Yin yoga can GREATLY benefit the athlete and tight hamstrings.
What’s YIN YOGA you might ask. Think of it like the really SLOW yoga. And then you say…”OH GOSH, yoga is boring enough as it is…”. Well, those that tend to run faster say that. But seriously, keep reading…
So YIN YOGA, you can nutshell it to, is holding poses longer. A lot longer. Yin Yoga is very COOLING yoga. Everything that the triathlete, runner, busy person does is very heating. “Do this.” “Do that.” “Check that off.” “Must get that done.” “Hit that pace.” “Do that hill workout.” All of this is very heating. Yes, for that workout moment, but also just in general, energetically, for the body, long term. And especially if you are the personality that has the tendencies to be the “Get it done.” mode more than not.
Yin Yoga is relaxing, calming and cooling. And it’s a great place to stretch parts that get chronically tight. Think about this…how many minutes or hours is the hamstring asked to work. Or whatever…to cause it to be tight. A LOT. So, just be mindful that you might need to invest a bit of time to help them stay longer. And consider this, due to the nature of the anatomy, slowness/caution/gentleness is a benefit. You really don’t want micro tears at the knee attachment points or the butt bones. Those stink!
So quick anatomy lesson. Surrounding and supporting the bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments is FASCIA. It holds you in place. So it must be stronger and hold things more. As a result, it stretches slower. So you must hold the stretch a bit longer (more gently). NO BOUNCING in stretching. Also, your brain sends muscles signals to help the muscles relax. Holding stretches longer helps enough signal get to the muscle, so it finally decides to relax and let go. If you are being too aggressive with stretching, thinking you need to “fix something”, then it really doesn’t work well. And you end up with micro tears in places. BE GENTLE. BE PATIENT. (I know, right!)
Here are the things to keep in mind when doing YIN YOGA.
- Connect in with YOU
- Help the position out, use props (pillows, blocks, etc)
- This means, if you are doing the first video below, you can use a pillow to prop up your torso, relax of it. The intent is to focus on the legs, not stress the back out.
- Do not put up with pain
- Try not to give up on the pose if you’ve done #1-3
- Good time to practice the breathe
- So if you get “bored”, focus on your breathing. Count the inhales and exhales.
- Be mindful of what the stretch feels like
- “Watch” it move around as things loosen up