Vin Yin Yoga is a relatively recent style that emerged from combining two popular practices – Vinyasa yoga and Yin yoga.
Let’s take a look at what Vin Yin yoga is, its benefits, the poses that make this style what it is, and how to practice it.
Vin Yin Yoga Definition
To fully understand what Vin Yin yoga is, we need to break down both styles of yoga that, when combined, create this unique type.
Vinyasa, or Vinyasa Flow, is a dynamic style of yoga characterized by continuous movement from one pose to the next, as well as breaths synchronized with said movements.
Originally, it branched off Ashtanga, which uses a similar approach to moving with one’s breaths. However, Vinyasa Yoga is much less strict in its structure. The asana sequence tends to be less restrictive, making Vinyasa more accessible for yogis without much experience.
The “goal” of Vinyasa is to get the heart racing and the blood flowing, providing a cardio exercise of sorts. In the meantime, the practitioner uses the movement to find a deeper connection to their physical body and breath. The continuous movement requires focus and great coordination, which is why Vinyasa is sometimes referred to as “moving meditation”.
The other side of the proverbial Vin Yin coin is the restorative Yin practice. The name of the practice comes from the ancient concept of Yin and yang – the opposing forces in nature that represent the dark and light, active and passive.
In the yoga context, yang refers to the more active, physically demanding styles. Yin, on the other hand, represents slow-paced, restorative practice that can be performed more passively.
All Yin poses are grounded and held for an extended period (1-5 minutes). This way, Yin practice creates room for contemplation, which is an integral part of yoga.
Related: Yin Yoga Sequence for Beginners
So how do these two styles come together to create Vin Yin Yoga?
The Vin Yin practice is essentially broken down into two parts. It starts with a Vinyasa sequence, which gets the body moving. The second half of the practice allows the body to cool down and recuperate. It’s not always strictly a 50/50 split, but both Vinyasa and Yin must have a significant presence in the practice to be considered Vin Yin Yoga.
Since this practice has a dual purpose, let’s examine the benefits of Vinyasa and Yin separately before we can understand the purpose of combined practice.
Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga
- Energy boost. It is a great practice to perform in the morning or during the day when you feel fatigued. As your body awakens through movement, so do your mind and spirit.
- Cardiovascular health. In its nature, Vinyasa is not dissimilar to other forms of cardio workouts. It gets your blood pumping, which improves circulation and blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease.
- Lung function. In Vinyasa, movement and breath are intertwined. Having greater control over your breath, especially in physically demanding conditions, improves your lung capacity and contributes to cardiovascular health.
- Mental focus. There is a reason why Vinyasa Yoga is sometimes called moving meditation. Following a sequence of asanas at a fast pace while exerting control over your breath takes focus and coordination. Practicing Vinyasa can help you improve focus in other areas of your daily routine.
Benefits of Yin Yoga
- Deep tissue relaxation. In Yin Yoga, poses are held anywhere from one to five minutes. In fact, seasoned yoga practitioners can even stay in certain Yin poses longer without adverse effects on their bodies. Staying in a Restorative asana allows the body to “settle” and release tension in deep muscle tissue that would be impossible with a more superficial yoga routine.
- Meditation practice. Allowing your body to take control creates space for the mind to find keen awareness of the body, breath, and thoughts, also known as meditation.
- Accessibility. Due to its slow pace and gentle approach, Yin Yoga is inclusive and more accessible than other types of yoga practice out there. It can be practiced by people with mobility issues, fatigue, chronic pain, and other conditions (provided a physician has approved the practice). It’s also a great way for beginners to enter the yoga practice without feeling inadequate.
So why should these two styles be practiced together? What are the benefits of Vin Yin Yoga?
Benefits of Vin Yin Yoga
- Balanced practice. With Vin Yin, you get the best of both worlds. You get a physical workout, a restorative session, and a mindfulness practice all in one! After challenging your body during the Vinyasa sequence, you get to relax and wind down during the Yin sequence.
