Yoga is an ancient practice that has been around for thousands of years, originating in India. There are hundreds of styles of yoga and many traditions of yoga that these styles derive from. One of the newer styles of yoga and the most popular is yin yoga. Many people ask, “what is yin yoga?” Yin yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga as exercise, incorporating principles of traditional Chinese medicine, with asanas that are held for longer periods of time than in other styles. Advanced practitioners may stay in one asana for five minutes or more.
There are three basic tenets of yin yoga. First, you come into the pose and find your edge. You want to allow your body the needed space to open and then invite yourself to go deeper. Sit with the posture for about thirty seconds and then feel the body release and go a little deeper into the pose. Listen to the body and respect whatever the body is requesting from you. Think of it as using the pose to get into the body rather than using the body to get into the pose.
The second principle of yin yoga is to find stillness. After you have found your edge, you want to settle into the posture and release any form of movement. You want to find your sense of patience, acceptance, and surrender into stillness as you settle into the pose. We tend to move when we feel discomfort or pain or when we are struggling to stay in posture. We move if the body has opened up and we move if the body wants to go deeper. There is always an urge to move, but we want to resist the urge and find stillness.
The third principle of yin yoga is to rest in the pose for the designated amount of time. Once we find our edge and we find stillness, the only thing left to do is to stay in the pose. The yin yoga postures are held for 3-7 minutes typically. The yin tissues of the body are being worked on, and they are not elastic tissues. They don’t respond well to constant movement and are considered plastic tissues. Plastic tissues call for longer-held postures and reasonable amounts of traction that are stimulated properly.
There are many benefits of yin yoga. Some of these benefits of yin yoga are physical and can include affecting the soft tissue side of the body and increasing suppleness and fluidity to these tissues. The legs, pelvis, sacrum, and spine are most impacted by yin yoga. This style of yoga decompresses the joints and gives the practitioner access to deeper layers of fascia. Yin yoga allows deep release in the body.
On a more energetic level, yin yoga offers the opportunity for intimate connection in the unfolding of the pose and opens up insights into the energetic layers of the body. It opens the energetic mind and helps people come to their edge. It gives people space to overcome adversity, fix what’s wrong in the body, and help people find their edge off the mat as well.