"The Practice of Yin is a Practice of Stillness. When the body is still, magical perspectives can arise from a physical, emotional and belief system paradigm."
Most people nowadays are constantly on the go, on "alert" mode, living a busy life where it's challenging to slow down. That might reflect in difficulties to calm the mind at the end of the day, to switch off and to fall asleep. If that's you, here are 3 Yin Yoga postures and a magic Acupressure point that can help you calm down the nervous system and prepare you for a good night of rest.
Sit with the legs extended in front of you and allow your upper body to round, folding forward, keeping the head and arms heavy, shoulders and neck relaxed. I like to bring the thumbs underneath the calf muscles to hold the legs so they don't externally rotate. This way I can have them relaxed and feel the target area stretching - hamstrings, lower back, upper back and neck. If you can't feel your hamstrings, these are a few options you can try, because everyone has different bones structure and "one size doesn't fit all":
-try to sit in a higher surface, perhaps a blanket, block or bolster.
-bringing the legs slightly apart might also help coming out of the compression point in the hips.
-slightly bend the knees, placing a rolled blanket underneath them, so you keep the legs relaxed.
-if you are already super flexible, other option is to bring your feet higher than the hips. Place them on top of a block or bolster while you're folding forward.
Standing up with your feet hip width distance apart, fold forward keeping your head and arms heavy while you grab your opposite elbows. You can release your arms but make sure they are relaxed and your not using them to support your upper body. If it's too intense, slightly bend your knees. It's more important that you feel the stretch on your hamstring (closer to the bottom) than on the back of your knees. Keep bringing your tailbone towards the sky and the crown of your head towards the earth.
Another option, more intense, is to bring yourself against the wall. It's exactly the same, but your shoulder blades would be against the wall and you slightly lean forward as if you're bringing the weight against the wall. This variation is called Charging Rhino.
Yin version of Halasana (plough pose). Lying down on the floor with back and shoulders on the ground, lift the legs over your head so the hips come off the ground and support your lower back with your hands. If your toes touches the floor behind your head, bring the hands to hold your calves muscles or ankles. If your toes are away from the floor, keep supporting your lower back and after some months you will be able to bring the feet to touch the floor.
A final variation is to roll up onto your shoulders as much as possible and bend the knees down towards the floor so they are next to your hears.
Be careful with neck and shoulders and if there is any strain on the neck come out of the posture. Don't do this posture if you have eaten in the past 2 or 3 hours or if you're pregnant and make sure you do it in a stable surface).
Snail can bring a deep release on the spine, shoulders and brings the mind inward. Although can be a very difficult posture for some, the effects after are quite pleasant.
04. Acupressure - K1
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) The Kidney Meridian starts in the foot, in the centre next to the ball of the foot. This first point, K1 it's a very grounding and restorative point. Massage it for 5 minutes on each foot before you go to bed.
25 minutes Yin Yoga Practice
You can practice one of this postures during 5 minutes before go to bed or for better results, the 3 postures for 5 minutes each, with a 2 minutes rebound (mini Savasana) between them. Finish massaging the K1 on the sole of your feet.
Here is a Yin playlist to listen on Spotify to help you get in the mood.
Have a good rest and sweet dreams!
Yin Yoga, Principles and Practice by Paul Grilley
Brightening Your Inner Skies, Yin and Yoga by Norman Blair