasympathetic nervous system. In this practice, poses are typically held for 3-5 minutes, allowing the body to gently ease into each stretch, thereby promoting a sense of profound physical and emotional stillness.

The sustained holds in yin yoga invite quiet reflection and can help regulate our nervous system, bringing us closer to a space where emotional clarity is possible. Moreover, it cultivates an intimate understanding of how to navigate our internal world.

Navigating Difficult Emotions

Emotional depth is a complex ocean, where causes and effects are often obscured below the surface. While yin yoga can act as a gateway to understanding our emotions, it is but one part of a broader emotional processing toolkit. Therapeutic support, when paired with a regular yin practice, can provide invaluable guidance, helping us unwrap the layers of our emotions with care.

Staying Present in Yin Yoga Practice

Remaining anchored in the present moment is a common challenge during yin yoga practice as the mind can wander. Using deep, mindful breathing or focusing intently on the physical sensations arising from each pose encourages a strong sense of presence. It’s about welcoming the full spectrum of sensory experiences and observing them with compassion and curiosity.

5 Yin Yoga Sequences for Emotional Release

Let us now journey through a sequence of yin yoga postures designed to quiet the nervous system and open doors to emotional release.

1. Supported Child’s Pose (Balasana)

  • Begin by kneeling on your mat with your big toes touching and knees apart.
  • Place a bolster or stack of blankets between your thighs.
  • Slowly lower your torso over the bolster, extending your arms forward or resting them alongside your body.
  • Rest your forehead on the mat or a block for support.
  • Breathe deeply into your lower back and allow your hips to sink towards your heels.
  • Stay in this pose for 3-5 minutes, focusing on deep belly breaths and releasing tension in the hips and lower back.

2. Melting Heart Pose (Anahatasana)

  • Start on all fours with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips.
  • Walk your hands forward, lowering your chest towards the mat while keeping hips aligned over knees.
  • Rest your forehead or chin on the mat and extend your arms forward, allowing your heart to melt towards the ground.
  • Feel a gentle stretch in the chest, shoulders, and upper back.
  • Hold for 3-5 minutes, focusing on slow, steady breaths and surrendering any tension in the upper body.

3. Supported Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

  • Place a bolster lengthwise on your mat and sit in front of it with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Slowly lower your back onto the bolster, allowing your spine to arch gently.
  • Adjust the bolster height as needed to support your lower and mid-back comfortably.
  • Extend your arms out to the sides or rest them on your belly or thighs.
  • Close your eyes and relax into the gentle opening of the chest and throat.
  • Hold for 3-5 minutes, focusing on deep breaths and releasing any tension in the chest and shoulders.

4. Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet hip-width apart, heels close to your sit bones.
  • Place a block or bolster under your sacrum (the flat bone at the base of your spine).
  • Allow your arms to rest by your sides with palms facing up.
  • Relax your shoulders and let your chest open as you gently press into the bolster or block.
  • Close your eyes and breathe deeply into your chest and belly.
  • Hold for 3-5 minutes, feeling the support of the prop beneath you and allowing any emotions to surface.

5. Supported Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

  • Sit sideways next to a wall with your hip against it.
  • Swing your legs up the wall as you lie back and adjust your position so your tailbone is close to the wall.
  • Place a bolster or folded blanket under your hips for support.
  • Extend your arms out to the sides or rest them on your belly or thighs.
  • Close your eyes and focus on the sensation of your breath as your legs relax against the wall.
  • Hold for 5-10 minutes, allowing yourself to surrender to gravity and release any tension in the legs and lower back.

6. Fire Log Pose (Agnistambhasana)

  • Start by sitting on your mat with legs extended in front.
  • Bend right knee, placing right foot on the floor near left thigh.
  • Flex left foot, stacking left knee above right ankle for a 90-degree angle.
  • Maintain flex in left foot to protect knee.
  • For tight hips, use a block or blanket under knees.
  • Sit tall, lengthen spine, engage core.
  • Stay or hinge forward from hips for deeper stretch.
  • Keep spine long, shoulders relaxed.
  • Hold for 30 secs to 1 min, breathe deeply.

Start Your Yin Yoga Practice With VIKASA

There are a great deal of benefits to experience through the practice of Yin Yoga. You may be interested in using Yin yoga for your own emotional healing, or you may feel drawn to teach this practice as a way to support others.

In our fast paced world, taking any opportunity to slow down and turn inwards is a blessing.

Our Yin Yoga Teacher Training runs twice a year with experienced Yin Yoga Teacher Annie Au. This 100 hour, two week journey is a deep dive into all the benefits and practices of Yin Yoga as well as Trauma Informed Yoga. This is a deeply insightful and healing journey that can be undertaken by practitioners and teachers of all levels.

Join us for this nurturing and rewarding journey in June or December. Applications open and details here.