The Powerful Benefits Of Yin Yoga For The Body And Mind

December 14, 2022

If you’ve tried Yin yoga before, you most likely finished the session feeling utterly relaxed and replenished. 

Yin is a highly therapeutic style of yoga that has unique effects on our body and mind, along with all the usual incredible yoga benefits. If you’ve recently started a yin practice or are considering doing so, this article is for you.

Read on to discover how you will benefit physically and mentally from a regular Yin yoga practice.

Butterfly Pose, from the Yin Academy online course.

Benefits of Yin Yoga For The Body

Improvement of Flexibility & Mobility

All “yang” styles of yoga, such as Hatha, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga, are known for increasing flexibility and mobility. This is due to stretching the muscles, the superficial tissues of the body. 

However, it is not only muscles that may be the source of tightness in the body. For example, our hips, hamstrings or lower back can be tight because of tension in the deeper connective tissues.

Yin yoga is unique as it lengthens these deeper connective tissues – the fascia, tendons, and ligaments. This is possible because of the long holds and the passive style of stretching – fascia needs at least 120 seconds of sustained stretching for its elasticity to be affected.

Thus, Yin complements yang styles of yoga perfectly, giving you a true full-body stretch. Many people who have practised Hatha or Ashtanga yoga for years find their flexibility and mobility considerably improve once they start a yin practice.

Yin Yoga Increases Circulation

Like other styles of yoga, Yin encourages slow and deep breathing, which slows the heart rate and improves blood circulation.

However, in yin yoga, you breathe into the part of the body you are stretching. This improves blood and oxygen flow not only into the superficial tissues but also into the deep fascia layers. This, in turn, stimulates the flow of “chi” or “prana,” our life force energy.

Benefits For The Mind

Yin Yoga Reduces Stress & Anxiety

A five-week study on clinically stressed adults found Yin Yoga to be beneficial in reducing symptoms of stress and depression. Researchers concluded this by measuring the Plasma Adrenomedullin levels of each participant before and after the five-week program. 

Adrenomedullin is your body’s cardiovascular response when exposed to stress; the more stressed a person feels, the higher the levels will be. The researchers found a significant reduction in plasma ADM levels among the participants post-study compared to pre-study, suggesting their stress levels had greatly diminished. 

Yin yoga’s stress-reduction benefits are likely due to its calming effect on the nervous system and mind. Moreover, the stillness the practice promotes gives yogis a much-needed “slow down” in their fast-paced daily life. 

Without doing practices like yoga and meditation that help you connect to the present moment, it is easy to become affected by the many minor stressors that occur every day. However, mindfulness practice allows you to stay calm and peaceful.

Improvement of Sleep Quality

The study mentioned above also found that participants reported better sleep quality after five weeks of practising Yin Yoga. This is because yin yoga slows down mental activity – one common reason we struggle to sleep is that we have an overactive mind.

Yin yoga also shifts the nervous system into rest and digest mode (parasympathetic), where the body naturally prepares for sleep. Nowadays, our nervous systems remain sympathetic as we are constantly on the go and always have something to worry about. Thus, doing yin yoga before bed can ease your worries and signal your body to relax.

Cat Pulling its Tail Pose, from the Yin Academy online Course

Yin Yoga Promotes Self-Awareness 

All yoga styles help you become more aware of your body’s sensations. However, because you hold Yin poses for a long duration, the development of self-awareness is enhanced in this practice

You hold Yin poses for between 1 and 5 minutes, depending on the targeted tissues. This gives you time to notice how your body responds to the stretch. With practice, you discover what feels good and what doesn’t, and thus, you learn how to adjust the posture to make it work for you.

In Yin Yoga, you work on finding what is known as “the edge“. This is the sweet spot where you are at your maximum, feeling the tension of the stretch but not experiencing pain. 

In other yoga styles, where you typically stay in poses for 5 breaths, you don’t get a chance to find your edge. This is why injuries and overstretching are common in “yang” yoga. 

Along with observing physical sensations, yin yoga helps you develop more awareness of your thoughts and emotions. As yin yoga is a mindfulness practice, the goal is to become aware of any thoughts and feelings that come up but not get caught up in the stories about them. 

Energetic Benefits Of Yin Yoga

12 Major Meridians Card from the YIN Deck

Yin Yoga is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. It works with the Meridians (energy channels); thus, the practice also benefits our emotional bodies. When we hold a posture, we target a particular meridian channel, improving the flow of energy and chi in the meridian’s associated organs. 

As each organ has specific functions and is linked to different emotions, the energetic benefits differ depending on the target meridian. 

For example, a blocked liver meridian can cause anger and frustration. However, by practising postures that target this meridian, such as Bananasana, Butterfly, and Dragon, you may feel these negative emotions lessen and cultivate a sense of calm and quiet instead. 

Thus, by learning what each meridian relates to and which poses target which channel, yin yoga can be a powerful source of emotional healing. 

To help you do this, we added meridian icons on every card from the PlayPauseBe Yin Deck.
We recommend you first read the included manual for a description of the meridians and the symptoms of imbalance. Then, you can use the icon system to quickly build sequences around the meridians you feel need healing.

Final Thoughts

The slow, mindful practice of yin yoga can give you many benefits such as improving your flexibility, reducing stress, helping you sleep better, and much more.
If you’re keen to start practising this blissful yoga style, order the PlayPauseBe Yin Deck today. The deck is designed for all levels, so you can start creating your own replenishing sequences immediately, even if you are a beginner. 
Moreover, to learn more about Yin Yoga, check out Yin Academy, our most comprehensive online course dedicated solely to this style of yoga.

The YIN Yoga deck.

Gemma Clarke

Gemma is a qualified Yoga teacher and freelance writer. She has over 4 years experience teaching Vinyasa, Hatha and Yin yoga. She has also studied Buddhism, Yoga Nidra and Thai Yoga Massage. Gemma is passionate about spreading the benefits of mindfulness and yogic living through movement and words.

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