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Yin Yoga

The Difference Between Yin and Restorative Yoga

By Restorative Yoga, Yin YogaNo Comments

Yin yoga and restorative yoga, while similar, are actually quite different.

Yin yoga is a style of yoga that focuses on stretching the connective tissues in order to lengthen them and help release built-up tension. The poses are held anywhere from two to seven minutes and work with the energy meridians in your body, plus increase flexibility, improve joint mobility, and release trauma in the body.

Restorative yoga is more of a meditative practice that relies on blocks, straps, sandbags, bolsters, and blankets to create a passive release of mind and body. This style helps let go of deep tension in a passive way, without any active stretch or engagements in the body.

Both yin and restorative are slow-paced and focus on only a few different poses in each class. Both practices help calm the mind and nervous system and enable you to turn inward.

Yin yoga and restorative yoga are both gentle and appropriate for all levels of students, from total beginners to experienced practitioners to athletes and seniors or even people with injuries and movement limitations.

Many people think that these two types of yoga are interchangeable because of all the similarities they share. But that’s not really the case.

So, let’s look at the differences.

Differences Between Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga

These two practices of yoga are similar because they are slow, meditative, and focused on long posture holds. But they also have some key differences, such as:

  • There is an active stretch in yin yoga but in restorative yoga, the goal is to be totally supported by your props and with only passive movements or stretches.
  • In yin yoga, the focus is on stretching your connective tissues and the like, but in restorative yoga, the focus is on the release of any mind-body tension.
  • Both styles use props but in yin yoga, when props are used they are meant to either deepen or ease the stretch. In restorative yoga, props are used to completely support your body. Restorative yoga commonly uses more props than yin in each pose.
  • Restorative yoga poses are held for longer than yin yoga poses.

Who Should Practice Yin Yoga?

Yin yoga is best for people looking to:

  • Increase flexibility
  • Keep joints healthy and mobile
  • Improve posture
  • Release trauma and emotions that become stored in the body

Who Should Practice Restorative Yoga?

Restorative yoga is best for:

  • Meditation
  • Stress release
  • Deep relaxation
  • Connecting with the breath
  • Creating a sense of safety in the mind and body
  • Reaching a state of mindful rest

Students should try both types of yoga to see which one best suits their needs, and might even decide to add both into a regular practice. If you want to learn more about yin yoga how it can have a healing and restorative impact on the body, click here.

Emotions, Feelings And Yin Yoga: How To Heal From The Inside

By Healing, Yin YogaNo Comments

The Body-Mind Connection

Yogis, as well as many others, believe in the connection between mind, body, and spirit. The three exist as a union, and when one is out of balance, the others struggle as well. In essence, what happens to the mind also happens to the body and spirit, and vice versa. So, if something is bothering you spiritually, emotionally, or mentally, there is a good chance it will show up in your physical body.

But, as you work deeply into your body through a yoga practice, emotional issues can be released.

The yogic view is that we hold emotions and misplaced thoughts within our bodies, and they keep us from reaching ‘samadhi’, which is considered “conscious enlightenment.” Asanas offer one way to find the path to this blissful state, as they work by focusing our minds and releasing any emotional or tension in our bodies.

Unfortunately, western medicine has been slower to accept this idea of the mind and body connection. But more and more new research is presented that shows how mental and emotional conditions can affect the physical body, and that the mind-body connection is indeed very real.

Have You Ever Experienced?:

  • Butterflies in your stomach before a big meeting?
  • Sweating more than normal when you’re nervous?
  • An upset stomach or indigestion after a stressful time?

These are examples of the body reacting to something that’s primarily happening in our mind. Many people with chronic anxiety will report having experienced different physical symptoms such as stomach aches, headache, dizziness, feeling faint, a tight chest, and more. In many instances, nothing is physical wrong, but instead the mental anxiety has a deep connection to how the body functions.

