A couple days ago I posted about all the benefits yoga has brought in just a few short weeks. However, there are many different types of yoga. If you’re just entering the world of yoga it can be intimidating as there are so many different variations. That being said, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to yoga, which is the problem with most conventional yoga classes. Depending on what you want from your yoga practice, a mix of multiple types of yoga could be beneficial.
Yin yoga is a form of yoga that focuses more on passive stretching of the joints and includes postures that are mainly on the floor. While some of the postures are similar to other forms of yoga, Yin Yoga is unique in that it is not a forced stretch or pose as much as a relaxation into the posture so that your body softens the muscles, moves closer to the bone and deeper in the stretch. As such, the longer you practice it is not uncommon to see postures held for three to five minutes, even 20 minutes at a time. As a result of these long, deep relaxing stretches, Yin Yoga targets the deep connective tissues, bones, joints, fascia and ligaments in the body. If you gently stretch connective tissue by holding a yin pose for a long time, the body will respond by making them a little longer and stronger. For healthy range of motion, layers of connective tissue must allow muscles to glide over each other. However these connective tissues can become bound together by injury, habitual posture in daily life, and aging, and restrict that movement between the sliding surfaces of the muscles. The more we work our fascial system and deep tissues, the less dense and tight our bodies become as we age. Often times you aren’t really concerned with flexibility until it’s gone!
I started noticing how inflexible I was when I started dabbling in Olympic-Style Weightlifting. I was so restricted on the amount of weight I could lift and progress I could make because my body was not flexible enough and my joints were not open enough to perform the lifts properly with increased weight. It was then that my coach introduced me to ROMWOD (Range of Motion Workout of the Day), which is a different video routine every day designed to open up and work on those connective tissues, joints, ligaments, fascia, and all those areas that get tight. While I’m still not as flexible as the video demonstrators, I know this process works because my coaches have made comments about how my form and movements during my lifts have improved! So while I may not be lifting as much anymore, I’m definitely still trying to continue to incorporate the practice of Yin Yoga as often as possible. Not only do I enjoy the stress and anxiety relief and the balancing of the mind and body that results, but (since I’m getting old) I’m trying desperately to increase my range of motion and present stiffness as well!