Yin Yoga for Hips & Hamstrings

As a teacher and yoga student, I love yin yoga.  It's such a great practice for everyone, at any level or age.  Many people think of yin as a restorative yoga practice, which I believe it can be depending on the pose and purpose of the practice. Poses are held for 1-10 minutes depending on the practitioners body, practice schedule and preference.  Holding a yoga pose for a longer time can get intense especially if the target area is tight or has had an injury.   Bernie Clark , who has written a book about and specializes in yin yoga, says yin yoga it is not a restorative practice.  Again, in my opinion it can be more restorative depending on the props used and the poses.

When I teach Yin Yoga classes, I almost always have two or three hip focused yin poses.  Most people are very tight in the hips and we tend to hold tension and negative or difficult to deal with emotions in the hips.  During a hip focused practice many thoughts and feelings can come up.  So this aspect of a yin yoga practice is not as calming and restorative for many people.

Yin Yoga is different.

At first, I wasn't a huge fan of yin yoga.  I felt it was boring holding the poses and trying to concentrate on breath and getting deeper into the tissues (and emotions).  However, I will almost always try something once, even if it sounds a little uninteresting.  After trying a yin yoga class, I tried another.  I developed a love for the practice.  Being a runner, I have tight hips and hamstrings.  Therefore yin yoga has helped me open these areas even more than my regular vinyasa yoga practice.

This hips and hamstrings yin yoga sequence is my go to yin practice when I'm short on time but want and need the deep stretches in my hips and hamstrings.  Yin yoga should be practiced when the muscles are not warmed up.  If the body is warm from exercise, it could cause injury while holding the poses.  Yin yoga is a type of practice in which poses are held which means the longer the hold the deeper the poses gets into the connective tissues and cells.

Yoga Sequence:

Child's pose: Start on hands and knees, bring the toes to touch and walk the knees out slightly wider than hip width.  On an exhale push hips back toward the heels bringing the forehead down to the mat or a block if the head does not reach the mat.  Stay here for 2-5 minutes.  Inhale lifting the head and exhale coming back to hands and knees.

Downward Facing Dog:  From hands and knees, curl the toes under and start to lift the hips up toward the sky.  Spread through the fingers and claw with the finger pads.  Start with knees bent and after a few breaths start to straighten the knees, working the heels down toward the mat.  Stay here for 1-2 minutes, melting the heart toward the feet and working the hips up toward the sky.

*Dragon Pose (variation):  In downward facing dog, lift the right leg up behind, exhale bringing the right foot in between the hands.  Place the right hand to the inside of the right foot, sinking the hips down, while bringing the back knee to the earth.  

*Low Flying Dragon: From dragon pose (above text), stay or take it deeper into low flying dragon by walking the hands out and resting the forearms on a block or the earth.

*Half Splits: Coming out of dragon, walk the hands back toward the left leg as the right knee straightens.  Keep the torso up and spine somewhat straight.  Work the pose here or place blocks under each hand to bring the floor up.  Hold the stretch for 1-2 minutes.

* repeat sequence on the second side


Butterfly pose:  Come to sitting, bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together.  Slide the feet away from the body slightly and start to bow forward, allowing the back to round.  Release the head toward the feet or place on a block for support.  Stay here for 3-5 minutes.

Caterpillar pose:  From a seated position, extend the legs out in front.  Fold forward, allowing the back to round and release the head and neck.  Hold the pose for 3-5 minutes.  If there is tension or pulling in the low back, place a rolled up towel or small pillow under the hips.

Savasana:  Come to laying on your back, walking feet out to inner hip distance apart.  Bring arms to sides with a little space, palms facing up.  Close eyes and allow your breath to return to it's natural state.  Stay here as long as you like.

For more awesome Yin Yoga, check out this post Yin Yoga for the Heart and Lung Meridian.

Cheers & Namaste,


Disclaimer: The information on this website (Alt Yoga Vibe) is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical treatment or hands on instruction.  If you are experiencing any severe pain or symptoms, please consult a healthcare practitioner.