As I am researching different types of exercises and whether they help build stronger muscles, I stumbled across Yin Yoga – Essential Poses and Sequences for Balanced Energy by Diane R. Paylor. In this post I will discuss what Yin Yoga is, and answer the question whether Yin Yoga improves muscle strength. I do have other Yoga books that I will be reviewing, but I think that this is a good book to start with. As it turns out Yin Yoga and strength training have totally different focuses
What is Yin Yoga? Why would I do it?
Just about everyone has heard of Yin and Yang or at least seen the symbol for it. It is generally shown in black and white as seen in the image to the right. Ancient Chinese Philosophy believes that everything in the universe has opposing energies which are considered yin and yang. The symbol is meant to show how the energies are intertwined and that energy flows from one to the other.
Given this belief, then yoga has yin and yang components. The Yang has to do with the muscles and the yin has to do with the connective tissues which includes the bones, tendons, ligaments, and fascia. While Yang has to do with strength, Yin has to do more with flexibility. Following Chinese philosophy of yin and yang, we can see that our bodies not only need the strength of our muscles but the mobility of our connective tissues to function well. This means that even though Yin Yoga is not focused on strength, it is an important part of our workout regime in order maintain balanced, fluid motion of our bodies.
The key distinction of Yin Yoga and other forms is that Yin Yoga holds poses for extended periods of time. Most of these poses are done on the mat as opposed to standing poses, which allows for holding the pose.
How Does Yin Yoga Improve Our Bodies?
In Yin Yoga, poses are held for a longer period than other forms of yoga. Holding these
poses has many benefits including the following:
- It strengthens our connective tissue and improves flexibility in our joints
- It stimulates and stretches deeper connective tissues.
- It quiets the mind, which in turn reduces anxiety, stress levels, and can even reduce blood pressure.
- The mindful breath enhances the circulation of oxygen in our blood stream which improves organ
- It can alleviate pain due to tight muscles
- It can improve the quality of sleep
What Equipment Would I need? The Basics
You do not really need much in the way of equipment for starting Yin Yoga, but here are a few of the basics.
- Yoga Mat with Knee pad
- Yoga Strap
- Yoga Block
- Blanket – A blanket has many uses including keeping you warm while meditation or as a prop to make
a pose more accessible
If you are going somewhere to practice, having a Yoga bag for your gear is very convenient.
Who Is This Yin Yoga Book Good For? Let’s Take a Look!
Although I like this book and it is great for someone with a body type that is pretty flexible, I laughed when I looked at most of the poses. My body is built more for strength than flexibility and there is no way I can even come close to these poses. For instance, above is the first pose in the book, Caterpillar. There is no way my head is going to touch my knees and granted there is some modification in the right-hand column, but it still is not happening.
This book is an easy to follow guide to yin yoga poses and routines. It is a quick read at just under 150 pages, and includes an index to find what you are looking for quickly. The poses are displayed in pretty simple drawings versus having models demonstrate the poses. I don’t consider that good or bad, but others might have a preference. The easier modifications of poses are not illustrated, which is a negative for me.
My Take Away – Is This Book Right For You?
If you are flexible and don’t need a lot of modifications for poses, then this is a good introductory Yin Yoga book. It is a short and sweet book, if that is what you are looking for. I’m not sure I will ever be able to do some poses in the book as shown.
For less flexible women, a book with more pose variations would be better especially if they are either illustrated or depicted with a model. I’ve seen some other great yoga books that really explain why you are doing a pose, what muscles are involved, and where you want to feel the pose. I plan on reviewing some of these in future posts.
I look forward to reading your comments below.
Founder of Strength Training Books for Women