It is funny, we never truly know where life will bring us. I am not a person who slows down, I have difficulty remaining still. The only time I do is if I am asleep, but during my marathon training, after running for an extended period, all I wanted was to go home and chill. I rolled out my mat and sat there in certain poses for quite some time. It felt good. Years later, during my yoga teacher training, I found out that one of the health benefits of Yin Yoga is to release tension in joints and tendons. Trust me, after a run you need to release some of the pressure that built up.
I started to discover the different kinds of yoga when I started studying. That’s when I realized that what I was doing all these years was an elementary form of Yin Yoga. I just made it my own. It allowed me to slow down and create a release during my intense workout.
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Where does Yin Yoga come from?
In recent years, Yin Yoga got its name from Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers. Paul Grilley encountered a martial arts and Taoist yoga instructor that inspired him. Paul Grilley studied with him to learn about Taoist yoga, which is a slower form of Yang yoga poses like Hatha yoga that offers a longer hold of floor poses. Over the next 10 years, Paul taught a form of Taoist Yoga but involved more Yin poses in nature. Sarah Powers suggested that since most of his classes had yoga poses with a Yin vibe in nature, they could associate this new yoga has Yin yoga.
What is Yin Yoga?
Yin yoga is slow and passive where you hold poses for an extended time typically for 3-5 minutes or longer. During an advanced class, you can hold poses for up to ten to twelve minutes. It’s a great place to start if you have any injuries or joint issues. It’s also a great way to build your flexibility and balance.
By holding each pose, you will improve your range of motion, your connective tissues, joints, and tendons. While holding each pose, you will enter a meditative state and help your mental well-being. This will allow you to be more mindful, be calmer and increase the peacefulness in your daily life.
Poses are typically done on the floor and involve minimal movement, with a focus on relaxation and deep breathing. The practice is often described as meditative, as it encourages practitioners to be in the moment and to release physical and mental tension.
Some Yin Yoga advantages include flexibility, increased circulation, reduced stress and anxiety, and a greater sense of calm and relaxation.
The practice can also be beneficial for individuals with chronic pain, as it can help to release tension in the body and promote healing.
It is suitable for individuals of all levels, including beginners. However, it is important to approach the practice cautiously and work within your limits, avoiding any poses or movements that cause pain or discomfort. It is also important to work with a qualified yoga teacher who can provide guidance and support throughout the practice.
5 Things to Know Before You Start
There are principles and things to remember before you start a new exercise regimen. It is passive, but you should remain mindful and be aware of the risks.
- Find your edge: It’s important to always listen to your body, while finding the right position, you want to find that feeling where your body is offering a stretch, but you do not feel any pain. If you do feel pain, move back to your original position and find a place that suits you, keep in mind that you need to be comfortable holding the poses for an extended time.
- Remain still: Once you are in a comfortable position, it’s important to remain still. This will allow your connective tissue to stretch and release. There are two reasons you might want to change your position, either you are in pain or discomfort. Slowly move and adjust. If you are comfortable and do not feel the stretch any longer, you can move deeper into the pose.
- Hold each pose: Your practice should allow you to hold each pose for 1 to 10 minutes. This will allow you to work on a deeper level. By holding for a longer period you work on your deeper connective tissues which provides mobility and flexibility.
- Release and move slowly: By holding each pose your joints will become vulnerable and if you move quickly you may risk injury. By moving slowly, you allow your nervous system to relax.
- Practice on cold muscles: Compared to other forms of exercise, you practice when your muscles are cold, which will prevent you from overstretching and will give a bigger pull on your connective tissues.
12 Health Benefits of Yin Yoga
It’s easy to associate exercise with sweat, extreme movement and being sore for 3 days, but there are advantages when you include slower movement, especially if you have a busy lifestyle. Keep reading to uncover some of the health benefits of Yin Yoga and how it can help in your life.
To gain physical and mental satisfaction from your practice, with each movement you will:
- Compress the tissues
- Stretch the tissues
- Twist the tissues
By following these three simple steps, you can make sure that you’re stress-treating your ligaments rather than stretching them and offering you the most beneficial benefits. Why add stress? It’s not the same stress that you might think of. Adding stress to your ligaments will allow your connective tissue a way to relax afterwards and start to function better.
Improve Connective Tissue
Connective tissues are found throughout your body. During Yin Yoga, you will work on all of the following ones:
Connective tissues work together to offer your body structure and support. Without them, you would be a big pile of organs on the floor. Movement and stretching are required to slow down the deterioration of the fluid and joints in your body, which will decrease movements over time and reduce the functions of the ligaments in your body. By doing yin yoga, you will be able to offer your body a deep, gentle stretch to help build and maintain health in your connective tissues, joints and fascia.
Improves Your Flexibility With Ease
The limitation of your flexibility is due to tension along the tissues. Elongation and compression come in contact and prevent further movement. The resistance comes from our 4 main tissues: connective tissue, muscle, bone, and blood.
Yin yoga helps to safely open the joints and ligaments to provide stress to your connective tissues, which are designed to move healthily. In simpler terms, it involves holding poses for an extended period, this can help to stretch and lengthen the muscles, improving flexibility over time.
