It’s a yang, yang world in the Western practice of yoga.
From hatha to ashtanga, we see the fiery side of this ancient yin/yang symbol in nearly every popular yoga practice in the Western world.
Not that there’s anything wrong with this. In fact, yoga “flow” practices that focus on steadily moving from one pose to the next are beneficial for increasing flexibility, muscle tone, and mobility.
However, there is another side to yoga, just as there is another side to the yin and yang symbol.
Yin yoga, also referred to as “Daoist” yoga, involves sequences that go deep into the body’s tissues. The poses are often held for much longer than poses in hatha or power sequences, with the goal of accessing deeper connective tissues as well as connecting with a more meditative state.
What is Yin Yoga Good For?
Yin yoga is excellent for reducing stress and providing restoration for the body as well as the mind.
It’s also great for increasing mobility, circulation, and regulating energy flow throughout your body, as many of these poses target energy channels and meridians in a way that is similar to acupuncture.
If yin yoga has piqued your interest, give one (or a few!) of these sequences below a try. From prenatal yin yoga to yin yoga for athletes, we’ve rounded up the best sequences for any situation.
1. Beginner Yin Sequence
This yin yoga sequence is excellent for beginners, containing in-depth instructions and photos. It also contains openers for several areas of the body like the chest and hips, so you can touch on several muscle groups in one sequence.
This sequence doesn’t require any equipment other than your mat, making it a no-frills way to dip your feet into yin yoga.
Find the sequence here: Yogi Approved
2. Hip Opener Sequence
In this sequence, not only are each of instructor Nancy Nelson’s pose instructions explained in vivid detail, but she also provides background information on why the hips are such an important area to open in yin yoga.
You’ll gain new wisdom, such as why the hips are considered your “energetic placement for emotions,” all while sinking into a wide variety of deep hip openers.
Find the sequence here: Nancy Nelson Yoga
3. Heart Opener Sequence
A closed-off chest with rounded shoulders can signal more than just bad posture. It’s also the stance we come into when we’re experiencing grief, sadness, or even fear.
Coming out of this posture through a heart-opening sequence will help bring the mind and emotions out of grief and into a more open space, where the heart energy can flow freely.
This particular yin heart-opening sequence provides just enough chest opening, without going into deep backbends like some other sequences. The instructions are clear and the images pristine. Not to mention, most of these poses can be done without assistance from a block or other equipment, making it a perfect at-home sequence.
Find the sequence here: Dagmar Spremberg Yoga
4. Sequence for Digestion
This hour-long sequence is focused on toning the vagus nerve, which travels through your abdomen and regulates digestion and the stress response.
The poses here are also long holds, intent on activating your parasympathetic nervous system which tells your body it’s time to “rest and digest.” Use this sequence if you’re having trouble with digestion or anxiety.
Find the sequence here: Yin New Zealand
5. Liver Sequence
This video sequence takes you through a 50-minute yin practice targeting the liver and gallbladder meridians, which are important detoxification channels for the body.
The poses are restorative and also help to encourage stillness and grounding.
Find the sequence here: Yoga Ranger Studio
6. Sequence for Stress
“This yin yoga practice is for my people who are stressed the bleep out!” – Candace, Yoga by Candace
Is there much else we need to know about this sequence?
All joking aside, this 25-minute yin sequence is a time-efficient way to sink deep into an assortment of relaxing poses that will ease inner tension and anxiety. The length of the program also makes it a perfect “lunch-break sequence,” if you’re so inclined.
Find the sequence here: Yoga by Candace
7. Sequence for Tight Shoulders and Neck
This tight shoulders routine is excellent to perform at the end of the day to counteract the effects of hunching over a computer screen, driving, etc.
It offers modifications for the less flexible, as well as for those looking for a deeper stretch.
Find the sequence here: Yin Yoga
8. Sequence for Athletes
Athletes are mostly acquainted with the “go, go, go!” yang energy of competitive sports.
This one-hour video sequence offers balance by introducing the gentle yin energy, while also opening various tight areas common in athletes, such as the hips and glutes.
Find the sequence here: Heart Alchemy Yoga
9. Leg Sequence
This 60- to 75-minute sequence will leave no muscle unopened in your legs, making it great for runners, athletes, or even though who spend a lot of time sitting.
Each pose is illustrated with a photo and given a time limit, so you know exactly how long to sink into the poses.
Find the sequence here: Nancy Nelson Yoga
10. Sequence for Low Back Pain
When it comes to low back pain and yin yoga, it’s great to have an instructor walk you through the poses so that you know you’re performing them correctly.
This 35-minute video yin sequence does just that, allowing you to relax deep into poses that relieve tension in the spine and low back.
