Yin Yoga - What on earth is it?

Updated: Apr 10

I love Yin Yoga and know that you will too once you've had the opportunity to explore this fairly new form of yoga.

Yin Yoga is NOT restorative yoga as we are actively stressing the joints.

Yin tissues are bones, ligaments, tendons and fascia which are targeted with muscles relaxed in a slow, long held, floor based pose. Yin Yoga is specifically designed to exercise the ligaments and to create space and strength within the joints.

So, whereas in a typical yoga class, the muscles might be the focus, in Yin Yoga the joints and fascia will be the primary target.

Yin Yoga was created in the 1970's by martial arts expert and yoga teacher Paulie Zink and was developed from the ancient tradition of Taoist Yoga that is originally from China. Yin as it is today is influenced by Paul Grilley and combines many of the philosophies from ancient China and India meaning that poses are not given Sanskrit names.

The sequences of postures within a Yin class are designed to stimulate the channels of the subtle body known as meridians in Chinese medicine and Nadis in Hatha yoga.

What to expect from Yin Yoga class:

Yin Yoga is a quiet, floor-based practice which stimulates the energy meridians within the body. The postures are maintained for between two and five minutes, allowing energy (Chi) within the joints to be released.

Once in the posture, you will be encouraged to remain still and move deeper into the stretch with every breath, closing the eyes and focusing fully, reaping all the benefits of the practice.

The idea is that within each pose you will feel a release and you will be encouraged to notice and observe your body very carefully to ensure that the intensity is enough for you, feeling enough of a stretch but not pushing too far.

Yin is a very different experience to many other yoga classes - the pace is slower and because the poses are held for long periods of time, fewer poses are completed during a class.

The use of props, such as bricks and blocks is encouraged in a Yin class, to offer support as well as intensify the sensation of the stretch.

You don't move as much in a Yin class and so wearing layers is important!

Five Principles of Yin Yoga:

  1. Come into the pose slowly with relaxed muscles

  2. Reach your edge

  3. Remain for a period of time - two to five minutes

  4. Remain still

  5. Come out of the pose slowly and feel the effects

Effects and benefits of Yin Yoga:

- It is suitable for all ability levels

- It is perfect for people who develop short muscles because they sit too much, run or cycle regularly (like me!)

- You will learn a lot about your body during a Yin class as the teacher will focus on the body's organs

- Creates flexibility within the fascia's connective matrix including tendons and ligaments

- Stresses the joints

- Compliments other physical forms of exercise that target the muscles - such as running, cycling, swimming, aerobics and many more...

- You will learn that a class doesn't have to be fast paced in order to be intense!

- It may help to calm the nervous system - making it an excellent choice if you are feeling stressed or anxious

- It can be good to help reduce pain caused by arthritis

- If you hold a lot of tension in the hips and lower back, Yin Yoga can be very helpful to release this stored tension from the body.

Yin Yoga is a wonderfully gentle, challenging and nourishing practice that will allow you time to sit within yourself and just be still, bringing your awareness inwards and noticing what the body and mind are telling you.

Don't worry! - there is still a lovely savasana at the end of the class to help your body benefit further from the practice and leave you feeling restored and rejuvenated.

I hope you will join me for a yoga/yin class soon to experience this for yourself.

We do not use the body to get into a posture

We use the posture to get into the body

If you are feeling it, you are doing it!

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