Yin yoga is a beautifully delicious practice that helps us heal both our heart and our mind. It allows us time to sit within ourselves, to just be still, and to notice what the body and mind are telling us.
It differs enormously from Vinyasa yet is the perfect complement! By having a Yin and a Yang yoga practice, you are creating a beautiful balance within your energy systems and a unique sense of calmness you will feel both physically and mentally.
Yin and Yang tissues respond differently to being exercised. Muscles require heat and movement to release in a Yang practice like Vinyasa, while connective tissue responds best to the long steady holds within a Yin practice. Here are nine reasons to practice Yin yoga regularly.
1. Yin increases your flexibility.
Yin yoga stretches and targets both the deep connective tissues between the muscles, and the fascia throughout the body. The aim is to increase circulation in the joints and improve flexibility as the poses stretch and exercise the bone and joint areas. It also helps us to regulate the body’s flow of energy.
2. You can practice it almost anywhere.
Yin yoga is very portable. You don’t always need a mat—the only thing you might need to introduce Yin into your day is a cushion or bolster! Most Yin yoga poses can be held while sitting at your desk, watching the TV, reading, or lying in bed!
My personal favorites when I am running short on time are: Square, Butterfly, Deer, or Shoelace Pose.
3. Yin fosters self-love.
Yin yoga is amazing for opening up our hearts, calming our nervous systems, and providing a space for the body to deeply relax. It also allows us to recover and nourish ourselves, wash away our fears, and cultivate compassion and love for ourselves.
Practicing Yin is like thanking yourself for being so awesome. It helps us build absolute self-belief and faith in how wonderful we are, each and every day! This practice is a beautiful way for those who have disconnected from their bodies to reconnect in a gentle, compassionate way.
4. It melts your stress away.
Question: What is the part of the body that we use the most, but probably spend the least amount of time taking good care of?
Answer: Our minds!
We live in a world of deadlines and appointments, craziness and social media, anxiety and stress. What better way to switch off than to sit still in poses anywhere from three to ten minutes? By doing Yin, you are giving yourself plenty of time to do nothing other than ‘just breathe.’
It is a truly perfect way to find space, to slow your mind down, and to be guided deeper into your practice.
5. Yin allows you to become intimate with yourself.
Get ready to get intimate with your feelings, sensations, and emotions—something that can perhaps be ignored during a faster paced class.
When we begin to practice Yin, we learn to listen to our bodies, slowing everything down. We learn to recognize our thoughts, to see them coming in and out of our mind, and to experience and digest them, instead of having them race through our mind like an escaped rollercoaster.
This in turn increases our ability to be in the present moment and practice gratitude, slowly bringing us closer to our authentic self.
6. It builds fortitude and perseverance.
When life gets tough, you’ll find me on my mat practicing Yin—and the world quickly becomes a better place! When you are stuck mentally and the power to walk away is overwhelming, Yin teaches you that staying still and dealing with whatever comes up one breath at a time will actually help you grow.
As we hold our Yin pose, the drama peaks, it gets harder to ignore the monkey mind, and we start really wanting to leave the pose. Yin teaches us to find a place of comfort in a not-so-comfortable place and observe our thoughts and reactions from a perspective of calmness.
It is a practice that can be brought into our daily lives.
7. Yin is like meditation for beginners.
During Yin practice you will find yourself with a lot of time on your hands. Here, you find yourself face-to-face with the chance to begin a gentle meditation practice, to slow your breath and calm your mind.
Your teacher will guide you through your practice, offering ways to keep your mind focused and to stop your body and thoughts from wanting to escape.
Yin yoga provides a safe place for your mind and body to enter into and consequently gain greater personal growth through a meditative and blissful experience once you open yourself up to the vastness within yourself.
8. It enables you to release your demons.
When held at length, what seems like an easy, inoffensive pose can change into something super challenging. This is what Yin does—the poses and the way they are held can release incredibly strong sensations, both physically and emotionally.
See, we store our emotions in the various parts of our bodies. Memories, anxieties, and tension linger on in cells stored deep in our tissues. When we go into a yoga pose that opens a part of the body left untouched for a while, these deeply stored memories and emotions resurface.
Doing so can be challenging in the moment, and can lead to a wide array of reactions such as tears, anger, and sheer frustration, but afterwards it leads to our final point…
9. Yin gives you a fabulous afterglow
Practicing Yin gives you that dreamy afterglow where you find that moment of absolute peace within yourself.
While you may feel like you have not even broken a sweat by the end of the class, your mind, body, and spirit have been performing on a much deeper, more intense level, leaving you with a clearer mind, a lighter body, and a fuller heart.
Have you practiced Yin yoga before? What is your favorite thing about this particular yoga practice? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!