What Is Yin Yoga?

by Shirin Mehdi

Yin Yoga – sounds interesting, right? Almost like an Indo-Chinese term. Well, at the outset, it is, and while the practice itself may seem simple, it is not quite easy. This form of yoga aims to work deeply in the body.

This practice operates on the connective tissues – the joints, ligaments, the deep fascia network in the body, and the bones. Although it does work on the muscles, its primary focus is the connective tissues.

In general, Yin Yoga improves the energy flow all throughout the body, making sure your tissues, organs, and muscles are super healthy. Sounds intense? It is! Read on to know more.

Yin Yoga 101

  1. What Is Yin Yoga?
  2. History And Origin Of The Practice
  3. The Philosophy Of Yin Yoga
  4. The Principals Of Yin Yoga
  5. The Benefits Of Yin Yoga
  6. Yin Yoga In The Present Age

What Is Yin Yoga?

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Yin Yoga takes a more meditative approach, going much deeper than the physical focal points of Yang-related practice. It is a proven fact that as you age, your joints become less flexible. So Yin Yoga makes sure the health and flexibility are maintained. The health of your connective tissue is more important than you think it is because many don’t realize the deterioration until it happens, and it is too late by then.

This kind of yoga is quite an intimate practice, and it requires you to delve within yourself and experience emotions, sensations, and feelings that you don’t otherwise notice in fast-paced yoga.

This method of yoga is also particularly useful for those who are dealing with a deep sense of trauma and pain, eating disorders, addictions, and anxiety.

Yin Yoga invokes mental stability while making you physically strong, and teaches you to calm your mind and sit still.

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History And Origin Of The Practice

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Although Yin Yoga poses came into play only in the 1970s, techniques closely related to the practice, like holding stretches for a long time and others, have been practiced in China and Taiwan for almost 2000 years now. Yin Yoga, also called Daoist Yoga or Dao Yoga, is a modern day version of this age-old practice that Taoist priests taught Kung Fu students, along with breathing techniques.

A martial arts expert and Taoist Yoga teacher called Paulie Zink founded the Yin Yoga. This method of yoga got popular, though, because of Yin Yoga developers – Sarah Powers, Paul Grilley, and Bernie Clark.

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The Philosophy Of Yin Yoga

Yin Yoga focuses on feelings, emotions, connective tissues, and it is a meditative style of Yoga – all of this has been established. But wouldn’t it be interesting to know the philosophy it is based on? It will probably make you appreciate this style of yoga more.

Yin And Yang

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This practice is based on the concept of Yin and Yang, which also springs from the Taoist teachings. Yin and Yang are basically all about forces that are opposite, yet complementary.

Yin signifies stability. It enhances the hidden aspects and the stationary elements of things. Yang is an ever-changing energy that represents constant motion. Some examples of Yin and Yang are calm-excited, hot-cold, and down-up. When it comes to our body, the connective tissues represent the Yin, and the blood and the muscles represent the Yang.

Yin Yoga sequence works on the connective tissues, so the asanas are much slower, and each pose and stretch is held for a longer period. This makes the connective tissues stronger. When you hold a stretch for a long time to strengthen the connective tissues, the muscles around it also must stretch and relax. Therefore, all asanas are not safe to practice in this method. There is a different set of asanas with different names formulated for this practice.


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Yin Yoga also improves and enhances the energy flow in the body. This energy flow is also called Qi (pronounced Chi). This energy, according to Chinese medicine, flows through the meridian pathways. It is said that the connective tissues create these meridians. When the Qi is enhanced, the health of the organs is also improved. Therefore, immunity and emotional well-being also improve.

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The Principals Of Yin Yoga

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These are crucial pointers to keep in mind when you practice Yin Yoga.

1. Find An Appropriate Edge

You need to move gently into the pose, using your mind to judge how far you should go. This form of yoga is not about an asana looking good, or about any result. You just have to keep listening to your body as you strive to move deeper into a pose. Your aim must be to look for the right amount of intensity that strikes a balance between space and sensation. Relax, and explore your body layer by layer, as you delve into your deepest resting place.

2. Remember To Be Still

You need to make sure you don’t fidget when you get into a pose. You should not change a pose to intensify it. If you do that, you will escape the sensations. Just release your body into a certain shape. If you can’t do it physically, just imagine yourself doing it. In doing so, you will automatically relax the muscles around the connective tissues you want to work on.

Also, the fidgeting is quite unsafe, and can cause injury.

3. Hold For A While

When you practice Yin Yoga, each asana must be held for at least one to three minutes by beginners, and up to five minutes by the advanced practitioners. Using a timer to help you do so is ideal. When you don’t have to look at a clock too many times, you relax. Holding a pose teaches you how to react in a difficult situation.

4. Release The Pose With Care

Your joints are vulnerable when you hold a certain pose for a long time in the practice. This is not necessarily safe, especially if you either get in or out of the asana aggressively. When you move out of the poses, make sure to use your hands to support your legs as they help in contracting the muscles you have been working on. It might help to do a quick counterpose after you finish the asana in question. For example, when you do the Saddle Pose, ensure that you stretch and engage your quads when you are done with it.

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The Benefits Of Yin Yoga

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These are some amazing benefits of Yin Yoga.

  1. It not only improves flexibility in the body but also enhances blood circulation.
  2. It balances and calms the mind and the body.
  3. It helps reduce anxiety and stress.
  4. It induces fascial release.
  5. It also induces deep relaxation.
  6. Your joints become more mobile.
  7. The meridians are stimulated, and therefore, organs are balanced.
  8. Stamina is enhanced.
  9. Joints are protected and lubricated.
  10. This form of yoga also helps you sit still for meditation.
  11. When you master Yin Yoga, your Yang practice is also enhanced.

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Adaptation Of Yin Yoga In The Present Age

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In a typical Yin Yoga class, you will find yourself doing a series of long-held floor poses that work on the lower parts of the body, which include the lower spine, the pelvis, the inner thighs, and the hips. These are the areas where the connective tissues are concentrated.

Mostly, the asanas in a Yin Yoga class are passive, but some Yin asanas also contain Yang elements. When you practice these asanas, the muscles are also relaxed. This avoids the muscles spasms that usually happen when you engage them for a long period.

So should you practice Yin Yoga? Well, most definitely! A combination of Yin and Yang will make your practice a well-rounded one. Yin Yoga is deep, and it will tap a certain part of you that only this practice can. You will enhance your Yang practice, and will see the path to a healthier life and a great version of YOU!

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Shirin Mehdi

A jack of many trades and a master of some, Shirin is a writer, a fashion designer, and a chef by her own acclaim. She loves food, and though she might want to call herself a great cook, she just falls short of seasoning. She also loves Yoga, and has extensive knowledge about the postures of the asanas. Always muddled up between traditions and modernism, she thinks she would have been a better fit in the vintage era. She loves life and believes in living it up to the fullest.