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Yin Yoga E-mail
Written by Jeff Behar, MS, MBA   

yin_yoga_poseYin Yoga is a type of yoga practice based in concepts of Taoist Yoga. Yin Yoga emphasizes the connective tissues of the hips, thighs, pelvis and lower spine. It is characterized by the relaxed practice of floor asanas for three to five minutes at a time. 

History of Yin Yoga

Yin Yoga contains the ancient, and some say original, form of asana practice. The sages who pioneered the  path of yoga used asanas to strengthen the body, so that they could sit for long periods in contemplative meditation. If you have ever sat for a long time with legs crossed, you know the hips and lower back need to be strong and open. The sensations you felt were deep in the connective tissues and the joints. These are the deep yin tissues of the body, relative to the more superficial yang tissues of muscles and skin. Yin Yoga opens up these deep, dense, rarely touched areas.

Yin Yoga targets the connective tissues, such as the ligaments, hips, pelvis, lower spine, bones, and even the joints of the body that normally are not exercised very much in a more active style of asana practice.

Yang Yoga

Most yoga now practiced in the West is yang - an active practice that primarily focuses on movement and muscular contraction. Yang yoga provides enormous benefits for physical and emotional health, especially for those living a sedentary modern lifestyle. But it does not stretch the joints.

Yin Yoga vs. Yang Yoga 

If we don't exercise our muscles, they will atrophy and weaken. Similarly, if we don't stretch our connective tissues, joints, they will shorten and stiffen due to injuries, neglect, and aging. Athletes don't retire because of muscle problems; they retire with joint problems - bad ankles, bad backs, and bad knees.

Yin and yang tissues respond quite differently to being exercised. You need to experience this to really know what Yin Yoga is all about. After you have experienced it, even just once, you will realize that you have been doing only half of the asana practice.

Rediscovery of Yin Yoga

Recently Yin Yoga has been "re-discovered", and more and more students of yoga are adding this challenging form of practice to their regular sadhana.

Years of a dedicated asana practice will make anyone healthier, stronger, and more flexible, but at some point the muscles will have reached their limit of flexibility. New depths in postures, deeper ranges of motion, or an increased flow of energy may only be achievable by focusing on the deeper tissues of the body. This is why so many students are finding

Yin Yoga to be the perfect compliment and balance to their more active, yang practices.

Ying Yoga is suitable for almost all levels of students.Yin Yoga is a perfect complement to the dynamic and muscular (yang) styles of yoga that emphasize internal heat, and the lengthening and contracting of our muscles.

Yin Yoga Benefits

Yin Yoga  is performed to regulate the flow of energy in the body. This energy is called "chi" and when its flow in the body is strong, a person is healthy. Yin yoga improves the body in a variety of ways. These may include:
  • Quiets the mind
  • Trains the mind to stay calm and quiet in the face of internal and external stresses
  • Improves and balances flow of life force energy (chi, qi, prana) through the connective tissues/meridian tissues of the body
  • Awakens the chakras
  • Enhances and deepens meditation practice
  • Brings emotional balance to body, mind, and spirit
  • Improves concentration
  • Decreases stress levels
  • Stimulates the movement of life force through the connective tissues
  • Creates therapeutic stress on the joints
  • Develops and balances hyaluronic acid levels in the body - Hyaluronic acid cushions and lubricates joints
  • Trains and develops parasympathetic nervous system (digestion and energy conservation)
  • Pumps and circulates fluid in and out of the spine, the only way to fully re-inflate the discs in the spine
  • Reverses the aging process
  • Improves organ health
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves strength
  • Deeper relaxation
  • Greater stamina
  • Improves pain threshold
  • Improves balance
  • Improves practice of yang yoga

This type of yoga may be beneficial to a variety of people. These people may be experienced or beginners of yoga. Anyone needed greater concentration, improved flexibility, improved health and well being may benefit from Yin Yoga. Yin Yoga may also help those attending drug rehab, eating disorder treatment, or seeking pain and trauma recovery. 

Yin Yoga Asanas

Yin yoga postures gently stretch and rehabilitate the connective tissues that form our joints, allowing us to maintain and restore joint flexibility  Basic Yin Yoga Asanas include:
  • Butterfly
  • Caterpillar
  • Deer
  • Dragonfly
  • Frog
  • Happy baby
  • Lying twists 
  • Sphinx and seal 
  • Swan
  • Toe squat

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

About the Author

jeff expert thum
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA is a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, regularly writing about hot topics in the areas of health, fitness, disease prevention, weight loss, nutrition, anti aging and alternative medicine. Jeff Behar's work also often appears in several of the major health and fitness newsletters, health and fitness magazines, and on major health, fitness, and  weight loss websites. 



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