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What is Yin Yoga?

Yin yoga

For many people, the world of yoga is so vast and complicated. They tend to find a style early in their journey and stick with it. Some brave souls will choose to take a peek through the other doors of the temple to see there is a multiverse of yoga styles. And quickly shut the door, feeling confused and overwhelmed.

Some of the many forms you will find on your journey through the yoga maze may include:

  • Hatha 
  • Vinyasa flow
  • Bikram and hot yoga
  • Ashtanga
  • Iyengar
  • Kundalini yoga and more

You could be forgiven for feeling daunted by such a prolific list. All these different styles have different defining principles as well as involve different levels of intensity.

Today, however, we are going to take a look at a style that is known for taking a more gentle approach to yoga. Read on to learn about the world of Yin yoga.

What Is Yin Yoga?

Although its roots are found in India and China. Yin yoga as it is practised in the West rose to popularity in the 1970s via martial artist and Yin yoga founder Paulie Zink

Many martial artists found this style to be more effective with promoting healing, stretching out tight muscles and supporting injuries sustained during their rigorous training.

Yin yoga as we know it today was developed by one of Paulie Zink’s students. An anatomy specialist Paul Grilley, with the aid of yoga specialist Sarah Powers. 

As well as unique asanas. Yin yoga also incorporates Taoist concepts of yin and yang as well as elements of Buddhist psychology. It focuses on a simple, intuitive system that includes a minimal amount of postures; usually between 18 and 24 depending on the teacher.

Yin Yoga Application

Popular forms of yoga, like Hatha or Vinyasa, can be challenging for beginners. The poses can aggravate a stiff and sore body initially. And this can lead to people calling it quits before they can benefit from their practice. 

Other people may find these forms even harder if they have suffered from injuries. Or have other conditions that limit their range of movement. 

Unlike a style like Vinyasa. Where you flow through movements reasonably quickly. Yin yoga tends to focus on gently holding poses for extended periods. 

Yin yoga also emphasizes the gentle progression of the asanas. Stopping just at the edge of the practitioner’s comfort zone. Aside from a gentle stretch, no pain should be experienced during a pose.

Yoga Poses

Keeping in line with Yin yoga focus on simplicity is its four central precepts or tenets, which are as follows:

1. Find An Appropriate Edge

Yin yoga is a gentle practice that seeks to harmonize and balance the relationship between body, mind and spirit. In true Daoist and Zen style. There is no ultimate aesthetic being sought. And no end result to be attained, just slow and steady progress in your body’s own time.

Asanas are moved through slowly and gently, just to the point of pressure. Students of Yin yoga are encouraged to listen to their bodies. To only push for progress as the body naturally allows.

2. Be Still

Due to the extended time Yin yoga asanas are being held. The more opportunity there is to fidget or let the mind wander. Yin yoga is as much about mindfulness as it is connecting with your body.

You are encouraged to connect the mind and body by using your attention to release the muscles being stretched during the poses. Doing this helps to relax the body at the first sign of tightness. Promoting body-mind connection and promoting mindfulness through concentration on the asana.

3. Hold

Yin yoga’s primary focus is on extended hold times. Power’s recommended holds times anywhere from one to three minutes per pose for beginners. Advanced Yin yoga practitioners are known to hold poses as long as five.

Due to these extended hold times. Many Yin yoga teachers encourage the use of Yoga aids for support, such as:

Yoga blocks

Yoga straps, and

Bolsters

These extended stretch periods allow more time to relax into the stretch. Because there is no focus on goals and developments. With your muscles naturally develop this muscle memory in time, at their own natural pace.

4. Release With Care

When holding Yin asanas for extended periods. You must release your poses with as much care and attention as you entered them. This is not just to advance your practices in mindfulness; it is also essential for avoiding injury.

Some asanas can place a considerable amount of pressure on tendons, muscles and joints as they develop flexibility and increase puranic flow. Coming out of the poses too quickly can induce spasms and cramps. As well as increase the risk of sprains, strains and tears.

Yin Yoga In Practice

As good as Yin yoga is for gaining flexibility and promoting physical health, it can’t be stressed enough how much this yoga practice is based around creating a healthier mind.

Longer poses allow the opportunity for your mind to wander, and it is vital to the practice that you bring your mind back to your body, consciously releasing your stress tension and calming what Buddhists call the monkey mind.

Yin yoga is also a perfect supplement to your existing yoga practices; either when you feel the need for a more gentle session, or are at the recovery stage of an injury sustained while performing more intense or aggressive forms of yoga.

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About Author

Hey there and Welcome! I'm Melissa and I'm the author of My Free Yoga. We started back in 2009 as a resource for people needing advice on yoga and yoga products. Today we are working hard to cover everything product related to yoga.

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