A student asked me, “Is it true that the longer we hold in a Yin pose, the more beneficial we get?” Well, not quite.
This student is very flexible with her body, and she has no problem holding the pose for three minutes (that’s the maximum time I set for a non-meridian series session). She truly enjoys the holding of the Yin pose.
Well, Yin Yoga poses to stretch and target both the deep connective tissues between the muscles and fascia throughout the body. Connective tissues resist brief stress but slowly change when moderate stress is maintained for three to five minutes. Holding stress on connective tissue for five minutes creates a phase change in its fluids, which results in a lengthening of the tissue and great movements of chi through the tissue, promoting healing.
As the Law of Diminishing Returns always kicks in, no matter whether you are applying economically or physiologically, the practice of holding a Yin pose at an appropriate time could save your life, but that same routine, if continued for too long, could cause great harm. Even if the Yin Pose is your favourite, we should hold it for three to five minutes on a regular basis.
Main Principles of Yin Yoga
Let us look at the three main principles of Yin Yoga Posture:
- Find the right edge for you. Finding your edge is knowing when to stop during a pose – helps create the essential balance between no sensation and too much sensation in the body.
- Stilling and allowing the tissue to be soft. Once you find your edge, you remain still. Paying attention to the tendency to fidget, move or mentally distract yourself is the purpose of being still.
- Duration of hold. Hold the pose, you’ll gain the most from the practice by holding a pose.
When held in the yin posture, each pose acts as a mini meditation, giving you the chance to watch how thoughts, emotions, and sensations ebb and flow. Some poses release strong emotions when held for a length of time. This is because we tend to store our emotions in various parts of our bodies. Anxieties and tension memories linger on in cells stored deep in our tissue. Rather than dissecting or analysing the experience, sit back and watch your experience without judgment.
It is not uncommon to notice that I have incorporated the Meridians Series into the Yin session where I was trained. A meridian is an “energy highway” or channel in the human body. Qi energy flows through this meridian, or energy highway, accessing all parts of the body. To better simulate the channels in the body, each pose is held for five minutes.
The importance to observe the state of mind and body after releasing from the holding of the yin pose. When we release the deeper tissue, there is this sense of more space, a subtlety of openness in the tissue, and thus an increase in vitality. According to Paul Grilley, the founder of Yin Yoga, this is known as the “rebound”. The rebound after a pose is as important as the pose itself. It is during the rebound that we most clearly feel the energy flow in our bodies. In my class setup, I always get my students to come into the rebound for one minute after releasing from the long-held yin pose.
Adding Yin Yoga classes into our regular exercise routines can have a profound effect on our wellbeing. It also complements Yang practices like cardio, strength training, and endurance.
And with this, I hope to see you on the mat for another juicy yin yoga stretch.