Here is a bit of a background on yin yoga for those who are not familiar. Regular asana practice focuses on our muscles. On the strength and flexibility of these muscles. It isn't always but it can be a demanding practice. Poses like chaturanga and utkatasana focus on building strength. Whereas poses like uttanasana and prasarita padottanasana focus on building flexibility in the muscles. This is called our yang practice. Our active practice. Yin on the other hand is more of a passive practice. Yin yoga focuses on stretching our connective tissues, specifically our ligaments and tendons. It does this by holding postures for longer periods of time (anywhere from 2-8 minutes). When holding postures for this amount of time it forces us to become passive, to not use our muscles. When our muscles are no longer active we can get a stretch in our joints and spine. (To find our more about yin yoga go here) As with the rest of our life, yoga requires balance. Balance between our muscles and our connective tissues. Most asana classes will have a yin section at the very end but the poses are not held as long as in a yin class.
As much as I love how open and relaxed my body always feels after a yin practice, the practice itself, the whole 75 minutes is always a really hard struggle for me. One of the many reasons I love yang yoga is that you don't hold the poses for very long. Therefore my mind always has something new to focus on. On average a yin pose is held for about 5 minutes. This gives my mind time to a-wander or b-focus on how much I don't want to be in the pose. I'm not sure if everyone else feels this way during a yin practice but I know that I'm in the pose properly when it starts to feel like I'm old and I don't know how I'm going to get out of the pose. Which starts the ball rolling into a mini panic. I start to fidget and sweat a lot. I find myself saying "get out of this pose now, now, NOW!".
I want to clarify that I am never in pain in yin, you should never be in pain in any yoga practice. I just find it to be the hardest practice I can do mentally. I really hope this doesn't intimidate readers to try this out. Like I said above, I reap amazing benefits from my yin practice. I just wanted to throw my mental struggles with yin out there so that someone else will realize they are not alone if they have a hard time with yin as well.
And since I haven't posted any photos for a long time I thought I would show you some of the regular yin asanas.Anahatasana (image source) stimulates the meridian lines that run along the spine (urinary bladder lines) and along the arms. It especially helps to open our chests (heart and lungs). (source)