Tahl performs yoga poses outside while wearing a purple outfit
Centr Team

7 yin yoga poses for better functional mobility

Centr Team

The benefits of yin yoga for stress relief and relaxation are no secret. But did you know that this slow flow style can also stretch and strengthen your muscles and joints to improve functional mobility?

We’ve lined up seven yin yoga poses targeting key areas of the body for release and improved range of motion. Totally new to yoga? That’s okay, there are tips for beginners too.

Once you’ve tried this yin yoga sequence, start your free trial with Centr to work on your practice with Tahl.

1. Sukhasana twist (revolved easy pose)


What it improves: By opening up your chest and back, this movement encourages flexibility through the spine, shoulders and neck. The twisting also shifts pressure in the vertebrae, helping to ease back pain.

How to do it:

  • Sit on the mat with your legs crossed, left leg in front of the right.

  • Twist at the torso to face to the left, placing your right hand on your left knee, and the fingers of your left hand on the mat behind your butt to act as support.

  • Your spine should sit tall. Keep your shoulders down.

  • Aim to hold the pose for around 1 minute.

  • Repeat on the other side by switching to your right leg in front of your left, then twist.

Tips for beginners: This pose is often used as a warm-up, so it shouldn’t be too difficult. Be careful not to over-twist your neck – stop if you feel any discomfort or pain.

2. Baddha konasana (bound angle pose)


What it improves: Sometimes called butterfly pose, this is an effective hip opener that stretches and strengthens hip flexors to improve mobility – which is especially important if you spend a lot of your day sitting. It also stretches the groin, inner thighs and knees, providing the flexibility essential for movements such as squats. Your pelvic floor strength will also get a boost.

How to do it:

  • Sit on the mat with the soles of your feet together.

  • You feel more comfortable with your feet closer to, or slightly further away from the groin – find the point that feels right for you.

  • As you breathe in, elongate your spine.

  • Place your fingers on the mat beside, and just in front of, your feet.

  • Keeping your back straight, tip forward at the hips as far as you can – you may still be fairly upright, or close to the mat.

  • Now let your spine round and place your palms on the floor to support your body.

  • As you relax into the pose, you may be able to walk your palms further away from your feet and tip further forward.

  • Aim to hold the pose for 3 minutes.

  • Press your palms into the floor to return to sitting upright.

Tips for beginners: Your back muscles, hips, thighs and hamstrings may fatigue in this pose, so start with a shorter duration and monitor how you feel. If you feel any sharp or pinching pain, gently back out of the pose. If it feels difficult to keep your chest upright, put a little more weight into your palms to support yourself.

3. Gecko lunge (lizard pose)


What it improves: Bad posture and long hours spent at a desk or in the car can lead to stiff and tight hips and lower back. This stretch helps to reduce that tightness. You’ll also feel a release in your calves, hamstrings and glutes, all contributing to a greater range of motion in your lower body. You’ll build up your balance, too.

How to do it:

  • Start on all fours, hands on the mat beneath your shoulders.

  • Step your right foot forward, placing it on the mat outside your right hand.

  • Place your rear toes on the mat for balance.

  • Push forward at the hips so your weight is leaning into your front heel. Tucking your left toes into the mat and adjusting your knee placement can help.

  • Hold this position, resting on your arms. Aim to hold the pose for around 2 minutes.

  • Switch to repeat with your left foot forward.

Tips for beginners: If you feel any wrist discomfort when resting on your arms, make fists and rest your knuckles on the mat. You can also use a pillow or yoga bolster if required. When stepping your leg forward, avoid straining. It may take time and practice to achieve such a deep stretch and stay balanced.

4. Janu sirsasana (head to knee pose)


What it improves: Tahl’s side-bend variation of this pose delivers a great stretch for your obliques and wider abdominals – as well as your groin, hamstrings, spine, neck and shoulders – helping to increase flexibility and improve strength.

How to do it:

  • Sit on the mat with your left leg extended, and tuck your right foot in so it’s sitting against your left inner thigh.

