There is a duality to all energies in life. Light and dark, masculine and feminine, hot and cold, and yin and yang. Yang is a masculine and more active energy and can be found in more vinyasa or power forms of yoga, which target movement and building strength in the muscles. Yin yoga though, is a more cooling and passive form of yoga, where the practitioner holds static poses for an extended period of time, intended to target your deep connective tissues like fascia, ligaments, and joints. It helps you stretch and lengthen these barely used parts of our body, where we hold a lot of tension and built up energy. When we practice yin, we are opening up energy pathways or according to Chinese medicine, moving Qi in the body, releasing stress and stagnant emotions.
Benefits of Yin Yoga
There is a wide range of health benefits from practicing yin yoga. This style of yoga can benefit our mind, body, and spirit deeply when practiced regularly. Below are just some of the benefits that come with having a yin yoga practice.
Yin yoga is a slow and deep breath-focused style of asana. It allows us to really be present with our breath and mindfully deepen our inhales and exhales as we relax into the pose. Yin also targets the deeper connective tissues of the body, where we hold a lot of stagnant energy and emotions. Stretching into these areas of the body deeply allows us to let go of stress and create space in both the body and mind.
Stretching fascia is a key factor in maintaining good flexibility. Yin yoga targets the deep connective tissues and in these deeper holds, you will be getting into the different layers and fascia, releasing tension and stiffness, allowing for more flexibility and mobility in the body.
By targeting the fascia, ligaments, and joints with deep stretching and prolonged holds, we are increasing blood flow to these areas of the body that are often not focused on. This helps increase oxygen flow to your muscles, thus increasing circulation.
Who should practice
Yin yoga is a great option for most people. Unlike restorative yoga though, it is meant to create a sensation in the body and a deep stretch. You can expect to feel discomfort at times as you create space in the deep tissues of the body. Props are still utilized in yin most of the time, so you can adjust the depth of your posture as needed.
Those who exert their body a lot like athletes, weight lifters, and runners would benefit greatly from yin, helping to increase their circulation, mobility and flexibility for safer athletic performance. Yin is also a great option for those who are looking for deeper relaxation and a more meditative form of yoga. Yin is deeply restorative for the mind and body and can provide a deep sense of peace and calm. If you have an injury, check with your instructor before practicing yin to ensure it’s safe.
There are a variety of yin classes online, or check your local yoga studios to see where you can practice yin near you.
Gabrielle Marchese is a certified yoga instructor.