Looking for balance? Yin Yoga gently works the body’s connective tissue through a series of slow, deep stretches focusing on the hips, spine and lower back. Yin draws you in, it is a wonderful approach to mental and emotional wellbeing.
Yin yoga is often described as the other half of a yoga practice. Hot Power Yoga is a yang practice - it is flowing and more athletic, affecting muscles, making them longer and stronger. A Yin Yoga practice is a slower, deeper practice that increases and opens the body.
Yin Yoga is great for increasing mobility; nearly half of your flexibility originates in your joints. These two practices have very different intentions and both are very important for a balanced and healthy body. While "Yang Yoga" (Power, Ashtanga, etc) is widely practiced in the Western world, Yin Yoga can and should be incorporated into a complete yoga practice to maintain balance. Especially for Yang people (those who are busy, stressed, 'tight'), Yin Yoga can help create and maintain a balanced body and lifestyle.
Mind & Emotion
The wider scientific community is starting to accept and understand that real health begins in the mind. In our highly intellectual, head-oriented world many of us are physically stressed and do not know it, that is, until attempts at short term relief arise. Many of us know firsthand that if we continue down this dead end street, we hit a wall. We try many and varied ways to treat the symptoms of poor health in whatever form they might be, but treating symptoms isn't a wholistic solution.
Cultivating a Yin Attitude
The mistake many people make is expecting results too quickly. This is not the way in Yin. For most of us; training the mind, and the body, is hard especially after a life time of mental chatter and repetitive physical activity. Gains acheived over time, with dedication, are incredibly rewarding.
When practising Yin it is best to have a yin attitude: patience, gratitude and contentment. Learning to calmly observe develops the necessary attitude for meditation. Do not be anxious or aggressive or try forcing your body into poses. Make a modest effort to approximate the pose as best you can, and then patiently wait for an intuitive invitation to go deeper. The power of yin yoga is time, not effort.
Learning to hold poses for five or more minutes trains the mind and body to endure distraction and observe stormy emotions without attachment or resistance. From the beginning to the end of a class, the way we view life can radically change. The seemingly insurmountable everyday challenges of life transform into new opportunities for growth; clouds part and new light brightens our world. Our energy changes, creating positive currents that flow out into our lives and relationships. How empowering it is to know true change begins so simply, all we need to do is relax and observe? We ask that you try and bring a "yin attitude" to your yoga class, to appreciate the full benefits of the practice.
Yin Yoga targets the connective tissue surrounding the joints. There are three layers of material in the structural body: bones, connective tissue, and muscles. Studies have shown around 47% of inflexibility originates from the joints. Moderately stretching the joints does not injure them anymore than lifting a barbell injures the muscle, yet both forms of exercise can be done recklessly. All tissues of the body must undergo stress to stay healthy. If we do not exercise our muscles they will atrophy; similiarily, if we do not move our joints they will become stiff and painful. Astronauts living in a weightless environment for only a few weeks lose up to 18 percent of their bone density and 30 percent of their muscle strength. Tissues must be stressed on a regular basis to stay healthy, remember the "use it or loses it" principle!
The short-term effects of exercise are opposite to the long-term effects. After weightlifters train, their muscles feel like jelly, weak and unstable. The short term effect is muscle weakness, but with regular training the muscles get stronger. This is the normal training effect. The same is true of yin yoga practice. One of the long term goals of a yin practice are strong, flexible joints. However, immediately following a long yin pose, our joints can feel fragile and vulnerable. This feeling is brief and should pass after a minute or two, and we encourage our students to give themselves time to feel this 'rebound' effect, as the fascia pulls back into place, in quiet contemplation.
Dense connective tissues do not respond well to rhythmical stresses the way muscles do. Connective tissues resist brief stresses but slowly change when a moderate stretch is maintained for 3 to 5 minutes. Holding a stress on connective tissue for several minutes creates a phase change in its fluids, which results in a lengthening of the tissue and a feeling of ease. This phase change allows a greater movement of chi through the tissues, which is both pleasurable and promotes healing. Chi is the energy that coordinates the electrical and chemical changes that scientists can now measure.
When stressing the connective tissue around a joint the muscles must be relaxed. If the muscles are tense the connective tissues doesn't take the stress. Note that it is not possible or desirable for all the muscles of the body to be relaxed when doing yin poses, but the muscles in the target area must be relaxed.
Students will be informed of target areas in led classes, yet we must remember the target area will change depending on each individuals skeletal structure and range of movement. The best way to know a target area is to relax the area where you feel it most, draw your awareness and anchor it there. In the end it is not muscular strength that brings a feeling of ease in the body, it is the flexibility of the joints. Athletes rarely retire because of muscular problems, they retire because of joint problems: bad backs, bad knees, bad ankles, bad necks.
If you're a Yang/Hot Power yoga practitioner and choose to experience Yin Yoga, even just once, you will realise you have been doing only half the practice.
Yoga Class Styles
Hot Power Yoga
Yin and Yang Yoga
Sports Joint Release
Mums & Bubs Yoga