Leaning Into The Issues

Ana Forrest, founder of the Forrest Yoga Circle studio in Santa Monica, California, is an experienced yoga teacher who has dealt with her own breakthroughs both on and off the mat. Her intention as a teacher is to push her students toward their own emotional blockages. “It’s not that I push with my hands,” Forrest explains. “But when I work with people, I really ask them to go deep, and I educate them along the way. I tell them, ‘You’re going to hit what’s stored in there. Let it come up and be cleansed out of your cell tissue. It’s a gift of the yoga.’”

For example, if a student tells Forrest she’s just been through a breakup or is dealing with a heartache, Forrest says, “Challenge yourself to make every pose about moving energy into your heart.”

Yin Yoga For The Ultimate Release

Yin yoga is a style of yoga that evolved from the Taoist yoga lineage. There are 26 poses and you may only do a handful of them in a class since each pose is held for anywhere between two and seven minutes, on average. Each pose focuses on ‘cleaning out’ the different meridians, which are the same energy channels used in traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.

Yin is about disengaging. It is commonly mistaken for restorative yoga but it’s not actually the same. Yin is composed of tension and compression as well as rebounds that create a cleansing of the fascia and connective tissues.

This releasing action that yin creates can bring up all kinds of emotions. Many students find that the most ‘triggering’ poses are those that work on releasing connective tissue around the hips.

Think of your body like a car, with your hips being the trunk where you store all your emotional baggage. The hips have six of the 12 meridians running through them. So anything you do around your hips is touching on six major organs, six meridians. Basically a full range of emotions.

To learn more about yin yoga and how it can have a healing impact on the mind-body connection, click here.

 

Morgan Gertler received her 200HR RYT certification in 2014 from highly esteemed Kripalu teachers and then continued her learning in 2017 by completing her 300HR RYT certification with teachers from Yogamaya and the Iyengar Institute in NYC. She also completed her Yin Level 1 & 2 trainings and loves being able to teach both sides, the yin & yang, of the yoga practice.
Morgan views yoga as a vehicle to get back to yourself – through movement and breath-work, we learn how to live a more authentically happy & content life and meet all situations with confidence. When not teaching or practicing yoga, she can be found writing, walking around town with her two dogs, Jagger and Bowie or browsing Sephora for more make up she doesn’t need. 

10 Reasons To Make Time For Yin Yoga

By Yin Yoga, YogaNo Comments

Yin yoga is considered an introspective practice that gives students the chance to turn inward and nurture a calm, quiet state of mind that lives within all of us. It’s a practice in stillness, patience, and non-reactivity. Through yin yoga we become better listeners by learning to tune in, wiser as we get to know ourselves from the inside out, and more curious about our own inner world.

Some of the popular benefits of yin yoga include:

  • Reduces stress
  • Balances our yang energy
  • Relieves tension
  • Improves flexibility
  • Helps us learn to handle stress
  • Encourages mindfulness and meditation

Keep reading to learn more reasons why you should take time to add a yin yoga practice to your day.

 

The Stillness Of Yin Yoga Prepares Us For Meditation.

The yin practice sets us up to tap into a meditation mindset. Our daily cloud of thoughts and distractions tend to block us from being able to dive deeply into our consciousness. When we find space for physical stillness in a yin practice, we create conditions for the brain to become clear.

 

Yin Yoga Helps Us Learn Balance.

Finding balance within our lives is a juggling act — we have jobs, family, friends, responsibilities, and hobbies. If you look at the yin/yang symbol you’ll notice that the white and black sections are in perfect balance. Many of us live very active lives and leave little or no time to bathe in the quiet, introspective side. Over time this can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Through a yin yoga practice we can restore balance so that both sides have equal and necessary attention.

 

A Yin Yoga Practice Allows Us To Slow Down.

The long holds in yin yoga poses provide a chance to bathe in stillness. There is a shift that occurs while holding a yin posture. Time opens up for us — deadlines, pressing matters, and to-do lists fade away and open up space for rest and renewal.

 

You Can Learn Self-compassion Through Yin Yoga.

Taking care of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self is crucial to our wellbeing. A yin practice offers us the chance to observe, nurture, and calm ourselves. Carefully moving into a  posture and focusing on your body’s specific needs is a form of self-care.

