What is Yin Yoga?

Initially called “Daoist” Yoga, Yin Yoga is a form of yoga that targets the deeper connective tissues (ligaments, tendons, joints) and fascia in the body. Many of the postures focus on areas that encompass a joint (hips, sacrum, spine). As one ages flexibility in the joints decreases and Yin yoga is a wonderful way to maintain that flexibility. Yin Yoga is unique in that you are asked to relax into the posture, soften the muscles and move closer to the bone. While yang-like yoga practices are more superficial, Yin offers a much deeper access to the body. Time spent in the postures is like time spent in meditation.

In Yin class, you will notice similar postures as in a Yang class (i.e., Power Vinyasa Yoga) but they are called something else. This is to help the student create a mind shift from yang to yin—from active to passive.

Many of the poses are seated, supine, or prone and are held passively for at least three to five minutes with the muscles relaxed. Similar to acupuncture/Chinese medicine, Yin Yoga also works with the meridians of the body, enhancing the body’s immunity and creating emotional equilibrium.

Yin and Your Intimate Self
Yin Yoga is an intimate practice in that students get in touch with their self—their feelings, sensations and emotions. Yin Yoga has been found to be effectively used in programs for those suffering from addictions, eating disorders, anxiety and deep pain or trauma. It teaches a greater mental stability of basically being with your feelings and sensations without reacting. Try it three or four times to really make a decision. You will find immediate benefits of more open hips, a more relaxed body and centered mind.

Some of the benefits of Yin Yoga are:

  • Calming and balancing of the mind and body
  • Regulates energy in the body
  • Increases mobility in the body, especially the joints and hips
  • Lowers stress levels
  • Greater stamina
  • Better lubrication and protection of joints
  • More flexibility in joints & connective tissue
  • Release of fascia throughout the body
  • Help with TMJ and migraines
  • Deeper Relaxation
  • A great coping for anxiety and stress
  • Better ability to sit for meditation
  • A better Yang practice

yin2The Yin Yoga and “Stressing” the Joints
The principle of Yin Yoga is to stress the connective tissue so the body will respond by strengthening it. Connective tissue is different from muscle and needs to be exercised differently. Instead of the rhythmic contraction and release that best stretches muscle, connective tissue responds best to a slow, steady load. If you gently stretch connective tissue by holding a yin pose for a long time, the body will respond by making them a little longer and stronger—which is exactly what you want.

Although connective tissue is found in every bone, muscle, and organ, it’s most concentrated at the joints. In fact, if you don’t use your full range of joint flexibility, the connective tissue will slowly shorten to the minimum length needed to accommodate your activities. If you don’t use your full range of motion, over years of under use, you’ll discover that your joints have been “shrink-wrapped” by shortened connective tissue.

yinyoga5aIn general, a yin approach works to promote flexibility in areas often perceived as nonmalleable, especially the hips, pelvis, and lower spine.

Yin Yoga is a perfect complement to a more active (yang) yoga practice. It is also an excellent cross training tool for athletes. The feeling you have after a Yin Yoga practice is comparable to receiving a massage or acupuncture. Try this deeply therapeutic practice and experience the healing effects for yourself.

 

 

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