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Yin: What to Expect and Benefits

May 23, 2017 by Gail Asbell

Yin is a beautifully slow style of yoga. Yin is about targeting the fascia tissue within the body, also known as the connective tissue. Think ligaments, tendons, and joints. These parts of the body and a little colder and denser than muscles, so they require longer holds than when we target muscles.

What can we expect from a Yin Class?

A yin class is made up of long holds in nice deep stretches. Poses are usually held for around three to five minutes of each side. While that does sound like a long time, most of our yin postures are done on the ground with the mat and props supporting the weight of the body to ensure you feel safe and secure.

While we use alignment in our stronger classes, there are no rules in our yin practice. We use blocks, bolsters, and blankets to prop up the body, keeping us comfortable. As long as you’re feeling sensation in the target area, it doesn’t matter what else is happening in the body. We only move into a shape to about 70% of our ability. We shouldn’t be straining or striving in yin. It’s about doing less, not more.

Teachers will be able to offer adjustments for any shape if you can’t find somewhere comfortable to be. While some classes may target a specific area or function of the body, some are just about finding opening in a range of different areas.

The benefits of yin

There are so many benefits to our yin practice. Here are just a few.

  • It enhances our flexibility. These deep holds allow our fascia tissue to unlock and become looser. This enables us to gain more flexibility and mobility in our muscles and joints. This opening also stays longer than just flexibility of the muscles. When we lengthen the fascia, it stays long. Rather than the muscles which can contract back with time and use.
  • It gives us time to shut out the outside world. During our yin practice there is a lot of stillness and silence. While sometimes this can make the mind work a little faster, it gives us the opportunity to see and watch the thoughts, noticing where we tend to go. We can then start to catch and change those patterns.
  • It reduces anxiety and stress. We build up so much tension and tightness in the body. And that can result in stress. Yin slows the body quite dramatically. It allows us to release the physical tension and in tern, release the emotional and mental tension as well.
  • It helps us let go of being perfect. As we should be going to about 70% of our effort and ability in yin, it teaches us that we can’t always be perfect or do something to our full ability. And it’s not always about needing to move forward. Sometimes is can be about sitting still.
  • It helps our immune system. As we can reduce stress in the body, the body has space and time to support other functions. When we are less stressed our body is more able to fight inflammation and illness. Helping us to stay healthier.
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