Many yang yoga physical practices emphasise a particular sequence or order of poses. So it makes sense that we would expect the same from yin yoga but I’m going to let you in on a secret: there is no special required sequencing order in yin yoga.

If you have been to a yoga class at a studio, you may be used to a flow of movements that beautifully connect one position to the next. This can feel really nice to be able to transition through the practice, especially as each pose won’t be held for very long. There are also commonly “peak poses” (I have a problem with the language and glorification of such things but I won’t go into that today), which are facilitated by warming up the muscles gently through the other movements that lead up to that peak. But in yin yoga, we are not trying to warm up the muscles. In theory, we are actually more likely to be able to connect to the fascia, the connective tissues that we are targeting in yin yoga, if we practise with cold muscles, so we are not doing a gentler pose as a warm up to a more intense pose. Each pose has its own benefits and target areas. We are therefore better off considering which areas of the body we want to target that day.

If you are a runner / weight lifter / cyclist, think about which muscles groups have been working and how they are moving in that activity. The same if you are an office worker: consider what positions your body has been stuck in or repeatedly gets into. We want the opposite effect to be actioned in yin. If this doesn’t apply to us, we can pick whatever we like depending on the time we have and what feels good or useful for our bodies. Going to a class to learn some poses can be a great way to start and you can then apply that at home, especially if you know that there are fewer rules about the order than you might have imagined. You may want to mix it up from day to day. You may want to focus more on a few poses that target multiple areas at the same time for greatest efficiency so that you are doing a huge amount of good for your body with only five minutes on each side plus a brief final resting pose to integrate that work.

I hope that helps to demystify yin yoga a bit. Yes, we can use sequencing to focus on particular challenges that our bodies might face and there is a whole world of connecting our yin yoga practice to the meridians from a Chinese medicine perspective but don’t over complicate it before you get started. Start somewhere and be curious about what will happen next. I may be able to help with yin yoga workshops or individual sessions if you’re unsure where to start.

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