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Yin Asana Spotlight: Walrus Pose

May 17, 2023
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Walrus Yin Yoga for the wrists

Walrus is an uncomplicated Yin Yoga pose and a fun way to relieve tightness through the hips and legs while releasing tension in the wrists. If you’d like to give it a try, I’ve included pose instructions in detail below! The Yin Yoga postures are rich with possibility for every body, full of options to exercise the often neglected Yin side of the physical body – the dense connective tissues so critical for our mobility, fluidity, and flexibility.

In my Yin Yoga & Meditation Trainings, I offer a comprehensive exploration of Yin postures so that every participant is empowered to find their own personal expression of each shape and help others to do the same. No two bodies are exactly alike, and so we all experience Yin poses differently. Learning to listen within and experiment with the countless possibilities in each pose to benefit our unique body transforms every session on the mat into a journey of self-discovery. I would love to have you join me! Visit me here to learn more.  

Yin Asana Spotlight: WALRUS Pose

Physical Focus: Attend to hips, inner legs, and tops of ankles with the opportunity to refresh and revive tired wrists

Qi Charting: Kidney-Urinary Bladder, Liver-Gall Bladder, Spleen-Stomach


Setting Up: Place a single-folded blanket on the middle of your mat to serve as padding for your knees and shins. Place a block near the front of the mat off to the side within reach.

Easing In: To move into Walrus, kneel on the blanket and place your hands on the floor to come into Tabletop position, stacking the shoulders over the wrists and the hips over the knees. While moving into this hip-opening posture, be aware of any strain in the hips, knees, or ankles. Separate the knees toward the outside edges of your mat until you feel a light sensation through the inner legs. Bring your big toes together and slowly lower hips toward heels, if your body allows. If hips, knees, or ankles complain during the descent, try placing a block widthwise between the feet at the lowest level to see if that brings more ease. If this is still disruptive, substitute with another hip-opening posture of choice. To deepen into Walrus, walk your hands along the floor toward you and slowly press yourself upright so that your shoulders stack over your hips and seat rests down onto your feet or the block. The foundational Yinpression we inhabit in this pose is hip-leg work.

Yinpressions for Exploration While You Stay: Another Yinpression you might explore while in Walrus are shoulder-arm binds: wrist press; you can learn more about this and other Yinpressions in my Yin Yoga & Meditation Training.

From Walrus, you could add Wrist Press to stimulate the Lung-Large Intestine, Heart-Small Intestine, and Pericardium-Triple Burner Qi Channels. Given the relatively small size and more delicate structure of the wrist joints compared to larger joints like the hips, you’ll want to take extra care that sensations in the wrists remain mild to ensure you’re working safely with them. To begin, reach arms forward in front of you with your palms facing the sky. Bend the elbows and bring them toward the sides of your rib cage. Lower the hands until the tips of middle fingers lightly touch the ground between the inner knees and your palms face away from you. As the wrists allow, gently lower the heels of your hands forward and down toward the floor, stopping at the point of mild sensation through the wrists, hands, and fingers (see Fig A).

Walrus Pose
Fig A Walrus with Wrist Extension

This means the heels of your hands may or may not be hovering above the floor. As you extend the wrist joints, avoid forcing. Just find a sensation that feels stay-able and stop there. For greater intensity, slide the hands a little further away from the body and lean forward a bit more. For less sensation, keep hands closer to you and lift the heels of the hands away from the floor, as necessary. Hold relatively still for just a minute or so, then slowly lift the hands off the floor. Rest your wrists on your thighs for a few moments in recovery.

For wrist flexion, reach your arms forward in front of you with the palms facing the mat. Bend the elbows and bring them toward the sides of the rib cage. Lower the hands until the tips of the middle fingers lightly touch the mat between the inner knees, and your palms face toward you. As the wrists allow, gently rock the wrists forward over the fingers so that the backs of fingernails and hands move slowly toward the mat. Lower only until you feel a diffuse sensation within the wrists, hands, and fingers (see Fig B).

Walrus Pose
Fig B Walrus with Wrist Flexion

If you’re not feeling enough sensation, try sliding the hands a little further away from the body. For less, keep the hands closer to you and lift the backs of hands away from the floor, as necessary. Hold in stillness for a minute or so. To release, gently peel the hands slowly away from the earth and bring them to rest on your lap as you take in the effects of the wrist work.

Easing Out: If enjoying Wrist Press, rest the wrists on the lap for a few moments. To mindfully ease out of Walrus, place your hands on the mat in front of you, lift your hips, and walk the hands forward to bring yourself back into Tabletop position.

Substitutions for Consideration: Butterfly, Deer (for internal rotation of the back leg), and Sukhasana

These are just a few of the many seated hip-opening possibilities. To incorporate Wrist Press, select one that allows you to comfortably reach your hands to the floor beside or directly in front of you.


To learn more about this pose and all of the foundational Yin Yoga postures, as well as variations, modifications, Yinpressions, and substitutions, I hope you’ll join me for Yin Yoga & Meditation Training.  My new book, Yin Yoga & Meditation: A Mandala Map for Practice, Teaching, and Beyond, is the text for the training. You can find it on Amazon here.

My trainings are open to practitioners and teachers of all experience levels and provide personalized attention, in-depth discussion, and offer you a comprehensive and engaging journey into the practice and into yourself! ☯

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