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When you think of Yin Yoga, you may think of a slower, less physically demanding and perhaps a yoga style that does not require a lot of ‘effort’. And while Yin Yoga may be a slower practice, this pace serves a deep purpose; it offers the practitioner space and time to really work on releasing tension and moving energy throughout the body while allowing for the mind to arrive in a meditative state.
So, what exactly is Yin Yoga?
Yin Yoga is typically floor-based postures that use long, steady holds to take ourselves to the physical depths of our body in a mindfully aware way while holding for an extended amount of time with the intention of remaining still and travelling deeper within.
Some might say that Yin allows us to open energy channels to enable the free flow of energy throughout the body. It deepens our connection within the body-mind complex which also allows us to further develop our awareness of emotions, reactions and responses.
What is the anatomical difference between Yin and Yang Yoga?
While Yin Yoga stimulates fascia connective tissues (the tissue that weaves its way through the entire body and plays a big role in mobility) through long, static holds, Yang Yoga such as vinyasa or Ashtanga, activates muscle contraction through repetitive and dynamic movement.
The 3 Guiding Principles of Yin Yoga
The 3 guiding principles of Yin are ways in which we approach our practice and how we arrive and settle into each asana.
Exploring the Edge. As we come into any asana we begin with the intention of noticing our Edge of Comfort; this is the appropriate depth for our physical body. This is the point within our body that we can feel ourselves being physically challenged through various sensations but being aware enough to not cross the point of physical resilience.
Resolving to Find Stillness. Once we have come to our edge of comfort, we resolve to find stillness. We seek stillness within the body, mind and breath.
Holding for Time. Holding for an extended length of time allows the muscles to soften a little deeper, allowing us to get further into the more intricate inner workings of our body; the more Yin-like tissues.
Benefits of Yin Yoga
Physical. Due to increased immobility and stagnation in our modern-day society, the fascial system and connective tissues in our body may begin to adhere, or get ‘stuck’ together. Movement is the key to breaking down the ‘fuzz’ that builds up. When we allow time for movement, breakdown occurs which increases space and fluid movement within the channels of the body. We can increase the flow of fluids, nutrients and oxygen to certain parts of the body that may have been blocked and stopping us from living with vitality, ease, and comfort.
Mental & Emotional.
The practice of Mindfulness has now been proven to have significant effects on the human body:
Improves blood pressure and lowers heart rate
Lowers Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS)/Stress response
Increases Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS)/Rest response
Increases immune function
Yin yoga may help to restore the balance of energy flow within the bodily systems and increase the flow in and through the organs. Traditional Chinese Medicine suggests that Yin works towards the opening of the channels within the body to allow a freer flow of energy.
Whether you are a seasoned Yin Yoga practitioner or you are new to this practice, it is a wonderful way to deepen your connection with yourself and gain back vitality and health.
If you would like to deepen your knowledge we would love for you to join The SAA 20Hr Yin Yoga Fundamentals. In this 20 Hr Yin Yoga Fundamentals Teacher Training, you will be immersed in theory, practice, ideating intentional sequencing as well as indulging in conversation & self-exploration, helping you obtain a functional and relatable understanding of the yin yoga principles and concepts and how to work with them. This course is for beginners with an already existing yoga practice as well as for the more seasoned practitioners looking to either deepen their own experience or begin their journey as a teacher.