Beginner Yin Yoga 60 min | Why We Stress our Joints in Yin Yoga | Yoga with Dr. Melissa West 410

by Melissa West on November 17, 2017

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Many people misunderstand the intention behind yin yoga, thinking that the long holds in yin yoga ¨stretch¨ the connective tissues, or ligaments, or joint capsules.On the contrary yin yoga stresses the connective tissues, including joint capsules, fascia, ligaments, tendons and even the muscles. Stressing connective tissue is quite different than stretching it. Stress occurs when we apply tension to our connective tissues, whereas stretch is the elongation of the tissue that results from stress.We stress the ligaments and joint capsules so that over time they become longer, thicker and stronger.

Our bodies are composed of muscles and connective tissues which may include ligaments, tendons, bones, joints and fascia. Our muscles respond well to repetitive rhythmic movement and heat up when exercised. Their elastic qualities allow their muscle fibers to elongate when stretched.

Our connective tissues on the other hand are best to remain cool when exercised and are much more plastic in nature and generally do not elongate. They respond to slow gentle, contraction and are much more yin in nature. In fact, it is dangerous to apply the repetitive rhythmic movements that are healthy for our yang muscles to our yin tissues.

4 Reasons to Stress Connective Tissue

1. Prevent Contracture: Contracture means the loss of mobility through a joint. When ligaments become tight due to misuse, trauma or lack of use you experience contracture. The ligaments begin to shorten, immobilize and create a kind of shrink wrap around the joint.

Connective tissue generally works by protecting your joints and holding you together. When you slip and fall for example, the connective tissue that wraps around the bones and joints deforms slightly and then returns to its original shape preventing injury. In that way, connective tissue is not dynamic like muscle.

However our daily sitting and daily activities does lead to the contracture especially around the hip joints, SI joints and lumbar vertebrae, impinging our normal functioning leading to common complaints such as back pain.

2. Prevent Degeneration: As we age we lose bone density, especially as women. Compressing the bones with an appropriate amount of stress helps the bones grow stronger. Stressing the bones over a few minutes activates and facilitates a complimentary period of recovery and rebuilding within our bone tissue.

3. Reduce Fixation: Fixation is when two surfaces temporarily adhere to one another. Bones sticking to each other can lead to joint fusion. When we traction different joints in different ways, fixation is reduced and mobility is increased.

4. Joint Hydration: Healthy joints need to be lubricated. Hyaluronic acid reduces the friction between the articular cartilage of synovial joints. As we age we have fewer proteins producing hyaluronic acid. As a result our HA molecules are smaller in size and our joints are less lubricated and elastic. When we stress the connective tissue this improves the production of HA.

Yin yoga is like WD-40 for your seized and rusting joints. Paul Grilley, one of the founders of Yin Yoga points out that athletes do not go into early retirement due to injury because of failing muscles, but because of failing joints. Reflect on your own body, most likely the locations of injuries have been in the joints, not the muscles.

Resources: YinSights by Bernie Clark
Yin Yoga DVD by Paul Grilley

Yin Yoga Postures/Yin Yoga Sequence: Butterfly, Bananasana, Sphinx, Broken Wing, Dragon Pose, Quarter Dog, Melting Heart, Keyhole, Keyhole Twist, Savasana

Yoga Props: blocks, bolster, strap, folded blanket

Weekly Yoga with Melissa 410 Photos of Yoga Poses

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  • raveonstudio

    Loved it thank you!! So frustrating with dern frozen shoulder, but it’s getting there:-) xoxo

    • Infinite patience. Frozen shoulder will definitely be benefit from nourishing the yin. Namaste, Melissa

  • Donna Stone

    I’m pretty sure I need Yin Yoga for all three of those reasons. My hips feel like they are trying to just lock right up. This class really helps for almost 20 hours, and that is a wonderful relief. Plus, that’s good motivation to do it everyday:) Thank you so much!

    • Wow, that is an amazing testimonial Donna, so happy to hear it. Thanks for letting me know. 🙂 Namaste, Melissa

  • Margo Hutchison

    A great Yin Yoga session Melissa, I have shared it on my Facebook page Margo’s Yoga Vine so I hope you gain more subscribers as a result.

    • Thank you so much for your generosity Margo. I appreciate it very much. With gratitude, Melissa

  • Phyllis Holmes

    hi |Melissa I love the yin sessions and knowing about the stressing of the tissues in bones, etc…it is certainly a way of life as well as restorative.

    And I have shared these few sessions.

    • Thank you for your generosity Phyllis. I appreciate that very much. With gratitude, Melissa

  • Anja Schwalen

    Great class again! I definitely need yin yoga for all reasons, but mainly for preventing contracture: my left hip is super tight, and this past year my left shoulder has been acting up, too mobility wise. Nobody can really tell me what it is, but probably just age and degeneration. Those shoulder stretches when moving my arm above my head seem to help.
    Namaste,
    Anja

    • Dear Anja, I´m so glad that this video helped you with contracture and mobility. Great to see you at the live meditation class this week too. Namaste, Melissa

      • Anja Schwalen

        It was fun to attend meditation class live. I wished I could do it more often.

        • December break will be here soon enough and I will be doing an intensive/retreat then as well for our members 🙂 So lots of opportunity to attend live. Also I do a live on the last Sunday of every month for our members – a live yin yoga class – so this Sunday – 9:30 am PT and 4:00 pm PT if those work for you 🙂 Namaste, Melissa

          • Anja Schwalen

            Thanks! I will keep an eye open for those. Namaste, Anja

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