If you have been following my blog or you have attended by classes you will probably know that I like to mix up my yoga practice. There are so many wonderful styles of yoga and approaches out there so why limit us to one? Today we will dive a little deeper into the topic of Yin Yoga which is a style of yoga that I have come to love. But what is Yin Yoga actually? What are the benefits and is it good for anyone?
Yin and Yang
According to the ancient Chinese there are two different contrasting aspects in life - the Yin and the Yang. Yang represents our masculine side, the sun, energy , activity and heat whereas Yin is our female side, presenting the moon, darkness, passive and cold.
They complement each other and one cannot exist without the other. Sometimes one side becomes more dominant than the other and an imbalance is created. Balancing these two contrasts helps to return the system to wholeness and health.
What is Yin Yoga?
Yin Yoga combines principles from Chinese traditions with Yoga which originated in India. In Yin Yoga we work a little bit deeper into the connective tissue and acupressure on the meridian lines (which are also used in acupuncture and reflexology).
We work with yin tissues which are ligaments, bones and joints whereas yang tissues are muscles, blood and skin. Muscles love to get warm whereas ligaments generally remain cool. In Yang styles of yoga we generally target the muscles, we're more active and create heat in the body. Yin Yoga poses are more static and poses are usually held between 3 and 5 minutes (sometimes even longer).
What are the benefits of Yin Yoga?
- improves flexibility and range of motion
- reduces fixation which can limit the movement of the joints
- can make our ligaments thicker and stronger through greater collagen production
- can reduce osteopenia and osteoporosis
- helps to calm the mind
- nourishes the organs through acupressure on the meridian lines
- awakens, enhances and balances prana our vital life force
Who is Yin Yoga for?
Anyone who would like to get a good stretch and who wants to work a little bit more slowly and a little deeper into the body! It's great if you usually practice a Yang style of yoga (Ashtanga, Vinyasa etc) to mix it up with a Yin class once in a while to create more balance in your body and mind.
Who is Yin Yoga NOT for?
Some Yin Yoga teachers might disagree here with me but in my opinion it is not so useful if somebody has any issues with joints (knees, shoulders) and acute back pain or scoliosis unless they have a good amount of body awareness and know how to adjust poses. For people who are hyper-mobile I would suggest a more active and strengthening style of yoga. Restorative Yoga will be more appropriate for you than Yin Yoga if you are currently recovering from an injury.
How to practice Yin Yoga
The best way to learn about Yin Yoga is to actually experience it and go to a class! Most yoga studios offer Yin Yoga classes or dedicated workshops. If you can't find a local class the YouTube is also a great source - I really like Yoga with Kassandra for Yin Yoga!
The main principles of the Yin Yoga practice are:
- come to the depth of the pose that is just right for you (remember Goldilocks?)
- resolve to remain still
- hold the pose for a certain amount of time
If you're leading a very Yang type of lifestyle and usually go to active classes than Yin Yoga even if you just practice one in a while can really complement your practice! It will leave you feeling wonderfully relaxed and improve your health on so many levels!
And of course Yin Yoga is always better with a hug....
source: The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga, Bernie Clark