Yin Yoga
Get in with the Yin Crowd

Yin Yoga is the perfect practice to calm the mind and stretch the body and is designed to help you sit longer, and more comfortably, in meditation by stretching connective tissue around the joints. Ideal for anyone suffering from a scattered mind, Yin Yoga reaches the parts – emotional and physical – that other types of yoga can’t reach. Blog: Louise Cook Edwards

Yin Yoga was originally introduced by Paulie Zink a martial arts expert. He is widely recognized as the founder of Yin yoga.  He promotes the art of Yin Yoga as a practice of postures of stillness for promoting growth, clearing energetic blockages and enhancing circulation. Yin yoga is valuable in stretching the connective tissue, mainly the knees, pelvis, sacrum, and spine. A passive practice, Yin Yoga involves variations of seated and supine poses typically held for 3 to 5 minutes, accessing deeper layers of fascia.

Yin comes from the Taoist tradition. Yin is about finding stillness and cooling down the body. A move away from dynamic flowing sequences, sun salutations and standing poses, with Yin yoga, it’s time to stay still.  As Paulie Zink explains, the Taoist tradition is about being in harmony with the rhythm and flow of nature.

Yin is the stable, unmoving, hidden aspect of things; yang is the changing, moving, revealing aspect. Other yin-yang polarities include cold-hot, up-down, calm-excited.

Paulie Zink describes the workings of Yin yoga in the following way: Specific yoga postures are used to actualize the energetic and mystical attributes of various creatures and to stimulate the transformational properties of the five alchemical elements, thus enlivening and harmonizing these qualities within the body and animating the primal spirit that resides within us all. Integrating the power and healing aspects of these energies will help to balance emotions and put one into accord with the true nature of our being. He continues to stretch and evolve the practice of Yin yoga by incorporating new postures and insights developed through years of study, practice and teaching.

Yin yoga is now being taught across North America and in Europe, due in large part to the teaching activities of Yin yoga teachers and developers Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers who trained under Zink’s guidance. Yogajournal.com outlines the 4 Basic Tenets for practicing yin yoga, giving valuable advice about getting into and out of the postures

1. Find an appropriate edge, there is no ideal to strive for

2. Be still – hold the postures without fidgeting

3. Hold for a while (3-5 minutes)

4. Release with care, that is, come out of the postures slowly and in stages.

As the postures are challenging at the level of the deeper muscle tissue, you may experience discomfort, shakiness and instability after practice. After time, these after effects will be less likely to occur.

Opening up physically and emotionally with Yin Yoga

Yin Yoga works on the Yin tissues – also known as the connective tissues. Connective tissue responds best to a slow, steady load. If you gently stretch connective tissue by holding a yin pose for a long time, the body will respond by making it a little longer and stronger. Remember the principle of exercise is to stress the tissue so the body will respond by strengthening it.

Yin Yoga requires the muscles to relax around the connective tissue in order to get a stretch, so not all yoga poses can be done safely or effectively when practicing Yin style. Thus Yin asanas have different names.

Stretching fascia is key in the practice of Yin yoga. For so long we were educated in muscles, how to stretch them and build them. Our muscles are encased in fascia, a continuous web of tissue that weaves in and around not only our muscles but also our organs, nerves and lymph. The white shiny fibres you see when you pull a piece of meat apart is the fascia. To keep it healthy and supple, it needs to be hydrated and we need to apply pressure to it with these longer holds.

Yin yoga partners well with meditation and mindfulness as it prepares the body to remain still for longer periods of time without discomfort.

At an emotional level, Yin yoga teaches you how to really listen to your body, thanks to the stillness it requires. For this reason, Yin yoga is highly recommended for people’s who are tired, over-stimulated, burnt out, and subject to scattered thoughts. Emotional release can appear when the deeper tissues are challenged. Yin is a good complement to other styles and for enhancing your own personal life, because it brings long periods of time in an uncomfortable position, which then asks you to learn to “be” to “accept what is” in that given moment. Something we can all benefit from daily. There is something so deep about Yin that will tap into a part of you in a way only unique to Yin.

7 Yin Yoga Postures to wake you up in winter

According to the principles of Ayurveda, water is the primary element of winter. With yin yoga that focuses on the water element, we can stimulate the flow of chi and restore an overall sense of vibrancy and vitality in the body. The stimulation of chi can also take you out of the stagnation in life and help you move through your intentions and move forward, setting up your mind, body and life for success once Spring arrives.  The postures include: Caterpillar, Dragon Lunge and Child’s Pose.

Unlike most yoga practice, Yin yoga is not delivered with Sanskrit names for the poses but with evocative English names, such as Butterfly, Dragon, Swan.

Balancing the Yin with the Yang

Naturally the practice of Yin Yoga, should be balanced with the yang. Yang yoga is the more traditional hatha or Ashtanga based asana practice that develops muscular strength, stamina, and flexibility. Yin/Yang Yoga is a class that balances the newly developed Yin yoga practice for the first half of the class with traditional Yang yoga practices for the second half of the class.

Radiant Yoga Marbella offers a variety of yoga classes in our Marbella studio including Hot Yoga (similar to Bikram, but with more varied sequencing), Yin Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga Flow, Anusara Yoga, Traditional Hatha Yoga and Kids’ Yoga and the recently introduced Aerial Yoga.

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