Yin yoga is for everyone and everybody. It might seem boring on the surface, but I promise you, it goes deep, adding really useful benefits and skills for athletes.
Sometimes, simple tools make the biggest impact. And when it comes to athletes, it needs to be simple, effective and useful. Otherwise, no time will be spent investigating it.
Yin yoga is a slow paced style of yoga, that differs from all other styles of yoga in many ways. All the postures are done either seated or laying down. And the target is not to strengthen muscles. The target is the deep fascia of our bodies which is why yin yoga often is called ”yoga for the joints”.
So what happens when we sit or lay down in these different postures? Well, on a physical level, we start to relax our muscles – to give our fascia a chance to receive the stress. We stay in each pose not only for a few breath, but for a few minutes. After about 90 seconds or so, the muscles will start to “get it”. They will start to relax more and more, and the stress goes into our deeper layers of fascia.
For someone new to the practice, it might sound awful to stress the joints. It´s not. Joints need stress just like the rest of the tissues in our bodies. All our tissues need stress in order to stay healthy. Including the joints! What´s important though, is to know the “how” and “why” behind it.
If we don´t stress our joints, they will start to deteriorate. This happens as we age, but also as a respond to the way we use, or not use our bodies. The joints are made up of different types of fascia, such as ligaments. And ligaments need stress to stay healthy. We just need to know how ligaments respond to stress, so we can exercise our ligaments in a way that the ligaments can respond in a positive way. This is where yin yoga can shine.
It´s simple. We use the shape of a yin yoga pose that targets different body parts, and then we stay. We wait. And while we do this, all sorts of stuff may arise, such as emotions and physical sensations. We never stay in a pose that is painful. One of the hardest question to ask ourselves in a yin yoga pose is “is this pain good to me?”. Because there is kind of good pain and bad pain. And some people like to say yin yoga causes good pain.
This simple practice is awesome in so many levels. It goes beyond working muscles. It targets deeper tissues in our bodies we often neglect. Until the day comes that we get injured. Then we start to realize what all the fuzz regarding fascia is about. Because fascia is always involved when it comes to injuries.
Simple does it for athletes. Why? Because it´s a complement to the ordinary sports training, and for it to be done – in my experience working with athletes (and being one myself), it has to be simple and not too long, but still long enough to have an effect. It has to be uncomplicated enough to learn how to do it alone, without a teacher. And yin yoga really is simple. And effective.
Yin yoga is THE complement to sports. It gives us a chance to grow stronger ligaments, tendons and myofascia in our bodies. It keeps our fascia hydrated. (Dehydrated fascia means pain, imbalances, and can lead to injury). It´s NOT about being as flexible as possible, it´s about not losing YOUR individual range of motion, keeping your joints working effectively, And this doesn´t necessarily means getting more flexible. Yin yoga is about keeping your joints to function properly, for the demands your sport, and life, puts on your body. And while we stress the fascia, the cells (mostly fibroblasts) actually gets “activated” and produce more collagen fibers, so the fascia grows stronger! And while doing so, in the yin yoga poses, you will also work your mind. Like… a lot. Staying still in a pose that feels like a deep stretch, for about five minutes at a time. Stuff will happen, in your mind, body and soul. Simple does NOT mean easy.