In a fast-paced world filled with constant movement, Yin Yoga stands as a tranquil oasis, inviting us to slow down, turn inward, and find profound stillness. This ancient practice is rooted in the principles of patience and surrender, encouraging us to embrace the present moment and cultivate a deeper connection with our bodies and minds. Join us on a journey to explore the essence and benefits of Yin Yoga and how it can nourish our souls in the most gentle and profound ways.

What is Yin Yoga? 

Yin Yoga is a slow-paced and meditative style of yoga that targets the connective tissues, such as ligaments, tendons, and fascia, in the body. It involves holding passive poses for an extended period, typically ranging from one to five minutes or longer. Unlike more active styles of yoga, Yin Yoga focuses on relaxation and gentle stretching rather than muscular engagement. In Yin Yoga, the emphasis is on finding stillness and surrendering into each pose. The practice encourages practitioners to explore their edge and maintain a passive, non-striving approach. By holding poses for a longer duration, Yin Yoga promotes deep stretching and releases tension in the body. It also helps improve flexibility and joint mobility.

Yin Yoga incorporates elements of mindfulness and meditation, as practitioners are encouraged to observe physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions that arise during the practice. The slow pace and extended holds allow for introspection and the cultivation of inner awareness.Yin Yoga is suitable for all levels, including beginners, and can be particularly beneficial for those seeking a counterbalance to more active and dynamic practices. It offers an opportunity to slow down, tune in, and find stillness amidst the busyness of modern life. The practice supports relaxation, stress reduction, and a sense of balance and harmony within the body and mind.

Here, the goal isn’t to move through postures freely–postures could be held for three to five minutes, or even 20 minutes at a time. A yin practitioner is trying to access the deeper tissues, and many of the postures focus on areas that encompass a joint (such as the hips, sacrum, and spine, to name a few). 

What are the health benefits?

Yes, there are plenty of physical health benefits to practising yin yoga, but there are plenty of mental health ones, too. Below are some of the most popular, from stretching your connective tissue to reducing stress and anxiety.

1.Lengthens connective tissue

Think of your fascia like shrink wrap around your muscles and bones. When this connective tissue is underused, it becomes less elastic which can lead to aches and stiffness. “If you gently stretch connective tissue by holding a yin pose for a long time, the body will respond by making them a little longer and stronger—which is exactly what you want,” Paul Grilley a registered yoga teacher, explains.

2.Increases flexibility

Elastic fascia and mobile joints lead to better flexibility, which is one of the key benefits to a regular yin yoga practice. Because fascia needs at least 120 seconds of sustained stretching to actually affect its elasticity, yin is one of the most effective ways at improving your flexibility and releasing tension in tight spots thanks to its long holds.

3.Boosts your circulation

By breathing into each pose and targeting your deeper tissues and ligaments, you bring more oxygen into your body and to your muscles. This helps increase your blood flow and circulation.

4.Reduces stress levels

That calm you feel after a yin class is very real—studies have found yin yoga to have a significant impact on lowering stress and anxiety and reducing the risk of depression1. Plus, it activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which calms your body and slows your heart rate (rather than the autonomic nervous system, which triggers your fight-or-flight response).

How to practise?

Because yin yoga is practised in a non-heated room, it’s easy to do anywhere, anytime. The key is holding each pose for an extended length of time, typically for two to five minutes (or even longer!). As for the poses themselves, many yin yoga postures are seated or reclined poses, since they require your muscles to be fully relaxed. Think: butterfly pose, seated forward fold, or frog pose.While you’re in each pose, work to find stillness. Avoid fidgeting or moving around as best as you can in order to release fully into the posture. You want to push yourself to a point where you feel a deep sensation (known in yogi terms as “comfortable discomfort”) that helps stretch your fascia and ligaments. However, you should never stretch to the point of pain. 

Breath is an important component of yin yoga, too, because it gives you something to focus on in the more difficult and uncomfortable postures. In yin, you’ll breathe from your diaphragm with every inhale, feel your belly and ribs expand and with every exhale, pull your navel into your spine. Another good rule of thumb for deep breathing in a restorative yoga flow is to make your exhales twice as long as your inhales.

Another tip: Yin yoga is also a great place to make use of props for added support or lengthening. (After all, the more your bones are supported, the more your muscles can release.) Blocks can be used under your knees in a forward fold, for instance, while a bolster or rolled-up blanket can be placed under your seat during butterfly to ease tight hips.

Who is it good for?

Many of us live fast-paced, active lives, whether we’re going for a run, powering through an Ashtanga yoga class, or sweating it out on a spin bike. Yin yoga is the perfect balance to those intense exercises, providing a slower, more meditative counterpart to help you round out your workouts.

Yin yoga is also for anyone who is dealing with injuries or a chronic condition like arthritis or osteoporosis as this style in particular is a more restorative practice than other forms of exercise. Yin can also be a great starting point for anyone interested in meditation as it has such an internal focus.

At Shiva Samadhi Yoga Temple, we have Yin yoga sessions  and benefits. With its practice, sessions and our experiences, you will get the best instructions and sessions like nowhere else. Hurry up and book yourself a Yoga class.