If you haven’t tried Yin Yoga the classic “what are you waiting for?!” question comes to mind. Yin Yoga can be described as a treat to the body, a slowly moving meditation, a way to connect with what’s really going on internally. When I do a lot of cardio and strength training workouts, Yin Yoga is my sanctuary. If I am not that active, Yin Yoga is a relaxing time where I can check in with how my body is feeling.
So, what exactly is Yin Yoga? Let's take a look at this unique and healing practice!
Yin Yoga is influenced by the philosophies of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Yin poses are created with the intent to improve the flow of chi, the subtle and invisibly energy that some believe run through the meridian pathways in the body. Whenever there is an excess or lack of chi, the body is said to become unbalanced. Yin poses are working with meridian lines to help circulate chi throughout the body and release stagnant energy to help the body function optimally. Yin Yoga is similar to acupuncture in theory, both target intersections of meridians to stimulate and restore chi. The belief is that when chi flows freely, our mind, body and soul function much more harmoniously.
The concept of yin and yang
The concept of yin and yang comes from the opposite and complementary principles in nature. Yin is the unmoving, stable and hidden aspect of things; yang is the changing, moving, revealing aspect. Tolerance, reflection, allowance and passivity are yin qualities. Doing, controlling, improving and achieving are yang qualities. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, both are necessary and neither is superior. Balance is found between having both.
Yin Yoga works on slow holds in postures as opposed to more vigorous and fluid yang practices. Yang practices focus on movement, strength, and using a lot of muscle to produce heat. One of the main objective’s of yin yoga is to open and release connective tissues, joints, and ligaments that have become tight from stress, poor posture, injuries and emotional pain stored in the body. Yin Yoga can bring emotions to the surface which helps you process and let them go.
What to expect during a Yin Yoga class
You can expect a Yin Yoga class to generally consist of long-held poses that mainly work the lower part of the body. Parts of the body that are worked on most during yin include the hips, inner thighs, and lower spine because these areas are especially rich in connective tissues.
Opposed to other styles of yoga, Yin Yoga poses are held for up to five minutes. If you’re new to Yin Yoga, it’s not unusual to find this uncomfortable at first. The reason for holding the poses for periods of time in yogi terms is to “find your edge.” Yin poses aren’t about moving too deep but finding your edge and being able to let muscles go in the stretch and access the deeper tissues. Holding poses for a longer period of time is said to help the chi move deeper into the body and start any healing process needed.
Mentally, holding poses and pushing through discomfort increases mindfulness and teaches stillness. It’s helping build your tolerance and push limits of what you can handle on and off the mat.
Benefits of Yin Yoga
Helps promote the strength, vitality, hydration, and mobility of connective tissues
Improves the flow of chi
Helps bring the mind to a meditative state
Reduces stress and anxiety
Improves joint mobility
Yin Yoga is for everyone
One of the great things about Yin Yoga is that it’s for everyone. Regardless of ability or age, Yin Yoga uses very little muscular effort and is safe. Practicing Yin Yoga on a regular basis enhances your natural range of mobility, increases flexibility and helps to strengthen the mind-body connection. Yin Yoga gives you the best of both worlds, a workout for neglected areas of the body and the opportunity to go inward and clear your mind.
By Suzanne Kvilhaug
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