What is YIN yoga?

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

YIN is derived from the basics of Taoist Yoga and can be referred to the aspect of energy flow (Chi). YANG is the opposite - it  is powerful and dynamic while YIN is quiet and passive. As with all dualist theories YIN does not exist without YANG and YANG does not exists without YIN. They are both opposite and complimentary in nature. When you look at the YIN/YANG symbol, half of it is white and the other half is black but each each side has a little dot of the opposite colour in it. The yoga poses in YIN practice are primarily yin - they are mostly passive, held quietly for longer periods of time, but without a certain level of muscle engagement (YANG), YIN would not be possible.

During YIN yoga sessions, the poses are held for at least 2 minutes for beginners and up to 10 minutes or longer for more experienced students. This allows for deep tissue relaxation and stretch. The deep connective tissues in our bodies include facias which surround each muscle groups, ligaments and tendons. YIN also allows for healthy joint stretches. As we all know it too well, with age our joints become less mobile and more fragile. They also can be negatively impacted from repetitive YANG exercises, think knees and hips in running or elbows and shoulders in tennis. While the YANG practice is great in its own right and I enjoy it too on a daily basis, I try to balance it out with the YIN practice to allow healing energy to rejuvenate my body.

YIN poses are based on the Chinese meridian system (the same one that is used in the Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM or acupuncture) and each pose will allow for the Chi (vital energy) flow through these meridians. If this flow of energy is blocked in any part of the body, you may experience discomfort. This discomfort might be interpreted as a signal to practice this area more often. However, during YIN practice we should maintain YIN attitude, as Paul Grilley says: 'Do not be anxious or aggressive and force your body into the poses. Make a modest effort to approximate the pose as best you can, and then patiently wait. The power of yin yoga is time, not effort. It takes time for our connective tissues to slowly respond to a gently stress, it cannot be rushed. Learning to patiently wait calms the mind and develops the necessary attitude for meditation practices.' Perfectly said, Paul Grilley! And my other teacher, Paul Clarke used to say, maintain the effort at 6-7 on the scale of 1 to 10. This means that you might start and end in a different expression of a pose to adjust your body to the same effort level.

YIN yoga is also a great practice for general relaxation, 'switching off' your mind. It's like a practical mediation. If you are new to meditation, I suggest you try this class - it might give you an opportunity to learn how to switch off and let go of your thoughts, become an observer of your thoughts.

After the class, you are guaranteed to feel light and rejuvenated. You will also find lots of more space in your stretches.

It is probably the most enjoyable, 'self-love', blissful class you can experience. 

Well, I guess I will you on the mat then!

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