You’re probably already familiar with the Taoist concepts of yin and yang, which represent opposite and complementary forces. Yin represents calmer energy, while yang represents more active energy. The aim of Yin yoga, then, is to balance the predominantly yang forces that we experience in our busy, high-pressure lives.
What exactly is Yin Yoga?
Yin yoga is a calm, restorative yoga style that focuses on flexibility, strengthening connective tissue, making joints more supple, and finding inner peace. Instead of relying on muscle power, yin yoga uses gravity to support the asanas (poses).
Unlike most other styles of yoga, Yin yoga is slow paced and requires you to remain in one asana for at least 3 to 5 minutes. There is no dynamic flow from one pose to the next.
What are the benefits of Yin Yoga?
There are many physical and mental benefits associated with practising Yin yoga. Here we name a few:
- Improved flexibility and range of motion due to the focus on the connective tissue and joints.
- Stress release due to the calm, quiet nature of this yoga style and the time it gives you to get in touch with your thoughts.
- Deep relaxation and a better connection between body and mind.
- Improved concentration as a result of having to stay in one pose for an extended period of time.
- Greater resilience and perseverance due to having to deal with mild discomfort as you stretch your comfort zone and hold the poses for long periods.
- Increased self-love due to the opportunity you have to get in touch with your body and focus on the sensations passing through it.
- Improved circulation due to the deep breathing techniques that form part of Yin yoga.
- Improved flow of energy through the body, which is good for the organs.
Who is Yin Yoga suitable for?
Anyone can benefit from doing Yin yoga. This style of yoga is particularly beneficial for people who participate in physically intense sports (such as running, aerobics, swimming, tennis, and so on), for people who lead high-pressure lives, and for people who spend a lot of time sitting. Yin yoga helps relieve tension in the spine and pelvic area by improving flexibility and making joints more supple, which can even make sitting more comfortable.
Yin yoga is also a good option if you want to start a meditation practice, as it helps you calm your body and mind and trains you to remain still in one position for extended periods.
It can also be beneficial to combine a Yin yoga class with a yang yoga class (such as Hatha yoga, Vinyasa yoga, or power yoga) to keep your energy in balance. Yang yoga is more active and dynamic than Yin yoga, and as the names suggest, the two styles complement each other well.
What can I expect during a Yin Yoga class?
During a Yin yoga class, you can expect a slower pace and less movement than in most other types of yoga classes. The focus will be on coming into the asanas slowly and remaining there for a relatively long time, usually at least 3 to 5 minutes. While you are holding a pose, you will have time to focus on the sensations in your body and to notice your thoughts. As you do this, you will increase your mindfulness and be able to focus on the here and now.
Most of the poses in Yin yoga are seated or lying down. Some of the typical asanas include:
- Butterfly pose
- Dove pose
- Dragonfly pose
- Frog pose
- Lotus pose
- Seated forward fold
- Sleeping swan pose
- Swan pose
The class may include the use of props to make the various asanas accessible to everyone. You will also notice that you have the opportunity to test the edges of your comfort zone, since you have plenty of time for each pose. You may therefore find yourself in some discomfort, but make sure that you do not push yourself to the point where you feel pain.
Ensure that you inform your instructor if you have, or are recovering from, any injuries. They will then be able to help you modify the asanas in such a way that you are able to do them safely, and let you know if there are any asanas you need to avoid completely.
Would you like to achieve deep relaxation and inner peace while improving flexibility and strengthening your connective tissue with a Yin yoga class? Then click here to find out how you can start your first lesson with us.