Yin Yoga is a type of yoga practice based on concepts of Taoist Yoga. There are many benefits of restorative yoga such as yin yoga. It emphasizes the connective tissues of your hips, thighs, pelvis, and lower spine. If you decide to try out Yin Yoga, you can expect to practice relaxed floor asanas for three to five minutes at a time.
The Fascinating History of Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga is an ancient (and according to some, the original) form of asana practice. The sages who pioneered the path of yoga used asanas to strengthen their bodies so that they could sit for long periods in contemplative meditation. If you’ve ever sat for a long time with your legs crossed, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Your hips and lower back need to be strong and open, or you will become stiff and sore. That discomfort that you feel from sitting cross-legged for too long is centered deep in your connective tissues and joints. These are your Yin tissues. Yin Yoga can help you stretch out and open up these deep, dense, rarely touched areas.
In traditional Yin Yoga practice, the asanas are believed to help you regulate the flow of energy in your body. This energy is called “chi,” and some believe that a strong flow of chi in your body will keep you healthy.
Rediscovering Yin Yoga
If you’ve done yoga before, you were probably practicing Yang Yoga. It’s the most commonly practiced style of yoga in the West. Yin Yoga has been “re-discovered,” however, and more and more students of yoga are adding this challenging form of practice to their regular sadhana.
Yin Yoga and Yang Yoga are very different styles, and you need to experience both to really understand what Yin Yoga is all about. After you have experienced it, even just once, you will realize that Yang Yoga is only half of the asana practice.
Your Guide to Yin Yoga vs. Yang Yoga
Yin Yoga and Yang Yoga focus on different types of tissues in your body that respond quite differently to being exercised.
Yin Yoga Targets Your Deep Tissues
If you don’t stretch your connective tissues and joints, they will more easily shorten and stiffen due to injury, neglect, and aging. Athletes don’t retire because of muscle problems. Instead, they often retire with joint problems, such as bad ankles, backs, or knees. Yin Yoga targets your connective tissues, such as your ligaments, hips, pelvis, lower spine, bones. It can help you exercise the joints that you normally don’t exercise in more active styles of asana practice.
Yang Yoga Focuses on Your Muscles
Whereas Yin Yoga focuses on deep tissues, Yang Yoga targets the more superficial tissues of your skin and muscles. Yang Yoga primarily focuses on your movements and muscular contractions. If you don’t exercise your muscles, they will atrophy and weaken. Yang Yoga can enormously benefit your physical and emotional health, especially if you live a sedentary modern lifestyle. Yang Yoga is more active than Yin Yoga. However, it doesn’t stretch your joints, so you can get the best results by practicing both forms.
Why You Need Both Yin and Yang Yoga
Dedicated Yin Yoga practice will make you healthier, stronger, and more flexible, but at some point, your muscles will reach their limit of flexibility. You can only achieve new depths in your postures and increase your range of motion by focusing on your body’s deeper tissues. This is why Yin Yoga is the perfect complement and balance to your more active Yang practices, which emphasize internal heat and the lengthening and contracting of your muscles.
19 Benefits of Restorative Yoga
You can practice Yin Yoga whether you are completely new to yoga or have years of experience. You can perform Yin Yoga to help you:
- Quiet your mind
- Decrease your stress levels
- Improve your concentration
- Enhance your meditation practice
- Bring emotional balance to your body, mind, and spirit
- Create therapeutic stress on your joints
- Develop and balance hyaluronic acid levels in your body to cushion and lubricate your joints
- Train and develop your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls your digestion and energy conservation
- Pump and circulate fluid in and out of your spine—the only way to fully re-inflate the discs in your spine
- Reverse your aging process
- Improve your organ health
- Lower your blood pressure
- Increase your strength
- Improve your flexibility
- Enter deep relaxation
- Increase your stamina
- Raise your pain threshold
- Improve your balance
- Improve your practice of Yang Yoga
You can also benefit from Yin Yoga if you are attending drug rehab, undergoing treatment for an eating disorder, or seeking recovery from pain and trauma.
Yin Yoga Asanas
Yin yoga postures gently stretch and rehabilitate the connective tissues that form your joints, allowing you to maintain and restore joint flexibility. Basic Yin Yoga asanas include:
- Happy baby
- Lying twists
- Sphinx and seal
- Toe squat
30 Minute Restorative Yoga For All Levels
Yin Yoga References and Related Links
- Yin Yoga: Outline of a quiet practice by Paul Grilley
- Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance by James Oschman
- Awakening the Chakras by Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama
Check out these other great posts on Yoga. Let us know the benefits of restorative yoga you enjoy.