There are no absolutes. The question of when to practice Yin Yoga has no absolute answer. There are many possible answers, and each one is simply different from the others, not better or more correct. We find we have many options for when to practice Yin Yoga, depending upon what we would like to achieve through our practice.
We could do our yin practice:
- When our muscles are cool (so they don’t steal the stretch away from the deeper tissues)
- To see a graphical demonstration of the difference between
cold muscles and warm muscles visit this page
- Early in the morning (when the muscles are more likely to be cool)
- Last thing at night (to calm the mind before sleep)
- Before an active yang practice (again, before the muscles become too warmed up)
- In the spring or summer (to balance a natural yang time of year)
- When life has become very hectic (to balance the yang energies in our lives)
- After a long trip (traveling is very yang, even if we are sitting down a lot during the trip)
- During your moon cycle (to conserve energies)
Yin Yoga deliberately targets the deeper connective tissues. To be most effective we want the muscles to be relaxed. If the muscles are warm and active they will tend to absorb most of the tension of the stretch. When we do our Yin Yoga practice early in the morning, the muscles have not yet woken up; this is why we feel so stiff when we first wake up. In the same way, doing our yin practice before an active yang practice allows the stretching to settle deeper into our tissues.
By the end of the day our muscles have been warmed up and are at their longest. The physical benefits of a yin practice will be fewer at this time; however, the psychological benefits may be greater. The daytime is yang. A yin practice, before going to sleep, may balance this energy. Similarly the spring and summer are yang times of year. When life is busy, when we spend many hours traveling, these are all yang times of our life. Balance is achieved when we cultivate yin energies. During a woman’s menstrual period she may naturally find a yin practice beneficial.
On the other side of the coin, a yin practice is not recommended when we have already been very placid. After sitting at a desk for eight hours in the dead of a dull winter’s day, a more active practice may create balance much better than a yin practice. Listening to your inner guide may give you the best answer to the question: is this a time for yin or yang?