What is yin yoga? There are many styles of yoga; the most heard ones are vinyasa and ashtanga, as they are known for giving kind of a workout effect. As much as working out is necessary, cooling down is also necessary, which is what Yin Yoga does.
What is Yin Yoga?
While the other yoga styles are mostly of more masculine yang style, as said in the Chinese Philosophy of Yin Yang. While yang is considered masculine, yin is the opposite and considered female, but both fit each other.
Yang yoga style is fast-paced, and heat-filled where one moves from one pose to another and holding a pose for less than five breaths at a time.
On the contrary, yin yoga is a slower-paced yoga where you ease into a pose for not five breaths but almost for three minutes. The reason yin yoga is used is primarily to meditate in different postures surrendering yourself to the poses, breathing into it to give a restorative session.
While other yoga styles focus on resisting the concept of gravity by arm balances and inversions, among many others, yin yoga focuses on grounding, accepting gravity, and letting go.
The grounding poses are often practiced with yoga blocks and bolster or pillows, either lying down on sitting to help you relax more. Yin yoga is mainly practiced for a more extended period of time to target deeper tissues of the body like fascia, joints, bones, and ligaments.
Origin of Yin Yoga:
While yoga has originated from India, with asanas moving from one to the other in a fast flow, keeping that in mind, yin yoga incorporates those asanas with traditional Chinese medicine.
Yin yang is an ancient Chinese philosophy that believes that duality interdepend on each other. Yin is considered passive, while yang is the active force, but they depend on each other. One can’t exist without the other.
The concept is pitched in yin yoga when Paulie Zink introduced it in the late 1970s. He is a Taoist Yoga teacher who also happens to be an American Martial Arts Champion. Later, yin yoga spread across North America and Europe with teachers like Paul Grilley teaching them passionately, and also Bernie Clark has published a book called The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga.
Yin Yang was originated for letting the flow of Qi, mostly pronounced as chi meaning energy flow in the body; in Sanskrit, it is called Prana. The deep stretching one does while practicing yin yoga is used to restore the flow of Qi (energy) to the body, attaining a higher level of peace and mindfulness as you meditate.
Health Benefits of Yin Yoga:
Now you know what is yin yoga, the next question will be, what is yin yoga practiced for? Are any health benefits that we can achieve by practicing it? There are a lot of benefits when one starts yin yoga.
Increase in Flexibility:
As we all know, there are connective tissues in our body holding each other in place. We use our fingers so often that when we don’t, we try to stretch them out to ease ourselves. The same goes with the rest of our body, especially the hips, pelvis, and calves, among a few others.
The primary benefit of yin yoga is flexibility in one’s body. A yin yoga class usually consists of holding poses for a more extended period of time and is mainly considered as a meditative practice. The whole process of maintaining the postures improves the range of motion in a body to a significant level, resulting in healthy lengthening of connective tissues.
Our body’s connective tissues need at least 120 seconds to relax in yoga poses of stretching to maintain the flexibility you gain sustainably. The use of props helps ease you when it can get a little uncomfortable; props are highly recommended when you practice yin yoga.
Increases Blood Circulation:
What is yin yoga usually recommended for? Stretching. It is one of the primary reasons Yin Yoga is recommended because when one stretches in, for example, downward dog, there is a good stretch in the spine and the legs and ankles, and at that time, every yoga instructor tells you to breathe into it. That is how yoga works.
When one takes several deep breaths in a yoga pose while stretching, the heart rate rises, and you allow oxygen to flow to the body part increasing blood flow in the body, which also helps sustain the body’s flexibility.
Yoga is known to decrease stress. With Yin Yoga, the benefit is increased because the environment is usually set to destress and concentrate on yourself. The process of breathing through multiple poses as you try to move your body in different asanas, the shift of concentration is beneficial both physically and mentally.
Practicing Yin Yoga is known to activate the parasympathetic nervous system that is known to calm your body down and reduce your heart rate to calm your mind down to reduce stress.
As mentioned before, Yin is the opposite of Yang, therefore to say, we mostly spend the day in a yang state, also said as active. We are moving around and getting things done, we don’t consider taking a break and relax for a few minutes, so when this occurs, we go to bed carrying all the stress we have on our shoulders, resulting in poor sleep.
When we practice a little yin yoga, we are in a passive state, generating awareness to our mind and soul, thus bringing a sense of awareness; this yoga practiced people have said that the peace of mind has let them destress and improve sleep as well.
Better Emotional and Mental Strength:
It is normal to react aggressively when angry, frustrated or irritated, or even out of control. Humans need to let out all the pent-up emotions that they store in their minds, resulting in holding their bodies by fidgeting, biting nails, or picking at their skin. Keeping a lot of emotions inside one’s head is not healthy, so people always try to channel them through physical activities like boxing, yoga, or also a workout.
Physical activity is suggested to everyone to keep a body healthy, but it also helps in mental health.
Yin Yoga is no different. What is Yin yoga, and how can it be helpful in mental health? The poses that are held for more extended periods of time allow you to surrender yourself to the posture and asks of only one thing, that is breathing.
When you practice yin yoga, it lets you channel your emotions, acknowledge them, and breathe it out. Several classes of this will slowly build up to more awareness of your body and mind leading to better mental and emotional strength.
How to Practice Yin Yoga?
Now that you know the answer to what is yin yoga, the next would be how to get started and where to begin? Here are few tips to solve that question.
It is always suggested to get a set of blocks, or straps or bolsters, or even pillows when you get down to a Yin yoga class and make the utmost use of it. For example, in a corpse pose, try tucking a pillow under your head or place a bolster under your knees, padding it up a little and sink into it.
If bolster and pillows are too much, try a couple of yoga blocks in poses while sitting or kneeling. Remember, prop the postures as much as you need because the carriages will be held longer, so make yourself comfortable as you feel a sensation and try to deepen it but not to the point of pain.
The whole idea of yin yoga is to relax a little bit more. A beginner to yin yoga can always start by holding the poses from 45 seconds to one minute and trying to take overtime. What is yin yoga rather than holding poses and relaxing? It stretches the connective tissues to allow a range of motion.
An advanced Yin yoga practitioner will try to hold the poses for three minutes to five or even more, anything that works for the body, mind, and soul to wind down.
Breath is as important as holding the pose. The whole idea of stretching demands breathing; a few beginners might find it hard to maintain the poses more prolonged, so it is always good to concentrate on the breath rather than the seconds that go by holding the poses.
Breathe as much you can to hold the pose, to gradually move from one pose to another, to be present at the moment.
Some of the poses to practice when starting Yin Yoga are corpse pose, child’s pose, downward-facing dog, upward-facing dog, cat/cow poses, forward fold, straddle, among ton others. These poses are some of the basics of Yin yoga.
The flexibility of practicing Yin yoga or any type of yoga is the option to use props. It is not always mandatory to use a pillow or a block. These are just options to deepen your stretch to the point of feeling a sensation that is commonly said as “yoga high.” So it is basically up to you to switch it up as much as you want.