There seems to be a yin yoga buzz in the air as yoga teachers and students are realizing the power of quieting and turning inward with the healing effects effects of yin yoga.
What is yin yoga anyway?
Yin was popularized by several yoga teachers; Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers, both influenced by the work of Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama and Paulie Zink.
Yin is the opposite of yang. Yin brings feminine energy and yang masculine. Think water and fire, moon and sun, hidden and exposed. We need to cool off what we burn.
What are the benefits of Yin Yoga?
Yin postures are mostly done on the mat and held anywhere from 2-5 minutes at a time, focusing on the release of myofascial tissue in the back and sacrum as well as the deep connections within the joints and attaching ligaments. Further, yin postures are useful for working the Chinese meridians throughout the body. As Dr Motoyama’s studies verify the flow of energy throughout the body, these subtle yoga poses work deeply in helping to unblock congested areas in our bodies.
Opposite from America’s ‘need for speed’ or quick results, Yin yoga’s slow approach with a focus on letting go and working with the breath can have a powerful affect on those who have a fast paced stressful lifestyle or a lot of trauma held in the body. The opening of the myofacial tissue ‘trains’, a term coined by Tom Meyers, can both bring up and release a lot of old holding patterns or the memory of a physical or emotional trauma.
With all this in mind, Yin is a great tool for slowing down the accumulated effects of stress and helps us by moving through our difficulties and challenges by looking and working inward rather than escaping outward through habitual distractions or outwardly expressive poses.
Who benefits from yin ?
Everyone, especially those of us with busy fast paced lifestyles, active athletic hobbies, or high intensity cross training sports. It is not suited for acute injuries, but good for old injuries with scar tissue damage or postural imbalance (balanced with strengthening). Let your teacher know if you experience any sharp pain, numbing or tingling.
What to expect in a yin yoga class?
Expect long held stretches with a focus on your breath. When you feel anxious due to the intensity, your teacher will talk you through holding the pose by using breath as a tool for focus and turning inward. Expect to feel calm, tired, sleepy, depressed or even irritable after a yin practice, but with a great comeback boost of confidence and mindful awareness once you have released any negative charge that may have been brought up. On the other hand, you may just feel great throughout and not have any of these growing pains at all 🙂
Reflective expression and the artful balance of yin and yang
We all need to find balance between an expressive and reflective self. Too much of one or the other can cause an imbalance that can affect us emotionally, physically and spiritually. One great way to achieve this is to cultivate the mindful balance of yin and yang.