What is Yin Yoga?
Yin yoga is a slow paced style of yoga. Classes involve mostly passive floor poses, often supported by a variety of props.
Poses are typically held for 2-5 minutes and help target connective tissue, joints and fascia flexibility, unlike more ‘yang’ styles of yoga which generally target muscle flexibility.
Different Yin yoga poses stimulate and remove blockages in the myofascial meridians in the body. This helps balance the body’s internal organs and systems.
Yin is a relaxing but challenging practice. We target a tolerable level of sensation or ‘stress’ in the targeted areas (usually the joints or skeletal structure) with each pose, with the effect of deep release.
How is it different to other Yoga?
Yin Yoga primarily works on the joints, the connective tissue and fascia in the body. It also stimulates the body’s Meridian layer and the organs. Yang Yoga primarily works on the muscles in the body, to build strength, tone, flexibility and balance.
The key difference to more Yang (active or dynamic) yoga, is that we encourage softening and relaxing of muscles and ‘releasing’ deeply into the pose with the support of props where necessary, so we can ‘hang’ in the joints for a while, to stretch the connective & fascial tissue, and stimulate the organs of the body. In Yang yoga styles the muscles are generally encouraged to be active and engaged, there is more active and dynamic movement, and poses are held for shorter periods.
In Yin yoga the muscles are required to relax around the connective tissue in order to get a stretch. Many of the postures used in Yang yoga are practiced with a different emphasis in Yin, so these asanas have different names when practised in a Yin style to distinguish between their differing intentions.
Who is Yin For?
Yin is suitable for almost everyone, so long as you’re healthy, currently injury free and have a good level of mobility. Yin is suitable for all levels, but if you are recovering from illness or carrying an injury, restorative yoga would be a safer place to start.
Yin is a great practice if you need to slow down and calm the mind, and it is considered a Mindfulness Practice.
You’ll feel a deep sense of release and relaxation after a Yin class, and it is a great compliment to other forms of yoga and exercise, as it works on different parts of the body.
Yin is really suited to:
- Anyone looking for a deeply relaxing passive yoga class, that still has a degree of challenge
- Regular Yang Yogis looking for balance in your practice and an opportunity to slow things down
- Anyone wishing to build Mindfulness skills, take time to slow down and soften
- Athletes, fitness enthusiasts, sporty types wishing to support joint health and mobility
Some of the benefits of Yin yoga are:
- Calming and balancing to the mind and body
- Regulates energy in the body
- Increases mobility in the body, especially the joints and hips
- Lowering of stress levels (no one needs that)
- Greater stamina
- Better lubrication and protection of joints
- More flexibility in joints & connective tissue
- Release of fascia throughout the body
- Help with TMJ and migraines
- Deeper Relaxation
- A great coping for anxiety and stress
- Better ability to sit for meditation
- Supports the Organs and promotes general health and wellbeing
What’s the Difference between Yin Yoga & Restorative Yoga?
Yin and Restorative Yoga styles are unfortunately often confused. What they have in common is that both use lots of props to support the body, and both are mainly floor based practices (involving sitting or lying postures). That’s really where the similarity ends.
Restorative Yoga is an extremely gentle practice and the aim is to prop the body with lots of supports, so it can completely relax, and the muscles can feel safe to release. The aim in most postures is to remove any sensation or feeling of stretching, so the experience is one of blissful relaxation. The only real effort in a Restorative class is in transitioning from one posture to another! As such Restorative Yoga is suitable for all levels, including those who are recovering from illness or injury.
A Yin sequence, whilst being extremely relaxing in its outcome, can be (depending on the teacher’s approach) quite a challenging class in its process. A strong degree of sensation or ‘stress’ is targeted in the joints, and the practitioner is encouraged to explore their individual edge, and find the point where they can relax or soften, into and around, the sensation they are experiencing, with the aim of going deeper. Although passive in the holding of posture for extended periods of time, there is generally a degree of effort required in each asana. As such it is not recommended for anyone with poor mobility or recovering from illness or injury.
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