- Suitable for yogis of different levels. With both Vinyasa and Yin, it is possible to adjust the sequence or modify specific asanas to adapt them to your level of practice. It is especially beneficial to practice with an experienced yoga teacher who can offer support and tailored adjustments to get the best out of your practice.
- Two styles are better than one. Practicing Vin Yin yoga doesn’t limit your skills or benefits to a single style. You get to enjoy the benefits of both without overextending your schedule.
The Vin Yin yoga sequence comprises two parts: the Vinyasa sequence and the Yin sequence.
Vinyasa Yoga poses include:
- The Vinyasa cycle poses such as Downward Facing Dog, Plank, Chaturanga Dandasana, Cobra, or Upward-Facing Dog.
- Standing poses such as Crescent Lunge, Warrior series, Triangle, or Extended Side Angle.
- Balance poses such as Tree Pose, Lord of the Dance, Warrior III, or Half Moon Pose.
- Inversions such as Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend, Wheel Pose, or Shoulderstand.
Yin Yoga poses include:
- Seated poses such as Bound Angle, Seated Forward Bend, or Cow Face Pose.
- Prone poses such as Child’s Pose, Sleeping Pigeon, or Sphinx Pose.
- Supine poses such as Reclined Bound Angle, Reclined Fish Pose, Belly Twist, and of course, Savasana.
To get the most from your Vin Yin Yoga practice, it’s best to follow a script that includes a variety of asanas in both disciplines.
First, establish your starting position for the Vinyasa practice. It’s best to start seated or kneeling to enable you to warm up the upper body and spine. The warmup usually continues in a tabletop position and includes gentle spine mobility (Cat pose and Cow pose), core activation (Bird Dog or Plank), and lower body stretches.
After that, you can transition to standing and perhaps include a few rounds of Sun Salutation to awaken the entire body. Add a couple of standing sequences (one or both may include a balance) and culminate your practice with an inversion that suits your level of practice.
Take some time to wind down before you transition to Yin. It’s a good idea to place any yoga props you may want to use for the restorative practice nearby.
The rest of the practice will consist of Yin poses held between 1-5 minutes each. With Yin, it’s very important not to push your body to its limits because the body will “unlock” itself gradually, thanks to the longer hold.
Start with 1-2 seated poses of your choice. With asymmetrical poses like twists, aim to perform them for the same length of time, even if you don’t practice them at the same depth. Follow up with 2-3 prone poses. Listen to your body’s signals and be ready to back off if things get too intense. Finally, lie back and continue with 1-2 supine poses before ending the practice with Savasana. Try to plan your practice so that Savasana is at least 10 minutes long.
If you can’t make it to a studio that offers Vin Yin classes, or you would rather try Vin Yin Yoga at home, check out these follow-along videos.
1 Hour Vin to Yin Full Body Yoga Class
75-Minute Slow Flow Vinyasa & Yin
If desired, you can also find separate videos that correspond with Vinyasa and Yin parts of your practice.
30-minute Energizing Power Vinyasa Flow
30-minute Yin Yoga To Relax & Unwind
Like with most types of yoga, the only thing you need is your yoga mat. However, any additional yoga props can really enhance both sides of the practice. For example, yoga blocks can aid the active vinyasa practice to give you extra support in balance poses or forward bends. However, they can also elevate your seat in seated Yin poses or prop your body parts in reclined poses such as Supta Baddha Konasana or supported Bridge Pose. In short, you don’t have to spend frivolous amounts of money on yoga equipment to take part, but any yoga equipment you have already can be incorporated into this style.
The short answer is yes, this style of yoga is suitable for beginners, although some poses or sequences may require modification. When you venture into a new yoga style as a beginner, it’s best to practice with a competent and experienced yoga teacher who can guide you based on your fitness level.
Any physical activity comes with a risk of injury. Even a low-impact exercise like yoga can result in getting hurt, which is why it’s very important to be aware of your body’s limits and adjust your practice accordingly.
Important: Check with your doctor before trying Vin Yin Yoga for the first time if you have any type of injury, illness, pain, or you are pregnant.