 

Handle Stress Better With Yin Yoga.

Holding a pose for several minutes can provoke anxiety. But when we approach it with tenderness, the body acclimates. Surrender is a common theme in yin yoga, and giving up the need to control a situation is a lesson that we can carry with us into our day-to-day lives. The ability to adapt to the ups and downs of life and to manage change with grace can lessen our predisposition to stress.

 

Yin Practice Can Restore Range Of Motion.

A healthy range of motion requires our layers of connective tissue to allow for the muscles to glide over each other. But injury, poor posture, and aging (among other factors) can tighten the connective tissues and create ‘adhesions’ and restrict the movement between the sliding surfaces of the muscles. Adhesions block the flow of nutrients and energy, (think of a traffic jam) causing pain and limiting range of motion. When we hold poses that gently and safely lengthen the muscles and connective tissues, it helps break up adhesions. Applying mild stress to joints and connective tissues can also increase their range of motion.

 

Yin Yoga Rejuvenates The Body.

Our body’s tissues can experience a revival of sorts with a long soak the same way that an old, stiff sponge can. As you hold a yin pose, the slow release that takes you deeper into the pose is the tissues lengthening, hydrating, and becoming more pliable. Many times you even can sense the tissues being stretched, squeezed, twisted, and compressed if you really focus your attention on the physical body. A yin practice has the potential to leave you feeling as though you’ve had a massage.

 

A Yin Yoga Practice Creates The Opportunity To Sit With Emotions.

Our bodies store emotions, so from time to time our thoughts, feelings, and memories can bubble to the surface during a yoga practice. Yin teaches us how to be gentle, patient, and nonreactive. When emotions bubble to the surface, the conditions are safe for us to explore them.

 

Yin Yoga Taps Into The Parasympathetic Nervous System.

Belly breathing, (also known as diaphragmatic breathing) is a powerful way to induce the parasympathetic nervous system. Activating the parasympathetic nervous system is good for us. It helps alleviate stress, tension, blood pressure and aids in better sleep, digestion, and immune function. Most of our time is spent stuck in the sympathetic nervous system because we live busy, active lives.

Belly breathing can change this.

As you move deeper into your yin practice, the breath slows down significantly, pulling you deeper and deeper into this parasympathetic, or relaxation, state. This is where the internal organs get a chance to catch up on their to-do list (digest, eliminate toxins, heal, repair).

 

Yin Creates An Opportunity To Cultivate Gratitude For Our Bodies

Yin yoga allows us to return to our bodies and to see just how remarkable we are. Diving deeper into the layers of ourselves, we learn about our inner workings, connecting to respiratory and circulatory functions, internal organs, and sensations within the muscles and joints. This heightened awareness of the body brings us closer to santosha, or contentment.

The more you practice Yin Yoga, the more you will embrace the act of slowing down and connecting to yourself. As Bernie Clark said, “Completeness, wholeness often requires a rebalancing and a returning to the center where I can see my energies and care for my soul.”

 

Interested in becoming a yin yoga teacher? Learn about our Yin Yoga Teacher Training and contact us to learn more!

The Benefits of Yin Yoga | YogaRenew Teacher Training

By Yin YogaNo Comments

Most students who step onto a yoga mat learn quickly the many benefits: flexibility, strength, a calm mind, better sleep, better digestion, and the list goes on and on. But with so many styles of yoga, how do you know which is right for you? Many students like to try a few different styles, to get a sense of the benefits of each.

In this article we’re going to dive into yin yoga, a style of yoga that works deeply into our body with passive, longer-held poses. There are many benefits to this style of yoga and injuries are less common thanks to the slow movement, which helps students become aware of sensation before it can become an injury.

 

What is Yin Yoga?

