How Long Should You Hold a Yin Pose?

How Long Should You Hold a Yin Pose?

Is there an optimal time to hold a Yin yoga pose? 

This is an interesting question. Personally, I have heard the minimum hold time for a Yin pose is three minutes and the maximum is ten minutes. Nonetheless, I have comfortably stayed in a pose for well over ten minutes and have gained significant results in holding poses for under three minutes. So what is the optimal time? 

Often we believe that there is a once-and-for-all solution to everything we do. How much water should we drink? How much sleep do we need? Should you be a vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free? A quick search on Google with any of the questions above will take you into a rabbit hole of answers and contradictions. If we take a closer look, we are all uniquely different regarding our physical composition, emotional capacity, and spiritual endeavor. To state that there is a once-and-for-all solution is upmost delusional and outright imposing. So instead of thinking what is the optimal time for a Yin pose? We should be asking- what is your optimal time for that particular pose? To answer that, I propose three factors:

1. Emotions

Yin yoga has a tendency to bring up deep emotional responses. Each Yin posture stimulates one or many of the twelve regular Chinese Meridians. Each meridian has an associated emotion such as anger, grief, worry, mania, and fear. Depending on your current state of being, you might be in the middle of a breakup, grieving process or life transition, all of which can bring up tremendous emotional responses when practicing Yin and can affect your ability to hold the pose for long. 

2. Lifestyle

Fascia is a fibrous membrane of connective tissue that envelops around all the internal parts of the body from head to toe. You can find fascia immediately beneath the skin, bones, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, organs, and cells. The system of fascias is characterized by a great capacity of sliding and displacement. They make possible small physiological movements, such as the heartbeat and also more visible movements such as the expansion of the lungs when breathing. Certain factors can stiffen the fascia such as dehydration, injuries, immobility, and diet. Essentially, your lifestyle can affect how flexible you are which leads to how long you can bear to hold a Yin yoga pose. Drink tons of water, move frequently, and eat a plant-based diet can help keep the fascia supple. 

3. The Way You Practice

“Practice makes perfect” is rather an incomplete message. A more appropriate message should be “practice correctly makes perfect.” How you practice Yin yoga will determine your optimal time to hold a posture. Usually, there are two types of Yin practitioners- Pandas and Black Knights. These playful classifications are coined by Paul Grilley and are often observed in a Yin yoga class. Pandas are the lazy students who never stretch to their capacities, and Black Knights are the brave warriors who tend to stretch beyond their limits. Neither one is the proper way to practice Yin. To discover your optimal time, you need to find your physical and emotional edges in the pose. As you enter the pose, go as deep as you can breathe smoothly and feel calmly. As time passes, you’ll find that your edges will move. You may move deeper into the pose as long as you can maintain composure. As you listen to your body respectfully and apply wisdom, you’ll discover your optimal time in holding a pose.