What is Yin Yoga? How does it work? How can yin yoga help me?
What is Yin Yoga?
If you look at a Yin-Yang symbol, it suggests that no matter what, we should take a “tiny bit” and put it in the heart of its opposite. Too much of anything is simply too much.
Yin yoga teaches us to truly be still. Yin yoga teaches us how to really listen, how to slow down, how to focus and not be distracted.
In yin, we may find we are spending time in uncomfortable postures, asking us to ‘be’ and accept what is happening in a given moment. This is something we can all benefit from in our daily yang lives.
In a nutshell Yin Yoga is a slow, contemplative, floor- based, meditative form of yoga. The postures are generally held for five minutes (three minutes in a beginners class) and the aim is to find your ‘edge’, that is, the point at which you are challenging your physical limits without doing harm. Teachers recommend that students go to 70% of their full physical potential, there is always the opportunity during the time spent in the posture to ease slightly further into the pose if the student feels confident in taking the practice further.
How does Yin Yoga work?
In Yin Yoga we want to achieve complete stillness during the posture, giving us the opportunity to discover how our bodies are feeling, how our minds are feeling and staying with that feeling in a non-judgmental manner.
So the three main elements that we want to achieve in yin yoga are:
- finding your ‘edge’
- staying completely still
- maintaining the pose for several minutes
Yin Yoga targets the deep connective tissues (vs. the superficial tissues) and the fascia that covers the body and helps regulate the flow of energy in the body.
Yin Yoga uses passive, floor-based postures which are usually held for between three and five minutes, although it is not unheard of in advanced classes to hold the posture for twenty minutes.
In yin yoga, students are asked to not only hold the posture but to relax into it, soften the muscle and move closer to the bone, this is unique to yin practice and not found in other forms of yoga.
The time spent in the yin postures has similarities to meditation and in a yin lesson you are invited to release the active and embrace the passive.
It is a more meditative approach with a physical focus much deeper than Yang like practices. Here the practitioner is trying to access the deeper tissues such as the connective tissue and fascia and many of the postures focus on areas that encompass a joint (hips, sacrum, spine). As we age, flexibility in the joints decreases and Yin yoga is a wonderful way to maintain that flexibility.
Some of the benefits of Yin yoga are:
- Calming and balancing of the mind and body
- Regulates energy in the body
- Increases mobility in the connective tissue, joints and hips
- Lowers stress and anxiety levels
- Ability to achieve deeper relaxation
- Enhances meditation practice
Important note: Yin Yoga is not restorative yoga. As with all yoga practices, if you have damaged any tissue or joints please wait until you have healed before returning to your practice