Yin yoga is different from many other types of yoga because there is no flow from pose to pose. Each yin pose is held for several minutes at a time, from 2.5 minutes up to 7 minutes, depending on the pose and the experience level of the students. Most poses are done seated or lying on your back or stomach, which makes it possible to stay in the posture for a few minutes. Unlike restorative yoga which is about total relaxation, yin yoga should cause some sensation, a mix of compression and tension, rather than deep relaxation.

Yin yoga also has different names for poses you might have previously practiced in a vinyasa yoga class. This is because yin poses have different rules: the alignment and overall focus is quite different than how you might practice it in a flow class.

 

Using Your Breath in Yin Yoga

We use the breath in yin yoga to help sustain the poses when they become uncomfortable. It’s the uncomfortable moments and sensations that help the body release deeply held tension and also create lasting change. By allowing the breath to flow freely, we keep our mind calm and our body continues to relax into the sensations we’re feeling. While other types of yoga utilize the breath to build heat and help with focus, yin yoga uses the breath as an aid. Think of it as a silent friend supporting you during an uncomfortable moment.

 

Yin Yoga Helps Release Tension, Stress, and Anxiety

Yin yoga has a lengthening and releasing effect which allows us to dig deeper into the connective tissues that surround the joints and release tension. It also helps to free up energy within the body. Specifically, it helps free up emotional energy that may be causing anxiety, stress, or tension.

It is very countercultural to be allowed to “simply be”. The act of slowing down might be all you need to calm your mind. Do your best to breathe and to sink heavily into each asana with the time you’re given.

If you’re unsure if your physical stress has an emotional link, try to identify the area of the body needing attention. Very often, the stress in the body manifests itself in the major joint systems. Our major joint systems carry the heaviest burden while supporting the body, therefore, making them more susceptible to emotional pressures. They include the spine, shoulders, and hips.

Postures in yin yoga support the joints through a process of detoxification. While the poses are being held, the joint system being worked on is starved of vital nutrients and prana. Once the pose is released, a rebounding pose is introduced to encourage the rushing back of nutrients into the joint. This flooding cleanses the joint of toxins and lowers levels of inflammation. This cleanse can also be felt in the emotional body as a sense of release.

 

Yin Yoga Compliments Other Workouts

The ancient Chinese concept of yin and yang relates to the idea that within two opposing forces, there is balance. Certain styles of exercise can be categorized as either yin or yang according to their qualities. Workouts such as running, HIIT, and heat building yoga classes are considered yang because they are active, sweat-inducing, dynamic, and repetitive. The principles of yang relate to masculinity, heat, and movement. Yin is the feminine force and is related to stillness, rest, balance, cooling, and release. Exercises that are based in stretching and relaxation are yin in nature. If yang-style workouts are overused without the balance of yin, there is the potential for the body to become overworked, injured, or fatigued. Bringing yin yoga to your movement routine will help with improved flexibility and relaxation.

 

Yin Yoga Balances Your Chi

According to traditional Chinese medicine, our bodies are powered by a vital force called ‘chi’. Chi runs through specific energetic channels in the body, called meridians. While all yoga styles could have an effect on the meridian pathways, yin yoga has a more profound and extreme effect. All of the meridians flow through the back and legs and many yin postures will touch on several meridians at once. Yin classes are usually structured to allow students to work on all of the meridians.

 

Yin Yoga Can Help Build Fortitude and Perseverance

When life is feeling a bit difficult or situations are making it hard to focus, you can turn to yin yoga to help rebalance energy. Yin teaches us that staying still and dealing with whatever thoughts, feelings, emotions, or sensations come up will actually help you grow. Learning to take each moment as it comes will help you become more proficient in managing the discomforts that come up in life off the mat. As time passes in each posture, it gets harder to ignore the ‘monkey’ mind and students sometimes have the desire to leave or modify 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 place of calmness.

 

Yin Yoga is for All Ages and Abilities

As a practice, Yin Yoga is safe for people of all ages and physical abilities. It’s a great addition to a current yoga practice or workout, and can be adapted for those with injury or limitation. Always make sure to let your teacher know if you are pregnant, have a new or old injury, or are feeling any sharp, shooting pains while in a pose. There are modifications available to make each pose better suited for your body and specific needs.

