Do you have a Asana already held for 15 minutes? Sounds impressive and it is. This is exactly what you do with Yin Yoga. A quarter of an hour is already professional level. Most of the time, the exercises in Yin Yoga are held for 3 to 5 minutes.
Yin Yoga evolved from the traditional Hatha Yoga . In Yin Yoga there are mainly lying and sitting asanas. By holding it for a long time, connective tissue, fascia, tendons and joints are intensely stretched. Yin Yoga also has a profound effect on your inner being and your thoughts.
It can relieve and prevent pain and tension - as well as emotional blockages. That is why the calm, meditative yoga style is becoming increasingly popular. Reason enough to take a closer look at Yin Yoga.
Where does yin yoga come from? A short story
Yin Yoga has probably been practiced in different variations for centuries without this name being used. Yin Yoga became famous in the 1980s through the American martial arts athlete Paulie Zink. He practiced what he called “Daoist Yoga”, learned from Kung Fu master Cho Chat Ling. He owes his flexibility and his success as a martial artist to this yoga practice. In 1987 the yoga teacher Paul Grilley saw a TV report about Paulie Zink and was fascinated, especially by the long asanas. Grilley trained with Zink, followed by many other studies on the effects of the yoga style. Paul Grilley initially taught this style of yoga under the name "Taoist Yoga". The yoga teacher Sarah Powers, who eventually coined the name "Yin Yoga", taught in the same studio. She supplemented the practice with teachings from Buddhism and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Her yoga practice is particularly aimed at the flow of Qi (life energy) in the meridian system. Sarah Powers and Paul Grilley still do workshops and trainings in Yin Yoga worldwide.
The meaning of Yin and Yang in Yin Yoga
The concept of yin and yang comes from the Chinese philosophy of Daoism. Yin and Yang are considered opposing forces: Yin describes the feminine, passive, calm and soft energy. Yang is the masculine, active, dynamic and tough opposite pole. In terms of anatomy, Yin stands for connective tissue, ligaments and tendons, and Yang for muscles. Yin and Yang are not mutually exclusive - on the contrary: as opposing poles, they form an inseparable unit. One doesn't work without the other.
Most of the yoga styles that are popular today are Yang-focused. Our life is shaped even more by Yang: Hectic pace, stress and pressure to perform often determine our everyday life. If you practice Yin Yoga, you can restore a balance between Yin and Yang, you will achieve more calm and equilibrium.
In contrast to other yoga styles, you can be passive in Yin Yoga, mindfully surrender to the postures and just watch what happens. This allows you to switch off, calm your thoughts and your mind. Perhaps the passive postures at the beginning also give you a lot of thoughts. This is a sign that something is working in you and in the yoga class you have the time for it. Not only physical but also emotional blockages are released. Regular practice sensitizes you for a better and more conscious perception of your body and your inner being.
The most popular yin yoga exercises and their meaning
You already know that the asanas in Yin Yoga are held for several minutes and that there are mainly sitting and lying positions. But there are a few more peculiarities or differences to other yoga styles.
If you are already practicing yoga, you will become familiar with Yin Yoga Asanas but which are called differently. The pigeon is z. B. to the swan, the sprinter to the kite. Students should practice the postures differently than they are used to from other yoga styles. Other names prevent an unconscious association. Because the intention and the execution differ in Yin Yoga: Instead of full body tension, as few muscles as possible should be tensed. All muscle groups not required for the exercise should be able to completely let go and relax.
Yin Yoga stretches and relaxes your muscles and joints and makes you more flexible over time. Yin Yoga also has a positive effect on your connective tissue and the fasciae - possible tension or adhesions can be released. You have the opportunity to mindfully feel into your body and get to know it better. If you only come into a position up to a certain point, it can either be due to your individual skeletal structure or to hardened fascia. In the first case, you can accept that because the range of motion of the skeleton cannot be changed. In the second case, you can become more agile and flexible through regular practice and relaxation. Yin Yoga trains you to perceive and recognize this difference.
How to do a yin yoga exercise:
- Find the position slowly without going straight to the maximum.
- Bring the attention inwards, calm your breath and hold the position.
- Gradually let go and feel what is good for you: Maybe you can go deeper into the asana or you adjusts the posture a little. You can feel a stretch in Yin Yoga, but there should be no pain.
Here are some of the most popular asanas for your yin yoga exercise plan:
One foot is placed in front, the knee is at right angles above the ankle. The other leg is in the back. Push your pelvis forward until you feel a stretch. Depending on how flexible you are, you can rest your hands on your thighs, a yoga block or on the floor. Change sides after a few minutes. The hip flexor in particular is mobilized in this position.
Butterfly (Baddha Konasana)
Sit upright with your heels together. The knees fall loosely outwards. The feet are a short distance from the pelvis. Put your hands around your feet. If you like, you can bend over and rest your forehead on a yoga block or your feet. The butterfly stretches your inner thighs and gently opens your hips.
