Last updated: March 20, 2020
The practice of Yin Yoga can generate many heartfelt opinions, from the euphoric to the demonic. Many students who have been practicing yin for years rave about the benefits they have received and how much they love it. But there are also many students, teachers and studio owners who believe the practice to be dangerous and ill-conceived. What is the reality? Should Yin Yoga be avoided by all and sundry or eagerly embraced?
Like most things in life, the answer is not black and white. It is the nature of yin to turn into yang, and yang to turn back into yin, like the turning of the seasons and day into night. The real question is not “Does Yin Yoga work?” but rather “Does Yin Yoga work for me?” If the answer is “yes,” then how can anyone deny your experience? There is no medicine or therapy that will work for every body, but this does not mean that these therapies work for nobody. The same applies to yoga in general and Yin Yoga specifically.
Whether there exists solid scientific evidence to support your personal experience should not diminish that experience. Your experience is a data point that science has to evolve to accommodate and explain, not the other way around. The fact that the maps, models and paradigms used by scientists may not be able to explain your experience does not mean what you went through was invalid or unreal. This is true regardless of whether your yin experience was positive or negative. But it is always interesting and comforting to see if science can at least explain why your experience was what it was. We feel on solid ground when our own map shows how we got to where we are.
The intention of this document is to address many of the common concerns that I have heard raised about Yin Yoga. The approach will be to list the concerns about Yin Yoga, and then provide insights and counterpoints. Sometimes the response will be lengthy and detailed, but often the commentary will be brief and will consist of links or pointers to more complete discussions already documented elsewhere. In this way, this overview document can serve as a directory of responses that can be updated as new discussions occur.
Before we can dive into addressing these concerns, it is important to define what I mean by Yin Yoga, because there are many different types of yoga going by the same name. I would suggest that your exploration of the topics below begin with the first topic: What is Yin Yoga?
I hope you find this valuable. If you would like to provide comments about this document, please feel free to do so at this thread on the Forum at www.YinYoga.com.
© Copyright 2020
Click here if you would like to download a PDF of this full document.
Yin is dangerous because …
- You shouldn’t stretch ligaments, tendons, joints, connective tissue or fascia
- You shouldn’t stretch joints
- To protect joints, we must engage muscles, not relax them
- Passive stretching is not safe
- You shouldn’t stretch nerves
- Holding stress for a long time is destabilizing
- Holding for time make tissues weaker (due to creep) and thus more likely to be damaged
- Yin Yoga involves crunching of the spine and long-held compressions
- Yin Yoga is bad for the muscles
- Yin Yoga will not trigger the parasympathetic nervous system
- Yin will trigger traumatic memories
- I know someone who was hurt doing Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga is not good for…
- Yin Yoga is not good for pregnant women
- Yin Yoga is not good for hypermobile students
- Yin Yoga is not good for yoga beginners
- Yin Yoga is not good for people with cancer
- Yin Yoga is not good for people with osteoporosis
- Yin Yoga is not good for people with fibromyalgia
- Yin Yoga is not good for athletes
- There is no scientific proof that Yin Yoga works
- Yin Yoga comes from martial arts and is an advanced, extreme practice
- Paulie Zink doesn’t like “popular” Yin Yoga
- Yin Yoga is not a complete practice
- Yin is Chinese/Yoga is Indian—the two don’t mix
- Hot yin is bad
- Yin Yoga is simply restorative yoga