Yoga is a mainstream form of fitness and flexibility that has become a staple at most gyms and fitness studios. It’s accessible for multiple levels of fitness as well as varying degrees of knowledge and skill with the method, itself. But ‘yoga’ is a general term that can refer to a wide range of styles, including kundalini, hatha, and ashtanga yoga. Yin yoga is another style of yoga that is much less well known, yet still highly effective.
It’s lack of mainstream knowledge probably has to do with the fact that Yin yoga typically takes more time to warm up to, making it harder to incorporate into gym class offerings because beginners may be intimidated to try it.
Yin yoga was initially called “Daoist” yoga, which targets the body’s deep connective tissues and their relationship with the fascia covering the body, with the intent to regulate the body’s flow of energy.
The postures of Yin yoga are more passive, and come out to only about 40 different poses, unlike yang-like styles. One of the most unique aspects of Yin yoga, in practice, is that it’s most beneficial when you relax in the posture and soften your muscles in order to move closer to bone. Yin yoga therefore offers a far deeper access to your body, compared with the more superficial movements of yang-like yoga. Yin yoga postures are often held longer than other types, commonly 3-5 minutes. Sometimes, you might hold a posture for as much as 20 minutes!
It’s best to approach Yin yoga like you would meditation. This style of yoga is far more centered on the student’s level of intimacy with their feelings, emotions and sensations, which makes it beneficial for programs that deal with related issues such as anxiety, trauma, addictions and deep emotional pain. Yin yoga allows students greater mental stability, as well as better physical flexibility. Since joint flexibility deteriorates as we age, Yin yoga is a great way to maintain and even improve flexibility to keep your range of motion as limber as possible.
Some of the most notable benefits of Yin yoga are:
- Balancing and relaxing the body
- Regulating energy throughout the body
- Increased mobility and flexibility
- Calming the mind, reducing stress
- Improving stamina
- Enhancing one’s ability to cope with anxiety and stress