By Marzena Bard, PTA
Are you one of those people who stretches religiously but still feels stiff as a board? The stretches work for a short while, and then you’re back to square one? Most likely it is because the stretches are working only at the muscle level, and you want to go deeper to the connective tissue level - fascia, tendons, ligaments.
In yin yoga, the poses are held for 3-5 minutes and focus on deep, mindful breathing. We use props such as bolsters, yoga blocks, and pillows because one should never feel pain or discomfort while in yoga poses. The length of time spent in a particular posture helps deepen the stretch and keeps the benefits longer. All you need to do is to stay there and pay attention to your breath. You might find that this is an easy way to get into a little bit of meditation as well.
Addressing tight pelvic floor muscles means you need to provide more length and relaxation to muscles surrounding the pelvis, eg hamstrings, quadriceps, hip adductors, and hip abductors. Holding the stretches for a longer time may increase awareness of your whole pelvis and the muscles in and around it.
A randomized controlled trial, conducted in 2015 at Lund University in Sweden, performed a five week yin yoga-based intervention with stressed adults. It showed decreased plasma adrenomedullin and increased psychological health, highlighting the physiological and psychological benefits that yin yoga has to offer.
Yin yoga may also help to:
Yin yoga is not suitable for: pregnant women, people with osteoporosis or osteopenia, and people with hypermobility. Ask us if including yin yoga in your physical therapy program is suitable for you!
Three of the key poses of yin yoga are demonstrated below.
1. Deer pose – hold 3-5 minutes each side (option with block)
2. Butterfly Pose – hold 3-5 minutes each side (option with block)
3. Melting Heart Post – hold 3-5 minutes each side