Yin Yoga is the slow and meditative practice of placing your body into long held, passive postures while applying gentle stress to connective tissues and cultivating an awareness of your present moment experience.
What is yin yoga?
Yin is a simple yet profound practice. A typical Yin class will have a small number of asanas (physical postures) that are held from anywhere between 2-10, or even occasionally up to 20, minutes at a time. The practitioner is guided into a passive variation of each pose with the intention of applying mild-moderate stress to particular areas of the body. It is through creating this gentle sensation over an extended period of time that a slow and mindful mindset is cultivated.
Yin yoga teaches us to listen deeply to ourselves, to pay attention, and to come to know the nature of who we are. Yin draws from the traditions of Hatha Yoga, Daoism, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Buddhist mindfulness practices to create a truly powerful and intimate practice of Self-awareness.
yin cultivates mindfulness
Yin Yoga is akin to mindfulness meditation. In fact, some people who struggle with a seated meditation practice may find Yin to be an accessible entry point to meditation in general. This practice requires you to develop the ability to pay close attention to your experience in each pose. Through this cultivation of awareness, you will learn to be present to whatever sensations, feelings, or thoughts arise during your practice, meeting them with a sense of curiosity and gentleness.
Benefits of yin yoga
Balances yang-type energy from a busy lifestyle, active yoga or athletic practice, and/or general daily stress.
Elevates the “rest and digest” response in the nervous system - lowering stress, calming anxiety, and creating a sense of relaxation.
Strengthens fascia, connective tissues, and joints over time through intentional applied stress.
Cultivates a mindful awareness of the present moment.
Balances energy within through applied acupressure to the meridian channels that run throughout the body (TCM).
Accessible to all levels of practitioner. Great for beginners!
3 principles of yin
Find the appropriate depth of pose for your unique body. Appropriate depth means that you feel a mild-moderate sensation in the target area(s) of your body, but never pain.
Remain as still as possible to allow your muscles to relax and to become present to your experience.
Hold the pose for the given length of time. In yin, time is much more important than feeling a deep stretch. In fact, we aim to avoid “deep stretching” all together (see principle #1)!
Many thanks and a great bow of respect to the senior teachers who have shared Yin Yoga with the world - Paul Grilley, Sarah Powers, and Bernie Clark.