Why You May Need to Practice Yin Yoga
by: Jessica Bryant
Yin yoga is more of a mental practice rather than a physical one. Whenever practicing yin, you won’t be working up a sweat. Instead, you’ll be staying in forms for about 3-5 minutes on average, depending on the class, the form, and the instructor. It’s also done on the ground and with cool muscles. Cool muscles are basically just muscles that have not been warmed up. The reason you don’t want to practice yin yoga with warmed-up muscles is yin yoga needs to go deeper than the muscles, into the joints and fascia.
There are numerous benefits of practicing yin
- Good to balance out a yang practice, such as a vinyasa flow.
- Stresses the connective tissues beneath the muscles.
- Good for exercising the ligaments and joints to regain strength
- For women, yin yoga is good to do during a menstrual cycle. I know when I’m on my period, I don’t want to do a whole lot, but I’ve learned that my period isn’t as bad when I move at least a little. I find Butterfly fairly effective with controlling my menstrual cramps.
- After traveling, even if you’ve been sitting. Traveling is a yang activity, yin balances it out. If you live a mobile lifestyle like me, road trips can be hard sometimes. It’s good to use yin to nourish those ligaments and joints after a long journey.
- Releasing trauma
Everyone has trauma. Even if you don’t remember the trauma, emotional or otherwise, your body does remember. That memory is stored in the fascia and in order to release it, you need to get into the fascia to stretch it and release the tension created by the trauma. When the tension releases, a student may experience an emotional release, such as tears.
One thing that needs to be mentioned here is that yin is not restorative. Though both are good for balancing out a hectic life. Restorative is a passive practice. In restorative, you use props to become like a slab of melted butter, as I’ve heard numerous times. Yin is an active practice. As long as you’re feeling something, it’s yin not restorative. The only time you need to come out of the form is when you’re feeling numbness, tingling, and, especially, pain. At that point, gently come out of the form.
Getting back to our discussion of yin, this world is so full of stimulation that everyone seems to be on sensory overload and running on RedBull just to keep up with the “Jones’s”. The mere stress and pressure to do more, get more, and be more is so rampant that slowing down may seem like regression to a “lesser than” state of living.
Yin yoga forces you to slow down. It helps us get to the foot of the cross, to the feet of Jesus, pouring out our hearts to Him.
Yin gets you to the edge of the posture to the point where your body begins to feel weak and you need to reach to the Source in Christ for strength to hold it for even just a couple more breaths.
I was reminded during a yin class I took of the old hymnal “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.” The partial verse “I am weak but thou art strong” kept repeating in my mind during that practice. We can boast in that weakness we feel as it states in II Corinthians 12:9.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ” II Corinthians 12:9 ESV
In those moments where you are at your weakest in the form and pulling your strength from Him, you may have a God moment. He may speak to you in one of those moments.
We have to remember that when we come out of that form, we need to be very cautious, listening to our bodies. Feeling any weakness from the extended hold and every sensation that arises during the posture, coming out of it, and after it. Our bodies are our best teachers. Though the instructor is guiding you, your body is telling you your limitations within each form.
Yin can be a wonderful yoga tool if used correctly. I invite you to try it sometime if you haven’t already.