5 Great Reasons to Try Yin Yoga

Here are 5 great reasons to try Yin yoga. There are many more, but if you've been wondering if Yin is for you, these 5 tips may convince you to give this wonderful practice a try.

1. Yin yoga is an excellent counterpart to more active "yang" vinyasa or other physical practices.

Yin yoga should not be practiced as your only form of yoga or exercise. It excels at balancing our typical 21st-Century Type A lifestyles that are fast-paced, competitive, and where our exercise or even yoga practice is extremely physical to the point of adding to our stress burden. Yin is the antidote to that. It is calming where most yoga is stimulating. It helps balance tissues that are in a perpetual state of contraction. It is balancing to the nervous system and for the vital organs.

2. Yin yoga is perfect for when you're stressed out, over-heated, or for women in their moon cycle.

Whenever you have been too yang, Yin yoga will help re-balance your energy levels and serve as a tonic to an over-stimulated, over-booked life. Yin yoga operates on the same concept as Traditional Chinese Medicine regarding the meridians, or energy channels in the body. When we are in a constant state of overwhelm or busyness, our Kindey and Liver Chi may be blocked, stagnant, weak, or aggravated. Yin poses which address these very important meridians help keep us in balance, especially when we feel too stressed, tired, or worn down for our regular exercise routine.

3. Yin yoga is an amazing precursor to meditation and can help you build a meditation practice, or deepen your existing one.

Yin yoga quiets the mind. Like all forms of yoga, Yin yoga can help settle the mind by bringing awareness into the subtle realms of breath and energy, but Yin in particular is well suited as a preliminary practice to sitting meditation. Why is this so? The quality of breath that develops from a Yin practice sets you up for a deep seated meditation practice. The spine & hips be open and lubricated and the breath and mind will be steady. A sitting practice after Yin practice can go very deep.  Concentration is stronger after Yin practice.

My students in Butterfly, a wonderful pose for the inner thighs and low back.

My students in Butterfly, a wonderful pose for the inner thighs and low back.

4. Yin yoga helps lengthen connective tissue (ligaments, fascia, possibly even bone) and produces Hyaluronic Acid (HA).

HA is the main component of synovial fluid, the fluid in your joints that reduces friction. Yin yoga can be very therapeutic for those with arthritis, chronic pain, auto-immune disorders and for healing from surgery or injury. Yin yoga can help dissolve scar tissue by stretching the fascia, providing the conditions for stiffness, tightness, or certain movement patterns in the body to resolve themselves over time.

5. Yin yoga develops attention to detail.

The attention to detail that develops thru the three-step path of yin yoga (find your edge, become still, hold for time) naturally settles the mind. As there is no flow in Yin, and poses are held for long periods of time (3-5 minutes or even longer), the practice invites deep introspection and listening to the body. Feeling and sensing the minute changes moment to moment builds somatic awareness and an appreciation for subtlety. It is a highly experiential practice, where you become much more intimate with the textures and contours of your inner body.

I teach Yin Yoga Sundays from 3-4:30pm at Reflections Yoga, 227 E. 24th St. in New York City. I also utilize Yin Yoga in my private yoga teaching. If you are seeking in increase in flexibility or if you feel stressed and your mind is constantly racing, Yin Yoga may be just what you need.