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Just like the yang is incomplete without the yin, your yoga routine is incomplete without yin yoga! So, what is yin yoga, and how is it different from yang yoga? This is one of the more slow-paced yoga styles that focuses more on meditative exercises rather than the vigorous physical exercise that takes place in a yang yoga or ashtanga yoga class.
Try yin yoga if you want to calm your nerves and reduce stress. In this article, you can learn more about yin yoga, its origins, benefits, and how to do it.
What Is Yin Yoga?
You know the basics. Yin yoga is more passive than yang yoga. But what is yin yoga specifically? It is a more meditative type of yoga that stretches the deep connective tissues in your body, such as ligaments, joints, bones, and fascia. Instead of toning the muscles, yin yoga targets releasing tension from your mind and body. It also employs traditional Chinese medicine therapies to help you stretch various acupressure points.
Another difference between yin and yang yoga is that the former is slower and requires you to hold poses for a longer time. These poses usually involve sitting or lying down to concentrate on your breathing. This is how yin yoga increases one’s awareness of mental and physical sensations, thus reducing stress levels.
Next time you’re extremely stressed, tune into your inner yogi with yin yoga. This effective form of yoga will act as a messiah in stressful situations, increasing your focus and mindfulness while doing so.
Is this a well-known practice? What is yin yoga’s origin? Here’s how it originated:
What Is Yin Yoga’s Origin?
Picture California in the 1950s. Paulie Zink grew up there as a young prodigy. He was the one who discovered yin yoga after learning about yoga as a child from books and his father. Almost half a century later, he became one of the most known Taoist yoga teachers.
Always interested in kung fu, Zink was told by his college mate that he could advance his kung fu by combining it with yoga. Cut to the late 1970s, and he became one of the most known Taoist yoga teachers.
So, yin yoga originated in the late 1970s after Paulie Zink founded it. It was derived from Chinese and Taoist concepts. But who coined the term yin yoga? After Paulie became a Taoist yoga teacher and kung fu expert, one of his students, Paul Grilley, became fascinated with yin yoga. Grilley began teaching yin yoga himself as he felt a connection with yin poses. His student, Sarah Powers, further popularized this form of yoga. She also coined the term “yin yoga.”
Powers and Grilley started taking yin yoga classes all over North America and Europe in the 1990s. They both added elements to yin yoga, including the meditative practices and spiritual concepts Sara Powers added.
Thus originated, the practice of yin yoga throughout America and Europe. It later spread to the rest of the world.
What Is Yin Yoga and How Does It Benefit Health?
Why should you practice yin yoga? It seems like a boring, slow variation of regular yoga, but in reality, it has many benefits. It’s great for not only your physical health but also your mental health.
Here are the health benefits of taking a yin yoga class:
1. Lowered Stress Levels
Way too stressed lately? Can’t get stuff done? Take a break and try taking a yin class.
Yes, that’s right! Yin yoga helps in reducing stress by calming the body and slowing your heart rate. This form of yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system, thus lowering stress levels.
Yin yoga is based on the principle that good mental health equals even better physical health. It significantly impacts combating mental health problems like stress, anxiety, and depression.
What is yin yoga’s benefit when it comes to people with stiff bodies? Improved flexibility.
2. Improved Flexibility
Yin yoga is perfect for you if you want to improve your flexibility, feel stiff in certain parts of your body, or suffer from a recent injury. How exactly does yin yoga improve flexibility?
Fascia is like the superglue that binds our muscles and organs together. It is made of strands of fiber that hold our body together. So when we get hurt or are injured, the fascia binds together. As damaged tissues heal, the fascia in the surrounding tissues closes up as scar tissue forms. This can create stiffness in certain parts of your body.
So, here’s where yin yoga comes in. Yin poses allow you to stretch these stiff body parts and loosen up your muscles. This improves flexibility. Channel your inner gymnast and stretch like the wind! So, what are you waiting for?
What is yin yoga’s third health benefit? A relaxed body. This is pretty important as physical health is related to mental health.
3. Relaxed Body
The great thing about yin yoga is that it lengthens your connective tissues, such as fascia. As you stretch during a yin pose, the fascia lengthens and becomes stronger. It also leads to tissues hydrating and becoming more flexible. When we don’t stretch as much, the connective tissues become stiff and start to ache.
Once you’re no longer stiff, you’ll feel like you are floating on water. This will relax your body by releasing tension.
What is yin yoga’s most essential health benefit? Read on to find out.
4. Increased Self Care
Do you forget to take care of yourself? Have too many responsibilities? Taking care of your body and mind is extremely important. It teaches you self-love, and once you learn to love and appreciate yourself (including your body), you’ll do so much better in life.
Here’s where yin yoga comes in. Yin yoga poses require you to take time to stretch and relax your body and mind. As you cater to your mental and physical well-being, you’ll become more aware of your body and its care. This will allow you to increase self-care practices.
What Is Yin Yoga: Poses for Relaxation
The basics of knowing “What is yin yoga?” are its popular poses. These will help you sit back, relax and stretch that soreness out of you in just a few minutes! Here are 3 easy yin poses to help you get started:
1. What Is Yin Yoga’s Infamous Pigeon Pose?
Do you have poor digestion or frequent nausea? Don’t worry, as this pose will benefit your stomach by improving digestion. Fly your way out of digestion with the pigeon pose!
