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Episode 147: Jason’s Take on Yin Yoga

Jason Crandell quote

Since Jason so often emphasizes the importance of building strength — especially along the posterior chain (back side) of the body, I get asked all the time, “What does Jason think about Yin yoga?” For the Season 1 Finale, we decided to take on this topic. Yin is a popular style of yoga that emphasizes long, passive holds of various (mostly floor-based) poses.

In that light, Jason and I talk about:

* What happens to muscles when you stretch them passively for more than 60 seconds

* Why it’s never a good idea to stretch ligaments

* Who might be a good fit for a regular Yin practice and who should be more cautious

* Why it’s important to include strength building practices, especially for the posterior chain, if you’re going to regularly practice passive stretching

* The most important type of strength for injury prevention, and some examples of how to do it

RECOMMENDED AND RELATED LINKS

Episode 144: Ouch! How to Handle Your Sore Sacrum

Episode 76: Jason Crandell on Yoga Injuries – “Yoga is Good for You. Most Extreme Things are Not.”

Episode 74: Jill Miller Talks Honestly About Hip Replacement Surgery & How Yoga is in Need of a Tune Up

Episode 101: Learning, Growing, & Thriving After Injury with Laura Burkhart

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20 Comments

  1. Yes! Thank you for this fantastic episode. I’ve been waiting for this for maybe 7 years, since I did Yin teacher training with Sarah Powers. After several months, I suspected that Yin was “disconnecting” my body in a way that felt unnatural and probably dangerous over time. While I enjoyed the calm and relaxed mental feeling, I had the sense it was at the expense of the integrity, stability, and health of my body. Anyway, I stopped teaching Yin. I was waiting for years for someone whom I respect to discuss/confirm scientifically what I felt. It’s strange to me that Yin uses Chinese meridian theory to support the practice. The Chinese health/healing practices (Qigong) I’ve studied in no way promote extreme physical practices. Instead, they promote joint fluidity/energetic balance through gentle movement.

    I live/teach in Europe and Yin is one of the most popular styles here. I worry for all the practitioners and wish they could all listen to this podcast episode! Thanks so much Jason and Andrea for keeping it real, wise and full of common-sense.

  2. A good yin teacher will also explain his/her students that they should never go past 60% of their range of motion while in the pose and we don’t ´stretch’ but ´stress’ and always ask the student to pay attention to what the body is telling them, to check how they feel the day after and the rebounds are also very important to let the body comes back to neutral. Students should come out of the pose if they are uncomfortable. May be you should get paul griley to come to your podcast to have his view on why yin can be a good practice as long as it’s done and taught properly. I love your podcast by the way. Xxx

    1. This sounds like a great idea I would love to listen to a conversation between Paul grilled and Jason crandell I’m sure it would be very insightful.

      1. I thought the very same thing after listening to the podcast! thank you for bringing a different perspective to this discussion!

  3. One of my teachers commented to me that yin might not be good for my body, after which I looked for more information regarding the practice. I am long and leaner with a decent range of motion and a tendency towards hyper mobility in some of my joints. Your podcast helped me to answer some questions about what works for me and what could work better for balance. From what I have read, yin yogis don’t promote it as a practice to do on its own, but rather as a supplement to other practices. Thanks Jason, for spelling it out in understandable ways! I, too, would love to hear Paul Grilley (or Bernie Clark) chime in on how yin can be used to round out a yoga practice. Thanks always, Jason and Andrea, for a great podcast!

    1. Yet again agree, I do enjoy listening to your podcast but I feel it would have been much more responsible to have got a yin yoga teacher like Bernie Clarke or Paul grilley on the show to offer a in-depth discussion and conversation about the practice. Being a yin yoga teacher and practitioner myself I found it disappointing at times hearing statements about yin yoga which just aren’t true and I think the audience would have learnt much more from a conversation with a yin professional where both sides can benefit and draw insight from the discussion. I truly hope a follow up show with a yin professional comes out of this.

