How to practice Yin Yoga

All tissues of the body must undergo stress to stay healthy

– Paul Grilley

In yin yoga, our main target is our fascia. And fascia does´t respond to stress like our muscles. Dense fascia don´t respond to dynamic and rhythmic stresses like muscles. Fascia need a moderate stress maintained for a few minutes. This is why we are holding yin yoga poses for about 3-10 minutes.

There are a few guidelines to use when we practice yin yoga. You can call them three rules, guidelines or tattvas.

  1. Find the target area and play with the edges.
    Each pose have one or a few target areas we are aiming to stress in that specific pose. Know where you want to feel the pose, so you can modify the pose after your individual body. When you find the target area, you play with your edges. This means you find your first edge, when you feel resistance. You don´t push or aim to go deeper. You relax and melt into the pose with no muscular effort.
  2. Relax.
    Most important is to relax around the target area. When we give the muscles a chance to relax, we can go deeper into our bodies and target our fascia. When you feel relaxation around the target area, you scan your whole body for tension, and maybe you can relax your whole body?
  3. Stay for a few minutes.
    Time is called the magic ingredient in yin yoga. If you struggle physically or mentally, start with one minute and slowly work your way up to a few minutes.

Remember: In yin yoga it´s not about how the pose looks – its all about how it feels. This is the big difference between aesthetically practice yoga, and functional yoga. As you practice more yin yoga, it´s never about going deeper. It´s about staying longer.

But generally, the sustained stretches of yoga where you hold a posture for several minutes give the muscle a chance to calm down. The muscles have to relax first, and then the fascia starts to stretch and release. And that can facilitate the kind of re-patterning that leads to lasting release of chronic holdings, and in many cases, a profound change of mind and body.

– Tom Myers

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