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10 Yin Yoga Poses to Add to Your Cool Down

Much like the dualistic concept of yin and yang in ancient Chinese philosophy, our yoga practice also emphasizes the power of opposites.

Dualism, a central tenet of yogic philosophy, describes how opposing actions may actually complement one another. Common examples include light and dark, positive and negative, masculine and feminine, etc.

Yin and Yang: the Meaning, Philosophy and Yoga Connection Explained

Our physical asana practice, commonly referred to as Hatha Yoga, focuses on the balance of opposites. The word hatha is often translated from Sanskrit as sun (ha) and moon (tha) and this opposition is reflected in yoga asana.

If you seek to bring more balance to your life and your yoga practice, why not add a little bit of yin to your yang?

 
Dynamic practices like Vinyasa or Power Yoga can be complemented by gentler forms of yoga like Restorative or Yin Yoga.

While a typical Vinyasa Yoga practice is designed to get energy moving in the body, the primary focus of Yin Yoga is to open and release tension by holding restorative postures, often supported with yoga props for longer periods of time.
 

Why Practice Yin Yoga?

Yang-like practices stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, activating the fight-or-flight response. In contrast, Yin Yoga practices are designed to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, activating the rest-and-digest mechanism to help calm the nervous system.

What Is Yin Yoga and What Are the Most Common Benefits?

Since we are often overly stimulated in our society, we frequently operate in our fight-or-flight response. So it’s imperative that we also prioritize a little time for rest and recovery.

If you seek to bring more balance to your life and your yoga practice, why not add a little bit of yin to your yang?

Dynamic practices like Vinyasa or Power Yoga can be complemented by gentler forms of yoga like Restorative or Yin Yoga.

 
Yin Yoga poses are typically performed with props to ensure students of all levels can find ease in the poses.

For this practice, you will need:

If you don’t have any yoga props at home, you can substitute a large firm pillow as a bolster and a stack of books for blocks.

A Yin Yoga practice is recommended either on its own or after a yang-like practice (as a cool down) because it allows for the body to rest and recover, and emphasizes the importance of that balance we seek in our lives both on and off the mat.

 

Here Are 10 Yin Yoga Poses to Use in Your Cool Down to Close Out a Power Yoga Practice:

1. Supported Child’s Pose

yin poses supported childs

Yoga Props:

Benefits:
Stimulates the relaxation response

How to Incorporate Supported Child’s Pose Into Your Cool Down:
This yoga posture is a great segue pose to help you transition from a more dynamic practice to a more restorative one. Try it out at the beginning of your Yin practice and/or practice it before you take Savasana.

Child’s Pose is an effective low back release and also helps to slow the heart rate and relax mind and body.

Adding the support of yoga props elevates the restorative benefits of this pose and will help activate the parasympathetic nervous system as you prepare for Savasana (or even take your final rest in this pose!).

Let’s Try It:

  • Place one block on its highest setting at the far end of your mat
  • Place the second block on its lowest setting directly in front of you
  • Rest the bolster vertically atop the two blocks creating a slope for your body to rest upon
  • Widen your knees around the bolster and drape your torso over the bolster
  • Hold this pose for two to five minutes, turning your head and gaze at the halfway point

2. Dragon Pose

dragon

Yoga Props:

Benefits:
Supports hip flexors of the front leg and hip extensors of the back leg

How to Incorporate Dragon Pose Into Your Cool Down:
Explore this yoga pose after practicing a few lunges first so your body is already familiar with the set up. Support the pose with yoga blocks at their highest setting first so you can access the intensity level and adjust accordingly.

Let’s Try It:

  • Place two blocks on their highest setting at the top of your mat
  • From a table top position, step your right foot forward to the right side of your block set up
  • Extend your left leg straight back and rest your knee and the top of your left foot on the mat
  • Rest your hands or forearms on the blocks and adjust the blocks to your desired height
  • Hold this pose for two to five minutes and repeat on the other side

3. Pigeon Pose

pigeon

Yoga Props:

Benefits:
Stretches outer hips and glutes of the front leg and hip extensors of the back leg

How to Incorporate Pigeon Pose Into Your Cool Down:
Pigeon is a fan favorite! Although it is often practiced in Vinyasa, it is perfect for Yin Yoga. Support your body with blankets and bolsters so you can feel safe and supported holding this for an extended period of time.

Let’s Try It:

  • From all fours, draw your right knee to your right wrist and rest your right shin on a diagonal
  • Extend your left leg straight back and rest your knee and the top of your left foot on the mat
  • For added support, place a folded blanket beneath your outer right hip
  • For added comfort, place a bolster in front of you and drape your torso over the bolster
  • Hold this pose for two to five minutes and repeat on the other side

Need more Yin Yoga poses to open your hips? Practice This Juicy Yin Yoga Sequence to Release Your Tight Hips

4. Square Pose

square pose

Yoga Props:

Benefits:
Stretches outer hips and glutes

How to Incorporate Square Pose Into Your Cool Down:
Also referred to as Logs of Fire (but don’t let that scare you!), this yoga pose can be introduced at the beginning of a full Yin Yoga practice or performed at the end of a Yin sequence as well. Props support the sustainability of this seated hip opener as they enhance the comfort level for any yogi.