The caterpillar is a sitting forward bend that relieves and stretches your spine and shoulder area. Sit upright with your legs stretched forward. Raise your arms and slowly bend forward. Your back can become round. The aim is to put your head and arms down. You can use a belt, a yoga block or a pillow to help.
Sphinx (Ardha Bhujangasana)
The sphinx is a modification of the cobra. Start in the prone position, bring your elbows under your shoulders and place your forearms and hands straight forward. Now lift your chest off the floor so that you can bend back comfortably.
Eye of the needle (Sucirandhrasana)
angle one leg while lying on your back and place the other's foot over the knee. Grasp the bent leg with both hands. Find a comfortable stretch by pulling the leg toward you while pushing the other's knee away from you. The eye of the needle particularly appeals to the buttocks and deep hip muscles.
Yin Yoga for the back
Problems and back pain are often the result of too much sitting and too little movement. Yin Yoga is a real treat for the back. By holding the asanas for a long time, the back is intensely stretched, mobilized and relaxed. Yin Yoga can relieve back pain and prevent it with regular practice.
In most yoga styles, the back is deliberately kept straight. In Yin Yoga you can let go and round it.
These yin yoga exercises are particularly good for the back:
Half swivel seat (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
In this exercise, your entire spine is mobilized and stretched, as is your chest. Start cross-legged and place your left foot to the right of your right knee. Hug your left knee with your right arm. Place your left arm behind you, straighten up, and gently turn to the left. Until you feel a comfortable stretch. Then it is the turn of the other side.
Melting Heart (Anahatasana)
Start in a four-footed position and slowly walk forward with your hands. Keep your knees at a right angle or your pelvis above your knees. Walk with your arms outstretched until your heart is as close to the ground as possible.
Start lying on your back with your arms and legs stretched out. Now bend your arms and legs to the left, keeping them straight. Grab your right wrist with your left hand to intensify the stretch. Your entire right half of the body is stretched and the spine is mobilized. Then repeat the exercise on the other side.
The best tips: Yin Yoga for beginners
If you would like to be more flexible, have a tendency to tension or want to prevent pain, Yin Yoga can help you. Likewise, if you would like to bring more calm and mindfulness into your thoughts and your everyday life. If you are already practicing other styles of yoga, Yin Yoga can be a great balance to more dynamic yoga classes. If you already have some knowledge of yoga, you can also practice Yin Yoga at home. If you are new to yoga, there is a course for Yin Yoga beginners in a yoga school, so that you are supported in the correct execution and the Yoga exercises and their effects get to know.
In Yin Yoga, basically all aids are allowed that support you in the exercises and make you more comfortable. Neither of which is a must. The most common aids are yoga blocks, pillows, blankets, bolsters and belts.
We usually recommend tight-fitting clothing for yoga practice. With Yin Yoga it can be relaxed and comfortable like with our popular Keffiah Pants made of organic cotton .
Can I also practice Yin Yoga during pregnancy?
Yoga and especially Yin Yoga are particularly helpful and supportive during pregnancy. You can do yoga during pregnancy as long as it feels good to you - in theory until the birth. As long as there is nothing medically against it, of course - if you are unsure, ask your doctor for advice beforehand.
On a mental level, Yin Yoga can support you during pregnancy to consciously perceive and accept the physical changes and to pay attention to yourself and your baby. The practice of yoga can increase your well-being, prepare you mentally for the birth and even alleviate pregnancy problems such as back problems.
Physically, you can use certain asanas specifically to prepare for birth. This includes in particular exercises that strengthen and loosen the hip and pelvic floor area.
When practicing yoga during pregnancy, you should of course listen very carefully to your body and only do what feels good and right for you. As the abdominal girth grows, there are a few exercises that you should avoid during pregnancy: Avoid exercises in the prone position and abdominal muscle exercises, make sure that you do not do a hollow back and no or only slight back bends. Do not stretch yourself too much, during pregnancy the body is much more flexible anyway, so you can quickly overdo it unnoticed. Exercises in the supine position are only possible to a limited extent with a large baby bump and feel uncomfortable for many. Rather, take a comfortable side position. In addition, use any resources you like.
Yin Yoga: effect, application and meaning
The many positive effects of Yin Yoga make the yoga style more and more popular - both with practiced yogis and with yoga beginners. In the sense of yin and yang, yin yoga provides a balance between your various forces and energies.
This is what Yin Yoga does with your body:
- Fascia, connective tissue, joints and muscles become more flexible and supple
- Release tension
- Pain prevention
- you get to know your body better through mindfulness
Yin Yoga has this effect on mind and psyche:
- Thoughts come to rest
- Opportunity to deal with your subconscious
- Release of emotional blockages
- more emotional balance
- reaching a meditative state
- more calm and serenity in everyday life
Would you like to try it out yourself? We hope you enjoy it!