What is Yin Yoga?

When it comes to yoga, most people know the popular mainstream form of the practice like Ashtanga or Vinyasa which targets the superficial muscles of the body and are good for toning and strengthening them. But when it comes to Yin Yoga, most people are in unknown territory. In Yin, we target the deep connective tissues of the body like the ligaments, the joints, the bones, and all of its deep fascia networks. Yin Yoga classes consist of a series of passive floor poses usually held anything between 3 minutes to 8 minutes in length. From an exterior point of view, it looks like nothing is happening at all, but the deep inward experience you are getting and the release these poses provide to the body are amazing. The poses(called asanas in yoga) work mainly the lower part of the body like the hips, inner thighs, lower spine, hip flexors, and PSOAS. These specific areas of the body are especially rich in deep connective tissues.

Yin Yoga also improves energy flow and enhances the flow of chi(energy in traditional Chinese medicine) in the organs. Yin Yoga also offers a huge mental and emotional edge and allows you to connect deeply inward with yourself and address unresolved issues as they surface and you heal them.

So Who is Yin Yoga for?

Yin Yoga is amazing because it is extremely beneficial to people who are tired and craving energy or also for people who are over-stimulated and have too much energy. In a world filled with constant stimulation, keeping our minds busy 24/7, and having to process all of the information thrown at it, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and tired. Whether the information is valuable or rubbish, the mind still needs to deal with it. The problem is that we get used to this level of stimulation and we crave it. So we end up browsing the internet, looking for stuff on our phones, engaging with people on Facebook messenger; it doesn’t matter what we do as long as we fill the gaps of lower stimulation with something. Well, that is exactly the problem with today’s generation.

Do you remember when you were in school and would come back home exhausted after a day in class? You weren’t exhausted from moving too much as you were sitting all day listening to your teacher, you were mentally drained and exhausted from having to listen, focus, and do assignments all day. Have you ever tried to sit down quietly and meditate or be in total silence for 5 minutes or more? People who try this nowadays, find it extremely difficult because their minds start looking for stimulus and this creates anxiety and discomfort at first. People have lost the ability to relax and they cut down on sleep to scroll their phones or watch tv a tad longer every night.

Any form of dynamic yoga caters to this aspect of the mind seeking busyness. Although the mind may calm down as a result of physical activity, we are still feeding that part of us that craves intensity and wants to be stimulated at all costs. As a Yin Yoga teacher, it just happens that I found a better and healthier way to be stimulated through the Yin Yoga practice. I am not discouraging you from doing any form of dynamic exercise as they are beneficial as well and great for the body, I am just encouraging you to find more balance in your life and to try to appreciate and learn the benefits of slowing down, calming the mind, lowering stimulation, and appreciating stillness and relaxation. Yin Yoga will provide you all of that without you having to think about it. Just hop on a class and try it out for yourself to see.

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Quiet the Mind and the Soul will Speak

yin yoga benefits

Yin Yoga and the Body

Yin Yoga works on the connective tissues also known as yin tissues. The connective tissue responds best to a slow and steady load which is exactly why Yin Yoga poses are held much longer than any poses in traditional dynamic yoga styles. By gently stretching connective tissues and holding yin poses for a longer time, the body will respond by making them a little stronger and longer which is what we want. Yin Yoga requires the muscles to relax around the connective tissues in order for them to get a stretch. This means that not every pose can be done safely or effectively and that’s why following classes from an accredited Yin Yoga teacher is one great way to go about trying this for the first time or learning how to be a Yinsters. Also, the Yin Yoga poses stimulate and remove blockages in the myofascial meridians in the body, which in turn balances the body’s internal organs and systems.

Yin Yoga and the Mind

The principle of Yin Yoga is to find your edge(the point in the pose where your body starts to resist the tension you are placing on the connective tissues) and to then hold stillness to allow the tissues to stretch and relax. Throughout stillness, a gap of stimulus is created, and keeping those gaps empty creates space for anything that wants to come up. This could be all sorts of emotions like anxiety, happiness, sadness, boredom, any emotion or feeling you suppress with all the busyness in your life. Yin Yoga makes you face those feelings and allows the mind to release them thus soothing you at the same time. Yin Yoga allows emotions, thoughts, and feelings you have kept behind in the shadows, to surface.

As a teacher, I always encourage students to allow those feelings to surface. It takes so much energy for your body and mind to keep things suppressed and the release you get from allowing those emotions and thought to surface and manifest themselves can be just as big.

You learn to observe only the pure physical sensations of emotions, without getting caught up in the stories about those emotions.

Observing the physical sensations during the stillness of a Yin Yoga practice, without giving ‘juice’ to the stories, allows those emotions and physical sensations a way out of your system. This helps clear the mind of these often unconscious emotions and gives your system an opportunity to work through the blockages those emotions have caused by staying suppressed inside. This is how magical and beneficial Yin Yoga can be. Seems so simple when you practice a class but what’s happening behind the scene is huge!

Try Yin Yoga today and experience all the wonderful benefits that comes with it!