Yin Yoga – there is strength in calm

Yin Yoga – there is strength in calm

Have you ever held an asana for 15 minutes? Sounds impressive and it is. That's exactly what you do with Yin Yoga. A quarter of an hour is already professional level. The exercises in Yin Yoga usually last 3 – 5 minutes.

Yin Yoga developed from traditional Hatha Yoga . In Yin Yoga there are mainly lying and sitting asanas. By holding it for a long time, connective tissue, fascia, tendons and joints are intensively stretched. But Yin Yoga also has a deep effect on your inner self and your thoughts.

It can relieve and prevent pain and tension - as well as emotional blockages. That's why the calm, meditative style of yoga is becoming increasingly popular. Reason enough to take a closer look at Yin Yoga.

Where does Yin Yoga come from? A short story

Yin Yoga has probably been practiced in various variations for centuries without this name being used. Yin Yoga became famous in the 1980s by the American martial arts athlete Paulie Zink. He practiced – as he himself called it – “Daoist Yoga”, learned from the Kung Fu master Cho Chat Ling. He owes his flexibility and success as a martial artist to this yoga practice. In 1987, yoga teacher Paul Grilley saw a TV report about Paulie Zink and was fascinated, especially by the long holding of the asanas. Grilley trained with Zink, followed by many other studies on the effects of the yoga style. Paul Grilley initially taught this style of yoga under the name “Taoist Yoga”. Yoga teacher Sarah Powers, who eventually coined the name “Yin Yoga,” taught in the same studio. She supplemented the practice with teachings from Buddhism and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Her yoga practice is particularly aimed at the flow of Qi (life energy) in the meridian system. Sarah Powers and Paul Grilley continue to conduct workshops and training in Yin Yoga all over the world.

The History of Yin Yoga

The meaning of Yin and Yang in Yin Yoga

The concept of Yin and Yang comes from the Chinese philosophy of Daoism. Yin and Yang are considered opposite forces: Yin describes the feminine, passive, calm and soft energy. Yang is the male, active, dynamic and tough opposite pole. In terms of anatomy, Yin stands for the connective tissue, ligaments and tendons, Yang for the muscles. Yin and Yang are not mutually exclusive - on the contrary: as opposite poles, they form an inseparable unity. One doesn't work without the other.

Most of today's popular yoga styles are Yang-focused: they tend to be dynamic and physically demanding, such as: E.g. Ashtanga Yoga . Our lives are even more influenced by Yang: hectic pace, stress and pressure to perform often determine our everyday lives. When you practice Yin Yoga, you can restore balance between Yin and Yang and achieve greater peace and balance.

In contrast to other yoga styles, with Yin Yoga you can be passive, mindfully surrender to the postures and simply see what happens. This allows you to switch off and calm your thoughts and mind. Maybe the passive postures at the beginning give you a lot of thoughts. This is a sign that something is working within you and in the yoga class you have the time for it. Not only physical but also emotional blockages are released. Regular practice sensitizes you to a better and more conscious perception of your body and also your insides.

The meaning of Yin and Yang in yoga

The most popular Yin yoga exercises and their meaning

You already know that the asanas in Yin Yoga are held for several minutes and that there are mainly sitting and lying positions. But there are a few more special features and differences from other yoga styles.

If you already practice yoga, you will come across familiar asanas in Yin Yoga , but they have different names. The pigeon is z. B. to the swan, the sprinter to the dragon. Students should practice the postures differently than they know from other styles of yoga. Using other names prevents an unconscious association. Because the intention and the execution differ in Yin Yoga: Instead of full body tension, as few muscles as possible should be tensed. All muscle groups not required for the exercise should be able to completely let go and relax.

Yin yoga stretches and relaxes your muscles and joints, making you more flexible over time. Yin Yoga also has a positive effect on your connective tissue and fascia - any tension or adhesions can be released. You have the opportunity to mindfully feel your body and get to know it better. If you can only get into a posture up to a certain point, it could either be due to your individual skeletal structure or to hardened fascia. In the first case, you can accept this because the skeleton's range of motion cannot be changed. In the second case, you can become more mobile and flexible through regular practice and relaxation. Yin Yoga trains you to perceive and recognize this difference.

How to perform a Yin Yoga exercise:

  1. Find the position slowly without going straight to the maximum.
  2. Bring your attention inward, calm your breathing and hold the position.
  3. Let go little by little and feel what feels good to you: Maybe you can go even deeper into the asana or adjust the posture a little. You may feel a stretch during Yin Yoga, but there should be no pain.

Here are some of the most popular asanas for your Yin yoga practice plan:

Dragon (Anjaneyasana)

One foot is placed in front, the knee is at a right angle over the ankle. The other leg is behind. Push your pelvis forward until you feel a stretch. Depending on how flexible you are, you can rest your hands on your thigh, a yoga block or on the floor. After a few minutes, switch sides. The hip flexors in particular are mobilized in this position.


Butterfly (Baddha Konasana)

Sit upright and bring your heels together. The knees fall loosely outwards. The feet are a small distance from the pelvis. Wrap your hands around your feet. If you like, you can bend over and rest your forehead on a yoga block or your feet. The butterfly stretches your inner thighs and gently opens your hips.


