Yin yoga is an underrated but completely necessary style of yoga. It is definitely my favorite type and I love to practice this style as a cool down after an intense workout session. It is also the absolute best type of practice when you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or anxious.
So, the aim of a yoga practice is to become more present, calm and mindful – and this is the essence of Yin yoga. Some styles are more physically challenging while others are more relaxing and give us time to breath. The solution to everything is always balance, but some yogis choose to focus on the challenging practices and skip the restorative ones.
Yin yoga requires a virtue that tends to be taken for granted in our fast -paced society – Patience. It cultivates this amazing quality from within, allowing our busy minds to settle and surrender to the subtle forces around us. In this practice, we make use of gravity, it becomes a tool that helps us get deeper into shapes and poses. I find it best to practice Yin yoga in the afternoon or evening as it helps to relax the nervous system which results in better sleep.
Since we live in a fast-paced world allowing ourselves to be still may actually be more challenging than a physical workout.
Understanding Yin Yoga
Yin yoga differs to others ‘Yang’ type styles as it is at its core more meditative. It was designed to target the deep connective tissues, joints and ligaments of the body. These are our fascial systems and focussing on these deep tissues eases the ageing process.
This process of lengthening very tight tissues can be quite uncomfortable. This is why each pose is held for 2 – 5 minutes. This gives us time to focus on our breath and allows the joints to open which results in increased flexibility.
Generally, when we experience discomfort, we tense up and fight against it. Yin yoga teaches us to override this reaction and slow down our heartbeat by breathing through the discomfort or pain. This is amazing because it rewires the neural pathways in the brain allowing us to think clearly and stay in control even when we are uncomfortable.
Yin yoga is generally practised while sitting or lying on your mat – all the poses are low to the ground. The pace is slow and requires that you make yourself comfortable in some uncomfortable poses. This type of practice is suitable for everyone, from beginners to more advanced yogis. You can expect to do a lot of forward folds and backbends and it’s an effective way to target tight hips and hamstrings. It is a simple and quiet practice but don’t expect it to be easy or comfortable. The point of Yin yoga is to take you out of your comfort zone and you benefit most from being uncomfortable. It is important then to remember that there is a difference between discomfort and pain. No yoga pose should cause pain – that is how you know that you have gone too far and should back out of the pose immediately.
Benefits of Yin Yoga
- Calming of the mind and body
- Regulates energy throughout the body
- Increases mobility especially in the joints
- Lowers stress levels and cortisol
- Decreases anxiety
- Improves overall stamina
- It helps to lubricate and protect the joints
- It increases flexibility
- Releases fascia throughout the body
- Good for connective tissues
- Helps with migraines and other headaches
- Deepens relaxation
- Improves coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and anxiety
- Makes it easier to meditate
- Improves your regular Yang yoga practice
- Builds patience
- Allows insightful contemplation
There are so many great reasons to try Yin yoga – but my most convincing reason would be to do it for YOU. Yin yoga allows you to discover yourself in a very unique way. You understand yourself better once you have breathed your way into relaxation while in a difficult pose. This fosters a feeling of accomplishment and ability which carries over into the rest of your life. Yin yoga is the ultimate self-care routine, as it puts you in touch with yourself – mind, body and soul