What is Yin Yoga?
When I first did my Yin Yoga teacher training people would look at me twice when I mentioned it. Yin was relatively unheard of. It is great to see it creeping into most yoga studios now. Why is this? Why has it suddenly gained popularity? Yogis are becoming more aware of the amazing benefits of this still practise as our daily lives and minds get more and more full. For people just starting Yoga it can still be confusing with all the different types out there.
- A brief explanation:
-The word Yin is linked with the qualities of stability, sturdiness, feminine, stillness, cold, night-time, the moon and downward grounding energy.
–Yang on the other hand is the opposite changing, moving, masculine, active, hot, daytime, sunshine and upward moving energy. Too much of either one and our mind and body can be out of synch.
We have all heard of Yin/ Yang and when in balance and harmony with ourselves we are a combination of both.Some of us have more yin and others more yang. If you are female it does not necessarily mean you have more Yin in you, it can come down to the lifestyle you lead, your work, your environment, your thoughts, your upbringing, your numerology and the foods that you eat.
Yin Yoga works synergistically with the principles of traditional Chinese medicine to shift ‘chi’ through the body via our meridian lines. From a physiological perspective, the muscles of the body are more yang in quality – warm and pliable. Whereas, the bones, connective tissue, joints and fascial network of the musculature are said to be more yin, cold and rigid in quality. Yin Yoga works with these more immobile areas of the body to create a gradual, long-term release.
You may think Yin Yoga is therefore very passive however the length of time in postures combined with the intensity of the sensation make this practice challenging in itself! Ones patience is truly tested as you use the tools of gravity, time and breath to unravel the tangled web of energetic blockage manifested in the form of physical tension.
During a yin class we only get through a handful of poses all of which are done low to the ground, there are no poses in standing. Yin not only gives time and space to unravel deep into the body, it is also a stepping stone to meditation as you simply use the time in the poses to observe your body and mind. The challenge is for non reaction when sensations can become intense but at the same time we can learn to observe what is right and not so right for our own individual body. This is a valuable tool that can benefit us in everyday life.
Yin Yoga is not for everyone however.
– If you are pregnant you and your instructor must be very aware not to over stretch the joints due to the release of the hormone relaxin in the body while pregnant. Props are essential for this to help support your joints.
– This is the same for those with hyper mobility. A lot of people who are super flexible love Yin Yoga since it is relatively easy for them to go deep into a pose. If your joints are super flexible injury can occur from going too deep. More strengthening yoga or pilates would benefit this type of person (more yang types of movement).
– Finally, you can go from being super tight to super flexible in the joints from doing too much Yin….if you just do Yin due to loving the release and opening but do not balance your body with more yang yoga or exercises then this is going to create an imbalance too.
It is all a balance, we need the yin and the yang in life, movement, food…too much of one thing no matter how good may eventually create an imbalance. A little bit of everything can be a good theory in many ways. We can’t appreciate the highs unless we know what a low feels like:-)