  • Now widen the space between your knees, so your right thigh and extended left leg form an L shape on the mat.

  • Place your left hand on the mat beside your left ankle, and reach your right arm over your head.

  • Lean into your left arm and aim to hold this pose for around 90 seconds.

  • Inhale to sit upright, then take a few deep breaths before switching to the opposite side – right leg extended and left heel tucked in.

Tips for beginners: If you’re new to the janu pose, aim to do the original head-to-knee variation first. From the starting position, with your left foot extended and right foot tucked in, keep your back straight as you tip forward at the hips and walk your hands forward on the mat. When you can’t go any further, round your spine and rest in that position. It may take some to work up the flexibility to truly rest your head on your knee.

5. Upavistha konasana (wide-angle seated pose)


What it improves: This forward fold provides an intense stretch for your back, thighs and calves. It also lengthens the hamstrings and muscles that support your spine, increasing mobility.

How to do it:

  • Sit on the mat with your legs out wide.

  • Keeping your back straight, tilt forward at the hips as you walk your hands forward on the mat as far as you can.

  • Alternatively, you can rest on your forearms (as Tahl is doing here).

  • Aim to hold the pose for around 90 seconds.

Tips for beginners: If you have trouble folding forward, bend your knees a little, or place a support such as a yoga block, book or rolled towel behind your back. Be sure to keep your tights, knees and toes pointed toward the ceiling.

6. Gomukhasana arm bind (cow face pose)


What it improves: This arm bind provides a great stretch for tight (and frequently hunched) shoulders – helping to increase shoulder flexibility and range of motion. It will also help to release tension in your neck.

How to do it:

  • Sitting on the mat, cross your right leg over your left so your knees are stacked and heels tucked in at your hips.

  • If your knees aren’t capable of that pose, you can also perform this move sitting on your knees or in a regular cross-legged position.

  • Holding the stretch strap in your right hand, reach your right arm up, then bend at the elbow and let your forearm fall behind your head.

  • Now reach the other arm behind your back to find and hold the strap. Rest this rear arm around the middle of your back.

  • Gently tug at the strap with your lower hand – just enough so you can feel the stretch in the arm above.

  • Aim to hold the pose for around 1 minute.

  • Switch arm positions perform the pose on the opposite side.

Tips for beginners: If your shoulders are more flexible, you may be able to join the fingers of your upper and lower hands to perform the move without a strap. However, using a strap is a great place to start – helping you build up flexibility and the full range of motion. If you don’t have a stretch strap, you can use a belt or towel. Make sure your head is aligned with your shoulders and don’t force the stretch. If your head is pulling too far forward, you’ll create unwanted strain in your neck.

7. Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)


What it improves: The strap modification of this forward bend that Tahl is demonstrating here is a great way to stretch out your spine and shoulders, improving upper-body mobility. As your forward bend improves over time, you’ll also notice flexibility increases in your lower back and hamstring. Bonus: research has found that this pose can improve circulation, stimulate the digestive system and enhance mental clarity.

How to do it

  • Sit on the mat with your legs extended in front of you. Keep your legs relaxed.

  • Loop a stretch strap around the soles of your feet, holding one end in each hand.

  • Gently tug on the straps to pull your torso forward, bending at the hips to lower your chest toward your knees.

  • When you feel a gentle stretch in your back, hold the pose here.

  • Adjust deeper into the pose as you feel able – allowing a rounding of your back as you naturally fall forward.

  • Aim to hold the pose for around 2 minutes.

Tips for beginners: When performed without straps, this forward bend is an advanced pose that requires practice and patience. The strap will help you build up to it. Make sure your back is not too rigid or rounded – adjust where you’re holding the straps to find the position that feels right for you. Place a block, book or towel behind your back if you need support to fold forward. And bend your knees slightly if your hamstrings are too tight.

Ready to try stringing poses together for a full-body mobility and relaxation boost? Start your free trial today to discover Tahl Rinsky’s Yin Yoga classes, only on Centr.

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