Understanding the Benefits of a Yin Yoga Practice

Yin means yielding, allowing and accepting. In a yin practice, there is stillness and an opportunity to breathe with great intention because you will be holding a sequence of poses for 5 minutes each. This sustained stretching is necessary to release the constrictions of the yin tissues of our ligaments, joints, deep facial networks, and even our bones, allowing these tissues to lengthen. These are deeper tissues than our yang tissues in muscles, blood and skin, which like heat and rhythmic, repetitive movements.

Yang tissues are elastic and moist; yin tissues are much less elastic and drier, requiring gentler stress applied for longer periods of time. Yin Yoga is specifically designed to exercise the ligaments and to regain space and strength in the joints. Students have expressed a sense of peace, mobility, release, and postural strength after a Yin class.

Half Butterfly Pose (Janu Sirsasana)

The pose below is called Half Butterfly in Yin, Janu Sirsasana in Sanskrit. This pose stretches the whole back, the hip on the bent-leg side, the groin, and the hamstrings on the straight leg.

 Half Butterfly Pose (Janu Sirsasana)– Full Expression

Half Butterfly Pose (Janu Sirsasana)– Full Expression

egin by making sure that the pelvis is tilted forward by placing a cushion under the sitz bones if necessary.

Next, bring the sole of the foot of the bent leg into the inner thigh; then starting with a straight back, lean forward over the straight leg as far as you can without pushing, and then with an attitude of acceptance, let the back round. Repeat on the other side.

Use a cushion under the bent knee to relieve hip stress, bend the straight leg to slightly release the hamstrings and relieve stress in the back of that knee and relieve stress to the sciatic nerve, and if you are more able to hold the posture in stillness by resting your head and arms on a cushion, do so.

 Half Butterfly Pose (Janu Sirsasana) with knee supported

Half Butterfly Pose (Janu Sirsasana) with knee supported

 Half Butterfly Pose (Janu Sirsasana) with head supported

Half Butterfly Pose (Janu Sirsasana) with head supported

Use a timer to be sure you stay in the pose for 5 minutes on each side; it really does take that long for the tissues to reach their full range of motion.

The meridians that are stimulated in this pose are the liver, kidney, gall bladder, and urinary bladder meridians.