Updated: Feb 8, 2021
I have personally found my self practice change over the years, with the changes and tides of daily life. I still love a flowing practice where I can let my mind and body unravel without boundaries but I have noticed a profound difference from practicing yin which is often my go to these days. When you've done a full day at work do you really want to do a dynamic and wild class? Is your ego telling you one thing and the body saying another?
Yoga is about yoking, uniting the body and mind, releasing the ego, so take time to listen.
This is where Yin yoga comes in. We are all familiar with the Yin and Yang symbol and yin yoga is one half, representing the inner body, it is cooler, feminine and closer to earth. The yang half is often what we always practice in a class, always moving, dynamic, warmth, working with the muscles and fascia. Similar to Shiva and Shakti and other lineages of yoga.
The Yin/Yang symbol holds its roots in Taoism (Daoism) a Chinese religion and philosophy, These two energies are of the same essence but reflect different qualities of energy and are inseparable.
Allowing ourselves to connect with this energy balance within our practice we can access different parts of our bodies. Within a very physical flow class we connect to Yang, when we are stressed, we are Yang, when we are constantly overwhelming ourselves with deadlines, we are Yang. The body can slowly over time burn out, we ignore the signals to rest and suddenly your body does it for you! You get ill and take days off work but still dont actually rest and it lingers into weeks. Full throttle YIN.
This can mean we are not acknowledging the full essence of balance.
When you attend a Yin yoga class you will notice a large difference. The practice is seated or lying down on the mat, there are very little alignment cues, there isn't a dynamic flow, it is just pure stillness. Moving into postures that sometimes look familiar from a Yang practice but targeting different areas within the body and the organs through meridian lines. Yin Yoga targets the connective tissues, such as the ligaments, bones, and even the joints of the body that normally are not exercised very much in a more active style of asana practice.
Yin Yoga postures are more passive, mainly on the floor and the majority of postures equal only about three dozen or so, much less than the more popular yang like practices. Yin Yoga is unique in that you are asked to relax in the posture, soften the muscle and move closer to the bone. While yang-like yoga practices are more superficial, Yin offers a much deeper access to the body. It is not uncommon to see postures held for three to five minutes, even 20 minutes at a time. The time spent in these postures is much like time spent in meditation.
Yin yoga is not a restorative practice, we use props but are always present, finding the sensations of tension and discomfort within the body and staying with it. How many times have you found yourself running away from uncomfortable situations in your life? What happens if we show up and stay within it. This intimate practice of yoga requires students to be ready to get intimate with the self, with feelings, sensations, and emotions, something of which I have noticed can be easy to avoid in a fast paced yoga practice.
Suitable for almost all levels of students, Yin Yoga is a perfect complement to the dynamic and muscular (yang) styles of yoga that emphasize internal heat, and the lengthening and contracting of our muscles. Yin Yoga generally targets the connective tissues of the hips, pelvis, and lower spine.
BENEFITS: Calming and balancing to the mind and body Regulates energy in the body Increases mobility in the body, especially the joints and hips Lowering of stress levels Greater stamina Better lubrication and protection of joints More flexibility in joints & connective tissue Release of fascia throughout the body Deeper Relaxation A great coping for anxiety and stress Improves sleep! Ultimately you will have a better Yang practice
So next time you feel called to practice but your feeling a little tired or achey remember you can still practice, as with the tides of life, adapt and find fluidity with your physical and emotional state. Be honest with what your body or mind need at that very moment in time.
We long to create a body and mind that is balanced and whole, we can get carried away in something we love (which is great) but we can also experience so much more from the unknown.
If you would like to try an Yin practice you can join me online every Monday & Thursday.
You wont regret it!