What is Yin Yoga?
What is Yin Yoga?
Yin practice is the perfect antidote to our busy lives and busy minds. Generally practiced on the ground with several props, the asanas are held for up to 5 minutes. The method of sustained holding of poses with support targets the connective tissue of our bodies – joints, ligaments and deep fascia networks. It is a challenging practice as we nuture not only the intracacies and delicacies of the body form and function but also navigate the dusty corners and cobwebs of the mind.
The original postures of modern Yin yoga came from Paulie Zink, a martial arts teacher in Los Angeles. Paul Grilley studied with him and together with Sarah Powers they devised the teachings we now know as Yin yoga. Norman Blair is a wonderful yoga teacher who insists upon the use of appropriate gentle language to deliver a yin yoga session. Reading his book ‘Brightening Your Inner Skies’ was my inspiration for practicing Yin and I subsequently completed his Yin teacher training in 2020.
What are the benefits?
By the very essence of its name it is the opposite of the heating, fluid, physical yang practice. It can be slow and meditative, cooling and soothing.
- Reduces stress
- Increases circulation
- Improves flow of prana/life force energy
- Relieves tension
- Improves flexibility
- Encourages mindfulness
- Has calming effects on the nervous system.
Tips for practising Yin yoga
- Find your appropriate space: 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.
- Stillness: Consciously try to release into the pose, and to remain still, without fidgeting or shifting position too much.
- Hold the position: Start with holding a pose for 1-3 minutes and progress to 5 minutes or more.
- Use of props: Ensure you have a belt, blocks, blankets, cushions and bolsters available. If practicing at home utilise cookery books for blocks, old ties for belts, cushions, duvets, and any other soft furnishings – creativity plays a part in every yoga class.
- Practice with Patience: it is easy to feel a mixed range of emotions in a yin practice to begin with – frustration, peace, boredom, release, fear, acceptance – as you realise how your emotions and experiences are stored in the body. Eventually and with some perseverance a quiet stillness envelopes you.