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Yoga poses for nourishing Yin energy in winter

Written by Clare Lucas | Tuesday, 10 August 2021

chinese medicine

Winter is the season of Yin energy; it is a time to nurture and nourish from within.

It’s time to let our Yang senses settle and create more time and space to bring our Yin elements to the forefront. This nourishment is aimed at keeping our internal organs (particularly our kidney energy and Jing) well reserved and far away from depletion.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is associated with our kidney organ and our Water element. Our water element is responsible for cultivating the fluidity within our bodies. The liquid quality of water embodies flexibility and force, and it's adaptive nature allows us to move around obstacles and always be able to forge a new path ahead.

Our water element and the season of winter is the essence of our Yin energy. The still, quiet, and dark nature of its energy sees us turning inward for nurturing during these cooler months. During this time of reflection and nurturing, we see a time for transformation and growth. For renewal and restoration.

Try the below Yin yoga poses as part of this process of transformation and renewal:

Butterfly: 3-5 Minutes

Begin in a seated position slightly elevated on a folded blanket to lengthen through your spine. Bringing the soles of your feet together to touch, let the knees drop out wide. Send your heels further away from your pelvis to create a longer diamond shape with your legs. This broadens the experience for the inner thighs and the Kidney Meridian that travels here. Fold forward until your body’s first point of resistance (a feeling of stretch or tension) and allow your body to relax into the fold. It can be helpful to rest your forehead or chest on a bolster or block in order to find a sense of release and ease.

To exit the shape, inhale and slowly roll yourself back up to your seat. Pause a few moments in a neutral position to allow your body time to absorb the nourishment along your inner thighs. I often say, don’t move until you’ve watched any lingering sensation settle.

Modification: If folding forward here is not available to you for any reason, find a Reclined Butterfly to achieve the same stimulation and nourishment.

butterfly pose.jpg

Wide Leg Forward Fold: 3-5 Minutes

Begin in a seated position with a folded blanket underneath your sit bones. Open your legs as wide as they are willing to go – far enough open that you feel sensation along the inner thighs. If your hamstrings are tight, feel free to bend your knees and support the joints with a rolled or folded blanket. Hinge forward from your hips and relax. I recommend a prop, like a bolster, to bring the earth closer to you. Find relaxation here.

To exit slowly walk your hands back towards your pelvis and roll to your seat. Pause and allow the sensation to settle. When you draw your legs back towards one another use the help of your hands to guide you.

Modification: You can find Dragonfly lying on your back with your legs up the wall if folding forward is not available to you for any reason.

wide leg forward fold.jpg

Half Saddle: 3 – 5 Minutes Right and Left

Begin seated with your legs long out in front of you. Beginning with your right leg, draw your heel towards your outer hip. We are looking for sensation in the quadriceps and are stimulating our Kidney Meridian as it flows along our lumbar spine and perhaps along the inner thigh. This shape can be intense on our knees, so move slowly. If you feel sensation immediately, stay seated upright. As your body allows you may lean back onto your elbows or back body. The addition of the bolster under the length of your spine can offer a great amount of support.

To exit Half Saddle ground your palms next to your sides, softly engage your belly and press yourself to your seat with your chin tucked towards your chest. After a pause here, shift your weight to your opposite hip to re-extend your right leg. Repeat with the left.

Modification: Saddle does not work for everyone. An alternative is a side-lying quad stretch. Additionally, Sphinx Pose targets the same area of our Kidney Meridian and is accessible to almost everyone.

saddle pose.jpg

Spinal Twists: 3-5 Minutes Right and Left

Roll to your back body. Bend at your knees and bring the soles of your feet to the floor. On an exhalation, melt your knees to the right. If your knees are hovering above the ground, place a bolster or blanket there to support your weight. This also helps if you have any low back sensitivity. Here we are targeting our Kidney and UB Meridians along both sides of our spine and our torso.

To switch sides, softly engage your belly to draw your legs back through the centre and melt them to the opposite side. Take any props you used with you.

spinal twist pose.jpg


Following your spinal twists, let yourself drop heavy into the floor. Relax your body and mind into ease, absorbing the nourishment of the practice and the calming effect of deliberate rest. Savasana is the most nourishing and significant posture of them all, I urge you to stay here for at least 3 minutes

Clare Lucas

Clare is an Ayurvedic practitioner, a clinical Pilates instructor, Yoga and meditation teacher and a Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture student. She is passionate about the evolution of wellness in a modern age and hopes people can continue to find empowerment and access to traditional healing medicines and techniques.

Clare has a background in the medical industry where she has worked with pain specialists and surgeons doing clinical patient education. During her yoga training, she was introduced to Yin principles from a Buddhist Chinese Medicine Doctor, including doaism, the concepts of Qi, Yin Yang, Meridian & 5 phase theory. This resonated so strongly that Clare followed these concepts and enrolled at Endeavour to complete a Bachelor in Health Science studying Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture.

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