What is Yin Yoga?
Yin yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with poses or asanas that are held for longer periods of time—five minutes or longer per pose is typical. A more meditative approach to yoga, yin aims at cultivating awareness of inner silence, and bringing to light a universal, interconnecting quality.
The name “yin” refers to the concept of yin and yang in Chinese medicine, which describes how opposite forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, giving rise to each other in turn. In this way, yin yoga is also an active meditation practice.
Benefits of Yin Yoga
Yin yoga relaxes and regulates the body. The passive practice of Yin yoga provides stress relief and addresses imbalances in the body. When you add a Yin practice to your regular routine, you may see that you sleep better and experience less anxiety. This is due to the fact that Yin yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, relaxation, digestion, and other “rest-and-digest” functions.
Yin yoga improves flexibility of the mind as well as the body while also building strength through holding postures for longer periods of time (anywhere from 1-5 minutes). Inflexibility can be both physical or mental, so this style of yoga helps address both.
As far as physical benefits go, some people find that their posture improves with regular practice since yin targets connective tissues like ligaments and fascia that are responsible for keeping our joints stable and bones aligned correctly. Holding poses like pigeon pose or dragon pose for several minutes at a time allows us to become more aware of how we’re moving throughout our day in order to improve alignment and posture while standing or sitting during daily activities. These same poses also help relieve pain in many parts of the body including backaches, sciatica pain, headaches and more by improving circulation to those areas through gentle stretching.
How to Practice Yin Yoga
The following basic yin yoga sequence was designed for beginners, but it can also be used by more advanced practitioners as a warm-up. Notice how the poses are organized from least to most challenging with respect to the intensity and duration of the stretch required to hold them.
- Start with a comfortable seat. Sit still in silence for a few moments and observe your body, letting go of any tension you feel as you breathe deeply.
- Butterfly pose (Baddha Konasana)
- This is an easy seated position that stretches the inner thighs and groin area.
- To get into this pose, sit on your mat with both legs straight out in front of you and bring your feet together so that the soles touch each other, then allow your knees to drop open toward the sides of your mat. Place hands on thighs or around ankles if they don’t touch the ground easily.
- Hold this pose for 30 seconds or up to two minutes if you’re feeling comfortable and want a deeper stretch.”
- If any part of this pose is painful, use props for support: place a folded blanket under each knee or sit on top of one so that its edge is between torso and upper legs. You can also place another folded blanket horizontally underneath your pelvis as a seat cushion.”
Yang vs. Yin Yoga
Yin yoga is a practice that promotes stillness, acceptance and surrender. In contrast to the more dynamic and fast-paced yang styles of yoga, yin yoga encourages practitioners to slow down, find ease in their bodies, and let go of expectations. Yang styles of yoga are often better known than yin; however, Yin Yoga has been gaining popularity in the last several years. The principles of this practice can be carried over into other areas of life and can help people maintain balance amidst our fast-moving modern world.
Choosing a Yin Yoga Class
There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re choosing a Yin Yoga class. First, make sure that the class is appropriate for your current level of fitness. If you’ve never taken yoga before and have limited flexibility, you may want to start with a gentle or beginner session. If you have some yoga experience and knowledge of basic poses, choose a more moderate or intermediate class. Regardless of your current fitness level, it’s best not to jump straight into advanced-level classes without preparation.
Next, consider the length of time you’ll be holding each pose so that you know what to expect from the class as well as which props might be necessary for support (a bolster or block for example). Most Yin Yoga poses are held for between three and ten minutes—if longer holds are scheduled, this will likely be mentioned in the description of the session so that students can decide if they’re ready to tackle such long stretches.
You have the power to cultivate your own inner peace!
In a world where life can be topsy-turvy, you have the power to cultivate your own inner peace. The practice of yin yoga is an accessible way for anyone to focus on their breathing and find stillness through movement. Whether you’re looking for a new way to find calm in your home or want to get off the mat and go outside, there are many different ways to practice yin yoga.
When it comes down to it, this timeless practice can help you discover how deeply fulfilling an active lifestyle can be. Though it may seem like a daunting task at first, giving yourself time for yin yoga will soon become something you look forward to each day.
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