Most of the yoga styles that we follow tend to be more a Yang nature. They styles are active, build heat in your body and builds muscle strength. Yin Yoga is the opposite style and follows a slow and steady pace with a sense of calm and ease. This does not mean that the style is easy in any way. Yin yoga presents different challenges because poses are held for longer periods of time. The length of the pose is to target the connective tissues and deep ligaments while most of the postures are done on the ground. Yoga teacher training views this as a yoga that anyone can do forever.
3 Main Principles for Yin Postures
There are three main principles when practicing Yin Yoga in a safe and nurturing manner. The mindset of practicing this style of yoga is different than the typical approach. Yoga teaching will guide you down the right path to ensuring the best benefits.
- Find your edge- When practicing Yin Yoga the intent is to make sure when you move into your postures that you do it with respect to your body and it should be an easy and non-aggressive way. You should be paying attention to your breathing and let it guide you into the pose. Do not move too deep into your pose, find your edge, otherwise there is a possibility that you will stop the flow of energy and you will not be able to keep the pose for a long period of time. While in the pose at your edge make sure that the amount of tension is OK so that your energy and flow of Chi is not disrupted. Yoga teacher training explains that at this point you should never feel pain or discomfort.
- Be still and allow your muscles to be soft- Yin yoga puts emphasis on stretching out and lubricating your joints and connective tissues. To gain the most benefit from each stretch you should be keeping your muscles soft. Move into your pose and then relax and allow gravity to help push you further into your pose. During Yin Yoga practice a yoga teacher wants you to be able to move your Chi or energy to flow to the bones and joints and so finding a pose and keeping your body still allows this to happen.
- Find Edge and Hold- The best part of Yin Yoga is that once we find our comfortable edge we hold postures for a longer period of time so that Chi is moved deeper into the body and our organs which is a great way to start a healing effect in the body. If you practice at home alone and not in a studio or class you may want to think about using some sort of kitchen timer so that you do not have to think about time when in the pose. To begin start out with no more than 5 minutes in each pose. Once you begin to feel comfortable in the pose focus on your breathing. This tends to bring your focus inside and blocks out the distractions around you. Holding the poses for longer periods of time will help you to develop surrender and bring a “just be still” attitude to your practice.
Poses for Yin Yoga
The poses listed below are the typical poses that you would be taught in yoga teacher training for Yin Yoga. Of course there are always variations and options to your practice. These poses tend to work all the Yin areas of your body which are normally focused on during Yin Practice.
- Anahatasana (aka Melting Heart)
- Ankle Stretch
- Half butterfly
- Cat pulling its Tail
- Child’s Pose
- Happy Baby
- Reclining Twists
- Sphinx and Seal
- Straddle (aka Dragonfly)
- Swan & Sleeping Swan
- Toe Squat
Yin Yoga focuses on the area from your navel to your knees, but the principles of Yin Yoga can always be applied to each area of your body. We know the goal is to target the deeper, denser elastic tissues such as ligaments and cartilage, and we also know that these are found in all areas of our bodies. With that in mind we can apply this style to any part of your body. Yoga teacher training will show you how to apply poses to guarantee that your entire body enjoys the benefits of Yin Yoga.