Your Guide To Yin Yoga
Updated: Mar 31, 2021
Welcome to your official Yin Yoga guide. Everything you need to know about this wonderful practice.
What is Yin Yoga
Small steps, lead to big change - and Yin Yoga is one of the most wonderful things you can do to both connect and develop your mind, body and soul.
Do you have a fatigued, tight or stiff body in need of a good stretch, a busy, worried or unsettled mind - Yin Yoga could be the medicine you need.
Yin Yoga is a deeply meditative form of yoga. It is opposite to ‘yang’ styles of yoga, which are more fast paced - such as the classic and well known Vinyasa, along with Ashtanga yoga, and power yoga.
Through slow and purposeful movements, and poses which are held for several minutes,Yin Yoga targets your deep connective tissues (often referred to as fascia), your ligaments, joints and your bones.
It’s quite an unbelievable experience, and we encourage you to give it a go. It may take a few tries to get there, and really be able to apply both your mind and your body to the experience, but we are sure you will notice the benefits after the first time. Whether that be your calm mind after the practice has finished, or happy and stretched out muscles. There are bundles of benefits of this form of yoga, which we will explore with more depth below.
How to have an amazing Yin Yoga session at home
The great thing about Yin Yoga, is that you can really practice this anywhere, and I personally find this most enjoyable at home. You really don’t need much to get started. Just a mat (I personally use this one, it’s very soft, durable and comes with a strap), and some blocks can be helpful to have on hand for some of the poses - and of course something comfortable to wear.
What to Wear?
This flattering luxe Nike all in one piece is perfect for a stretchy session.
This lavender ASOS set is perfect for a Yin Yoga session. Super light and comfortable.
Before I start my Yin Yoga sequence, I like to create a very calming environment, it gets me into the right headspace before I begin. The atmosphere is important to me. I usually choose to practice my Yin Yoga in the bedroom, as this room offers the most calming connotations for me and I have some yoga artwork displayed in there, which really sets the tone - plus there’s the least distraction here.
Before I step onto my mat, I turn on some meditation music, light a candle (this Neom one is my absolute favourite) and lightly mist a relaxing aromatherapy scent. This makes all the difference, as the scent immediately calms my senses.
Free Online Yin Yoga Class Recommendations
I either use my phone or my laptop (usually my phone as I always have that close by). A good tip is to turn off notifications so you aren’t distracted during. I always turn to Boho Beautiful on Youtube. Here are some of my favourite Yin Yoga classes:
Yin Yoga Class ♥ Best Yoga For Slow Deep Muscle Release (20 Minute Session)
Yin Yoga Fusion ♥ Best Yoga For Flexibility (25 Minute Session)
Yin Yoga Deep Stretch Class ♥ Release All That No Longer Serves You (30 Minute Session)
During the Class
When I start the class, I completely surrender to the practice, listening to every word and giving every pose my best shot. There will always be poses that are a challenge - and even if you sink into an easier pose, there is a way to deepen the stretch and push yourself further. There is something so rewarding that comes from this struggle.
As I’ve mentioned above, Yin Yoga is all about breathing through discomfort, and after a little while you’ll notice that your body lets go - the pain lessens and your muscle releases. That is really an amazing moment. And next time to hit the mat, you notice a difference, even if it’s just small.
After the Class
At the end of the session, I take a moment to sit in my renewed tranquility, as my mind also let go. It’s less busy, less clouded and it’s very freeing. In that moment, nothing really matters - and that again, is an amazing moment.
Once I feel the practice is over, I roll up my mat and I begin my day. For me, practicing Yin Yoga at home and before I begin my working day is one of the most therapeutic experiences. It really sets the tone for the day, and I do notice a difference if I don’t do it. The meditative experience ripples throughout my day, if I dedicate myself to just a 20 minute session. 20 minutes of my time, in exchange for a day of calm. It’s an easy decision..
Yin Yoga Poses
If you'd like a few suggested poses, here are a few that will awaken your energy and restore your soul. I usually hold each position for 2 minutes, but you can extend or lower this to suit.
Starting from downward dog, bring your right knee to your right wrist, and position your right foot in front of your left hip as you can (or as close as you can get). Slide your left leg back. You should feel a deep stretching sensation in your right hip, as well as your left thigh. You can place a block underneath your right hip, or you can simply allow it to melt into the floor. Repeat on the opposite side.
Draw the soles of your feet together, and position them away from your pelvis. Fold your upper body over, allowing your head to fall by your feet. Allow elbows to sink into the floor, and rest your head in your hands - alternatively you can rest your head over a pillow. You can also elevate yourself by sitting on a cushion. This can make it easier to fold over.
Laying on your back with your knees bent, cross your right leg over your left, and allow your right knee to fall to the floor, naturally bringing your left leg down too. Extend your right arm out, allowing your right shoulder to melt into the floor, and look over your right shoulder. If you are unable to touch your right shoulder to the floor, place your right hand on your waist. Repeat on the opposite side.
Yin Yoga Benefits
Yin Yoga isn't a typical sweat inducing workout, but it still packs a punch with its physical and mental effects. It has been widely observed that the following are some of the most impactful benefits of the practice:
When you practice Yin Yoga, you stretch the Fascia which is the connective tissue wrapped around your muscles. Through habitual bad posture, ageing and injury, our Fascia binds together and restricts our movement, blocking the flow of nutrients and energy running through the body which can limit our mobility and maybe even cause us pain. When the Fascia and muscle is stretched through this lengthening and strengthening practice, tension is reduced - allowing more flexibility and a reduction in blockages.
Reduces Stress & Anxiety
You might find that deep thoughts and emotions start to surface when you are in the middle of a Yin Yoga stretch. Anything that you may have suppressed due to the business of everyday life. This is your moment to observe the emotions, but not identify with them. There's a deep release that comes from this experience. Holding onto these feelings uses a lot of energy, and your body benefits from letting them out.
Yin Yoga helps to release stiffness in the body. Yin invites your body to let go of this, as it increases elasticity in the Fascia which connects the body's muscles, and therefore promotes a more healthy blood flow. It is also believed that you restore a relaxed flow of Qi. Based on the ancient Chinese belief, Qi is energy flow, and it's believed that blockages can result in illnesses. When we practice Yin Yoga, we release blockages and improve circulation in the body.
Gratitude and Joy
Returning to our body through Yin Yoga is a very grounding experience. As we journey inwards with deep breaths, we shift our focus to the moment and we have a heightened sense awareness for what our body is capable of. This leads to an intense feeling of gratitude. As a result of this experience, our mind slows down creating space for gratitude to ripple out into the day, filling various avenues of life with a feeling of contentment and renewal.
This is just a few of the benefits, there are plenty more - like improved sleep, builds inner strength, fosters self love, activates your parasympathetic nervous system (slows your heart rate leading to calm, and reduction in stress levels) - and more.
Yin Yoga Tips
When you are in each Yin Yoga pose, look to find stillness. Move slowly, and focus your attention inwards. This is how you will reap the benefits of the practice.
Breathe through the discomfort, aiming to find a comfortable discomfort. Something you can sustain, but where you are still challenging yourself. But please note, you should never feel pain.
Don't be afraid to use blocks or blankets to support any tense areas. If you can relax these areas with props, your muscles are more likely to release, and you should see more improvement.
This article is an opinion based article, and features our own personal learnings and experiences, combined with personal research. We recommend consulting an experienced yoga practitioner should you want to explore this subject more deeply or require any advice.