In a Yin yoga practice the focus is on keeping the joints mobile. Most styles of yoga (and forms of Hatha yoga) are yang in nature. This means they focus on improving the flexibility as well as the strength of muscle tissues.
Yin yoga is a slow and static, passive practice whereby the response of the body can be very strong. Postures and are held for an extended period of time, anything from 2 to 5 minutes, and stretch and stimulate the connective tissue rather than the muscles.
The beginning practitioner will experience the impact of a posture as ‘one big stretch or compression’, while over time one will learn to distinguish between muscle tissue and connective tissues and the impact on the skeleton. Regular and persistent practice will result in an increased flexibility of the hips, the pelvis (with an emphasis on the sacrum and the SI joint) and the (lower) spine.
Yin yoga and meditation
Yin yoga is experienced by many as having a calming and meditative effect.
A great advantage of Yin yoga is the fact that it can bring deep stillness to your mind and body. It can be practiced to counterbalance every active or dynamic kind of movement, i.e. a dynamic style of yoga. It also compensates for long term or limited physical work strain and its consequences, i.e. a sitting working position based on working behind a desk / with a computer, or working as a driver. A regular Yin yoga practice is a great ‘steeping stone’ if you wish to build up a meditation practice in (physical) stillness.
Yin yoga postures
Whether forward or backward bending, twisting or upside down, all postures are held for up to 5 minutes at a time, with the muscles as relaxed as possible and as deep as the joint’s range of motion will allow.
In return this enables you to reach for other, and sometimes more deeply embedded, tissues in your body, in particular the connective tissue. Most Yin yoga postures focus on the joints in the pelvic area and the spine, in particular the lower spine and sacrum. As you might recognize personally, these are the areas that cause problems to a huge group of the population. Practising Yin yoga postures on a regular basis might relieve some of your complaints and teach your body to grow stronger in those areas, adjusting to the stresses of this practice and you will feel better in daily life.
As we most of all target the connective tissue while practicing yoga the ‘Yin way’, our goal is to gain more joint mobility and flexibility . A great side effect is the activation of connective tissue to increase immunity and a quick recovery from physical complaints like back and hip issues.
Yin yoga for beginners
Yin yoga is suitable for beginners as the postures are fairly accessible and do not require a lot of the techniques otherwise used in other forms of yoga. We highly advise everybody to give Yin yoga a try by joining a class for trial. An introduction to Yin yoga can also be arranged in one-on-one session. Only then will you find out how you can get the most out of this “quiet practice”!