Anxiety can be extremely debilitating, making you feel nervous, stressed, and overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to reduce anxiety and find moments of peace. One way to help manage anxiety is to practice yin yoga, which emphasizes long-held stretching and mindfulness. The goal is to systematically train the body how to better deal with stress. Here are seven yin poses to get started that will soothe certain areas of tension and release worry.

What is Yin Yoga?

Yin yoga is an ancient practice that targets and treats the connective tissue of the body. It’s deliberately slow and mindful, offering the opportunity to relax and allow the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to gain flexibility. Most poses are held for up to five minutes, and you won’t often find the more intense poses like backbends or arm balancing. While yin sequences can be tailored to an individual’s needs, the same format can be used to focus on stress relief in anyone.

Yin Yoga for Anxiety

Yin yoga can be a great way to calm anxiety, as it focuses on releasing physical and mental tension through mindful stretching. With consistent practice, it can help you become more aware of your body, breathing, and behavior. Furthermore, long holds on certain poses opens up energy pathways and brings relief to tight muscles that keep nerves from firing.

7 Yin Yoga Poses for Anxiety

  1. Butterfly Pose

This pose opens up the lower back, hips and inner thighs, allowing the body to finally relax. Although gentle, it can be intense because of the deep stretch that targets the areas affected by anxiety. To do butterfly, sit with your feet together and knees bent. Use your hands to guide your feet in, while sliding your feet close to your pelvis. Then, arch your back and rest your hands on your legs. Hold this pose for two minutes.

  1. Dragonfly Pose

The dragonfly pose strengthens the hips and helps open up the chest and shoulder. It can be beneficial because it helps unbind any physical tension that might be leading to anxiety. To get into the dragonfly pose, sit on the mat with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bring your left knee up first, then your right one, and simultaneously bring your toes to touch. Then, hinge from the waist and hinge your chest towards your legs. Hold for three minutes.

  1. Supported Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is especially calming, and is a great pose to transition between while in yin postures. It’s important to make sure you don’t stay here for more than a minute. To get into this pose, kneel with your buttocks on the heels and chest on the thighs. Reach your arms out in front of you and begin to fold over your chest and onto the mat. You can also add a yoga block to support the forehead. Hold this pose for one minute.

  1. Frog Pose

This pose deeply stretches out the hips and groin, allowing you to deeply relax from the built-up stress. To get into the frog pose, sit on your supine leg rotation position and separate your knees wider than your hips. Place your elbows on the mat to open up your chest and shoulders. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. You can also bring your forehead down to the mat with a pillow or bolster to make the pose more comfortable. Hold this pose for four minutes.

  1. Caterpillar Pose

In caterpillar pose, the spine’s flexibility increases while tension is released from the body. To get into this pose, start in a seated position and slowly fold forward, trying to get your forehead to your knees. Place your hands on your feet and hold. Let your spine relax as gravity pulls you forward. Hold the caterpillar pose for two minutes.

  1. Sphinx Pose

Similar to the crunch, the sphinx pose opens up the chest and abdomen and strengthens the spine. Try to focus on breathing in this pose to calm the body and mind. To get into sphinx pose, lie on your stomach and press your elbows, palms and forearms into the mat. Tuck your toes in and press your pubic bone into the ground. Engage your abs and press your thighs into the mat and open your chest. Hold for three minutes.

  1. Corpse Pose

Corpse pose is a very simple but powerful pose that offers rest and relaxation. To get into this pose, lay flat on your back, arms by your sides and eyes closed. Try to clear your mind and let go of any physical and mental tension. Focus on your breathing – inhaling on a count of 4 and exhaling through 4. This pose is a great way to end your sequence and should be held for five minutes.

Benefits of Yin Yoga for Anxiety

Yin yoga can be extremely beneficial for relieving anxiety. It can help create balance in the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, which can help modulate the nervous system and create a more peaceful state. Long-held poses allow the body to relax, while the calming focus on the breath helps to center and dispel any anxious thoughts in the mind.

The practice of yin yoga is also a great reminder that we do not always have to be productive. When practicing yin, you are truly giving yourself permission to rest, relax, and release. It can be an invaluable tool for managing anxiety and cultivating moments of self-care.

So the next time you feel overwhelmed or anxious, try taking a few moments for some yin yoga. With consistent practice, these seven poses will help you find moments of peace and learn to become more relaxed and calm.