What is Yin Yoga?

Class practicing yin yoga

Many people have never heard of Yin Yoga because it is relatively new and focuses more on relaxing than high-intensity workouts. It was adapted from Hatha Yoga, which is utilized by monks in China. 

Yin Yoga is not as well known because Ashtanga Yoga, which is more fast-paced, is more commonly promoted in the West. Ashtanga Yoga is the more active type of yoga that goes through many exercises that are not held as long. 

Yin Yoga is a form of passive movement that focuses on utilizing a few exercises held for an extended time. Yin Yoga is often infused within Ashtanga Yoga. Some of the poses used in both are Corpse Pose, Cobra Pose, and Child’s Pose. All of these are good for stretching out before or after a session.

Yin Yoga opens the door to many benefits beyond flexibility, although that does come with practice. It can help promote relaxation and ease depression and anxiety. As yoga focuses heavily on the mind, it encourages better mental health.

Hatha Yoga

A type of classical Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga focuses on calming the mind to help the body balance itself and create relaxation in a person. Hatha Yoga is not just for any single age or gender. It can be practiced by anyone at any age, but it is still a good workout. 

Hatha Yoga can be subdivided many times to find the perfect type for you. There are three main types of Hatha Yoga: dynamic, static, and blended. This helps you decide what form of movement and workout you want. 

Yin Yoga vs. Yang Yoga

Yin and Yang sound familiar and almost inseparable as the West has been taught the Taoist idea of two constantly balanced forces. Much like the sun and moon or light and dark, Yin and Yang reference two very different things that work together to create one harmonious thing. This case presents Yin and Yang in yoga. 

Yang Yoga is primarily what is used when it comes to Western yoga. Yang Yoga is high intensity and extremely active. In Yang yoga, the poses usually last only 1-5 minutes. These poses target weight loss and physical activity. Yang Yoga sessions include more poses than Yin Yoga, as each pose is held for shorter durations. 

Yin Yoga poses last longer than Yang poses, ranging from five to ten minutes. Yin Yoga is more focused on flexibility than building muscle strength. Building muscle and losing weight is what Yang Yoga tends to achieve. Yin Yoga helps you achieve looseness through simple poses held for long increments.

Yin Yoga poses are usually not as straining as Yang Yoga poses. Child’s Pose or Corpse Pose are a few great examples of good poses that are not as active as some Yang Yoga poses, such as the Standing Wind pose or Warrior Squat pose. It still does provide a quality workout though it is considered a passive form in the yoga community.

Many studios will combine Yin and Yang to create YinYang Yoga. This is a mixture of both forms utilizing the more passive and active forms together. These classes typically have the first half of the session be Yin Yoga and finish the last half with Yang Yoga. 

Benefits of Yin Yoga 

There are always benefits when someone exercises habitually in any form. Yoga provides even more than just a physical benefit as it helps the mind and the body, even more so as it focuses on breathing.

Here are a few benefits that come from practicing Yin Yoga: 

  • Physical stimulation
  • Release of fascia
  • Help lower anxiety and ease depression
  • Allows the body to balance
  • Stress relief
  • Greater stamina
  • May increase circulation
  • Aids flexibility and mobility

While most of these benefits are pretty commonplace in yoga conversation. Terms like fascia are not used so often. Fascia refers to the tissue between your organs and internal body parts holding it together. Fascia tightens due to lack of use and causes severe pain. Yin Yoga helps loosen fascia. 

How Do You Practice Yin Yoga?

Yin Yoga is one of the simplest yoga forms to get into. It is widely available and does not have to be confined to a room or place of working out. You can even do some moves in bed! This makes it perfect for beginners or people who want to loosen up. 

There are three steps to practicing Yin Yoga: 

  1. Taking the pose to an appropriate position
  2. Resolving to remain still 
  3. Holding the pose long enough

These unique ingredients to yin yoga allow you to effectively practice Yin Yoga. Another vital factor is not to push yourself to the point of pain; simply go until you feel resistance. Yin Yoga is to open you up, not injure yourself. 

Yin Yoga Poses

Yin Yoga can encompass many different poses, also claimed by other types of yoga. The purpose of Yin Yoga is to relax, improve the flexibility of your muscles, and help balance yourself. These purposes allow Yin Yoga to be flexible; the severity of the pose and how long it is held all depend on the person performing it.

All this being said, here are a few of the common Yin Yoga poses and why you should do them.

Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose is standard and often used as a warm-up in most yoga forms. It focuses on stretching your back and loosening it up. It is very beneficial in relieving pain and can be done anywhere. 

Reclined Butterfly Pose

This pose focuses on your inner thigh and knees, allowing them to stretch and relieve tension. It can build up back muscles and even help to improve posture in some cases. Reclined Butterfly Pose can help relieve tension and strengthen the hips. 

Caterpillar Pose

Caterpillar Pose targets the hamstrings and spine. Because the Caterpillar Pose is a stretch that folds the upper half of your body over the stretched-out lower half, pressure is applied in the stomach or abdomen area, which in some cases can help with digestion. 

Dragon Pose

Dragon Pose is considered one of the more challenging poses in Yin Yoga. This pose helps with hip flexors, hip mobility, and quads; Dragon Pose can also benefit your kidneys, stomach, liver, spleen, and gallbladder. 

It is very beneficial for stretching out and opening up. There are many spin-offs of Dragon Pose that help you target something specific. Different types can also provide more or less of a challenge as needed. 

Swan Pose

The Swan Pose is very similar to the Dragon Pose and also helps stimulate the same places (stomach, liver, spleen, kidneys, and gallbladder). The swan pose also targets the outer hips and the back of your legs. Do not be afraid to use supports like pillows and blankets in a pose like this that is very stretching. 

Sphinx Pose

Sphinx Pose targets the lungs, shoulders, chest, abdomen, and spine. Sphinx Pose is used interchangeably with Cobra Pose, as they are the same thing. Like Child’s Pose and Corpse Pose, Sphinx Pose is often used in many different forms of yoga as it transcends just Yin Yoga and is frequently included in Yang Yoga. 

Sphinx Pose can be used as a warm-up or a cool-down. Some even use Sphinx Pose as both in one workout as it is so good for your body. 

Corpse Pose

Corpse Pose seems like the easiest yoga poses out there. However, when attempting the actual purpose, the Corpse Pose is much harder than it looks to be on the surface. It is highly focused on breathing and relaxing the mind. It consists of laying down and spreading out your arms and legs slightly. 

The goal is to ignore all the present things and focus on breathing. Corpse Pose is most often used to end yoga sessions as the last exercise meant to allow the body to rest and cool down.

Why Should I Do Yin Yoga?

Yin Yoga tends to be easier than other forms, which means pretty much anyone can do it. Yin Yoga does not require anyone to be flexible or physically fit or a specific size. It is easily adaptable, so much so that quite a few poses can be done from the comfort of your bed. 

Yin Yoga has been found to help regulate and circulate your body better. This form of yoga promotes circulation, movement, and relaxation, plus it can help with fertility, stress, insomnia, and even a few chronic pain conditions. It does not solve any problems, but it can stimulate better feelings and relaxation. 

Summary

Yin Yoga is an excellent yoga option for those who wish to improve their flexibility. It also helps to stay physically fit and mentally balanced. It provides a stress outlet. Yoga, in general, is something that can be done alone or in large groups, and either way still is beneficial.

Yin Yoga is a passive form of Hatha Yoga; it involves fewer poses than Yang Yoga or other face-paced yogas. Each pose is being held for longer increments of time. Common Yin Yoga poses include Corpse Pose, Child’s Pose, Sphinx Pose, and Dragon Pose.

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