Yin Yoga? - The benefits of Yin yoga
|What is Yin Yoga?|
|Origins and History of Yin Yoga|
|Philosophy and Principles of Yin Yoga|
|Four Main Principles|
|Yin Yoga Poses|
|Who is Yin yoga for?|
|Yin yoga and the body|
|Yin Yoga Benefits|
Yin yoga is based on the Taoist concept of yin and yang, opposite and complementary principles in nature. Yin is the stable, unmoving, hidden aspect of things; yang is the changing, moving, revealing aspect. In the body, the relatively stiff connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, fascia) are yin, while the more mobile and pliable muscles and blood are yang.
Yin yoga is a quiet and simple practice, but not necessarily an easy practice. Yin yoga works deeply into our body.
Yin yoga is a slower approach to traditional yoga, in which asanas or poses are held by the practitioner for longer periods of time. Instead of achieving a continuous flow, this yoga style focuses more on inner silence and the movement of energy through the body. Long-held poses in yin yoga may last for five minutes or more, rather than the 20-30 seconds commonly practiced in other yoga disciplines. The purpose of yin yoga is to increase the strength of connective tissues and boost flexibility while finding a balance between yin and yang – the opposing aspects of nature.
Holding stretches for long periods of time and other techniques closely related to Yin yoga has been practised for centuries in China and Taiwan as part of the Daoist Yoga, which is sometimes known as Dao yin. Taoist priests taught this knowledge, along with breathing techniques, to Kung Fu practitioners beginning 2000 years ago. Yin Yoga as we know it today was founded in the 1970s by martial arts expert and Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink. Yin style yoga has become popular due in large part to the widespread teaching activities of Yin yoga teachers and developers Paul and Suzee Grilley, Sarah Powers and Bernie Clark.
Philosophy and Principles of Yin Yoga
Yin and Yang
Yin yoga is based on the Taoist concept of yin and yang, opposite and complementary principles in nature. Yin is the stable, unmoving, hidden aspect of things; yang is the changing, moving, revealing aspect. Other yin-yang polarities include cold-hot, down-up, calm-excited. In the body, the relatively stiff connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, fascia) is yin, while the more mobile and pliable muscles and blood are yang.
Yin yoga works on the Yin tissues - also known as the connective tissues. 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. Remember the principle of exercise is to stress the tissue so the body will respond by strengthening it.
Note: Yin Yoga requires the muscles to relax around the connective tissue in order to get a stretch, so not all yoga poses can be done safely or effectively when practicing Yin style. Thus Yin asanas have different names
Yin yoga poses are also designed to improve the flow of qi, the subtle energy said in Chinese medicine to run through the meridian pathways of the body. It is suggested that these meridians are created by our connective tissue. Improved flow of qi is hypothesized to improve organ health, immunity, and emotional well-being.
Four Main Principles
When practicing Yin yoga these principles should be employed:
- “Find an appropriate edge”: Move slowly and gently into the pose, and look for an appropriate amount of intensity, never stretch so far as to cause pain;
- Stillness: consciously try to release into the pose, and to remain still, without shifting position;
- Hold the position: beginners hold for 1-3 minutes, advanced hold for 5 minutes or more.
- Release with care.
Yin Yoga Poses
The main poses associated with yin yoga include meditation seat, seal pose, child’s pose, and banana pose, among others.
- Meditation Seat: For 6 minutes, ground yourself into a comfortable seat with a straight spine.
- Melting Heart: Keeping your hips above your knees, lean forward on your forearms and clasp your hands for 3-4 minutes.
- Seal Pose: On your belly, prop yourself up with your arms straight for 3-4 minutes.
- Child’s Pose: Kneeling with your buttocks on your feet, stretch your arms out and place your forehead on the ground for 5-6 minutes.
- Banana Pose or Bananasana: On your back, push your feet to one side of the mat, and your upper arms and shoulders to the same side. Form a crescent moon with your body and hold for 2-3 minutes on each side.
- Butterfly Pose: Draw your feet in from a seated position and lean forward slowly over your feet for 3-4 minutes.
Other poses include:
- Legs to chest transition
- Dragonfly pose
Yin yoga is for you if you are tired and craving energy or you’re over-stimulated and have too much energy; if your mind is overactive or your energy levels erratic.
We live in a world where we are bombarded with stimuli, stimuli that is available 24/7. It’s so easy to end up not switching off at all - to end up with a mind that is constantly busy processing all the information that’s thrown at it. Whether the information is good, valuable or rubbish, it doesn’t matter, the mind still needs to deal with it. The mind gets used to that amount of information and starts to crave stimuli if it becomes quiet. So we end up browsing, looking for stuff; it doesn’t matter what, as long as we fill the gaps. Gaps we really should allow to stay empty to find some sort of downtime - for the mind to stop and for you to just be.
Any kind of dynamic form of yoga caters to this aspect of keeping ourselves busy. Although the mind may calm down as a result of the active exercise, we are still feeding the part of us that craves intensity and wants to be stimulated. We just happen to have found ourselves a healthier stimulus! I am not saying cut out the dynamic yoga, I just think it’s a good idea to also balance all the on-the-go aspects of life and a great way to do that is through Yin Yoga.
Yin yoga works on the yin tissues - also known as the connective tissues. Connective tissue responds best to a slow, steady load which is why we hold the poses for longer. If you gently stretch connective tissue by holding a yin pose for a long time in this way, the body will respond by making it a little longer and stronger - which is exactly what you want. Remember, the principle of exercise is to stress the tissue so the body will respond by strengthening it.
Different Yin yoga poses stimulate and remove blockages in the myofascial meridians in the body. This has the effect of balancing the body’s internal organs and systems.
Different Yin yoga poses stimulate and remove blockages in the myofascial meridians in the body. This has the effect of balancing the body’s internal organs and systems. Yin yoga requires the muscles to relax around the connective tissue in order to get a stretch, so not all yoga poses can be done safely or effectively when practising Yin style. Thus Yin asanas have different names when practised in a Yin style.
There are many benefits to the regular practice of yin yoga, that include the following:
- Relief from symptoms of anxiety and chronic stress
- Increase in flexibility
- Proper circulation to extremities of the body
- Boost to metabolism and core strength
- Detoxification of the body
- Strengthen the internal organs
- Encourages self-love and communication with your own body
- Boost to fortitude and stamina, both mentally and physically
- Improve joint mobility
- Release fascia
- Improve perseverance
- Promote afterglow