With so many styles of yoga to choose from, it can be confusing to keep them all straight.
Remembering what Yin yoga is all about is easy, however, when you consider the concept of Yin and Yang. “Yang” is dynamic and active; in yoga, it refers to styles such as vinyasa that are focused on creating heat and working the muscles. Yin is receptive, slow and steady, tending to the deeper ligaments, joints and fascial networks for a cooling effect.
Making time for both Yin and Yang in our lives is a wonderful way to find balance, harmony and maintain optimal health.
What Are The Benefits?
So, what exactly does a Yin class entail? Depending on your preferences, you may be overjoyed to find out that there are no Sun Salutations, no chaturangas and actually no standing postures at all. Yin involves finding stillness in seated postures, which may be held for minutes at a time.
If you’re accustomed to more fast-paced vinyasa classes, Yin might initially appear passive, perhaps even boring to you. However, the benefits of taking time for this more introspective style are tremendous — and it’s worth a mention that it benefits your vinyasa practice, too.
Physiologically, Yin Yoga targets the deeper connective tissues and releases the fascia to help restore the body’s range of motion. Psychologically, it allows you to tune in to your quiet, calm center and practice the art of surrender both on and off the mat. And make no mistake: Because you’re holding postures for a longer period of time, you will begin to tremble at one point!
Other benefits include reduced stress and anxiety, increased circulation, improved joint mobility and enhanced flexibility. When your flexibility improves, it sets off a positive trickle effect throughout your entire body: your muscles, tendons, ligaments, arteries, bones, organs, circulation, and energy flow all receive a boost. Yin Yoga is also super revitalizing to the tissues of the body, which is why it’s likely you’ll feel that post-massage glow after class.
Three Principles of Yin Yoga
In the book “Insight Yoga,” yogi Sarah Powers lays out three principles that help aid us in our Yin practice.
- Come into the pose to an appropriate depth.
- Resolve to remain still.
- Hold the pose for time.
These principles highlight the importance of giving your body a chance to open up. Often, our instinct is to rush it…but the essence of Yin is surrender. Part of the beauty of our Yin practice is learning to accept, receive and allow things to unfold. Your breath is an amazing guide for helping you abide by these principles.
There’s no one “right time” to practice Yin, but many people prefer early mornings, when the muscles are more likely to be cool, as well as before bedtime to prime the body and mind for a restful sleep. Though it may seem counterintuitive to practice when life is stressful or hectic, that’s also when it’s most important for balancing out the Yang energies in our life.
Pro tip: Don’t hesitate to call on props in your Yin practice! Cushions, blocks, bolsters, straps and blankets are all great tools to help make certain asanas accessible. Props can help increase or decrease stress in certain areas, and create length or space. Plus, because we hold poses for longer durations in Yin, they’re wonderful for enhancing your comfort level.
Find Balance at Haven on the Lake
Yin is a wonderful complement to the active Yang lifestyles so many of us lead. Tuning into your body is an act of self-care that shifts your nervous system to rest-and-digest and gives the internal organs a chance to heal, digest and repair.
At Haven, we offer various Yin classes to help you restore equilibrium. Check out our class schedule here!