Yin Yoga and Super Long Stretching Times

A little while back my sports medicine doc recommended I try Yin Yoga, which is a form of yoga where you are put in a stretching position and then directed to relax completely for a very long time, like 3-5 minutes. Previously I was taught to stretch 20-30 seconds; this is probably good enough for a warmup or cool down, but it didn’t address tougher situations like tightness that has been present for a long time, or releasing fascial tightness.
I went to a Yin Yoga class and unfortunately thought it was kind of bogus. Not bogus in its practice, but bogus in the fact that I had to pay $20 for an hour of super long stretching.
So no more dishing out $20, but I do now do some super long stretching at home. One I’ve been working on is laying on a foam roller, and then letting one arm, bent at 90 degrees and held perpendicular to the body, just drop with its own weight over a period of 3-4 minutes. I have found that my pectoralis minor has been really tight due to swimming, and I need to get it and the supporting fascia to release. The only way to do this is to relax completely, and let my arm slowly drift downward as muscles, joints, and fascia slowly release their tension. It’s kind of amazing; over 3 minutes, my arm will start out there in the air and then slowly drop all the way down to the ground.
The trick is to put yourself in a position to relax completely. This means that you can’t be supporting yourself with a hand or arm; that will automatically put tension in your body. I bought a cotton bolster which I sometimes use to lay on and support myself while stretching various body areas.
I tried this many years ago when I took martial arts. It was my lifelong dream to do Chinese splits. But I never could do it. In fact, I would sometimes pull muscles by stretching too long. I think my mistake back then was that I needed to find a way to stretch muscles and be able to get completely relaxed. If I tense up at any point, it could set me up for potentially overstretching my muscles and hurting myself. Perhaps I will try again to attain the Chinese split position and finally achieve my own Jean Claude Van Damme super split kicks!