Yin Yoga – Explained
A lot of clients come to my Yoga studio to train, saying that they have tried yoga before but found it too challenging a session for them. They usually tell me that it put them off trying yoga for a long time.
Yin or Ashtanga ?
Chances are they have tried fast paced ashtanga yoga. All styles of yoga share the same aim, of introducing yourself to – you! But of you are after a simpler, much slower and calmer yoga, then Yin yoga is for you. It is terrific at calming the mind and body.
When most people think of yoga, they just picture the physical aspect and forget the spiritual. Any road of yoga will bring you spiritual peace. Yin yoga is one of those roads.
It will bring you increased flexibility and strength. It will leave you energized with a better posture and a more confident you. There are lots of Yoga classes suitable for you, suitable for everybody. If, however, headstands are not in your short or long term goal, then Yin yoga may be just the ticket for you. Especially if you want to stretch without fatiguing yourself.
Yin yoga compliments other training you may be doing or just for those who have an active, hectic lifestyle. Yin yoga can be your medicine to combat such a life.
There should be plenty of classes to choose from as yoga has taken off over the last few years, especially as people realise the calming effect that yoga has on the body – and mind.
Yin & Yang
The word Yin yoga comes from Taoist tradition. Yang is energizing – energy and heat. Yin on the other hand is calming, relaxing – stillness. So in yoga is about finding stillness. Much like the traditional asana, that would have been held for hours at a time.
It is about finding balance in your life. Neither Yin nor Yang predominating in your life.
Vigorous activities are running and jumping, including Ashtanga yoga. But if these predominate you will get burnt out.
Most postures (asana) of yin yoga is performed either sitting or lying on the mat. There are no energetic and physically challenging postures in yin yoga. The postures are performed slowly and with deliberation. Yin classes are suitable for all, especially for beginners, and offers a very good introduction into the journey of yoga.
That is not to say there will be no challenges, you will still find lunges and back bends. These are performed gentler and more importantly the postures are held for a much longer period of time. The aim of this holding of posture is to increase the letting go and relaxing, to increase flexibility. To facilitate this postures are held for upto 20 minutes, mainly they tend to be held for several minutes.
Most peoples active lifestyle activates the yang muscles. But we also comprise Yin tissues. It is these yin tissues – fascia – we are working when we hold postures for longer periods.
Most people overly focus on their yang muscles at the expense of hardly ever working their yin connective fascia. To work with the fascia, and not against it, we hold a pose and effectively just wait!
What is it we are waiting for? We wait for the protein that makes up this fascia to re-arrange themselves in the direction to which the tissues are being put under tension / stretch. Worked this way, we are working with the connective tissues, and not fighting against it. We just wait for the tissues to ease, relax off, in their own sweat time.
Mindfulness & Yin Yoga
For this reason, yin yoga is very suitable for introducing ‘mindfulness’ and breath control, as one awaits this tissues release. With this controlling of the breath and stillness of mind and body, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. That is the nervous system which is associated with ‘relax and digest’. It chills us out and calms us down, preparing one for sleep or at least relaxed. Most people do not spend enough time in this system. From a Calm and relaxed mind come the benefits of yin yoga – positive mental health.
People that ‘stick with it’ and attend regular sessions find it very calming and relaxing not just of the body, but of their minds. As a yoga teacher at my studio, the biggest feedback I have ever got (regardless of style – but mainly yin / Nidra yoga) has been how calmer and relaxed their minds have become. Most have found it a great anti-depressant!
Much Love from Newton Abbot