Pose Breakdown: Needle

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Nancy Nelson

Happy day after Christmas, friends!

I hope that you had some time with the people that you care for over this holiday weekend. I’m thankful to have today to simply rest to sit back and find gratitude in the quiet. I wanted to share a new pose breakdown with you guys – threaded needle pose! Often shortened to “needle” – you will see this posture infused into many different aspects of your practice. It’s a gentle twist and a shoulder/neck release all-in-one. Enjoy! Feel free to reach out with questions. My hope is to start sharing videos with each of these breakdowns in the new year so look for some updated posts in January.


For the traditional variation of this pose, begin in table top on all fours. Take your left arm and begin to thread it across the mat and over to the right side of the mat. Gently drop down to your shoulder and the left side of your head here. Your right arm can stay supporting you or you can reach it overhead or wrap it around your back. Play around with different sensations and land somewhere that feels nice.

Threaded Needle- Yin Yoga









  • DON’T RUSH – The point of the posture is to find resistance and breathe through it. Rushing beyond your sensations is not only physically unsafe but it’s robbing you from the true experience of release.
  • DETAILS – Do your best to completely relax through the hips, spine and face here. Allow the muscles you do not need to completely let go in order to aid in the release of the posture as a whole. Close your eyes and really focus on what’s happening in the spine here. On the inhales, imagine your spine lengthening out more and on the exhales feel your spine gently rotating deeper.


  1. Bring the earth to you | The floor is not the goal, sensation is! When you find your stopping point – it might not be the floor, and that is OKAY!  Use a block/blanket to support your forehead and/or shoulder if it will help you relax here.
  2. Get low | If keeping the hips lifted high is difficult or straining in any way, simply drop your hips toward the heels and take a childs pose variation of the pose. You can alternatively do this pose from the side body to lessen intensity and weight on the shoulder that is threaded.
  3. Leg extended | If you want to add an additional stretch onto this pose, you can take one leg out to the side. The most common form is to extend the leg that’s on the side you’re facing, but sometimes it feels nice to do the opposite leg of the side you’re facing.
  4. Incorporate into poses | you might also see this pose incorporated as an arm variation on occasion. The most common occurrence of this that I have experienced is in pigeon pose.

Several of these variations are shown below:

Summer Stretch Yin - Threaded Needle
Leg extended to opposite of gaze









From the side body









Threaded Needle- Yin Yoga
Hips at childs pose









Threaded Needle variation
Pigeon – Threaded Needle variations










  • Wonderful stretch for the outer hips, low back and shoulders (if adding variations).


  • Stimulates the urinary, stomach, lung meridians. As well as the lines associated with the liver and kidney when the inner leg is incorporated.
  • Balances the physical and mental bodies. Twists often help to deeply reawaken the body and create a sense of ease. Often incorporated into sequences after a long forward or back bend. Twists also help to flush the body of toxins because of the rotation in the spine and the pressure on the organs as you breathe into these shapes.

USE CAUTION: Contraindications for this posture include…

  • Sciatica/Low back issues. Either leave this pose out (especially if you cannot prevent the back from rounding) or drop the hips to childs pose to ease any pain. Taking the variation from the side body is an excellent option as well as it allows you to solely focus on the shoulder stretch.
  • Knee issues. If you feel any kind of sharp, shooting pains or some kind of abnormal discomfort in the knee and/or ankle joints- be sure to pad your joints with a blanket or release the pressure completely.
  • Pregnancy. If you are pregnant, be very gentle as you twist. I would highly encourage you to support your self and take twists as gently as possible. Elevate to a block/blanket, drop hips back, etc. It is not recommended to do deep twists during any point of your pregnancy. Please speak to your physician about safe movements for you and baby!

HOLD: 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on your own personal needs. Come down very slowly from this posture (as with any yin pose). BE SURE TO DO BOTH SIDES! Give each side equal attention in amount of time and quality of breath and stillness.


  1. Childs Pose. Unravel and drop the hips back to allow the spine to balance. Do this in between sides.
  2. Hero Pose. Allow your back to reset and absorb the space this pose created in a gentle seated or reclined hero pose.

Make your way to childs pose, resting your head to a blanket if you'd like. Roll the head side to side massaging across from temple to temple.

Find a comfortable seat in hero pose. You can sit onto the heels, or onto a block/the floor in between the heels. You can stop here if this is plenty of sensation. If you are okay with moving into a reclined pose, begin to walk the hands back behind you. You can rest on the forearms or perhaps lower all the way to a blanket. Make sure the knees don't lift up as you lower down.

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Titles for Website (38)
Nancy Nelson
Nancy Nelson
Nancy is the fearless leader here at Nancy Nelson Yoga! She has been instructing yoga since 2012 and is certified as a Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) with Yoga Alliance. She loves guiding yoga classes in all forms – from sweaty vinyasa flows, to slow mindful movement - but her favorite style to practice and teach is yin yoga. She attended a formal 50-hour Yin Yoga training with Bernie Clark and Diana Batts in the fall of 2018 and it truly propelled her into developing her yin focused website, webinars and trainings.

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