Caterpillar (Paschimottanasana)

The caterpillar is a seated forward bend that relieves and stretches your spine and shoulder area. Sit upright with your legs stretched out in front of you. Raise your arms and slowly bend forward. Your back can become round. The goal is to put your head and arms down. You can use a strap, a yoga block or a pillow to help you.


Sphinx (Ardha Bhujangasana)

The Sphinx is a variation of the cobra. Start in a prone position, bring your elbows under your shoulders and place your forearms and hands straight forward. Now lift your chest off the floor so that you come into a comfortable backbend.


Eye of the Needle (Sucirandhrasana)

While lying on your back, bend one leg and place the foot of the other over your knee. Grab the bent leg with both hands. Find a comfortable stretch by pulling your leg toward you while simultaneously pushing the other person's knee away from you. The needle eye particularly targets the buttocks and deep hip muscles.

Needle eye

Yin yoga for the back

Back problems and pain are often the result of sitting too much and not moving enough. Yin yoga is a real benefit for the back. By holding the asanas for a long time, the back is intensively stretched, mobilized and relaxed. Yin yoga can relieve back pain and prevent it if practiced regularly.

In most styles of yoga, the back is deliberately kept straight. In Yin Yoga you can let go and round it.

These Yin yoga exercises are particularly good for the back:

Half Twist Seat (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

This exercise mobilizes and stretches your entire spine, as well as your ribcage. Start in a cross-legged position and place your left foot to the right of your right knee. Hug your left knee with your right arm. Place your left arm behind you, stand upright and gently turn to the left. Until you feel a pleasant stretch. Then it's the other side's turn.

Half swivel seat

Melting Heart (Anahatasana)

Start on all fours and slowly move your hands forward. The knees remain at right angles and the pelvis remains aligned over the knees. Walk with your arms outstretched until your heart is as close to the ground as possible.

Melting heart

Reclining Crescent Moon ( Ardha Chandrasana)

Start lying on your back with your arms and legs stretched out. Now bend your arms and legs to the left, keeping them stretched. Grab the right wrist with your left hand to intensify the stretch. The entire right side of your body is stretched and the spine is mobilized. Then repeat the exercise on the other side.

The best tips: Yin Yoga for beginners

If you would like to be more flexible, are prone to tension or would like to prevent pain, Yin Yoga can help you. Likewise if you would like to bring more peace and mindfulness into your thoughts and your everyday life. If you already practice other yoga styles, Yin Yoga can be a great balance to more dynamic yoga classes. If you already have yoga knowledge, you can also practice Yin Yoga at home. If you are new to yoga, a course for Yin yoga beginners at a yoga school is a good idea so that you can be supported in the correct execution and get to know the yoga exercises and their effects .

In Yin Yoga, all aids that support you with the exercises and make you more comfortable are generally permitted. None of them are a must. The most common aids are a yoga block, pillow, blanket, neck roll and strap.

We usually recommend tight-fitting clothing for yoga practice. When doing Yin Yoga, things can be relaxed and comfortable, like with our popular Keffiah Pants made from organic cotton .

Can I also practice Yin Yoga during pregnancy?

Yoga and especially Yin Yoga are particularly helpful and supportive during pregnancy. You can do yoga during pregnancy for as long as it feels good for you - theoretically until the birth. As long as there is nothing medically wrong, of course - if you are unsure, ask your doctor for advice first.

On a mental level, Yin Yoga can support you during pregnancy to consciously perceive and accept the physical changes and to pay attention to yourself and your baby. Yoga practice can improve your well-being, prepare you mentally for the birth and even relieve pregnancy problems such as back problems.

Physically, you can use certain asanas specifically to prepare for birth. This particularly includes exercises that strengthen and loosen the hip and pelvic floor areas.

When doing yoga during pregnancy, you should of course pay particular attention to your body and only do what feels good and right for you. As your stomach circumference grows, there are a few exercises you should avoid during pregnancy: Avoid exercises in the prone position and abdominal muscle exercises, make sure not to arch your back and do no or only slight backbends. Don't stretch too much, your body is much more stretchy during pregnancy anyway, so it's easy to overdo it without noticing. Exercises in the supine position are only possible to a limited extent with a large baby bump and feel uncomfortable for many people. It's better to lie on your side in a comfortable position. Additionally, use any tools you like.

Yin Yoga: Effects, Application and Meaning

The many positive effects of Yin Yoga make the yoga style increasingly popular - both among experienced yogis and yoga beginners. In the spirit of Yin and Yang, with Yin Yoga you ensure balance between your different strengths and energies.

This is what Yin Yoga does to your body:

  • Fascia, connective tissue, joints and muscles become more flexible and supple
  • Releasing tensions
  • Prevention of pain
  • you get to know your body better through mindfulness

Yin Yoga has this effect on the mind and psyche:

  • Thoughts calm down
  • Opportunity to engage with your subconscious
  • Releasing emotional blockages
  • more emotional balance
  • Achieving a meditative state
  • more peace and serenity in everyday life

Would you like to try it out yourself? We hope you enjoy it!