Ready to gain the benefits of yin yoga poses? Not only will you feel the effects physically you will also feel a calming of the mind.
Yin yoga is not only a practice for the body it is a practice for your mental and emotional state of being. Yin yoga can be used as a time of meditation and reflection.
Sonya Matejko Yin Yoga Instructor talks about the internal process of yin yoga and how it can effect your mental and emotional states.
“While there are tons of physical benefits of yin yoga, I’d like to focus on the mental and emotional part of yin yoga. In yin, you hold poses for longer than one might be used to. Unlike restorative yoga, yin tends to be a deeper stretch and isn’t meant to be as “relaxing” as a restorative posture.
Yin yoga requires you to truly sit with the sensation you feel in the body, and I think it’s an incredible lesson for allowing yourself to do the same in other aspects of your life.
By staying still in a posture and bringing your awareness to where the sensation begins and ends in the body, it allows you to distract yourself from what might be coming up in the mind. The more you can focus on what’s happening in the body and use your breath to find a sense of comfort in the pose, the more you yourself will be able to find a sense of peace. Outside of being an incredibly nourishing practice, yin teaches you how to sit with yourself in stillness and becomes a practice for learning how to make doing less feel like more.. I love practicing and teaching yin because it forces us to slow down, connect to our bodies, and nurture ourselves. “
WHAT IS YIN YOGA?
Yin Yoga is a yogic practice that is designed to help you sit longer, and more comfortably, in meditation.
When you are implementing a Yin Yoga practice you are gently stretching connective tissue. This is generally around the joints (mainly the knees, pelvis, sacrum, and spine). This practice is great for those who suffer from scar tissue.
This style of yoga is a passive practice. That means that it involves passive stretching and relaxation. A Yin Yoga practice involves variations of seated and supine poses typically held for 3 to 5 minutes.
This can help you dramatically increase your passive flexibility as it allows you to stretch deeper layers of fascia.
WHAT IS YIN YOGA GOOD FOR?
Yin yoga is great to relax the body and the muscles. Most yogis feel a deep sense of peace and relaxation when practicing yin yoga. Yin yoga can be practiced by all ages and activity levels.
The long holds of yin yoga poses are great for releasing the muscles, resetting the nervous system and getting into connective tissues. These poses are generally held from 3-5 minutes.
“Our Connective tissue is materials made up of fibers forming a framework and support structure for body tissues and organs.”
These connective tissues include Tendons, fascial sheaths, joint capsules, and skin. Connective tissues embody plasticity. This means that they can adopt a new and greater length after a passive stretch.
HOW IS YIN YOGA DIFFERENT?
Yin yoga is different at the pace of the movements. While you may find many of the poses practiced in yin in your Hatha practice, they are generally seated poses that can be comfortably relaxed into for up to five minutes.
WHY SHOULD YOU PRACTICE YIN YOGA
CALMS THE PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM
By implementing a yin practice it allows us to work with our parasympathetic nervous system.
Activating the parasympathetic nervous system is beneficial for stress reduction, tension, blood pressure, sleep, digestion, and your immune function.
In a hard and fast society, we generally spend our days locked in sympathetic nervous system overdrive, constantly being pulled from one overly important deadline to another.
When you move deeper into the yin practice, the breath slows down significantly drawing you deeper and deeper into relaxation, mode. This is great for nourishing the body and mind. Especially since so many of us suffer from burn out these days. When we activate the parasympathetic nervous system through yin yoga, the internal organs get a chance to catch up on digestion, elimination of toxins, healing, and repairing.
CREATES HEALTHY BONES
It helps create healthy bones by providing active stimulation to the areas of the body that maintain the bone structure.
It limits the adverse effects of immobility and maintaining the contractility of the muscles. Allowing the yogi a greater range of motion in the joints that are being stretched.
INCREASES FEELINGS OF SUCCESS
Yes, you heard right practicing yoga with a group of peers is scientifically proven to stimulate greater feelings of success when other students notice their progress and tell them about it.
