There are many Yin poses you can do to prepare for your massage, depending on what you want to work on. Here are three poses, I feel, target all areas of the body that are also safe and accessible for MOST people. As always, make sure you check with a practitioner or your doctor if you are unsure about performing any yoga poses. Remember, Yin is about finding your edge and staying there so make sure to come to a place where you can feel the stretch, but there is no pain. The length we hold a pose is more important than the intensity in Yin. If you’re feeling it you’re doing it.
Hold each pose for 3 to 5 minutes.
Pose 1: Caterpillar
Getting into the pose: Sit up on a cushion/block to help tip your pelvis forward. Round the spine as you fold forward. You can put a bolster or roll a blanket to support under your knees. It might feel good to wrap your arms under your knees, and if you’re really flexible and your chest hits your thighs you can spread your legs a bit to allow gravity to work here.
Caterpillar stresses the ligaments along the back of the spine. By allowing the spine to round and knees to be bent, we’re able to get a deeper opening along the myofascial line that runs from the feet up the back of the legs, to the top of the head. This opens the entire backline of the body.
Pose 2: Sphinx/Seal
Getting into the pose: Lying on your belly and bring your elbows under your shoulders. You can clasp opposite elbows or place hands out in front of you like a sphinx. If this is too intense move your elbows out in front of you, but not too far. Option is to support under the arms with a bolster. To go deeper into this pose you can bring elbows up onto the bolster, or come into Seal pose by bringing the hand under the shoulders and allowing the hips to hang. Remember to only go to your edge and as far as feels good to you.
Sphinx/Seal can be a very deep compression and stimulation of the sacral-lumbar arch, as well as a nice opening of the front of the body. Depending on head position, this pose can be a nice opening along the front of the throat or the back of the neck.
Pose 3: Reclining Twist
Getting into the pose: Lay on your back as you bring your knees into the chest. Open arms to either side and let your knees fall to one side. If you start to feel tingling in your arm move it down until the tingling stops. The closer you have your knees to your chest the more you will feel this in your middle and upper back, and if you move your knees farther down you will feel it more in your lower back and hips. You can play around with this and find where feels good to you. You can even play with propping your top knee on a bolster.
Reclining twist opens the chest, and massages the stomach organs. This can help restore balance to your nervous system and release tension in your spine.
Perform these poses before your next massage and you will find that your body is more open and ready to receive the massage, while getting more out of your treatment!
About the Author: Kaila Grimes is a Rebalancing Bodywork Practitioner, massage practitioner, and a yoga teacher who is certified in Yin Yoga. She finds great satisfaction in helping others through all forms of healing work! You can read more about her here: Kaila.
Photo model was Justin Wesenberg of Lionheart Yoga!