Taking It Slow: Yin Yoga 101

By: Shannon Howard


For many, yoga is a fast-paced Power or Vinyasa style of practice, often in a hot room, so you can sweat, work the muscles, and get in a great workout. While a Power class has its own set of benefits, so does a Yin yoga practice.

Yin yoga is yoga for the joints. The perfect compliment to the usual yang (Power!) style, that targets the muscles. Yin is meant to get into the connective tissues, such as ligaments,  joints, and fascia of the body. Fascia are the sheets of collagen between muscle bundles, and ligaments are what connect two bones together, in a moving joint. So why should you dedicate a whole practice to these fibrous pieces that we can’t really feel? You will feel them after a yin practice, I promise.

Yin yoga holds seated poses for at least 4-5 minutes, sometimes up to twenty minutes depending on the posture. While this may seem boring, keep in mind that these tissues are buried and hidden within the body, and it will take a little time to get them.

Holding poses for extended periods of time also presents a unique challenge to the mind. In today’s society, it is very hard for us to be still. I’m talking, no fidgeting, no thinking about what you have to do after you get out of class, no looking around the room at other people, still. The good news is, stillness is a trait that can be acquired and refined, you guessed it, through a yin practice.

Initially coming out of each pose may be a little uncomfortable. You may even feel like you’ve suddenly aged fifty years and your joints just don’t work like they used to! This is totally normal. Since these areas of our bodies are given little attention, when we finally do release the tension, it is really let go. Using the breath to focus on the specific area, taking care to listen to the body, and drinking lots of water afterwards will help the body handle the release. Yogis spend a lot of time moving and listening to their bodies. Why wouldn’t you want to take care of every little piece and part?

About Shannon Howard: 

Shannon Howard is a recent graduate of the Release Yoga 200RUT Teacher Training Program and yoga instructor at Release. When Shannon first started yoga, it was all about the challenge of a hard workout. Now, it’s become a way of life and can’t be contained. She wants to share the same love and joy of yoga that she experienced.