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Beginners Guide to Yin Yoga: 9 Tips to Start Your Yin Practice with Ease

Woman meditating on yoga mat with computer in front of her

Yin Yoga is a contemplative and calming practice of long held passive stretches (generally 3-5 minutes) that target the deep connective tissues of the body. It can feel similar to restorative yoga as they both create relaxation through stillness, but yin has a greater emphasis on deep stretching and less of a focus on props. A yin class will have significantly fewer poses than a typical Hatha class, and the pace will be slow and relaxed. There is also a strong emphasis on calm breathing and meditating in your poses.

Yin has been shown to help with stress reduction, improve flexibility, increase mindfulness, enhance circulation, improve your posture and more. It is also my favorite go to practice to help me sleep! I find it to be a wonderful practice for Highly Sensitive People.

If you are new to yin yoga and would like some tips for practicing, this blog is for you.

9 Beginner Tips to Start Your Practice with Ease:

1. Move slowly into the postures:

Yin is a slow practice, and we want to take our time as we find the proper depth of the pose. The best way to do this is by easing into it. You can always go deeper over time if it feels right to you.

2. Don’t go as deep as you normally would in a pose:

Because we hold the yin poses for a longer time than other styles, you do not want to go too deep into the pose. If you go beyond 80% of your depth, you are more likely to miss the deep connective tissue and find yourself uncomfortable and tensing your muscles rather than relaxing them. This will create a very uncomfortable pose. Less is more in yin yoga.

3. Try to stay still if you can:

In Yin we do our best to stay still and try not to fidget or make unnecessary movements. Of course, if you are in pain, you can always move, but otherwise you want to try to be still and allow the stillness to be part of what creates the soothing benefit of the yin practice.

4. Come out of the pose early if you need to:

When you are new to yin, a hold of 3-5 minutes can feel too intense. It may be beneficial to start with 1-2 minutes and build up to longer holds over time. There is nothing wrong with coming out of the pose early if that is what feels right to your body.

5. Rest between postures:

It’s nice to rest in-between in pose to really feel what I like to call the “echo” of the pose. This helps keep the pace slow and your mind present to the healing benefits of the practice. You can rest by either laying down or sitting in a brief meditation.

6. Calm transitions make for a calm practice:

You are likely starting to get the idea that this entire practice is calm and slow. This of course, includes transitioning between each pose. Take your time and enjoy moving into your next shape with peace and gentleness.

7. Use props as you like:

I believe that comfort is always important, so in my teaching of Yin I do encourage you to use props if you’d like them. However, unlike restorative, the props will be optional, and I won’t direct you as much with how to use them. Instead, I will encourage you to listen to your body to see if each pose will benefit from a prop.

8. You might be surprised by the names the poses:

Yin has its own names for some of the same poses you see in other styles of yoga. This is intentional because while the shapes may look the same, the energy and effort you are giving to them is different in a yin class than in a more active class. These name differences can be confusing to new yin students, but not to worry. It is not important that you memorize the new names, but just that you pay attention to what shape we are taking and that you are not over-efforting.

Some of the poses that have different names are:

Pigeon = Sleeping Swan

Lizard = Dragon

Cobra = Seal

Seated Wide Legged Forward Bend = Dragonfly Pose

Fire Log Pose = Square Pose

Cow Face Pose = Shoelace Pose

9. Stay Warm

Consider adding extra lawyers or using blankets in your practice to help your body stay warm and relaxed. Being warm helps prevent injury, which is important for these longer holds where your body is more likely to cool down.

Ready to start your yin yoga practice? Join my Livestream Beginner Yin Class tomorrow, 8/22 at 12pm EDT. Join for FREE with my free class pass, or 7-day free membership trial!

With love and sensitivity,



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