  4. Thank you for closing out the season with the Yin topic. I have suffered from SI joint dysfunction from hypermobility, therefore I’m very conscious of Yoga-aided and abetted instabilities and injuries. Yet I still continue to love the practice and teach Yin yoga. Yes, it may seem counterproductive given all the risks and reasons Jason mentions. But as Andrea voices out, Yin can be (and should be) taught with the anchor in the Chinese Meridian systems and philosophies that beautifully intertwine and correlate with the Yogic systems. It is most meditative compared to other styles of yoga that are often touted as meditation in motion but is mostly mindfulness in practice. Yin is about grounding and finding ways to be present in your skin while being aware of the conditions of your immediate reality. So it’s not at all about passivity and surrender that it can be mistaken for when trying to relax in long holds.

    So that’s my long-winded way of saying I understand its merits and pitfalls. As such I’m trying to advocate for better education in the Yin practice. My personal journey is allowing me to see value in anatomically appropriate strength and functional movement training and it’s been exciting to see various fitness, rehab, physiotherapy systems doing intelligent and groundbreaking work; FRC being one of them. We’re at a time where we are all redefining the roles and responsibilities of Yoga teachers and manners of teaching. While it is essential for us to cultivate discernment among students, the onus still lies in better understanding and application of the subject matter by the teacher. To measure one system as good or bad in comparison to another may discount what can be genuinely learned through personal exploration, experimentation experience and studies. Of the many things we, as teachers can do is to allow existing notions and institutional beliefs challenged. And we should take an honest look and admit when our attempts to do more and be more is simply feeding into the capitalistic and hedonistic machine to be more viable and marketable even as it compromises or corrupts our yoga practice, teaching and living. As memorable 90’s adages go, Ice Cube’s “check yourself before you wreck yourself” is something we can take to heart every now and then.

    Thank you for all the hard work and enjoy the necessary and interesting conversations in our global Yogaland.

  5. This was THE most eyeopening episode yet! Thanks for the great insight on active and passive stretching.

    1. You might be interested in reading Bernie Clarke’s recent response to this podcast,it’s not as clear cut as active and passive stretching when it comes to yin yoga. Yin is a subtle practice with very different lessons to a Yang practice and when practised mindfully with appropriate mild ‘stress’ and not ‘stretch’ there can be great benefits
      https://sarahpowers.com/sp/blog/

  6. Thank you for your take on Yin yoga. I agree with you, one needs to incorporate strength (yang) with passive (yin). Anything that is unbalanced is not healthy. After all, yin is based on the Tao, passive and active is the balance.

    However, yin is an ancient practice and has proven health benefits based on nadis, or meredians. I would hope that those listening will not rule out yin, everything is good in moderation.

    I would encourage you to invite Bernie Clark, or Paul Grilley on your podcast so you can have a “balanced” conversation.

    1. I echo your comment Dee Fey. It would be wonderful to hear what Paul Grilley has to say about the yin practice on the body and incorporated in the bigger picture of balance with the yang.
      Thanks again Jason and Andrea. You are doing an amazing job!

    2. Agreed! Would love to have Bernie on. He countered this podcast episode in the Yin Yoga Forum, would be nice if he were given airtime..

  7. Hi Andrea and Jason!
    I love listening to your podcast. You both are so knowledgeable and fun to listen to. I’ve been practicing yoga for about 2 years now and this spring am taking a 200 hr teacher training at a vinyasa yoga studio in northern CA. I’ve been experiencing wrist pain and just talked with my teacher about overextension of elbows for downward dog. I had my elbows sticking out too much and overcompensated. If I keep practicing with the new technique will the wrist issues go away (I know you’re not a PT or have seen my practice)? What can I do to strengthen and relieve pressure of my wrists? Is there a podcast you have on wrist pain?

    With care,

    Victoria

  8. I listen to your podcast and it often challenges my views and allows me to see things from different perspectives, thank you for that!

