Yin yoga is a gentle, grounded practice that uses deep stretches to improve flexibility and strengthen your joints and connective tissue. While you may think of yoga as a steady flow from one pose to the next, Yin yoga slows things down… way down.

This go-slow form of yoga focuses on performing fewer poses but holding them longer. You may do only five or six Yin yoga poses in an hour of practice! With only a few movements per sesh, here’s how to choose your poses wisely.

15 of the best Yin yoga poses

  1. Best beginner pose: Butterfly Pose
  2. Best advanced pose: Twisted Dragon Pose
  3. Best restorative pose: Shoelace Pose
  4. Best pose for sleep: Legs-up-the-Wall
  5. Best pose for relaxation: Seated Forward Bend
  6. Best pose for anxiety: Square Pose
  7. Best pose for tension: Twisted Root Pose
  8. Best pose for circulation: Banana Pose
  9. Best pose for hips: Dragon Pose
  10. Best pose for glutes: Swan Pose
  11. Best pose for shoulders: Puppy Pose
  12. Best pose for back: Wide-Kneed Child’s Pose
  13. Best pose for heart: Supported Fish Pose
  14. Best pose for fall: Meditation Seat
  15. Best pose for winter: Dragonfly Pose
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Yin yoga comes with lots of health benefits, including:

And it’s not just good for your body. Research suggests that Yin yoga is also good for your mind. In a 2017 study, participants showed a significant decrease in stress and worry after 5 weeks of regular practice.

Yin yoga also uses a variety of props (including blocks and bands) to provide extra support.

This simple starter pose might take you back to gym class warmups. Butterfly Pose opens up your hips and eases lower back pain. Its restorative powers also help both your mind and body relax. This helps soothe tension and anxiety.

How to do it:

  • Start in a seated position.
  • Bend knees and let them drop open to your sides, bringing feet together in front of you.
  • Fold your torso forward. Relax neck, shoulders, and spine.
  • Hold onto your feet. You can also place pillows or bolsters under your torso for support.
  • Hold for 3–5 minutes.

Pro tip: Place yoga blocks or rolled towels under your knees for more support.

Unleash your inner fire-breathing dragon with this side-bending power pose. It targets your hamstrings, hip flexors, outer hips, and adductors. This advanced move also stretches your back and may help with sciatica.

How to do it:

  • Start in tabletop position, with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips.
  • Step left foot between your hands.
  • Slide right leg back, letting hips sink down.
  • Use left hand to push left knee to the side.
  • Drop right hand to the floor.
  • Rotate your chest toward the sky.
  • Hold for 3–5 minutes, then repeat on the right side.

Pro tip: Place a towel, blanket, or small pillow underneath your knee for extra support.

While restorative yoga is its own practice, there are poses within Yin yoga that can refresh and rejuvenate your bod. Shoelace Pose is a restorative posture that gives your arms, shoulders, hips, and upper back a deep stretch. This pose may also get things a-moving in your gut, benefiting your digestion.

How to do it:

  • Sit with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Bring left foot to the outer edge of right hip.
  • Bring right foot to the outer edge of left hip. (Your knees should be stacked.)
  • Gently hinge forward from your hips.
  • Hold for 3–5 minutes, then gently roll your spine back up and slowly release your legs.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

Pro tip: Ease into this pose by leaving your bottom leg extended in front of you. You can also place a cushion or yoga block under your bottom for extra support and balance.

Legs-up-the-Wall Pose is a simple way to restore your body’s balance by getting your blood flowing at the end of the day. Whether you spent your day on your feet or at your desk, you’ll be enjoying a sweet slumber in no time!

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back near an empty space on a wall.
  • Scoot your butt close to or touching the wall.
  • Gently bring your legs up on the wall and relax arms by your sides.
  • Rest in this position for 3–5 minutes, then release.

Pro tip: Place a pillow, cushion, or rolled towel or blanket under your head and upper back for extra support and comfort. (Try not to fall asleep just yet!)