When we are performing passive stretches not only does it help our nonactivated muscles it also helps the active ones too! It does this by stretching the belly of the muscle thus elongating it.
DOES YIN YOGA HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT?
I would not call yin yoga a weight loss class. Most of the poses are sedentary and held for a very long time. In yin yoga poses you do not get your heart rate up, unlike a Hatha practice.
IS IT NORMAL TO HURT AFTER YIN YOGA?
Yes sometimes after stretching we can experience delayed onset muscle soreness. This usually comes on within 12-24 hours.
DOMS: DELAYED ONSET MUSCLE SORENESS
When we apply pressure to areas of the body that the blood supply is insufficient to the muscle we release lactic acid. This brings fresh oxygenated blood into your muscles that you have been performing the stretches on.
If the muscles are very sore where it is affecting your range of motion you may have gone too deep in your stretch and pulled or strained a muscle.
As a rule of thumb when stretching the lower body if 8 is pain you want to be a 6 or 7, for long holds such as a yin yoga practice you want to scale down to a 4.
Using a hot and cold compress will help you with muscle soreness. The heat relaxes the muscle while the cool helps with inflammation.
Rest your muscles. Remember Rome was not built in a day and neither is your flexibility.
You can take ibuprofen for inflammation.
Increase your protein intake this helps repair and rebuild your muscles.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HATHA AND YIN YOGA?
The main difference is the pace of the class. Hatha can be practiced fast or slow depending on what your intentions are for the practice. For instance if you want to build heat in the body you would want a fast practice. If you want to focus on getting the poses right you would have a mid-paced alignment practice.
Yin yoga is always slow-paced with poses that can be comfortably held for an extended period of time.
Shaw McPherson a yoga instructor specializing in yoga for emotional trauma says”Yin Yoga is one form of Hatha Yoga. Yin Yoga focuses on connecting ligaments and joints in a passive way by holding poses for 3-5 minutes. This allows for a more reflective or contemplative practice to process thoughts and emotions.
Using the breath, the yogi can relax into the pose as opposed to engaging or stretching muscles. Hatha yoga refers to any yoga style with poses or asanas. Some other variations are Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Restorative to name a few.
While all yoga styles can help with stress, anxiety, and depression, Yin yoga allows the yogi a safe place and the time to observe these emotions or states and release them. “
Catch A Class With Shaw
CAN YOGA TONE YOUR BODY?
Absolutely! Yoga is an active flexibility practice. Active flexibility is the practice of actively using your muscles to draw you deeper into your yoga pose.
You can relax into yin yoga practice with the video below. We finish with a short guided meditation to seal our practice and leave in you in a state of serenity.
Yin Yoga Poses Video Guide For Beginners
Yin Yoga Poses For Beginners Written Guide
This pose gently opens the chest and neutralizes the spine.
- Placing a pillow or blanket underneath the belly
- Bring your arms to a right angle.
- Gently place your head to one side.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Laying flat on your belly.
- Bring your hands out and in front of you.
- Engage your palms and push the body backward.
- Taking the knees wider than hip-width apart.
- Bring the hips all the way down to kiss the ankles.
- Feel a gentle stretch through the thoracic, and the lumbar spine.
- Laying on your back face up towards the sky.
- Bring your legs up to a right angle against the wall.
- Allow the legs to rest and allow the rest of your body to let go.
- With your heels to your sit bones.
- Gently allow the knees to fall to one side of the body.
- Laying on your back let your limbs relax.
- Allow your whole body to be supported by the ground beneath you.
- Allow the breath to slow.
- To stop the racing thoughts simply focus on the breath coming in and out of the nose.
Yin Yoga Poses Cheat Sheet
Do you have a yin yoga practice? I would love to hear from you. Drop your reply in the comments below.
I have also attached some luxe and less yoga bolsters for your yin practice.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Vanessa Barthelmes -- Hatha Yoga Teacher, Aerial Instructor & Wellbeing Lover.
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