 

Interested in becoming a yin yoga teacher? Learn about our Yin Yoga Teacher Training and contact us to learn more!

 

 

Morgan Gertler received her 200HR RYT certification in 2014 from highly esteemed Kripalu teachers and then continued her learning in 2017 by completing her 300HR RYT certification with teachers from Yogamaya and the Iyengar Institute in NYC. She also completed her Yin Level 1 & 2 trainings and loves being able to teach both sides, the yin & yang, of the yoga practice.
Morgan views yoga as a vehicle to get back to yourself – through movement and breath-work, we learn how to live a more authentically happy & content life and meet all situations with confidence. When not teaching or practicing yoga, she can be found writing, walking around town with her two dogs, Jagger and Bowie or browsing Sephora for more make up she doesn’t need. 

Learn If Yin Yoga Is Right For You | YogaRenew Teacher Training

By Yin Yoga, Yoga for AthletesNo Comments

Yoga has been in the spotlight as a healthy and natural way to work out, destress, and quiet the mind, but one style has recently become more popular and is attracting all types of people. Yin yoga offers the opportunity to relax, ground, and release. With our daily lives already very active, stressful, and constantly on-the-go, more people are being drawn to this practice that teaches us how to surrender.

Yin yoga is a simple and quiet practice, but it’s not always easy or comfortable. It can take you beyond your normal comfort zone, and this is where many of the benefits live.

While yin yoga is great for the physical body, many of the benefits stem from its effects on the mind and emotions. This practice allows the body to drop down into the parasympathetic nervous system, offering a grounding, calming, and revitalizing practice that can have profound energetic and emotional outcomes. This makes it a great practice for practically everyone.

 

Yin Yoga for Athletes

Yin yoga is one of the most effective styles of yoga that athletes can incorporate into their workouts. It’s great for increasing flexibility, relieving tightness, and deeply relaxing both the body and mind. It’s not generally comfortable and does require a good amount of time to be set aside, but the benefits are worth the effort.

Yin and yang is an ancient Taoist concept that describes the interdependency of oppositional forces. Day relies on night to exist, just as hot relies on cold, and so on. Neither aspect is good or bad, but are understood as two sides of the same coin.

When applied to sports, yang activities are typically hot, fast, dynamic, stimulating, and energetic. Yin activities are passive, cooling, relaxing, and therapeutic. Committing to both types of training aids in healthy recovery. Too much of one and not enough of the other can lead to falling short or burning out.

Some of the benefits athletes experience when committing to a yin yoga practice are:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved range of motion
  • Eases in aches and pains
  • Improved posture
  • Sped up recovery
  • Reduced injuries
  • Improved focus and concentration
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Relaxation and better sleep

 

Yin Yoga for Injuries

There is no right or wrong, good or bad, or even a certain way the yin postures are supposed to look. The reason for this is because everyone’s body is unique. Ideally, each yoga student gives themself permission to feel and experience whatever is happening in that moment, without expectations or judgment. This is a safe, non-competitive environment where we can allow ourselves to just be in our bodies without specific goals.

From healing injured shoulders to safely rehabbing a new knee, yin yoga can help. Yin yoga is based on passively-held yoga postures, usually seated or lying down, held for anywhere between 3-10 minutes. These asanas unblock your chi flow through the meridians of your body, which happen to run through the connective tissue. Connective tissue is worked, nourished, and hydrated by yin yoga. It’s where injuries can be healed through the action of fibroblasts and your immune system.

 

Yin Yoga for Beginners

Yoga classes are usually planned out based on levels — new students start with beginner or fundamental classes and work their way to Level 1, 2, 3, and beyond. There’s all types of creative names for yoga classes that help designate what kind of yoga flow you can expect. But yin yoga doesn’t have levels, and that’s because it’s appropriate for students of all levels, from the very new beginner to the handstanding expert.

