Updated: Jun 6, 2020
Initially called “Daoist” yoga this style of yoga targets the deep connective tissues of the body and the fascia that covers the body; this Daoist yoga is to help regulate the flow of energy in the body.
Yin Yoga postures are more passive postures, performed mainly on the floor. The majority of postures are much less active than the more popular yang like practices. Yin Yoga is unique in that you are asked to relax in the posture, soften the muscle and move closer to the bone. While yang-like yoga practices are more superficial, Yin offers a much deeper access to the body. It is not uncommon to see postures held for three to five minutes, even 20 minutes at a time sometimes supported by props for greater comfort. The time spent in these postures is much like time spent in meditation. I often guide students through the postures to help them find the meditation in the pose.
So what exactly is Yin yoga? 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 one ages flexibility in the joints decreases and Yin yoga is a wonderful way to maintain that flexibility.
This passive style of yoga requires students to be prepared to turn attention inward; to connect with self and the feelings, sensations and emotions which can be easily to avoided in a fast paced yoga practice. Yin yoga is often used in programs that deal with addictions, eating disorders, anxiety and deep pain or trauma. My personal experience with yin yoga was when I was recovering from a spinal injury, fibromyalgia and ptsd from a car accident. I was able to move through a series of gentle poses to facilitate healing without putting too much pressure or strain on my joints and psyche.
Some of the benefits of Yin yoga are:
Calming and balancing to the mind and body
Regulates energy in the body
Increases mobility in the body, especially the joints and hips
Lowering of stress levels (no one needs that)
Better lubrication and protection of joints
More flexibility in joints & connective tissue
Release of fascia throughout the body
Help with TMJ and migraines
A great coping for anxiety and stress
Better ability to sit for meditation
Yin yoga teaches us how to really listen to our body which ripples out into other areas. It brings long periods of time in an certain postures, which then asks you to learn to “be still” to “accept what is” in that given moment. Something we can all benefit from daily in all areas of life.