There are many different forms and stylisations of yoga available for study in the eternal pursuit of physical and mental health and fitness – Hatha, Ashtanga, Sivananda to name but a few.
However, probably one of the most unusual is Yin Yoga.
This beautiful yogic practice combines traditional Hatha postures, Taoist philosophy and meridian theory.
The practice complements the more yang styles of exercise e.g. power yoga, Ashtanga yoga, running, swimming, etc., or a fast-paced stressful lifestyle and would, therefore, be a perfect addition to any classes in which you already participate.
(1) come to the appropriate depth of the pose, the place where the body naturally stops, where you begin to feel sensation and unfolding in the body, free from any muscular tension and pain, where your breath remains natural soft and gentle;
(2) find stillness in the body, surrendering into the shape and allowing your muscles around the targeted area to become passive;
(3) hold the posture for a long period of time. Each pose is maintained on the floor for about five minutes.
Yin Yoga focuses on strengthening and lengthening the connective tissue (ligaments, tendons, and fascia), reaching down and stimulating the flow of chi through the energy conduits of the body.
Connective tissue responds best to long passive holds, rather than rhythmic movement, which is better suited to the muscles. As a result, the practice is sometimes called yoga for the joints.
Yin Yoga brings yoga back to its internal meditative roots and has profound physical, emotional and energetic benefits:
Physically, this practice helps to maintain the agility and mobility of the joints below the navel and above the knee, finding more comfort in the body in stillness and more grace in movement.
Energetically, this type of yoga is essentially needle-less acupuncture, enabling your energy system to find its own natural equilibrium, balance and harmony.
Emotionally, creating a space to breathe, to remain still and simply observe in a non-attached way the array of emotions that ebb and flow, cultivating acceptance of what is, breeding an emotional resilience and maturity.
Psychologically, this practice can help develop the capacity to concentrate, to focus our attention, to cultivate awareness of what is arising within.
If you’re looking to expand your yoga repertoire, accessing the body’s inherent wisdom in a way not normally reached in other forms of yoga, the beautiful and unique practice of Yin Yoga is an ideal direction to consider.