4 Things You May Not Know About Yin Yoga
Are you looking for a slower yoga practice that feels more like a meditation than yoga? While you might be more accustomed to a fast-paced yoga practice, yin yoga is wonderfully restorative. Yang or fast-paced yoga practices focus more on your muscles while yin practices target that deep-connective tissues such as ligaments, joints, and bones.
Yin yoga is also a much slower yoga practice, which offers a nice change. In the practice, you focus on holding poses for longer periods of time, when compared to more traditional yoga practices.
Holding the poses for longer time frames helps stretch and lengthen those tissues that are rarely used. Yin yoga also teaches you how to breathe through any discomfort as you learn to sit with your thoughts. This also teaches you patience in addition to offering you a nice opportunity to meditate within the poses.
If you’ve never tried the practice of yin yoga, you will be pleasantly surprised at how refreshing it can be.
The goal of yin yoga isn’t about moving freely through the postures, but more about holding the postures for three-five minutes on average, allowing you to access the deeper tissues.
Many of the postures also focus on areas that encompass a joint, such as the hips, sacrum, or spine. So, what is it that sets yin yoga apart from more traditional practices of yoga? Let’s examine that now.
4 Amazing Health Benefits of Yin Yoga
1. Lengthens those connective tissues.
One of the best overall benefits of a practice like yin yoga is the fact that holding poses for a longer period of time helps lengthen connective tissues. When your connective tissue is underutilized, it loses its elasticity. Gently stretching the tissues by holding a yin pose, helps the connective tissues strengthen and lengthen. This is really one of the main benefits of yin yoga.
2. Increases flexibility.
As you stretch and hold poses, you also help increase your flexibility. Joints that are mobile, are also more flexible. Fascia, the system of connective tissues that encases our body parts binding them together, needs at least 120 seconds of sustained stretching to impact its elasticity. Yin yoga is by far one of the most effective ways to do this since the poses are comprised of gentle stretches. This also helps release tension in tight spots as you hold the poses for longer periods of time.
3. Helps boost circulation.
Yin yoga also helps boost circulation. When you breathe into each pose, you target the deeper tissue and the ligaments. This helps bring more oxygen into the body and to the muscles, helping increase the blood flow as well as circulation.
4. Can help significantly reduce stress levels.
One of the best overall benefits to yin yoga, apart from all these benefits, is the fact that slower yoga poses help reduce stress levels similar to meditation. The entire practice of yin yoga can actually feel like a meditation practice. Studies have shown that yin yoga can have a significant impact on lowering stress and anxiety, which might also lower the risk of depression.
Performing yin poses also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms and soothes the body slowing down the heart rate. This also helps you combat the fight or flight response, which is associated with the autonomic nervous system.
Other Benefits to Yin Yoga
Yin yoga poses are easy to perform and often very relaxing. By holding the poses for a specific period of time, you begin tapping into that feeling of strength and calmness. Poses that are great for yin yoga include poses such as the frog pose, butterfly pose and the seated forward fold to name a few.
As you hold each pose, you work to find that sense of stillness and inner peace within. The poses are the most beneficial with little to no fidgeting or movement, so they do take some practice if you are used to a faster-paced yoga practice.
The breath is an important aspect of yin yoga. Breathing deeply and slowly within each pose gives you something to focus on, especially within the deeper poses.
When performing deeper slower yoga poses, you also breathe deeper and slower, way down into the diaphragm. A good rule of thumb to follow in terms of deep breathing is to exhale twice as long as you inhale.
You can also use props during yin yoga such as bolsters and yoga straps to make the poses more comfortable. Yoga blocks or rolled blankets can also help if you need more support.
Yin yoga is a beautiful restorative yoga practice. It offers a great opportunity to slow down and relax. It is also a nice alternative to fast-paced yoga and exercise classes.
The fact that is also offers a meditative component is also an added bonus. If you have trouble meditating in the “normal way,” doing so in a yin yoga practice might be just what you need. Taking the time to hold poses not only strengthens the body, but it also strengthens the mind.
Yin yoga also offers an excellent opportunity to help you develop personal sustainability, which is all about striving to live a purposeful, meaningful life where all areas of your life are in perfect balance.
Yin yoga allows you to look at the practice of yoga a little bit differently, but it may not necessarily be comfortable the first few times you practice.
According to a leading teacher in Yin Yoga, Bernie Clark: “Yin Yoga is not meant to be comfortable; it will take you well outside your comfort zone. Much of the benefit of the practice will come from staying in this zone of discomfort, despite the mind’s urgent pleas to leave.”
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By Leslie Riopel