This pose is also great for people with back pain. It relieves tension from your back and also stretches your hips. This will give you better flexibility in the back and hip. It will also help you relax by reducing stiffness in the body.
Start with the downward dog pose. You can pull both your hips and knees up until only your feet and hands touch the yoga mat. Then, pull your left leg up 60 degrees and bring it back behind your left wrist. Walk your right leg back until it entirely touches the mat (as much as possible).
While in this position, it’s advised to keep a cushion under your left hip. Now, walk your hands forward and place your forehead on the mat. Then again, only pros can stretch that much. So you can put a block or pillow under your head for support. Finally, relax your shoulders into your back and hold for 10 breaths. Voila, you’ve unlocked the key to relaxation!
2. What Is Yin Yoga’s Easiest Pose- Child’s Pose?
Yoga teachers are often asked, “What is yin yoga’s easiest pose?”. The answer is the child’s pose.
As the name suggests, this pose helps you live like a child by relieving your body’s tension and stress. It will also make your hips, thighs, and spine more flexible. So, remember that ballet class you wanted to take? You can take it now because this pose will make you more flexible.
To do this pose, get on your knees and hands. Bring your toes close to each other until they are touching, and pull your knees outward. Then sit on your toes. Next, walk your hands forward till your forehead is touching the mat. Stretch for 10 seconds and feel your soreness start to fade away into the pose.
3. What Is Yin Yoga’s Fish Pose?
We recommend this pose because it’s so simple and easy to practice yet still helps your body a lot. It can act as a happiness hack and help you fight against depression or plain sadness.
Just lie on your back, put your hands under your thighs and slowly pull your upper body upwards (including your head, upper arms, chest, and upper back). Hold for 10 seconds and let the pose weave its magic on your back! Finally, drop your head back till its top touches the mat.
Along with the back, it also stretches the core and hips.
What Is Yin Yoga: Things To Keep in Mind While Practicing
- You can practice yin yoga anywhere and anytime.
- What’s important is to hold poses for long periods, at least more than 2 minutes. (2-5 minutes is advisable).
- You don’t need a heated room to do this. Practice in a room temperature or cold setting.
- Most of the poses require sitting or lying down, so carry a yoga mat. Poses such as child pose, sphinx pose(modified cobra pose), and butterfly pose are common in yin yoga.
- It’s best not to lose patience while practicing yin yoga. Fidgeting or getting distracted could hinder the “calming” aspect of yoga. Remember that this is a slow-paced form of yoga, which is exactly what is required to soothe the mind and body.
- Try to keep still for as long as you can. Push yourself till you feel that your fascia and ligaments are fully stretched. However, be careful and stop stretching if you feel pain.
- Breath awareness is important while practicing yin yoga. Be aware of how your body reacts as you breathe during each pose. This can give you something to focus on and increase your patience. Slow breathing is also important.
- Release your stomach as you inhale. Your exhale should last longer than your inhale. As you exhale, pull your stomach in. This breathing pattern is important during yin poses.
- You can also use support such as pillows or bolsters to ease tight muscles during difficult poses.
Watch this YouTube video for a morning yin workout:
What Is Yin Yoga’s Process?
Now that you know what yin yoga’s process is and some of the popular poses, we’ll answer the question, “What is yin yoga good for, and who should practice it?”
What Is Yin Yoga Good For?
For those who frequently experience or have experienced anxiety attacks, burnout, or mental health disorders, yin yoga will help you heal and relax. It’s also great for injured people or with chronic joint pain because it doesn’t involve intense physical exercise.
You can also try it if you’re looking to start meditation. This slow and restorative yoga form will ease you into the process. Not only does it help with meditation, but it can also balance hard workouts. Gym goers will love it.
Is the gym tiring you out? Try taking a yin class. It is also ideal for those tired of intense workouts or who want to try something easier and slower. Yin yoga also has its challenges, though. Here’s what you can expect from yin yoga:
What Is Yin Yoga’s Main Challenge?
While it’s considered less intense than yang yoga, yin yoga is still pretty challenging. It might not be as easy as you’re expecting.
Remember that these poses involve a lot of stretching, creating tension in certain areas, which might be unbearable during long-held poses. Since you have to hold the poses for a much longer time, you might get uncomfortable. It could make you impatient, and you might want one to stop.
So, what is yin yoga’s main challenge? It’s the requirement to hold poses for longer periods. Try to think about your breathing or chant some affirmations to combat this. Focus on a point on the wall; before you know it, the time is over!
Now that you know the challenges of a yin class, try to ease yourself into it. Do what makes you comfortable, and never stretch to the point of pain.
All-in-all, yin classes can help you relax and heal in ways normal workouts can’t. Your mental and physical health will also improve with yin yoga practice as it will help you connect with your body and mind.
Taking a yin class will feel like getting a massage or scuba diving with the fish. It might feel uncomfortable initially, but in the end, it will benefit you in many ways. So, are you up for the challenge?