May Calm and Balance Your Body & Mind
In our day-to-day lives, we often experience fight or flight or what is called the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system. This controls our rest and digestion. While you practice slow poses, you allow your mind to feel relaxed, release the tension in your body, and therefore reduce stress. Yoga also helps you to connect with your body and mind on a deeper level, which can be beneficial to your mental and physical health.
The slow and meditative nature can help to promote relaxation and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Learn to Reduce Stress & Anxiety
In a small 2021 study, student pharmacists and faculty who practiced yin yoga and guided meditation for 6 weeks increased their mindfulness and reduced stress and anxiety levels. The findings were reported at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months, which was all that was needed to show the Yin Yoga benefits with added guided meditation. (3)
During your practice, you will work towards letting go of your emotions and giving up the need to control. This way of living may help change your life and reduce stress and anxiety.
The meditative and introspective nature of yin yoga can help individuals to become more self-aware, understand their thoughts and emotions, and develop a greater sense of inner peace and calm.
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\Discover How To Release The Fascia In Your Body
Fascia is a type of connective tissue that wraps around your body like plastic. You can think of it as holding your bones, muscles, and organs together in one big package. The fascia provides us with posture, body control, and fluidity in our movement.
When you hold deep floor stretches for an extended period, you can start to access the deep fascia in your body. This occurs every time you hold a movement for longer than 90 seconds. Regular practice allows you to work at the deep level and allows your fascia to become stronger and more durable. You can use this newfound strength to improve your range of motion and reduce your risk of injury.
Benefits of releasing fascia:
- help to improve joint mobility
- reduce stiffness
- may reduce arthritis or other joint conditions
Encourage Deeper Relaxation & Meditation
Holding each pose for 1 to 10 minutes allows you to go into a meditative state. While holding each pose, you can bring your attention to your body, breathe and bring your awareness back to the present moment allowing your nervous system to settle and allowing your mind to become peaceful. Work again with your fight-or-flight response. This will help you to stay calm and in control when you are stressed.
Relaxation can help to promote better sleep and improve the quality of sleep.
Work On Improving Joint Mobility
During your practice, you’ll be focused on allowing your body and mind to let go. This will work the deeper connective tissues and help you to release parts of your body, which will in turn reduce some of that pain and allow your body to improve its mobility.
Brings Balance to Your Organs & Increase Blood Flow
There are multiple ways that you can bring balance to your organs, such as:
- First deep breathing can help you build your core muscles and stimulate your internal organs.
- Second, by choosing a specific pose, you can start to stimulate your internal organs, which will also be in line with opening the energy in your body.
- Third, each hold will work different muscles and joints which will increase blood flow and provide relaxation to your nervous system. The deep stretching and compression of the muscles and tissues in yin yoga can help to increase circulation throughout the body, which can improve overall health and well-being.
Learn How To Open The Energy In Your Body
Yin yoga is a form of yoga focused on connecting to your innermost being through your Chakras and Meridians. Chakras help distribute the energy in your body, similarly, Meridians are known to be the highway or path to your Chi. Each pose you do affects both the meridians and the chakras, which can lead to greater energy flow and a release of blockage. You can also increase your flow of energy and positively impact your life.
To learn more about Chakras and how to easily apply them to your daily life, download your free guide here.
Find Poses To Improve Digestion
Yin yoga works on your organs and uses the meridians which each holds will work like acupressure points. During each pose, you will put gentle pressure on certain areas which positively affect certain parts of your body. Some poses are known to help the stomach meridians which will improve digestion, by compressing your digestive organs, you will improve your digestion and relieve trapped gas.
It is a great way to get your body moving and release some stress, and it can complement your regular yoga practice. Try it out and see if it works for you!
Example of yin yoga poses to help digestion
- Sitting forward fold
- Child pose
- Standing forward fold
- Upward dog or cobra
- Supine twist
Refer to the following yoga guide for instructions about each pose.
Perfect for Everyone and Help Your Aging Muscles
As we age, the number of nerve cells in our muscles decreases and is gradually replaced with fatty tissue known as collagen, which is known to prevent stretching. The collagen content in your muscles will continue to increase over time.
It’s been thought that this could start as early as 25 years old. The build-up of collagen may be caused by being immobile for an extended time. Yoga has been proven to help strengthen and lengthen the muscles in comparison to other forms of exercise which may shorten the muscles.
Don’t Limit Yourself, Improve Your Range of Motion
Muscles can create movement by contracting and releasing, creating tension in the muscle which will create movement and help maintain a shape or posture. Each time your muscles contract, they pull bones in different directions, which creates movement.
The fascia in our muscles is responsible for the range of motion we have, by practicing yin yoga you will work with the fascia and over time increase your range of motion.
Did you know
Contrary to what we believe tightness in the muscles is not a major factor in limiting range of motion. The joint capsule has a greater effect on our mobility than the muscles.
Summary of the health benefits of Yin Yoga
It is an essential form of exercise for everyone as they age, but as you get older, it will almost become a necessity to have a way to incorporate it into your life. I am hoping that through the list, you have found a reason to try or to continue with your practice. It can be easy for some to always be moving, but staying still and truly focusing on your own body can be a challenge. Yin yoga can help you stay healthy and active as you get older.