Flexibility is one of the key elements of top performance. However, it’s also one of the areas ignored most frequently in the course of training.
This video series will show you a set of yin yoga poses, or asanas, that target the muscles and connective tissues most abused while running.
What is Yin Yoga?
Yin yoga is a style of yoga that emphasizes softness and stillness. This is opposed to the strength and motion of the more common Yang forms of yoga.
Unlike Yang styles, Yin asanas are held for long periods. Additionally, Yin asanas are meant to work with your own body weight and gravity. This focus on stillness, on not forcing the muscles to pull you into the asanas, is what allows Yin stretches to push past muscular stretching into stretches of the deep tissue – ligaments and tendons – as well as strengthening the bones and joints.
While you don’t want to over-stretch, regular practice can help keep the collagen and elastin in your deep tissue from becoming brittle and inelastic with age.
Things to know
Originally meant to strengthen the body for long periods of meditation, Yin asanas are typically held for anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes. Advanced practitioners can hold each asana for up to 20 minutes.
Since the poses are held for a long time, you want to make sure you start in a position that feels easy. Trust me, as your muscles begin to relax into the asana, it will get harder.
Since you’re targeting tissue that isn’t used to being stretched, some of these asanas may feel uncomfortable. This is normal. However, if this discomfort ever crosses the line into pain, you should come out of the asana immediately and resume only under the supervision of a trained Yin instructor.
Finally, as I mentioned, Yin is a practice rooted in stillness. Stretching your deep tissue is much like pulling taffy. Long an slow is the name of the game. If you find yourself fidgeting a lot, take a moment to find a place of comfort so that you can draw your thoughts back in to yourself.
How to start
Starting is the easy part.
Once you’ve visited your doctor and received proper clearance to begin a new exercise program, simply click on the links at the top of the page to view the 5 essential asanas. Enjoy the videos.