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Yin is IN : But Why? Yin Yoga and its Benefits

Original Piece by Avani | 2016

There are conflicting ideas on Yin Yoga and it’s placed in the world of Yoga. As we dive more into the anatomy of Yin you will be left to decide for yourself, based on practice and experience, what is truly best for your unique body. Whatever you decide, there is no doubt that all yogis agree the pace of lifestyle today is creating an ever-growing need to slow down.  One of the many benefits of Yin Yoga is its meditative quality.  Where Yang Yoga provides barely enough time to set up, breath, check alignment and then find mental focus…in Yin Yoga there is nothing but time.  The challenge and blessing become very mental.  Patience is a challenge…and will grow through Yin practice!    

The practice of Yin asks practitioners to hold poses from 45 seconds to 2 minutes for beginners or 2 minutes to 10 minutes for more experienced yogis.  Within that time we can feel increased flexibility developing due to the stress the long holds create on our connective tissues.  This also provides an increase in circulation to the joints.  As an added bonus there are several minutes where we are invited to drop into stillness and silence; an invitation we are not allotted very frequently in our very Yang lives. 

Yin Yoga also asks us to feel our body in a new and different way than Hatha Yoga has trained us.  Due to this (the feel and intention being so different) the Sanskrit names are dropped and new Yin English names have been adopted.  Where Hatha asks us to “engage” “lengthen” or “activate”, Yin Yoga asks us to drop the efforting and “soften” “surrender” and “turn in”. 

So what are some of the benefits of this controversial practice?

The list below is far from complete.  Each unique body will benefit in different ways just as it will need to modify in different ways.  Observe within yourself, through your own yin practice, so you will best know how to describe the blessings that you feel in your practice to your students.

  • Encourages stillness: calms and balances the mind and body

  • Releases deep-held physical tension

  • Stress and anxiety reduction

  • Increased circulation

  • Improved flexibility in joints and connective tissue

  • Lubrication and protection of the joints

  • Fascial release

  • Greater joint mobility

  • Revitalizes the yin tissues

  • Cultivate gratitude for your body

  • Releases deep-held tension

  • Become more resilient to the emotional and energetic effects of stress

  • Tap into the parasympathetic nervous system

  • Better ability to sit for meditation

  • Helps bring awareness to our need to slow down.

  • Development of self-compassion

  • Development of patience

  • Learn to sit with your emotions

  • Develop greater mental focus

  • Develop and prime for your meditation practice

  • Balance to the internal organs and improved flow of chi, Qi or prana through meridian stimulation

  • Increases mobility in the body, especially the joints and hips

  • Help with TMJ and migraine

  • Ultimately you will have a better Yang practice. Yin Yoga serves as a complement to all “yang” practices.

  • Cultivate balance on the mat and in your life

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