4 gentle bedtime yin yoga poses to ease back-to-the-office anxiety

·3-min read
Four steps to zen.  (Photos courtesy of Cat Meffan)
Four steps to zen. (Photos courtesy of Cat Meffan)

We are finally making our way out of lockdown, and this time everyone hopes it’s for the last time.

While it’s an exciting prospect, faced with yet more changes and a touch back-to-the-office jitters, you might be feeling a little unsettled again.

In light of Mental Health Awareness Week this week, yogi Cat Meffan, founder of Soul Sanctuary, has shared some stress-soothing yin yoga poses to calm you down.

Yin yoga is a restorative practice which involves long-held stretches that allow the body to move deeper into each pose.

"It's a great way of checking in with yourself and engaging with your emotions, perfect for those days when we're feeling a little stressed or anxious," Meffan says.

Each pose is typically held for at least two minutes, though you can increase this to four minutes for more of a mental challenge. You can follow the below postures in any order but be sure to take time out to "rebound" in a neutral position - such as child's pose or savasana - for one minute in between each.

"We'll be working around the mandala (meaning circle) of the leg, checking in with the lower chakras," she explains. These are the muladhara (root chakra) which helps you feel grounded, safe, secure and supported; the svadishthana (sacral chakra) which is attached to the emotional body, relationships, sexuality, creativity and expression; and manipura (solar plexus chakra) which is connected to self-belief, personal power, confidence and self-esteem.

For best results try this 15-20 minute flow just before bed, you'll be zen'd out in no time.

Before you start

"I recommend lighting a candle, putting on a soothing playlist and remembering to enjoy these moments for yourself. Have some cushions and a block or two with you for this practice as it really helps to relax the body onto a support in certain postures, maybe even a blanket or bolster too.

"Start your practice by taking a few moments to arrive at and ground into your mat. This can be done in a simple seated position, roll the shoulders back, close your eyes, taking a big inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth."

Dangling Forward Fold

Photo courtesy of Cat Meffan
Photo courtesy of Cat Meffan

"This is one of the more active yin postures, so there will not only be energy flowing from a mental point of view, but your stabilising muscles will be working hard too. Allow gravity to do the work here, take hold of opposite elbows or just release the hands down onto the mat. Shift your weight towards the front of the feet, close your eyes and just breathe. It's as simple as that."

Shoelace

Photo courtesy of Cat Meffan
Photo courtesy of Cat Meffan

"Stack the knees on top of one another, with your bottom grounding into the mat. The closer the feet are to the body, the easier you'll find it. To challenge yourself more, wiggle the feet away from the body a little more. Either stay here, or take a forward fold and pop something under the forehead to rest on. This pose, like pigeon, can be triggering on the emotions. We're tapping into those lower three chakras throughout this whole practice. This is a good thing, I promise!"

Dragon

Photo courtesy of Cat Meffan
Photo courtesy of Cat Meffan

"This is another active yin pose as your stabilising muscles (core and glutes) will need to be switched on to keep you balanced. Come into a low lunge and then take the option of deepening the pose by bringing the back foot up towards the bum. From there if you're able to take it further, you can reach a hand around and take hold of the ankle to help draw the foot in further. If needed, pad under the supporting knee to make the experience more comfortable."

Frog

Photo courtesy of Cat Meffan
Photo courtesy of Cat Meffan

"This is my favourite hip opener, but one I know can be challenging for many people. Aim to find a 90 degree angle in the hips and knee and use as many props as you want underneath you so you can feel into a sense of restoration throughout your time here."