Yin has become quite the sexy word these days. You may be starting to see more yin classes pop up around you and wondering what it is actually all about. Well, not only does it have sex appeal, but yin yoga is actually quite beneficial for you!
Simply put, Yin Yoga is a complementary practice to your more "yang" styles of yoga or workouts. So if you love power yoga or running or HIIT workouts, then Yin will be a great addition to your routine. In yin, floor postures are held for longer periods of time - anywhere from 45 seconds to several minutes (you may find the average time held at studios is around 3-4 minutes depending on the posture being held, but you could hold some poses for as long as 10 minutes). These postures are held for longer periods in order to stress the deeper layers of connective tissue in your body. Please know that the point of yin is to not just stretch your muscles, but rather it is to access your fascia, tendons and ligaments. This helps to increase joint circulation and improve flexibility and mobility, or as my mentor Josh Summers would love for me to say - yin fixes the issues with your tissues (sorry J-dawg, I had too).
Although props may be used to help you access the target areas you are stressing in a pose (i.e in pigeon/swan pose, you are targeting mainly outer hip of the leg that is forward, but other parts of your body can be targeted as well), yin is not restorative yoga. Restorative may use more props to help you stretch and relax, but there is usually very little sensation felt. Yin, on the other hand, is meant to create sensation in the target areas. Those sensations are typically described as a dull, achy, sensation. You can absolutely still feel very relaxed in a yin class though (I've almost fallen asleep once or twice), just know that yin and restorative, while both great complements to a more rigorous practice, are not one in the same.
Try it out for yourself and join me in a full body 2 hour Yin practice! Yes, 2 hours! It will fly by.