THE BENEFITS OF YIN YOGA

Yin Yoga is a replenishing and slow-paced style of yoga that has been making its way into yoga and fitness studios providing a much needed balance to our hyper-stimulating modern lifestyles. The benefits of Yin Yoga are numerous, but its overarching importance today is that it re-teaches us how to be in natural states of rest, reflection and recuperation.

A Yin Yoga practice is marked by three major components:

  • The majority of postures are seated or lying down, often supported by props, aimed at finding a healthy edge of sensation

  • In most poses, the muscles of the body are relaxed, which applies healthy stress to the myofascia-tendon complexes, ligaments, bones and fascia

  • Poses are held for extended periods of time, anywhere from 2-10 minutes

The name “Yin Yoga” is descriptive rather than representing the teachings of a guru or a brand of yoga. Yin postures are as old as yoga itself and are also practiced in Taoist martial arts. At present, Yin Yoga has some luminary teachers including Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers who, collectively, coined the style of yoga called “Yin Yoga.”

To understand “yin” we have to know the relative term “yang.” Anything can be described in terms of yin or yang and from the adjectives below it can be quickly noted how yang-oriented our culture is in the United States and many other Western countries.

Yin
Still Downward Hidden Cool Stead Reflective Pause Listening Acceptance Soft Boundless Fertility Surrender Contentment Stability

Yang
Moving Upward Exposed Warm Dynamic Expressive Act Communicating Manipulation/Resistance Hard Bound (Boundaries, guides, goals) Germination Effort Ambition Change

A Yin Yoga practice is an opportunity to cultivate the yin qualities within us which, just like yang qualities, are an essential part of our human nature. Sadly, for many of us, our interior landscapes are strained due to overwhelming external stimulus and cultural pressure to achieve prestige, affluence and external validation. Yin Yoga is more than a practice for physical health and longevity, it is a container within which we reconnect and attend to our inner world, taking a much needed break from social demands, screens and performance.

Luckily, because our body, psycho-emotional systems and spirit are interwoven, we have the opportunity within our yoga practices to attend to our entire being. In the relative stillness of a yin practice, there is ample space to listen deeply to our own systems, to soften and rediscover our inner wisdom.

Yin Yoga is a compliment to yang styles of yoga providing nourishment for different parts of the body, mindstates and types of connection. Yang yoga is an umbrella term for pretty much everything under the sun except meditation, Yoga Nidra and Restorative Yoga (this is a different style of yoga than Yin Yoga). Yang yoga is anything dynamic, that uses muscular engagement and cardiovascular stimulation. Yang yoga includes, but is not limited to: Vinyasa, Bikram, Ashtanga, Forrest, Slow Flow, etc. Some styles of yoga like Iyengar and Hatha have components of both yang and yin and prescribe a holistic practice.

We can view the benefits of Yin Yoga in two different categories: physical health and psycho-emotional wellbeing:

Physical Benefits of Yin Yoga

  • Yin Yoga applies healthy stress to the myofascia-tendon complexes, ligaments, bones and fascia resulting in stronger, more durable and resilient tissues

  • Maintains and reclaims spaciousness in the joints

  • Improves blood circulation and synovial fluid in the joints

  • Unwinds the limiting patterns held in the fascia

  • Rehabilitates both joint mobility and strength after an injury or a sedentary season of life

  • Facilitates a breakdown of scar tissue

  • Re-expands the fascia slowing down and potentially reversing the aging processes that “shrink wrap” the body into limited ranges of motion

  • Certain postures promote bone density

  • Improves body awareness

  • Rests the muscular body, speeding up recovery and replenishing energy stores

  • Yin poses stimulate the meridians (energetic channels) in the body promoting organ health

Psycho-emotional Benefits of Yin Yoga

  • Yin Yoga is a container for mindfulness practices that can improve mental concentration

  • Rests the eyes (which are overused) and awakens the other senses of hearing, taste, smell and touch

  • Improves introspective abilities and self-awareness

  • Promotes resting in the parasympathetic nervous system (resting and digesting)

  • Helps reduce stress responses

  • Creates a container for breathing techniques that balance the nervous system and left and right sides of the brain

  • Allows the emotional body to be felt and heard promoting healthy emotional flux

  • Interrupts reactive speech, thoughts and actions

  • Changes your relationship with discomfort and improves resilience

  • Trains the psycho-emotional system in acceptance and contentment

Join Caitlin Rose for a deeply replenishing Yin Yoga practice on Sundays at 7pm at Better Buzz and look out for seasonal Yin and Essential Oils workshops.