What is Yin Yoga? And why should I practice it?
Many people, especially those that are new to yoga will wonder what is Yin Yoga? Through a short description of the purpose and benefits of the practice I attempt to encourage you to incorporate this simple, yet powerful practice into your life. My hope is that it will bring you more balance…which is essentially the main reason we practice any yoga at all. Yin Yoga can act as a beautiful compliment to the Yang (dynamic) aspects of your life. It is a an opportunity to slow down, spend time listening to your body and learning to speak back using your breath. It encourages observation and exploration as you learn techniques to let go and open yourself up to whatever arises.
A practice that I like to call my drug of choice as it allows time spent marinating in postures which creates a “buzz” effect that is truly Yin-ique. Yin Yoga has foundations based on Chinese Taoist theory. One of the aims being to affect or stimulate the flow of energy (Chi) in the body. By targeting energy lines (meridians) in the body you can remove blockages and increase the flow of energy. Yin Yoga is a tri-method combination of postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation to stimulate and regulate energy.
Yin Yoga teacher, practitioner and author of Yin Sights, Bernie Clark, offers insight into the ins and outs of this unique style of yoga both in his books and online.
Yin Yoga has the same goals and objectives as any other school of yoga; however, it directs the stimulation normally created in the asana portion of the practice deeper than the superficial or muscular tissues (which we are calling the yang tissues). Yin Yoga targets the connective tissues, such as the ligaments, bones, and even the joints of the body (particularly in the hips, pelvis, and lower spine) that normally are not exercised very much in a more active style of asana practice.
Yin tissues respond differently than yang tissues to being exercised. Being quite dry and with little elasticity, in order to stimulate and encourage growth, these tissues require gentle pressure applied for longer periods of time. A session of Yin Yoga consists of remaining in a few number of postures for anywhere from one to twenty minutes.
It’s no surprise that a regular Yin practice is especially beneficial for athletes. Not only will it provide the necessary deep stretch, lengthening and release to improve overall performance but also the added benefits of breath-awareness and meditation/visualisation.
“The slow nature of the practice can seem quite boring, passive or soft…(but) can be quite challenging due to the long duration of the poses”.
The Beauty of Yin Yoga
The beauty of Yin Yoga is that it specifically caters to the individual. Yin Yoga isn’t about alignment, what your body looks like in the posture or how far you can get into the pose. Every body is different. Each of us carry tension differently, have different injuries and compression points. Yin Yoga is about what you feel when you are in the posture. It’s about you finding a stretch, a lengthening or a slight resistance in your body and taking time to acknowledge and respond to it. Through this practice you’ll learn several methods of creating relaxation and observing the effects.
So the next time you find yourself choosing what type of yoga class to attend give a second thought to the long holds of Yin Yoga and discover for yourself the effects of deep stretch, lengthening, balance and release.
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