In addition to bringing your mind and body some sweet relaxation, this simple pose is great for lengthening your spine.

How to do it:

  • Sit with legs straight out in front of you.
  • Place a bolster (a supportive pillow works too) on your thighs.
  • Fold forward from your hips, letting your torso rest on the bolster.
  • Hold for 3–5 minutes, then slowly roll back up to a seated position.

Pro tip: If you deal with lower back probs or extra-tight hamstrings, place a pillow or small cushion under your butt and/or your knees.

It’s hip to be a square (especially when it comes to soothing stress and anxiety). Square Pose opens up your hips and lower back.

How to do it:

  • Sit with your legs crossed.
  • Move your feet forward until shins are parallel (or “square”) to the edge of your yoga mat.
  • Gently fold your torso forward onto your lap. For extra support, place a pillow or bolster between your chest and legs.
  • Hold for 3–5 minutes, then slowly release.

Pro tip: If you’ve got sciatica or lower back pain, sit on a yoga block or cushion to elevate and align your hips in this pose.

In this asymmetrical pose, your spine is gently rotated to release tension in your neck, spine, and lower back. It also activates your glutes and obliques.

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Cross right leg over left leg, snaking right foot under left ankle.
  • Gently drop knees to the left and let locked legs rest on the floor.
  • Stretch arms out wide and turn head to the right.
  • Hold for 3–5 minutes, then release and slowly switch sides.

Pro tip: Ankle or shoulder not reaching the floor? Place a rolled towel or block underneath!

This pose is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S! This supersimple pose not only delivers a fantastic side stretch but also helps give your circulation a healthy boost.

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back with arms above your head.
  • Keeping your core steady, slide heels and hands to the right. (Your body will look like a banana!)
  • Hold for 3–5 minutes, then release and switch sides.

Pro tip: Give yourself a minute or two to rest in Savasana (lying on your back) before switching sides.

Your hips won’t lie with this posture. In fact, they may feel more stretched and soothed than ever! Dragon Pose not only opens up your hips and hip flexors but (like its more challenging cousin, Twisted Dragon Pose) can also help ease sciatica pain.

How to do it:

  • Start in tabletop position, with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips.
  • Step right foot between your hands, pressing foot into the floor.
  • Lower your left knee to the floor and slide left leg back.
  • Keep your hands on either side of right foot, pressing into the floor.
  • Hold for 3–5 minutes, then carefully release and repeat on the other side.

Pro tip: Place a blanket or towel under your back knee for added comfort.

The elegant Swan Pose targets your hip flexors and glutes. Get ready to build the perfectly peachy glutes of your dreams.

How to do it:

  • Start in tabletop position, with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips.
  • Slide right knee forward, parallel to your hips.
  • Place right foot in front of left hip and flex your foot.
  • Lower your left leg to the floor, sliding knee away and tucking toes behind you.
  • Keep arms straight, pushing the floor away with your hands.
  • Center yourself to evenly distribute your weight.
  • Hold for 3–5 minutes, then release and repeat on the other side.

Pro tip: Place a blanket or towel under your hip to keep your balance. If you can’t reach the floor, feel free to stabilize your hands with blocks.

Hunched over a desk all day? Puppy Pose can help you recover. If Child’s Pose and Downward-Facing Dog had a puppy, this pose would be it. This back-bending posture opens up your shoulders, expands your chest, and boosts blood circulation.

How to do it:

  • Start in tabletop position, with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips.
  • Walk hands forward and lower your chest to the floor.
  • Press your palms into the floor, letting elbows and forearms lift off the floor.
  • Draw your shoulder blades together.
  • Extend your hips toward the sky.
  • Hold for 3–5 minutes, then slowly lift your chest and walk hands back to the starting position.

Pro tip: You can let your forehead rest on the floor during this pose. You can also carefully bring your chin up and look forward to really deepen that shoulder stretch.