Find the sequence here: Brett Larkin Yoga
11. Sequence for Runners
The best thing about this sequence (aside from the awesome name, below) is the fact that Rebekah is both a runner and a yogi, giving us firsthand experience as to what yin poses might be best for runners.
Expect detailed photos and descriptions, as well as a list of reasons why runners need to have yin yoga practice.
Find the sequence here: Run Away From Zombies
12. Upper-Body Sequence
This upper-body yin video sequence focuses exclusively on easing tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
Each pose is held for the average of 4 to 5 minutes and encourages extra softness, making it excellent for beginners.
Find the sequence here: Yoga with Kassandra
13. Restorative Sequence
This restorative yin yoga sequence is so restorative, it even includes pillows!
While there’s no sleeping involved, this is indeed a powerful sequence with detailed descriptions and photos that will have you feeling as refreshed as you would after your best night’s sleep.
Find the sequence here: The Journey Junkie
14. Prenatal Sequence
This prenatal sequence contains detailed descriptions of each pose alongside beautiful photographs. It focuses on easing the tension in the back muscles that most expectant mothers experience, and also on opening the hips in preparation for the big day.
Find the sequence here: Santosha Society
15. Knee Sequence
This knee sequence delves deep into the hips, hamstrings, and quadriceps, which can contribute to increased knee pain and pressure when tight or compressed.
This sequence also offers great photos, as well as time limits for its poses.
Find the sequence here: Elephant Journal
16. Spinal Sequence
This video yin spinal sequence is a 60-minute blessing for those with back pain.
Prepare to be walked through a variety of poses that focus on reducing pressure on the spine and surrounding joints, all while cultivating stillness and becoming grounded.
Find the sequence here: Ekhart Yoga TV
17. Tight Hamstring Sequence
This 50-minute video sequence is excellent if you’ve been feeling tight throughout your hamstrings from excessive sitting.
One of the great things about this sequence is that it focuses not only on the hamstrings, but also on the entire back of the body, so you can be sure any tightness contributing to your hamstring stiffness will be addressed.
Find the sequence here: Yin Yoga with Marianne
18. Quadriceps Sequence
While the goal of this sequence is to help you get into the tricky lotus pose, it features a great assortment of poses that really focus on loosening the quadriceps muscles.
Follow the entire sequence to open the entire leg area, or choose 2 to 3 quadriceps releasers for a targeted sequence.
Find the sequence here: Love Yoga Anatomy
19. Menstruation Sequence
This five-pose sequence focuses on releasing your lower body muscles (which can become tight and cramped during menstruation), and also cultivating emotional stillness.
If you typically experience cramps or stress during your cycle, give this sequence a try.
Find the sequence here: Natural Health Star
20. Sequence for Insomnia
If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, yin yoga might just be your solution to coaxing your body to sleep.
This 30-minute video sequence guides you through relaxing yin poses that can help tune your body into its natural circadian rhythms.
Find the sequence here: Sarah Beth Yoga
21. Energizing Sequence
Are you ready to harness the energy of the sun?
This invigorating sequence encourages you to practice with sunlight streaming in through your widnows, and to visualize solar energy as you make you way through an assortment of rejuvenating poses.
Find the sequence here: Yoga Journal
22. Kidney Sequence
This yin yoga kidney sequence stimulates the kidney and bladder meridians, encouraging efficient detox throughout the body.
Perform this sequence if you’ve been feeling “heavy” or feel the need to detox. Simply click on the pose for a photo example.
Find the sequence here: iHanuman
23. Seasonal Sequences
These seasonal sequences will help prepare your body for the changes each season brings. Just as what we eat varies with the seasons, so do these yin yoga poses.
Whether you’re looking to lighten up and bloom with a yin yoga sequence for spring, or go into a deeper introspection for winter and fall, these sequences will gently tune you in.
24. Detox Sequence
Although this sequence is labeled as a spring sequence, it is perfect for anyone looking to detox their body and usher in fresh energy.
These poses target the liver and gallbladder meridians, which carry the heavy burden of removing toxins from our bodies.
Find the sequence here: Yoga Journal
25. Sequence to Boost Metabolism
This sequence also focuses on the liver and gallbladder meridians, but with the additional poses that help boost metabolism and increase the flow of qi through the body.
After all, when you remove the old, you make way for new energy to flow faster and more efficiently.
Find the sequence here: Mind Body Green
A Deeper Yoga Practice
If yang yoga is a free-flowing river or a slow-burning bonfire, yin yoga is a still, deep lake.
If you’re looking to sink deeper into a yoga practice, or perhaps balance your flow practice with some restorative sequences, you’ll find that yin yoga – and the above sequences – will get you there.
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Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.