One of my favorite classes to teach is “Yin Yoga.” One of the questions I get most is “what is Yin Yoga?”
I remember the first time I tried Yin Yoga. It was during my teacher training course and another student was “testing out” by teaching a class to everyone. While most of us did a typical flow class, Nan wanted to introduce us to Yin. I had never practiced Yin in any of the studios I had practiced, but I wanted to know everything about yoga, so I was eager to try something new. When we were 15 minutes into the class, I knew I was in love and would be teaching this style in my own studio.
In short, Yin Yoga is a slow paced yoga class, usually based around floor poses, held for 3-5 minutes.
If you’re new to yoga or the style of Yin, you might try holding poses for 1-3 minutes, and work your way up to 5 minutes. Often, teachers will use an egg timers to teach a class, and this is completely acceptable in your private practice as well!
While its roots are founded in India and China, Yin is a relatively new practice (1970’s) to the western world. The practice has spread to Europe recently as well.
What I loved about the practice was how much space I found in my body as I opened up in each pose. As the muscles stretch, it is possible to move deeper into the pose.
Yin concentrates on the areas of the body with connective tissue between muscles and joints (these are the tendons and ligaments). Yin also releases the “fascia” layer of connective tissue. The fascia layer is what holds our body together and gives us our shape (so it’s pretty important!) As we work with the fascia layer, we increase the flexibility of the body. One of the most common reasons people turn to yoga is for increased flexibility!
In addition to the physical benefit of stretching our muscles and become more flexible, Yin Yoga also quiets the most important organ in our body, the brain. During your practice, the brain is not being bombarded with messages, information, ads, conversation, etc. The mind can take the time it needs to be still.
Benefits of Yin Yoga include:
- Increased circulation
- Calming effects on mind and body
- Energy movement through the body
- Improved joint mobility
No matter what benefit you seek from Yin Yoga, it’s worth giving it a try! You might be amazed at how much your body opens up as you move deeper into the pose. You also might be surprised at how relaxing and calming the practice is for the mind!