Be still like a mountain, and flow like a great river. Tao Te Ching DID YOU KNOW? Long periods of time spent in one position calls on your mind to initially complain and eventually to accept 'what is' in that particular moment, knowing that all things pass. This is an invaluable lesson demonstrated by Yin yoga that helps us negotiate through life in a more gracious and accepting way.
Yin yoga requires the participant to move into a yoga posture and stay there for a length of time, anything from two minutes up to twenty. Although this might seem like a passive pursuit, it offers all sorts of challenges. The idea is to use the breath to soften the muscles, continuously going deeper and moving closer to the bone. During this time the mind tends to become very active, arguing and protesting; feelings, emotions and sensations become magnified and many issues and frustrations are given space to release. It's an intimate yoga and one of the reasons it's challenging. The upside is that there's apparently nothing like Yin yoga to massively improve flexibility and tame the mind. It's said, the pose begins when you want to leave it.
Most of the Yin yoga postures are practiced on the floor. They have a meditative approach and are designed to impact deeply in the body working on the connective tissue and fascia.
Some texts like the Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes 16 yin postures while other sources speak about 36 yin postures, regardless of what the posture is, they all have a similar feature in that they're passive and are held for a longer time than any other postures.
Althought the concept of Yin yoga has been around for thousands of years some of the teachers who popularized it in the West are martial arts expert and Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink; Paul Grilley, author of Yin Yoga, Outline of a Quiet Practice (Paperback) and Sarah Powers author of Insight Yoga (Paperback).
It's said the postures were developed to help promote meditation and long periods of pranayama and sitting and many of the postures target joints like the hips, sacrum or spine releasing stiffness and inflexibility. Naturally, age decreases flexibility and Yin yoga is a good preventative measure against this. If there's any area of your life you are neglecting or not able to focus on, yin is guaranteed to bring it up. That's why it's useful with addictions, eating disorders, anxiety and deep pain or trauma. It's also excellent in cultivating greater mental stability and is a great complement to yang yoga. What you learn in Yin has relevance in the whole of life and you can bring it into your other practices as well.
TIP: Before you make up your mind about whether you do or don't like Yin, do a few classes, sometimes it takes a few to realize what Yin is actually about.
7 benefits of Yin yoga:
Calming and balancing for mind and body
Lowers stress levels and deepens relaxation
Increases flexibility and mobility, especially in the joints
Regulates energy in the body and offers greater stamina
Lubricates and protects joints
Releases fascia and primes connective tissue
Allows better coping faculty for anxiety and stress
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