What Is Yang Yoga?

We often hear about Yin yoga. However, there’s not much mention of its counterpart – Yang yoga.

We don’t talk about Yang yoga as much because it isn’t a single, specific style. Every yoga type which warms the body and works on your strength is Yang yoga. In this sense, Yang refers to most yoga classes we practice today, especially in the west.

Yang Yoga Definition

The term Yang yoga defines dynamic yoga styles.

All forms of yoga can fall either in the yin or yang category, depending on the tissues they target. Yang is the practice that works the muscles, considered to be yang tissues, and Yin practice targets connective tissues, which have a yin quality.

Some common examples of Yang yoga are Hatha yoga, Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, Iyengar yoga, and Power yoga.

Yang yoga classes focus on boosting strength and endurance. They aim to build internal heat through fast-paced flows and active asanas. The repetitive movements stress the muscle fibers. In this way, it makes you stronger and tones the muscles.

Although it doesn’t target connective tissues, Yang yoga still improves your flexibility, as it lengthens the muscles with continuous practice. It also challenges stamina and burns calories like any low-impact cardio workout.

In a deeper sense, yang yoga types teach you to control your breath, regardless of how difficult it is to hold a pose. After a yang class, you can expect to feel more energetic, positive, and less stressed.

Dragon Dance

Although all active forms of yoga are Yang in nature, Yin yoga practitioners who follow the teachings of Paul Grilley think of Dragon Dance when they mention the term Yang yoga.

In fact, the term Yang yoga wasn’t even mentioned before Yin yoga was created, as that’s when these Chinese concepts came into the yoga world. Paul and Suzee Grilley developed Dragon dance as a Yang yoga practice which prepares the students for their Yin sequences. It is a Vinyasa flow that incorporates storytelling – you’re reenacting a story of a hero who wants to slay a dragon. You play both the hero – who represents you and the dragon, who is society. Dragon Dance mainly activates leg muscles and is a fantastic sequence to try if you are also a Yin yoga practitioner.

Benefits of Yang Yoga

Benefits of Yang yoga may include:

  • improved strength and tone
  • better flexibility
  • improved circulation
  • increased stamina
  • improved breath control
  • aids in mindfulness and returning to the present moment
  • released tension in the body
  • improved digestion and metabolism
  • weight loss

Yang Yoga Poses

All active yoga poses are considered to be Yang in nature. Active means you are engaging your muscles when you perform them. Here are some Yang yoga poses you might already be familiar with:

How to Practice Yang Yoga

Since every dynamic yoga style is considered Yang, any such practice is appropriate when you want to cultivate this energy.

In some Yang yoga styles like Vinyasa, you will flow quickly from pose to pose, and in others, like Iyengar or Hatha, you might hold the poses much longer. Still, both of these types are active, and they both fall under Yang yoga.

However, if you want to follow the Taoist philosophy, a yoga practice that includes both Yin and Yang is the most suitable to balance your energy.

When To Practice Yin, And When to Practice Yang Yoga?

If you want to incorporate both Yin and Yang yoga in your practice, you might wonder when the best time is to practice each of them. A renowned Yin yoga teacher, Bernie Clark, explains how to make this decision in his book The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga.

His idea is not to have a set schedule for your Yin and Yang yoga classes, which remains the same throughout the year. Rather, you should listen to what your mind and body need on your practice day. To help wake up this inner guide, think of it this way – your yoga practice should help balance these energies, both in the body and the mind.

What that means, in practice, is that you will naturally lean more to one of these yoga types when you are in the opposite energy. For example, if you have been very still and quiet, you were already in the yin energy, and a yang practice would be more helpful. After sitting at work all day or lounging through the weekend, an active practice will make you feel more balanced. Likewise, if you’ve been going through a busy or stressful period, a yin practice will give you the grounding you need to feel calmer and more mindful.

Seasons can also fall under either yin or yang energies, as well as times of the day, and you can oppose them with your yoga practice. Summer, spring, and daytime are yang times of the year, so you might feel good if you do more yin yoga in these seasons or in the evening. Winter, fall, and night are yin periods, so a morning yang practice or increased activity during colder months might help you stay energetic.

Start Yang Yoga at Home

If you can’t make it to a Yang yoga studio or simply want to try Yang yoga out at home first, check out these follow-along videos.

Related: Yin Yang Yoga Sequence for Beginners

Dragon Flow – 30 Minute Energizing Yoga Sequence – Yoga with Heini (based on Paul and Suzee Grilley)

45-Minute Power Vinyasa Flow With Briohny Smyth

Hatha Yoga (Makes You Feel So Good) 45 Minute Flow

Yang Yoga FAQs

What Is The Difference Between Yin and Yang yoga?

Yin yoga is a slow and passive practice that incorporates long, static stretches in the sitting or lying positions. Yang yoga is a more common, dynamic practice, like Vinyasa or Ashtanga, including active poses and rhythmic movement. Yin works on the deep connective tissues and joints, while yang yoga builds strength, stamina, and flexibility of the muscles.

What is Yin Yang Yoga?

Yin Yang yoga marries two styles into one practice. It sometimes starts with a Yin sequence to work on the joints and tissues, as it is most effective when the muscles are cool. On the other hand, Yin can also be done at the end of the class if the main goal is to calm the nervous system and enter a meditative state. The sequencing of the class has an impact on both its effects and how you feel after, so it might be best to try both variations and see what works for you.

Is Dragon Flow Yang Yoga?

Dragon flow is a Yang yoga sequence developed by Yin yoga teachers Paul and Suzee Grilley. It’s a pre-structured sequence designed to balance their Yin yoga classes. The Dragon Flow class is designed to last 33 minutes and includes four rounds of the same sequence.

Important: Check with your doctor before trying Yang Yoga for the first time if you have any injury, illness, pain, or you are pregnant.

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