Just make sure you wear some warm clothes
It’s recommended to find a specialist to guide you through a safe and enjoyable session.
Holding stretches for long periods of time and other techniques closely related to Yin Yoga has been practised for centuries in China and Taiwan as part of the Daoist Yoga, which is sometimes known as Dao yin. Taoist priests taught this knowledge, along with breathing techniques, to Kung Fu practitioners beginning 2000 years ago. Yin Yoga as we know it today was founded in the 1970s by martial arts expert and Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink. Yin style yoga has become popular due in large part to the widespread teaching activities of Yin Yoga teachers and developers Paul Grilley, Sarah Powers and Bernie Clark.
Yin yoga is based on the Taoist concept of yin and yang, opposite and complementary principles in nature. Yin is the stable, unmoving, hidden aspect of things; yang is the changing, moving, revealing aspect. Other yin-yang polarities include cold-hot, down-up, calm-excited. In the body, the relatively stiff connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, fascia) is yin, while the more mobile and pliable muscles and blood are yang. Yin Yoga works on the Yin tissues – also known as the connective tissues. Connective tissue responds best to a slow, steady load. If you gently stretch connective tissue by holding a yin pose for a long time, the body will respond by making them a little longer and stronger—which is exactly what you want. Remember the principle of exercise is to stress the tissue so the body will respond by strengthening it.
Note: Yin Yoga requires the muscles to relax around the connective tissue in order to get a stretch, so not all yoga poses can be done safely or effectively when practicing Yin style. Thus Yin asanas have different names.
Yin Yoga poses are also designed to improve the flow of qi, the subtle energy said in Chinese medicine to run through the meridian pathways of the body. It is suggested that these meridians are created by our connective tissue. Improved flow of qi is hypothesized to improve organ health, immunity, and emotional well-being.
Yin Yoga is for you if you are tired, over-stimulated, when your energy is too erratic, your mind overactive, whether you are craving for energy or you feel you have too much of it.
We live in a world where we are bombarded with stimuli, stimuli that is available 24/7. Think about your laptops, phones and other mobile devices. It’s so easy to end up not switching off at all anymore. To end up with a mind that is constantly busy processing all that information that you throw at it. Whether the information is good, valuable or rubbish, it doesn’t matter, the mind still needs to deal with it. The mind gets used to that amount of information and starts to crave stimuli if it gets quiet. So you end up browsing, looking for stuff, it doesn’t matter what as long as you fill the gaps. Gaps we really should allow to stay empty to find some sort of down time – for the mind to stop and for you to just be.
Any kind of dynamic form of yoga caters for this aspect of keeping yourself busy. Although the mind may calm down as a result of the active exercise, you are still feeding the part of you that wants intensity and wants to be stimulated. You just happen to have found yourself a healthier stimulus! I am not saying cut out the dynamic yoga, I love Vinyasa and Hatha yoga a lot myself and benefit from it greatly. I just think it’s a good idea to also balance all the on-the-go aspects of life and a great way to do that is through Yin Yoga.
Move slowly and gently into the pose. Don’t go straight to your “maximum” in the pose and never stretch so far as to cause pain.
Consciously try to release into the pose, and to remain still, without fidgeting or shifting position too much.
Start with holding a pose for 1-3 minutes and progress to 5 minutes or more.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika lists only sixteen postures. Of these, half are seated positions. Those postures are meant to be held for a long period of time. They are yin postures. In Paul Grilley’s book Yin Yoga, he lists eighteen yin poses, along with five yang poses to be used in between the yin poses. If you are planning to hold each pose for five minutes, and if you allow a one-minute rest between postures, a five-minute meditation at the beginning of the practice, and a five-minute Shavasana at the end, in a ninety-minute class you will have time for only thirteen poses. There will be even fewer if you are doing two sides or other variations in each posture.
There is not a great need for a lot of postures in the Yin Yoga practice. Paul states in his book,
“The more yin your practice the less variety is needed and the emphasis is placed on a few basic postures.”
Yin yoga stretches and targets both the deep connective tissues between the muscles, and the fascia throughout the body. The aim is to increase circulation in the joints and improve flexibility as the poses stretch and exercise the bone and joint areas. It also helps us to regulate the body’s flow of energy.
isYin yoga is very portable. You don’t always need a mat—the only thing you might need to introduce Yin into your day is a cushion or bolster! Most Yin yoga poses can be held while sitting at your desk, watching the TV, reading, or lying in bed!
Yin yoga is amazing for opening up our hearts, calming our nervous systems, and providing a space for the body to deeply relax. It also allows us to recover and nourish ourselves, wash away our fears, and cultivate compassion and love for ourselves. Practicing Yin is like thanking yourself for being so awesome. It helps us build absolute self-belief and faith in how wonderful we are, each and every day! This practice is a beautiful way for those who have disconnected from their bodies to reconnect in a gentle, compassionate way.
Question: What is the part of the body that we use the most, but probably spend the least amount of time taking good care of? Answer: Our minds! We live in a world of deadlines and appointments, craziness and social media, anxiety and stress. What better way to switch off than to sit still in poses anywhere from three to ten minutes? By doing Yin, you are giving yourself plenty of time to do nothing other than ‘just breathe.’ It is a truly perfect way to find space, to slow your mind down, and to be guided deeper into your practice.
Get ready to get intimate with your feelings, sensations, and emotions—something that can perhaps be ignored during a faster paced class. When we begin to practice Yin, we learn to listen to our bodies, slowing everything down. We learn to recognize our thoughts, to see them coming in and out of our mind, and to experience and digest them, instead of having them race through our mind like an escaped rollercoaster. This in turn increases our ability to be in the present moment and practice gratitude, slowly bringing us closer to our authentic self.
When life gets tough, you’ll find me on my mat practicing Yin—and the world quickly becomes a better place! When you are stuck mentally and the power to walk away is overwhelming, Yin teaches you that staying still and dealing with whatever comes up one breath at a time will actually help you grow. As we hold our Yin pose, the drama peaks, it gets harder to ignore the monkey mind, and we start really wanting to leave the pose. Yin teaches us to find a place of comfort in a not-so-comfortable place and observe our thoughts and reactions from a perspective of calmness. It is a practice that can be brought into our daily lives.
During Yin practice you will find yourself with a lot of time on your hands. Here, you find yourself face-to-face with the chance to begin a gentle meditation practice, to slow your breath and calm your mind. Your teacher will guide you through your practice, offering ways to keep your mind focused and to stop your body and thoughts from wanting to escape. Yin yoga provides a safe place for your mind and body to enter into and consequently gain greater personal growth through a meditative and blissful experience once you open yourself up to the vastness within yourself.
When held at length, what seems like an easy, inoffensive pose can change into something super challenging. This is what Yin does—the poses and the way they are held can release incredibly strong sensations, both physically and emotionally. See, we store our emotions in the various parts of our bodies. Memories, anxieties, and tension linger on in cells stored deep in our tissues. When we go into a yoga pose that opens a part of the body left untouched for a while, these deeply stored memories and emotions resurface. Doing so can be challenging in the moment, and can lead to a wide array of reactions such as tears, anger, and sheer frustration, but afterwards it leads to our final point.
DPracticing Yin gives you that dreamy afterglow where you find that moment of absolute peace within yourself. While you may feel like you have not even broken a sweat by the end of the class, your mind, body, and spirit have been performing on a much deeper, more intense level, leaving you with a clearer mind, a lighter body, and a fuller heart.
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