Last updated: March 20, 2020
This concern can take the form of
- Yin Yoga is an advanced practice, not suitable for beginners.
- Yin Yoga is too deep for beginners; they can hurt themselves.
Years ago, I had my doubts—I was not sure that beginners to yoga should start their journey with Yin Yoga. My fears came from a worry that a beginner would not know enough to come out of the posture when the sensations became too intense, that they might stay too long and hurt themselves. I have since discovered that this was selling people short. People know what pain is, what they don’t always know is how to pay attention to the more subtle sensations that arise in yoga asanas. I have found more yang students (doing regular hatha, vinyasa or hot yoga) get injured than the students coming to the slow-paced yin offering.
One of the big benefits of a Yin Yoga practice is [the] ability to pay attention: in the yang forms of yoga, we are only in a posture for a short period—five breaths, or maybe a minute or so. In Yin Yoga we literally marinate in the juiciness of the pose, and pay attention to the flow of sensations. Yin Yoga gives us a chance to learn what sensations are, where they are, whether they are healthy, albeit challenging, or too much. We learn what an edge is, which is something that can be missed entirely in our yang practice. In the yang styles of yoga, especially for beginners, we are worried so much about all the details of the postures: the alignment, the muscular engagements, the teacher’s directions, the breath, the bandhas … With Yin Yoga, we have time to learn how to pay attention to sensations, to our edge.
In Yin Yoga, the student is given the time and guidance needed to experience their body and the effect on their body that the postures create. With this training, they will know when they have reached a good edge. They can develop their own sensitivity to what they need, when to go deeper and when to back off. With this entry into yoga, the student will be well equipped to join the faster-pace yang forms of yoga.
Yin Yoga offers a great way to begin a yoga practice, one that can branch out in many directions and that can last for the rest of your life. Yes, beginners definitely can start their yoga journey with Yin Yoga.
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