    The Yin Yoga podcast although well informed with your existing beliefs, which I don’t argue missed a huge opportunity by not having a properly trained Yin Yoga voice present. It would be wonderful to hear how the conversation might evolve if you have a person who knows and teaches the practice you’re discussing.

    Thank you for the dialogue!

  9. I really enjoy your podcast, Andrea – you have a diverse range of guests on, often offering great insights into different parts of the Yogaverse, and I always look forward to the new episodes coming out – please keep doing what you do! It was good to hear Jason’s take on Yin Yoga, though it felt like there were quite a few claims made that don’t ring true or were perhaps half-true – (e.g. around the stretching of ligaments and the weakening of tissue). It would be most excellent if you were able to invite on someone with a truly deep understanding of Yin Yoga (e.g. Bernie Clarke, Paul Grilley) to discuss the practice from another point of view? NB – Paul Grilley along with Sarah Powers is the one mostly credited with developing the Yin Yoga practice that is most commonly practiced today, not Paulie Zinc.

  10. I am usually a fan of JC, but found an awful lot of of scaremongering and misinformation in this podcast.
    Paulie Zinc is an extreme, and Yin Teachers would never recommend that their students go to 100% of their natural ROM and stay there.
    In Yin we do not advise only practising one style, and would always recommend Yin as a balancing practice for a more Yang style of yoga.
    To assume that SI joint issues can be worsened with Yin is odd, especially if the yoga student does an awful lot of vinyasa flow… if a student does vinyasa flow daily, and Yin once a week, logic would tell us that the vinyasa flow may be to blame for any issues the student may have.
    Every tissue of the body can move, even bone, and we cannot separate muscle from tendon or ligament when doing any form of movement, as the whole body works as one.
    This podcast needed someone who knows Yin, as well as the most up to date research on anatomy, to give a more balanced view. Very disappointing.

  11. Dear Andrea and Jason,

    I normally love your podcast. But this podcast was so dissapointing. How can you talk about something if you have no idea what you are talking about! You both know you have a big influence. So if you talk yin, you should know where talking about and do some investigation. I can’t believe Andrea, you are student of Sarah Powers even had her on the podcast and then talk so half cocked over the yin practice. I will add Bernie Clarks comment on this podcast so at least you know a little bit more then. It would be great if you will invite him or an other well known yin teacher to the podcast!!! https://yinyoga.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=2023

  12. We can’t open the body to see what’s happening in any form of yoga, but some of Jason’s claims seemed outdated based on what we now know about the fascia and connective tissue. Like many of the commentators here, I agree that it would be wise to have someone on the show who knows more about yin and can speak to the science behind stressing the tissues. You guys have a wide reach and have become somewhat of an authority on yoga, whether intended or not! I was disappointed by this episode and thought it a shame that such broad, fear-based statements were made about the practice. I hope you will consider having a yin teacher on your show!

  13. Jason,

    Saw this episode posted on a friend’s social media and gave it a listen.

    Just a thought: if you are going to over and over reference viewpoints that you characterize as “scientific” or “not scientific”, you will need to site sources for ANY and ALL assertions you make.

    As well, you’ll want to make sure that all sources you do site are from peer reviewed journals and that the published studies included adequate controls, very large sample sizes, long term follow up of participants and results that have been duplicated by other independent researchers.

    Otherwise it’s not science, it’s hearsay.

    It might FEEL science-y… but you can’t just throw the word “scientific” around to support your assertions.

    You might have heard it from a doctor or physical therapist, but “appeals to a higher authority” are a common logical fallacy… and also not a part of the scientific method.

  14. Also… if you’re going to mention Cirque du Soleil you might also not want to make assumptions. I performed with Cirque for a little over 9 years; likely around 3,500 performances.

    Based on what I heard you say in this episode, you would likely view my chosen disciplines as “extreme”. For the record I (at 47) have no joint pain, no major injuries and had no major surgeries. And that’s more common than you might think.

    Many (if not most) successful circus artists know how to care for their bodies quite well, and don’t usually leave a career that “broken” at all.

    We just move on like people do from any other career.

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