One of the benefits of yin yoga practice is the ability to pay close attention to how we’re feeling. Yin yoga gives us a chance to learn what sensations are, where they are, and whether they are healthy or too intense. In yang styles of yoga, beginners can be worried and overwhelmed with all the details of the poses: the alignment, muscle engagements, the teacher’s directions, the breath, and on and on. But in yin yoga we have time to learn how to pay attention to each sensation and breath.

Students learn to develop their own awareness of what they need, including when to go deeper and when to back off. This helps students become well equipped for the faster-paced styles of yoga.

 

 

Interested in becoming a yin yoga teacher? Learn about our Yin Yoga Teacher Training and contact us to learn more!

 

Morgan Gertler received her 200HR RYT certification in 2014 from highly esteemed Kripalu teachers and then continued her learning in 2017 by completing her 300HR RYT certification with teachers from Yogamaya and the Iyengar Institute in NYC. She also completed her Yin Level 1 & 2 trainings and loves being able to teach both sides, the yin & yang, of the yoga practice.
Morgan views yoga as a vehicle to get back to yourself – through movement and breath-work, we learn how to live a more authentically happy & content life and meet all situations with confidence. When not teaching or practicing yoga, she can be found writing, walking around town with her two dogs, Jagger and Bowie or browsing Sephora for more make up she doesn’t need. 

3 Physical Benefits Of Yin Yoga

By Yin YogaNo Comments

Calm, cool, passive, and slow. These are some terms that describe what it can be like to take a yin yoga class, but what is yin yoga exactly? If you are a practitioner of heated, strengthening, or movement-based yoga classes, think night versus day when it comes to a yin practice. In a world where we are often told that we need to do more, yin yoga asks us to do a little less. Postures are typically held anywhere from 2-5 minutes or more, and the breath is softer than say Ujjayi Pranayama, Victorious Breath, that you may practice in a Flow class. However, just because this style of yoga is slower and more passive, doesn’t mean it is without challenge. Yin yoga is also different than restorative yoga. Let’s dive into how and why.

The description and benefits are in the name itself, Yin. To describe yin yoga, it can be helpful to describe yang styles of yoga first. The movement-based yoga mentioned above is a yang style of yoga. Meaning it is active, dynamic, and muscular work is a focus. Some examples of a yang style of practice are Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Bikram, Power, or Hatha yoga. Yin yoga has the same aims as any other practice of yoga, however, it’s slow, passive, mostly seated postures, are less about muscular utilization or contraction and instead target deeper connective tissues. This is also what makes it different from restorative yoga.

Restorative yoga is very supportive through the use of props, to restore the body and mind to balance through very passive postures without any active stretch. Yin yoga may use props; however, the intent is a deep level of ‘stretch’, or healthy physical stress to the connective tissues, where the challenge can be to find peace and ease in a pose that is slightly uncomfortable. Remember that too much discomfort in a pose can be damaging to the body and counterintuitive to the intention of the practice! Less is often more in yoga, listen to your body and modify where needed.

Yin yoga additionally works with the meridian lines, or energy flows and channels, of the body. The conduits of energy that create Qi (Chi), or Prana, life-force energy. According to the philosophies and teachers of yin yoga, a blocked meridian line can lead to emotional or mental imbalances, and even physical imbalances. Specific yin postures and how they are sequenced are said to bring forth health in this way.

 

Below are three physical benefits of yin yoga and why focusing on your deep connective tissue is something to be interested in.

1. Connective Tissue

Connective tissue is a general term to describe the material in your body that supports and surrounds other tissues and is even the material in between cells. Connective tissue includes bones, ligaments, joints, and fascia of the body, and this is the focus in a yin class. Long, passive stretches and compressions in the yin postures stress the connective tissue which has the potential to lead to lengthened, healthy, hydrated, and strengthened tissue.

2. Joint Health

Decreased range of motion in joints such as the hip joint, can cause stiffness and lack of mobility. This can be caused by a myriad of factors, yet it could mean the connective tissue around and within the joints has either shortened or become ‘dry’ so to speak, due to lack of use. Since yin yoga targets connective tissue such as fascia, which is everywhere in the body, joint lubrication can occur since fascia stores and moves water and fluid.

