By Kaelyn Riley |
Yin yoga is a slow, meditative practice composed of seated and supine postures designed to “mindfully stress” the body’s connective tissues, explains Seattle-based instructor Pamela Chang.
These tissues, including tendons, cartilage, and the full-body subcutaneous casing known as fascia, are most concentrated in and around the joints, where they can stiffen and shorten with age or inactivity. Mobilizing the tissues lubricates them and makes them more supple. Yin yoga is one way to achieve this.
Yin is suitable for both beginners and more experienced yogis, though it’s common for newcomers to struggle to remain still for several minutes at a time.
The key to getting the most benefits from this practice is to listen to your body and ease into longer holds. Stop when you find resistance. The sensation may feel uncomfortable, but never painful.
“I follow my breath and the changes in sensation,” Chang says, “and I enjoy the mindful process of slowly letting go over several minutes.”
Perform the following three postures on their own or sequenced for a gentle flow.
- Relax your muscles and hold for four to five minutes.
If your back or hips feel tight, sit on a folded blanket to tilt your pelvis forward. If you want more support for your hips, try placing a yoga block under each knee.
- Relax your muscles and hold for four to five minutes. Repeat on the other side.
If you can’t feel a stretch in your right quadriceps, bend your left knee and place your left foot flat on the floor with your knee pointing upward. For the deepest stretch, draw your left knee toward your chest.
- Relax your muscles and hold for four to five minutes. Repeat on the left side.
If this feels intense on your shoulders, place a block under your arms for support.
This originally appeared as “Yin Yoga Flow” in the October 2018 print issue of Experience Life.