Child’s Pose is child’s play. This yoga staple helps stretch your spine and open up your back to ease and erase pain. (Plus, it’s relaxing AF.)

How to do it:

  • Start in tabletop position, with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips.
  • Lower your hips and butt onto your heels, then spread knees wide.
  • Fold chest forward over your thighs, bringing forehead to the floor.
  • You can stretch your arms straight out in front of you or leave them resting at your sides.
  • Hold for 3–5 minutes.

Pro tip: Elevate this posture (literally) by placing a pillow or rolled towel between your knees.

This posture-improving pose stretches out your chest, shoulders, and abs. It can also stimulate your heart chakra and help ease your worries.

How to do it:

  • Lie on the floor with a bolster, pillow, or blocks placed underneath you to support your shoulder blades and head.
  • Rest your pelvis completely on the floor and straighten your legs. Alternatively, you can bring your feet together and let your knees fall open.
  • Let your arms rest at your sides, palms facing up.
  • Hold for 3–5 minutes.

Pro tip: Start with fewer blocks or cushions, and then adjust and elevate as you grow in your Yin yoga practice. If the stretch starts to be too much, place pillows under your arms for extra support.

This is a great grounding pose to ring in the fall equinox. Resting in Meditation Seat helps elongate your spine, bring focus to your breath, and clear your mind.

How to do it:

  • Sit upright with back straight and legs crossed in front of you.
  • Rest your hands on your knees, bring them together at your heart, or place them wherever is most comfortable — yogi’s choice with this one!
  • Take deep breaths as you relax your muscles and sink into your position, keeping your spine aligned.
  • Continue in this soothing state for as long as you like, leaving your breath in control as your body and mind relax.

Pro tip: Place a cushion under your bottom for an extra-comfy meditative sesh.

When the snowy season’s got you feeling stagnant, stretching it out can help beat the winter blues. Dragonfly (aka Straddle Pose) activates your hips, thighs, and groin to provide a gentle, warming stretch.

How to do it:

  • Sit with your legs spread as far apart as is comfortable.
  • Fold your torso forward.
  • Choose your own adventure: You can either lock your arms straight and rest your weight on your hands or rest your elbows on a yoga block.
  • Hold for 3–5 minutes, then gently push the floor away and roll yourself up very slowly.

Pro tip: Place a cushion under your hips for extra support or comfort.

As you embark on your Yin yoga journey, play it safe with these tips and tricks:

  • Don’t force it. You know your body best. If something starts to hurt or feels wrong, don’t do it. Modify the pose or skip it.
  • Breathe! It’s easy to forget to breathe when you’re focusing on a new or difficult pose, but breath is a key part of any yoga practice. Yin is no exception. Breathing through the moves will help you avoid injury and make sure your body gets enough oxygen.
  • Don’t dress to impress. Wear comfy, nonrestrictive clothing while you stretch it all out. Keep in mind that Yin is slower than other forms of yoga, so you won’t be breaking a sweat during your sesh. You may even find yourself cold, so layer up!
  • Avoid hefty pre-yoga meals. To avoid any digestive issues, try not to eat a big meal right before you practice. It’s also a good idea to do your bathroom business prior to your stretch sesh so you don’t have to interrupt your flow.
  • Talk with your doctor. It’s always a good idea to check in with your doc before starting a new physical routine. This is especially important if you’re pregnant or have any injuries or health conditions that may prevent you from practicing.

Anyone can reap the physical and mental benefits of Yin yoga. It’s a slow-paced, grounded type of yoga that focuses on deep stretches of the joints and tissue to improve flexibility and strengthen your mind and body.

This slow flow generally uses a variety of props (like blocks, bolsters, and pillows) to provide added support for poses that are held for several minutes.

While it’s generally considered safe, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor before starting a Yin yoga practice if you have an injury or chronic health condition or if you’re pregnant.