3. Flexibility

You may have heard an instructor say that if you want to increase your flexibility, take yin yoga. Why? The theory behind this concept is that our bodies are more malleable than we give them credit for. The long static holds in yin can increase the elasticity of the connective tissue, such as the muscular fascia, and the healthy amount of stress on the joints in these poses can strengthen the ligaments. This goes in line with joint health, yet it can also mean an increased range of motion in terms of flexibility. Many yin postures focus on the lower half of the body and the spine, and advocates of yin have claimed to find increased flexibility especially in these areas. While the permanence of this increased flexibility is debatable, many practitioners advocate for this particular physical benefit.

As with most things in life, balance is key. You can overdo it in a yin class, just as you can overdo it running, lifting weights, or in a heated yoga class. The key is to learn how to listen to your body and be patient in your Asana, physical practice. Additional scientific research needs to be done on the physical benefits of a yin practice. However, proponents of yin conclude that these passive and compressive postures can indeed increase the health of connective tissue and lead to less pain in the body, increased flexibility, fascia suppleness, overall stress reduction, and the ability to embrace the beauty in slowing down. What do you think?

 

 

With 6+ years of yoga experience, Christine is passionate about sharing the gifts of mindfulness and wellness. Her ample teaching experiences include her years in yoga studio management, teaching abroad in Costa Rica, yoga for schools, company yoga, and much more. She is a certified Reiki Master, Sound Healer, and fuses these techniques in her teaching and healing sessions. Additionally she is a Yoga Educator with well over 1,000 hours of yoga instruction, and has certified many students to become instructors. Currently she teaches yoga for companies, privately, in studios, and for special events. Christine is passionate about offering a healing and light to others.

 

Yin Yoga 101: 6 Benefits Of Yin Yoga

By Yin YogaNo Comments

When I started practicing yin yoga and immediately fell in love with it. After years of practicing and teaching strong vinyasa sequences that pushed my body to new limits, yin yoga offered a new challenge – sitting with myself and learning to find peace in discomfort. I learned through yin yoga a new found appreciation for stillness and a slower paced practice. Not long after starting my yin yoga practice did I decide to do my Yin Yoga Teacher Training, as I knew this was a practice I wanted to share with my students. I recently completed my Level II Yin Yoga Training and I feel it now the perfect time to share some yin yoga insights.

Yin Yoga: A General Overview

History & Style

Yin Yoga was founded by Paulie Zink, who came from a background of martial arts and Taoist yoga. In the 70s, Zink introduced his students of martial arts into Yin Yoga, as he believed the flexibility drawn from it complimented martial arts practice. It was then further popularized by Paul Grilley, who added in his knowledge of anatomy into the practice, and later by Sarah Powers, who helped to bring today’s version of yin yoga mainstream.

Yin yoga is rooted in Taoist philosophy from the Yin-Yang symbol which represents the feminine side. Yin poses are more calm and longer held postures that reach deeper muscle tissues. Yang poses on the other hand, are considered to be warmer, more energetic postures, and held for shorter periods of time.

Yin yoga is a slower paced yoga practice with typically only seated or supine poses focusing on deep stretches.The practice is more meditative in nature, with poses being held usually 1-2 minutes, but sometimes over 5 minutes in a single posture. Yin yoga is different from Vinyasa yoga in that you don’t flow from pose to pose. Most of the poses are done seated or lying on your back or stomach. It is also unlike restorative yoga because the body should be feeling the tension and compression of the pose, rather than a deep relaxation. We use the breath in yin yoga to help sustain the poses when they become uncomfortable. It’s the uncomfortable moments and sensations that help the body release built up tension and also create lasting change.


