What is Yin Yoga?
Yin Yoga is body meditation that nurtures healthy flow of energy throughout the physical, emotional, and energetic bodies. In this practice we nourish our relationship with compassion, mindfulness, and loving kindness. This is a reflective and deep practice composed of floor based postures. There are no standing or balancing poses and we hold each posture for 3-5 minutes to address the connective tissue (fascia) health. The sensations you will feel in Yin may be different than those felt in traditional styles of Yoga because of this.
The difference between Yin and Yang Yoga…
Yang Yoga, (such as Hatha, Vinyasa, or Ashtanga) nourishes the muscle- which is a Yang element of the body. The muscles are always working, so naturally there will be stress in the connective tissues, joints, and ligaments. Many aches and pains we feel live in the deeper tissues. Yin Yoga opens, lubricates, and activates QI (life force) in areas of the body that are tight or contracted from Yang lifestyle. Specifically, these postures address the lower body, hips, pelvis, and spine (first and second chakra) which then corresponds to the whole ecosystem of the body. Our joints, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissues are vital- cooler- Yin aspects of our body that need a different kind of "exercise". Holding the posture allows us to place a natural stress on these areas of the body. This stress lengthens, expands, and massages the hardened tissues that surround our joints; allowing the tissues to soften and our joints to elongate. As our joints elongate we can access our fuller range of movement and flexibility.
In Yin Yoga we practice Acceptance. This means that we do not hold the shapes with strain, “push and pull” attitude, and extreme muscular effort. We let go of the need to change things with force, strive, or Yang effort. By consciously relaxing the muscles we release tension and active effort, allowing ourselves to naturally BE present with where we are. We confront the sensations that are tight or tender and allow ourselves to breathe and enter stillness there. This stillness with the sensation without force address the health of the connective tissue and Yin aspects of the body. All bodies are different, and we work with our own body where it is at each day.
It's said that QI lives in the connective tissue of the body. Meaning that life force energy weaves around our bones, joints, ligaments and through our organs. This weaving of QI travel is known as meridian energy channels. In holding a posture we're stimulating meridian lines where QI can be stagnant. The nature of this practice addresses energetic layers that course through our physical body (internally & externally) as well as the mental body, emotional body, and spiritual body. When we come out of a posture we can feel the space we've created in the body and mind, allowing life force energy to flow freely throughout every part of our being. A yin posture could then be compared to the likes of acupuncture or acupressure.
Holding a posture grounds us and connects us to stillness. In this stillness we witness and grow awareness of what is naturally present in our bodies, minds, and hearts. There is a constant dialogue in our bodies that we tend to override in our daily routines. Yin Yoga gives us a time and space where we can listen. The body can hold emotional trauma and tensions from routine lifestyle. As we seep into the connective tissue, we tap into areas of the body where stress and emotions are held. In holding postures we enter into states where we may feel raw and tender emotions. Here we are not only confronting edges of sensation in the body, but also in the mind and heart. Since we are working from a place of softness and ease, this practice can soothe trauma and anxiety, while also creating possibility for release. I emphasize keeping an awareness of your natural breath and visualizing yourself in a gentle way.
Modifications and use of props (blankets, blocks, and bolsters) are offered and recommended. These props are used as an aid to find the balance between support and activity. I ask that people stay mindful to what they know of their bodies already (if they have an injury or medical/physical condition). As we enter into emotions and start to feel their presence its important we remind ourselves how we can invite in more kindness towards ourselves.
Yin Yoga will compliment a Yang practice such as Hatha, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga. It also balances the body if you run, cycle, or play sports. The Yin practice helps to harmonize the Yang mind and lifestyle which is ever so present in ourselves and in our society. Practicing Yin will allow one to bring a Yin attitude into a Yang practice (or lifestyle) which will promote fewer injuries. Participants will learn to relax the mind and the breath. The practice has been known to help those who want to grow a meditation practice.
Yin Yoga reminds people of the quiet power within. My intention in guiding Yin Yoga is that people will spend time with themselves, practice softness, follow their truth, and connect to their hearts.
Who can practice Yin?
Yin Yoga is for everyone! You do not need to have practiced/ knowledge of Yoga. You do not need to be flexible. All you need is a body :) You will immediately receive the benefits of the practice. You will establish a deep connection to the physical layer of your Being (breath and body) and that connection will increase (soft and kind) awareness of the other layers of your Being. The practice tends to the emotional and energetic weaving throughout our physical form to the ever infinite nature of love we are intrinsically tied to. It's a beautiful time to enter the wisdom of this practice and listen to yourself more deeply.