Yin yoga helps us become more flexible, pain-free, less tense, and enjoy a good night’s sleep. Who doesn’t want to feel those benefits as we get older?
The soft, slow stretches of yin yoga are excellent for stretching and strengthening our connective tissues: our ligaments and tendons, and our muscles, as I found out. I have (had) an arthritic knee that wasn’t responding to treatment, including cortisone injections, physiotherapy, and even injecting blood plasma. A replacement was looming large. After just a few weeks of regular yin practice, I could feel a big difference. My range of motion was improving around my knees, my ankles, hips, hamstrings and shoulders.
The benefits stretched beyond the physical mind you. My resting pulse was much slower, and the deep breathing techniques were making me feel more at peace with myself, helping reduce stress.
What is yin yoga?
Yin yoga is a passive form of yoga where we hold stretches or poses for longer, allowing us to get deeper into our bodies. Yin yoga is nothing new. It’s just a Western take on ideas about yoga and meditation that have been around for thousands of years.
There are three elements to yin yoga, namely:
- Find your edge: Try to find that “Goldilocks moment” where we apply just enough stress in the poses we are holding. Not too little and not too much.
- Find stillness: By staying still in the pose we let our bodies stretch out over time, meaning we get the full benefit of what we are doing. Try to relax in the pose and let gravity do its work.
- Find time: The recommended time to hold a yin yoga pose is from three minutes upward. The benefit is obvious, the longer you hold, the deeper the stretch. The more you stretch, the more your connective tissues can “give.” The more they give, the better you feel, as your body pulls itself back into shape.
A physio thing?
yin yoga is similar to the treatments prescribed by physiotherapists. The difference is that our “time under tension” may be even longer, stressing and strengthening our connective tissues. It stands to reason that our range of motion – and thereby our flexibility will improve relieving aches and pains that come as we get older.
How to start
It’s always a good idea to consult a doctor first, but yin yoga is a fairly safe practice. You’ll find all the poses in the book, yin yoga 50+, as well as ideas for sequences to help you with back pain, sore shoulders, and even for skiers, hikers and golfers. There’s a section on 15-minute fixes that give you the poses you need to start your day, soothe your shoulders, boost your back, or even help you sleep.
Check out the book Yin Yoga 50+