Yin Yoga is a restorative practice consisting of various seated and supine poses that target the hips, pelvis, and lower spine. This specific yoga practice is characterized by extended holds to allow the connective tissues, ligaments, and tendons to be stretched appropriately. In yin, props are used to allow the practitioner to relax fully its muscle during the extended holds and stay somehow comfortable throughout the positions as he or she navigates the limits of their edge.

This article will make you understand the difference between shorter and longer holds and allow you to learn more about their benefits. While most yin yoga classes involve somewhere between 2-5 minute holds, it is always important for the practitioners to listen to their body which will aid as a guideline of what is appropriate in the time being. Usually, beginners will want to start with holds between 1-3 minutes, while a more advanced user might benefit from 5 minutes or more – all the way up to 10,20, or 25 minutes. For most people, the 3-minute mark will give you all the primary benefits of yin yoga.

HOLDING YIN YOGA POSES FOR 3+ MINUTES
As yin yoga teacher Matt explains, “It’s around the 3-minute mark that synovial fluid, our joints’ natural lube, is stimulated and released into the connective tissues being worked, making them more supple and agile.” These longer holds of yin yoga pose not only allow this physical change to occur but also provide other mental and emotional benefits such as:

IMPROVED FOCUS.
Yin yoga provides an almost meditative quality as you settle into each pose and maintain your focus on the experience. This leads to improved concentration, which can benefit your meditation practice.

REDUCED STRESS.
In today’s busy world, there are not many opportunities to be still. Yin yoga poses allow you to find that stillness and quiet as you melt and relax into each pose. You will leave the practice feeling less stressed and more refreshed.

REDUCED PAIN.
Because this practice helps restore the body, it can help alleviate pain as you release and ease tension in the muscles and lubricate the ligaments and joints.

HEIGHTENED SELF-AWARENESS.
The extended holds in yin yoga give us the time and space to explore our feelings and emotions as they come up in each pose. They also allow us to get to know our body better as we make continuous adjustments for our anatomical needs and find our personal edge in each pose.

INCREASED RANGE OF MOTION.
Taking care of the connective tissue around the joints allows you to relieve joint stress and safely open them to their healthy limits.

HOLDING YIN YOGA POSES FOR UNDER 3 MINUTES
There are instances when you might find yourself needing a shorter hold of yin yoga poses, especially as a beginner. These common experiences are worth paying attention to in your practice:

EMOTIONAL DISCOMFORT.
Holding yin yoga poses for longer periods of time can bring up many physical sensations in the body, and as a result, many emotional reactions. A goal of yin yoga is to eventually learn how to sit with these uncomfortable emotions, but it might feel overwhelming in the beginning stages of your practice.

YOUR PRACTICE STYLE.
Yin yoga requires a delicate balance of feeling sensation but not going beyond your limits. It is about finding your own physical and emotional edges in the pose. Holding a pose for an extended amount of time just for the sake of competition or pushing the body harder is not the goal of a yin practice. If you are used to always practicing with intensity, or even not challenging yourself at all, a shorter hold can help you learn how to navigate the balance between the two.

YOUR INDIVIDUAL ANATOMY.
Each body is different in its structure, which will determine which poses are easier or more challenging and how long a hold should be. Some people may find release in a shorter amount of time, while others may require longer.

Are you ready to try or deepen your Yin practice?

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