Benefits of Yin Yoga
I often tell athletes I work with that Yoga is the secret to performing better and recovering faster. For already practicing Yogis I say Yin Yoga is the secret to a stronger yoga practice (that, and more core work). Anyone can reap the benefits of Yin Yoga. If you are a runner, cyclist or live in a city where you do a lot of walking, you may have tight hips. Conversely, if you sit at a desk all day or spend a lot of time in a car you may also have tight hips and a stiff lower back, but for different reasons. Over training and lack of mobility can produce similar results, but Yin Yoga can help relieve these conditions. What is Yin Yoga anyway? Here are some benefits of Yin Yoga and how it can help you.
What is Yin Yoga?
Yin Yoga is a passive practice where the muscles are relaxed. It can be described as feminine and cooling. Compared to the more active, dynamic Yang classes such as Vinyasa, where the muscles are engaged and the body is being heated, Yin gets more into the connective tissue, joints, fascia, ligaments and tendons. The emphasis is between the navel and the knees. Most of the postures focus on the low back, hips, and sometimes the shoulders and are done while seated, supine (on your back) or prone (on your stomach). A posture like Downward Facing Dog may only be used as a transition. Postures are are held with your muscles relaxed for 3-5 minutes. The key is to let go, release and allow yourself to go deep into these areas that may have become stiff and immobile through time.
Yin Yoga can be deep and for some people quite uncomfortable, going outside your comfort zone mentally and physically. Even though the practice is described as cooling, when you go deep into areas such as the hips, a lot of energy and heat can be released. Holding postures for this length of time is not only physically challenging, but can bring up emotional responses such as anxiety, anger or even sadness. Do not be alarmed if you experience tears during your Yin session. The body maintains and holds on to our experiences in life and this deep practice has a way of bringing those experiences to the surface. The art becomes confronting these experiences and then letting them go – often easier said than done.
Benefits of Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga can be done at least once or twice a week to balance out your Yang practice. If you incorporate Yin at least once a week, I guarantee you will see results in your other athletic endeavours and find more ease in seated meditation. Through time your hips will become more relaxed, your low back will feel a sense of relief and you will be able to go deeper in your Yang Yoga practice. Even if you don’t experience existing tightness in these areas, your body will overall be more balanced physically and energetically.
Think of it as cross training for your body, mind and spirit!
*Note – Just as we can over do our Yang activities, we can over do the Yin practice as well.
Twice a week is great, but certainly no more than 3 times per week. It’s just not necessary.