Let’s Try It:

  • Begin in a cross legged position
  • Cross your right ankle over your left knee and let your right knee stack above your left ankle
  • For added comfort, place a bolster or blanket beneath your right knee and over your left ankle
  • Sit up tall or begin to fold forward over your legs with the option to rest your head on a block
  • Hold this pose for two to five minutes and repeat on the other side

5. Shoelace Pose

shoelace

Yoga Props:

Benefits:
Stretches outer hips, glutes, and IT band

How to Incorporate Shoelace Into Your Cool Down:
Explore this pose at the beginning of a Yin Yoga practice and revisit it at the end of your practice. When accompanied by other hip opening poses like Square or Pigeon, this yoga pose becomes much more accessible to most bodies.

Let’s Try It:

  • From all fours, draw your right knee into the middle of your mat
  • Cross your left knee behind your right and begin to sit back onto a blanket, block, or bolster
  • For more intensity, draw your feet wide out toward the edges of your mat
  • Sit up tall or begin to fold forward over your legs with the option to rest your head on a block
  • Hold this pose for two to five minutes and repeat on the other side

6. Butterfly Pose

butterfly

Yoga Props:

Benefits:
Stretches outer hips, glutes, and adductor muscles

How to Incorporate Butterfly Into Your Cool Down:
When supported by yoga props, this pose is extremely soothing to the nervous system. As you rest your head on a yoga block or bolster it further stimulates the rest-and-digest response helping to aid in the process of surrender.

Let’s Try It:

  • From a comfortable seated position, draw your feet together and allow your knees to widen
  • Place a block on its highest setting at your feet and rest the bolster vertically over the block
  • Drape your torso onto the bolster and turn your head and your gaze in one direction
  • Option to remove the bolster and block or adjust the height of the block and bolster as needed
  • Hold this pose for two to five minutes, turning your head and your gaze at the halfway point

Ready to get on your mat? Take this 35-Minute Yin Yoga For Full Body Relaxation (Free Class)

7. Dragonfly Pose

dragonfly

Yoga Props:

Benefits:
Stretches hamstrings and adductors

How to Incorporate Dragonfly Into Your Cool Down:
Similar to Butterfly, this posture can be extremely comforting to the human body. Practice this pose or modify it with bent knees and practice a variation of Butterfly instead.

Let’s Try It:

  • From a comfortable seated position, extend your legs wide out to the edges of your space
  • Place a block on its highest setting in front of you and rest the bolster vertically over the block
  • Drape your torso onto the bolster and turn your head and your gaze in one direction
  • Option to remove the bolster and block or adjust the height of the block and bolster as needed
  • Hold this pose for two to five minutes, turning your head and your gaze at the way point

 

8. Supported Bridge Pose

yin poses supported bridge

Yoga Props:

  • 1 to 2 blocks or a bolster

Benefits:
Supports relaxation response

How to Incorporate Supported Bridge Into Your Cool Down:
Enjoy this yoga pose for several minutes before you take Savasana – or explore taking your final Savasana in this Yin Yoga pose!

Let’s Try It:

  • Start resting in a supine, or reclined, position on your mat
  • Bend your knees and lift your hips off of the mat
  • Either place a bolster or one to two blocks stacked beneath your pelvis
  • Rest and feel supported by the prop(s) beneath you
  • Hold this pose for two to five minutes, adjusting the amount or height of the blocks as necessary

9. Bananasana

banana

Yoga Props:

Benefits:
Stretches side body and IT band

How to Incorporate Bananasana Into Your Cool Down:
Yes, that’s right – this feel good yoga pose is called Banana Pose! Why? Because your body looks like a banana while you’re in it. 🙂

Practice this yummy Yin pose prior to Savasana. Enjoy the extension on the sides of your body and use this pose to prepare for final surrender.

Let’s Try It:

  • From a reclined position, scoot your hips over to the right side of your mat
  • Circle your arms overhead and draw them over to the left side of your mat
  • Cross your right ankle over your left ankle and bring your feet over to the left side of your mat
  • Create a bow like shape in your body and breathe into the right side of your body
  • Hold this pose for two to five minutes and repeat on the other side when ready

10. Supported Savasana

yin poses supported savasana

Yoga Props (all optional):

Benefits:
Supports relaxation response

How to Incorporate Supported Savasana Into Your Cool Down:
Close out your practice with an extended Savasana. Whether supported by props or practiced on its own, Savasana ushers in complete relaxation.

As both the body and the mind relax, any residual tension or stress is released and your brain signals to your body that it is time to rest. Indulge in the sweetness of this final posture.

Let’s Try It:

  • Set both blocks on their highest setting, parallel and a few inches apart, on your mat
  • Rest the bolster atop the two blocks
  • Recline onto your back and drape your legs over the bolster
  • For added comfort and warmth, place your blanket over your torso
  • Hold this pose for a minimum of five minutes as you surrender into stillness

 

Bring More Balance Into Your Practice By Adding Yin Yoga Poses to Your Cool Down

Try to incorporate a few of these Yin Yoga poses into the end of your yang practice. The idea is to practice yin after yang as it invites the mind and body to rest and recover from the dynamic movement that preceded it.

As you transition from yang to yin, take a supported Child’s Pose to start your descent into stillness. Close out your yoga practice with a Supported Bridge and/or a Supported Savasana as these poses simply enhance the inevitable surrender.

Bring a little more balance to your practice by adding a few Yin Yoga poses into your cool down. Your body will likely thank you.
 

Looking for a Great Place to Start? Take My Yin Yoga Reset Class!

I love teaching Yin! And students are loving my Yin Yoga Reset online yoga class on YA Classes. Try it for yourself!

With Denelle Numis

42-minutes Class | All Levels

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