4 Major Benefits of Yin Yoga

1. Releases Deeply Held Tension in the Body

Yin yoga offers a special benefit to tense bodies, due to its direct lengthening and releasing effect. Yin yoga allows us to access the deeper tissues in the body such as the connective tissue and fascia. Many of the postures focus on areas that include a joint (ex. hips, sacrum, spine, and shoulders). Due to natural aging as well as day-to-day activities such as a sitting for a prolonged period of time time, poor posture, and repeated strain – we can lose our flexibility. Yin yoga is done without any warm up, so you are stretching your body in its natural state, which creates lasting benefits.

2. Complements Other Workouts

The ancient Chinese concept of yin and yang relates to the idea that within two opposing forces, there is balance. Certain styles of exercise can be classified as either yin or yang according to their qualities. Yang style workouts like running, sports, or vinyasa style/heat building yoga, are considered yang because they are active, sweat-inducing, dynamic, and repetitive. The principles of yang relates to masculinity, heat, and movement. Yin is the feminine force and is related to stillness, rest, balance, cooling, and release. Exercises that are based on stretching and relaxation are said to be yin in nature. If yang-style workouts are overused without balance, there is the potential for the body to become overworked, injured, or fatigued. Bringing yin yoga to your exercise routine will balance this with improved flexibility and relaxation.

3. It Balances Your Chi

According to traditional Chinese medicine, our bodies are powered by a vital force called ‘chi’. Chi runs through specific energetic channels in the body, called meridians. While any yoga style could have an effect on the meridian pathways to some degree, yin yoga has a more profound effect on the meridians. All of the meridians flow through the back and legs at some point, and many yin postures will effect several meridians at once. Yin classes may be structured in a way that allow students to work on all of the meridians, or there might be a focus on just a couple.

4. It Builds Fortitude and Perseverance

When life is feeling a bit more difficult than normal, or certain situations are making it hard for me to focus on other areas of my life, I turn to my yin yoga practice to help rebalance my energy. Yin teaches us that staying still and dealing with whatever thoughts or feelings come up will actually help you grow. Learning to take each moment as it comes – one breath at a time, one thought at a time – will help you become more proficient in managing the discomforts that come up in life. As we hold each pose, it gets harder to ignore the ‘monkey’ mind and we sometimes have the desire to want 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 place of calmness.

5. Releases Emotional Blockages

It is believed in yoga philosophy that we tend to hold old emotional issues in our bodies – including our muscles and tissues. By focusing on long holds and releases in yin yoga, we find that blockages to emotional issues that we have, slowly begin to break down. By slowing down, it brings us into the present moment and quiets the mind – allowing a space for great personal positive transformation. Next time you are feeling stuck on something, get on your mat and indulge in some long deep yin stretches for release.

6. Lowers Stress & Anxiety

Yang style yoga classes such as Vinyasa Flow and Power Yoga can give us energy and boost our moods. However, Yin style yoga classes offer us a different benefit for when we need more calm and grounding in our lives. Yin yoga can lower our stress and anxiety levels because of its slower and more meditative pace. These classes are usually quieter which leave room for inner contemplation and meditation.

 

Yin Yoga In Practice

Yin yoga is safe for people of all ages and physical abilities. It’s a great addition to your current yoga practice or workout, and is easily adaptable to those with injuries or limitations. With a towel and just two yoga blocks, you can even practice your favorite yin poses at home.

Make sure to let your teacher know if you are pregnant, have a new or old injury, or are feeling any sharp, shooting pains while in the pose. There are always modifications available to make each pose better suited for your body and specific needs.

 

Morgan Gertler Yoga Teacher YogaRenew

Morgan Gertler received her 200HR RYT certification in 2014 from highly esteemed Kripalu teachers and then continued her learning in 2017 by completing her 300HR RYT certification with teachers from Yogamaya and the Iyengar Institute in NYC. Morgan also completed her Yin Level 1 & 2 trainings and loves being able to teach both sides, the yin & yang, of the yoga practice. Morgan views yoga as a vehicle to get back to yourself – through movement and breath-work, we learn how to live a more authentically happy & content life and meet all situations with confidence. When not teaching or practicing yoga, Morgan can be found writing, walking around town with her two dogs, Jagger and Bowie or browsing Sephora for more make up she doesn’t need.