Last updated on December 2nd, 2023.
Yin Yoga is a slow-paced kind of yoga used to increase awareness and develop mindfulness. Yin Yoga is based on Chinese philosophies and Taoist principles. Both believe that by stretching and deepening into poses, we are opening blockages in our bodies, allowing the Qi (energy) to flow freely through our bodies. Unlike other forms of yoga, Yin Yoga is slow-paced, allowing you to sit with your breath and thoughts in one posture. This helps you breathe through any discomfort and body sensations.
Yin Yoga contrasts with other forms of yoga since it’s taught calmly and gently. It involves holding postures for between three minutes to upto twenty minutes. Of course, you’ll find that more advanced yogis are the ones who can hold these poses for up to twenty minutes. Usually, Yin Yoga classes hold poses between three minutes to five minutes. The goal here is to open up your muscles and body and to breathe as you allow your Qi to flow from wherever blockages have been created.
What makes Yin Yoga different from Hatha?
Hatha Yoga is the foundation of all modern practices. The primary function of Hatha Yoga is to balance the assertive and passive energies present in every living thing. Hatha yoga is gentler than Vinyasa Yoga but more physically demanding than Yin Yoga. Hatha Yoga moves you through a series of poses involving significant stretching. Hatha Yoga is also an excellent tool for building muscles without over-bulking. Hatha Yoga is also great for stiff lubricating joints if practiced regularly over a long period.
On the other hand, Yin Yoga focuses on your fascia and other subtle energy channels to release any tension that has built up in the body. Yin Yoga targets muscles that we rarely work to bring about deeper and lasting harmony between the mind, body, and spirit. Yin Yoga concentrates on meditation, breathing, and stretching. When performing Yin Yoga, you stretch your muscles to the maximum for an extended period allowing increased circulation within the body and creating new fibers.
While Hatha Yoga focuses on increasing flexibility and stamina, Yin Yoga focuses on restoring your body and improving your mental state of being. If you’re looking to build lean muscles, Hatha Yoga is the way to go, but if you want to eliminate all the stress from work and stretch your muscles, then you need Yin Yoga.
What does Yin Yoga focus on?
When in a Yin Yoga class, you’ll notice that you will hold poses for longer and breathe through the sensations that arise. Yin Yoga targets the deepest tissues in our bodies. These include connective tissues like ligaments, joints, bones, the deep fascia networks of the body, and the meridians. Most Yin Yoga poses are floor bound and target the lower body, such as the hips, inner thighs, pelvis, and lower spine. These body areas contain many connective tissues, which this type of yoga stretches. Yin Yoga has many benefits and you can read more of these benefits in the five things Yin Yoga does for the body.
Is Yin Yoga easier than other yoga styles?
Just because Yin Yoga is slow doesn’t mean it’s easier. Yin Yoga is a deep practice of surrender and presence. Mentally it can be a lot because it shows that you’re ready to do the deep work that needs to get done. Physically, Yin Yoga can be much more challenging than a yang practice. Holding a posture for some time can be a lot of work. You’ll realize that discomfort sets in one to two minutes into holding the pose. However, this is necessary since it contributes to the transformative effects of Yin Yoga on the fascia and connective tissues.
Even though Yin Yoga may seem more accessible than other types of yoga, it’s not. It takes lots of determination to hold onto various poses, even when you feel like getting out of them. Concentrating on the breath and nothing more for three minutes, even when your body is begging you to stop, is also not easy. Yin Yoga isn’t easier than other forms of yoga because it also has its challenges.
7 essential Yin Yoga poses for beginners
Yin Yoga is perfect even for beginners. One mustn’t worry about the lack of flexibility because this practice helps you build more flexibility. This yoga practice, like every other one, includes props to help support your body in areas where you feel more pain than stretch. Here are some essential Yin Yoga poses for beginners.
1. Child's pose
Start this pose on your hands and knees. Take your knees apart as wide as your yoga mat, and let your big toes touch. Sit back on your heels and lower your chest to the mat. Walk your hands forward and rest your forehead on the mat. You can bend your elbows to release any tension created in the neck and shoulders. You can also choose to reach your arms behind you with palms facing up.
2. Ragdoll or dangling
You start this pose standing, then take your legs hip-width apart. Bend your knees and bend forward deeply so that your stomach rests on your thighs. You can hold onto the opposite elbows and let your upper body hang.
Start this pose from a seated position. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. You can let your knees fall to the sides in a diamond shape. You can then lean your arms forward to feel a nice stretch. If you can go a bit lower, you can place a block on your feet and then lean forward to rest your forehead on the blocks. In case of knee pain, place blocks underneath each knee for support.
While laying on your stomach, extend your legs behind with the tops of your feet on the floor. Bend your elbows resting your forearms on the mat with your palms flat on the floor, fingers spread wide. Position your elbows a little in infront of your shoulders. Lift your chest and roll your shoulders back and down.
While seated on your mat, straighten your legs infront of you. Bend over your legs, letting your head hang. You can make this easier by sitting on a cushion or placing a bolster under your knees if you have tight hamstrings. Alternatively, if you have tight hamstrings, you can bend your knees to a point where you feel a comfortable stretch.
6. Happy baby
Lying flat on your back, bend both legs (while they’re apart), bringing your feet above your shoulders. Bring your hands to the side of your feet, hold your soles, or even hold onto each big toe. Flex your toes, pushing your soles towards the ceiling, and gently pull your feet to the ground. Keep your lower back and head on the mat, and soften your shoulders away from your ears. You can grab your ankles or calves if it’s a little hard to hold your feet.
7. Spinal twist
Laying flat on your back with your legs straightened infront of you, hug your knees to your chest. You can then open your arms in a T-shape with palms facing down. Relax your knees to the left side. Turn your head to face the right side of the room. Then do the same on the other side.
Where can I learn more about Yin Yoga?
You can find more Yin Yoga resources in Mind is The Master. Whatever it is you need this information for, you’ll get it there. You can look for Yin Yoga teacher training courses; Yin Yoga retreats, and so much more. If you’ve just discovered this type of yoga and are still a beginner, you’ll find all the resources you need for your learning. All forms of yoga are essential for spiritual, physical, and mental development. Yoga is more than just the asanas, and that’s something you’ll learn more as you practice and even study.