what is yin yoga? (hint: it's pure magic✨)
Updated: Aug 6, 2020
Hello ... My name is Jenny White and I am obsessed with yin yoga.
Yin hasn't always been at the heart of my yoga practice. I was trained in the traditional hot sequence and vinyasa and taught/practiced both exclusively for years. I trained in yin once I took a few classes and developed a passion for it, but it wasn't until staying at home more during spring of 2020 that I fell hopelessly, head over heels in love with yin. It is THE PERFECT practice for self care at home and can be done easily with any amount of time you have available. At this point, I've switched to live streaming yin classes exclusively, and it's been a joy for my students and I.
I get asked all the time what exactly yin yoga is, how it's different from other yoga and what the benefits are...so I wanted to share my experience with you!
BREATHE IN. BREATHE OUT.
WHAT IS YIN YOGA?
Yin is a slow and meditative practice (we hold poses for at least 2 minutes and let gravity take over to deepen us into our full expression), which gives you space to tune inward to your mind and the physical sensations of the poses. By holding poses for longer in a calm setting, we access our parasympathetic nervous system (think rest and digest state vs fight or flight), which allows us to melt into a relaxed state.
Physically, by holding poses for longer, we are gently stretching our connective tissue (tendons, fasciae, ligaments) which makes them longer and stronger, increasing flexibility and blood flow to our joints. Simply, though....yin feels damn good. It's like a self massage and is the practice that personally allows me to get present and calm every single time I unroll my yoga mat.
This is a picture of me teaching yin in person in Denver, December 2019. Tori is in bliss mode!
WHY IS IT CALLED YIN?
Think yin and yang....where "yang" is a more energetic vibe and corresponds with the sun and more energetic sensations, yin (which goes with the calm, cool moon energy) is about surrendering. I tell my students that yin is the art of letting go, both mind and body.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF YIN YOGA?
Ready for the long list? There are SO MANY benefits to practicing yin:
Calms and relaxes the mind
Balances your mind and body
Accesses your parasympathetic nervous system
Improves joint mobility
Can be practiced nearly anywhere
Is the ultimate self care practice
Can accentuate your meditation practice
Proves the benefit of consistency
Increases range of motion
Revitalizes your tissue
Balances internal organs
Is a solid addition for many athletes
Balances any yang style practices or lifestyle
...and more! Comment below your FAVORITE reason to practice yin
WHO CAN PRACTICE YIN YOGA? DO I NEED TO LITERALLY BE A PRETZEL TO START?
Yin is a great practice for any yogi, whether it's your first time on your yoga mat, you have an advanced daily practice or fall anywhere in between. Yin poses range from the simple to the complex and can be done in bed, on a chair, on a yoga mat, in your hotel room, on an airplane, in your home, in a studio, etc!
I promise you DO NOT need to be a pretzel. I think that yoga can be really intimidating to start, because it can feels like you need to be able to touch your toes. I promise that you do not need to be able to touch your toes or do the splits in order to kick off a yin practice! Yin is available and hugely beneficial to you whether you are trying yoga for the first time and don't consider yourself "flexible", or you're advanced in your yoga practice and have made flexibility a part of your daily routine. Have a body? Do yin! (It's for EVERY body).
MOST PEOPLE HAVE NO CLUE HOW GOOD THEIR BODY IS DESIGNED TO FEEL.
We took over a Denver gallery in December 2019 for a group new moon yin yoga class and it was a dream!
WHERE SHOULD I DO YIN YOGA?
Although you can practice yin in a studio, it's been my strong preference lately in my personal practice and for my students to practice yin in their home and participate in my donation based live stream classes. By doing yin at home:
You have control of your space and can really get the feng shui perfect for the vibe you're going for. You don't need a "yoga room" or anything fancy at all. Set up in a calm space in your home and light your favorite candles, diffuse essential oils or surround yourself with crystals that make you happy.
You don't need to drive home "yin high". Yup, that's a thing! A lot of times after a yin practice, you are so calm and relaxed that you just want to chill or roll right into bed. My students and I joke that we need a "yin uber" to drive us home after class.
It tends to be more affordable. I offer up my yin live stream classes on a pay what you can system and trust that you'll invest what you're comfortable and able to for my time and expertise.
Yin can be done in bed, on an airplane, in a hotel room, on the beach. Your practice could be mini (5 min) or lengthy (90-120 minutes).
This is me practicing yin yoga (surrounded by crystals of course - my other obsession!) in my home studio space.
WHAT PROPS DO I NEED IN ORDER TO PRACTICE YIN YOGA?
One of the things that I love most about yin yoga is that you can truly do this practice without a ton of fancy yoga gear. During spring of 2020, when people around the world stayed home, yin was a great practice to turn to because it could be done without specialized yoga props.
We use props in yin yoga to get comfy in the positions, to find our edge and not move past it, to bring the ground up to us and to modify the poses for exactly what we need. It might sound complicated, but I promise you that yin is a simple practice.
The following are my recommendations for your yin props :
Yoga Mat - although practicing with a mat is great, it's absolutely not necessary for yin. I do chose to use a yoga mat, however you could place a comfortable blanket on the floor as well. I sometimes practice yin poses in bed in the morning before getting the day started or evening before I close my eyes!
Yoga blocks - I do find yoga blocks to be handy for my practice, but again they are not necessary. If you don't have yoga blocks, grab a few books that you could stack up.
Yoga bolster - a yoga bolster is a specialized pillow to use during your yoga practice. I use bolsters because they are more firm than pillows and offer a greater amount of support, however pillows work great in most poses. Grab some off your bed and unroll your mat!
A Mexican blanket - truly any blanket will do. You'll notice Mexican blankets used regularly in yin studio classes because they fold easily, but you could try some blankets from around your home.
Towels - I find towels to be really useful in yin because you can easily be rolled up and used in a variety of ways. I sometimes find blankets to be too think, and a towel is the perfect alternative.
If you are newer to yin, you'll realize within a practice or two what your favorite props are for yin.
Do you have any favorite props to use in your yin practice? Comment below!
WHY DO I PERSONALLY LOVE YIN?
How much time do you have haha?! Yin is the form of self care that I turn to most regularly. It makes my body feel strong and open, it helps to bring my mind to a relaxed state. I love the way that yin benefits my other yoga practices, both in mind and body. I love how it benefits any other fitness practices. I LOVE how available yin is to all of my students, and all of the physical, mental and emotional benefits that I see this method offer them.
Hopefully I've broken down yin yoga a bit and shared with you at least some of why I am so passionate about it. I would love to answer your questions about yin yoga - please feel free to comment below or email me directly! My live stream yin classes are a lovely way to add self care in to your week and practice yin in a calm, affordable and safe manner. I would love for you to join us - you can sign up for your spot HERE and please pay what you can for class.
See you on your yoga mat.
ps ... love these tips? I would LOVE it if you would pin this to come back to, or share with a friend!
Don't forget to sign up for my SUNDAY SELF CARE JOURNAL here!