I am a sucker for working up a good sweat and really challenging myself, and it's no secret that I enjoy an athletic, powerful yoga practice. Not as well known, however, is my love for yin yoga - that super slow, restorative yoga practice. It's obviously not nearly as physical as a power class (that's a serious understatement, as my yin classes usually consist of eight yoga poses, tops), but yin offers something so delicious that no amount of sweaty vinyasa can give. At the end of a good yin class, you'll all but float out of the studio, ready to tackle the next thing life throws your way. The best!
Hugger Mugger and I teamed up with the goal to make yin yoga at home a bit more accessible. Today I'm using their cork yoga blocks, an eye pillow, a Mexican blanket and a bolster to show three different yin yoga poses. I have heard fantastic things about Hugger Mugger but hadn't tried any of their products until this post, and I am impressed. The cork yoga blocks are high quality, far better than the foam ones I have. The eye pillow smells fantastic and is the perfect weight on the eyes to promote relaxation. The Mexican blanket is also high quality - I love that it is thick and durable, and stays in place when rolled or folded. And lastly, the bolster is excellent - a true must have item for yin yoga. I love that it's semi-flat with rounded edges so you can use it in a few different ways. It's also firm which means it's versatile in the practice, and it retains its shape even if you stay in a yin pose for 15 or 20 minutes. UPDATE: we're giving one away - see below.
So let's get to it. Here are three of my favorite yin yoga poses. I recommend doing these in order, and trying to stay in each pose for at least 8-10 minutes.
If you're looking to take your yin yoga to the next level, then you'll want to add these cork yoga blocks to your yoga arsenal. They're super sturdy and yet have a slight give to them, making them an ideal place to rest the head. I love this forward fold because there is pretty much zero effort involved and it is instantly relaxing. Letting the arms be really heavy and allowing the upper back to round offers a gentle stretch between the shoulder blades which always feels really good.
Attention all ladies during that time of the month - this pose will be your new best friend to settle cramps (you can thank me later). This pose promotes total relaxation, and I recommend using an eye pillow - this one from Hugger Mugger is ideal because it contains lavender which is a very calming scent. While elevating the head isn't necessary, it definitely feels really good, and this Mexican blanket is the perfect prop choice because it's firm but has a bit of give and is really thick, so the weight of the head won't flatten it. Placing the hands over the stomach helps not only to bring a focus to your breathing, but the heat from the hands may help to ease cramping.
Sorry if it's getting old that I keep saying how each pose is my favorite, but this heart opening pose really is such a feel-good posture that it's hard not to label it a favorite as well. It feels particularly good if you're having a rough day or are feeling a little down. If you're looking to improve your day, ten or fifteen minutes in this pose may do the trick. The key to this pose is placing the bolster under your upper back and letting the arms be heavy and fall to the side. Bolsters can be tricky because they need to be firm but not hard, have a little give but not too much, and be able to retain their shape. Luckily this bolster does just that.
UPDATE: Speaking of this awesome bolster, Hugger Mugger has generously offered to give one away! You've got now til Thursday at 11:59pm to enter. US residents only, please.
I'd love to know - have you ever done yin yoga? What's your go to yin yoga pose? What props do you use for it?