Yin yoga can have a very positive effect on your physical and mental well-being. Learn how to achieve that by practicing it.
Our goal with writing this article is to motivate someone who hasn’t done Yin yoga, to try it. The reason for that is simple – you will feel incredible after practicing it.
Here are some of the benefits of Yin yoga
- Helps balance and relieves the mind and body
- Reduces anxiety and tension
- Better circulation
- Increases flexibility
- Increases joint strength and releases fascia
- Balances the organs in our body and helps the chi or prana function better
Yin yoga – what is it?
It is a widespread belief that Yin yoga was created by a martial arts instructor and Taoist yoga practitioner named Paulie Zink in the 1970s. He is teaching a practice informed by his background in martial arts. It has been called in different ways; as Taoist yoga and Yin and Yang yoga. However, it was Paul Grilley who founded Yin yoga as we all know it now. Its universal success is partly due, to Paul and Suzee – his wife, including Sarah Powers and Bernie Clark as well.
Although Yang yoga techniques (Ashtanga, Vinyasa) physically affect the ‘superficial’ muscles, Yin yoga is different; its main target is the deep connective tissues, such as the bones, ligaments, joints, and deep fascia networks. A Yin practice generally includes a series of static floor poses held for more than 5 minutes. They mostly focus on the lower part of the body – inner thighs, the hips, lower back, and pelvis. In addition, these areas in particular are rich in connective tissues.
Yin yoga increases energy flow on an energetic basis and stimulates chi’s flow in the organs. Also, this practice provides tremendous mental and emotional advantages.
Who can practice Yin yoga?
Yin yoga is recommended for anyone that feels tired and needs energy, or for those who are excessively stimulated and have too much energy.
The world is bombarding us with information 24/7, continuously keeping our minds occupied with absorbing all the stuff that is thrown at it. It doesn’t make a difference whether the information is important or garbage; our mind has to deal with it. Ultimately, we become used to that stimulation level and start needing it when things get quiet. Therefore, we end up searching for stuff; we don’t care what it is, we just want to fill the gaps.
Every sort of dynamic yoga tackles this part of keeping ourselves occupied. Even though the mind could stay calm as a result of actively exercising, the part of us that wants intensity and to be stimulated is still being fed. However, that is a healthier stimulus for ourselves. You should not give up on the dynamic yoga, but try to maintain a balance when it comes to on-the-go aspects of life.
Yin yoga and the body
Yin yoga affects the connective yin tissues. The reason why we hold the poses longer is that connective tissues reacts best to a heavy, steady load. Try stretching the connective tissue softly by keeping a yin pose for a long time in this position. The body’s response is making it lengthier and longer – and this is just what you want.
Various Yin yoga poses relieve and eliminate blockages in the body’s myofascial meridians. Therefore, it regulates the internal organs and systems of the body. If you want to get a stretch, you need relaxed muscles around the connective tissue. When practicing Yin yoga, not every pose can be practiced easily and effectively. Also, Yin asanas have various names.
For instance, in a Yang Yoga class, the Bound Angle pose includes extending the spine, stretching the back muscles, and engaging leg and abdominal muscles to fold the torso towards the legs. However, the version of Yin style is different and known as Butterfly. First, you need to relax the muscles and the spine will be naturally rounded. In this way, your head will come towards the knees, instead of the feet, while the body releases.
Does yin yoga affect the mind?
Staying still while holding a pose and holding for a while creates the holes that we’ve mentioned earlier. If you keep those gaps open, a space for everything that tries to come up will be created. It can be joy, sadness, anxiety, boredom; any feeling that you are suppressing with a busy life. Yin yoga makes enough space and time for these thoughts, emotions, and fears to come to the surface.
Simply put, you’ll be motivated to allow all those feelings to be there during a Yin yoga class, but not to define with them. To observe but not get wrapped up in them. Keeping emotions hidden costs the body a lot of energy, and the relief you get from allowing it all come out could be just as big.
Stories like these are typically linked to why we feel the way we feel, whose fault it is etc. Just feeling the physical sensations, without putting energy to the stories, gives those feelings and physical experiences a way out of your body. This allows the mind of these sometimes unconscious thoughts and feelings to be clear. Therefore it gives your system a chance to overcome the blockages that these emotions cause in your body. This release is beautiful and much-needed!
Here are some tips for practicing Yin yoga
• Find the right edge: Move steadily and gently into the pose. Do not go directly to your “maximum” with the poses and never stretch to the point of causing pain.
• Stay still: Intentionally try to move into the pose and sit still, without too much twitching or moving.
• Hold the position: begin by keeping a pose for 1-3 minutes and try to expand to 5 minutes or more.