Welcome to our Yin Yoga classes! Yin yoga improves the flexibility and mobility of your joints and muscles by stretching the connective tissues. It loosens tight areas like the hips and hamstrings. It has its origins in the Taoist style of yoga and it was developed and popularised by Paulie Zink, a Taoist yoga teacher.
Yin yoga is a very slow form of yoga involving postures that are held for longer periods of time. It was developed to ease the difficulty many people had in sitting in meditative postures due to tight joints. It also has a significant influence on the mind. It improves mindfulness, the ability of the mind to be aware of the body, observe thoughts and listen to body sensations. Unlike other forms of yoga, yin yoga will attempt to keep you at a level of slight discomfort. With practice, your body will adapt and as it becomes more flexible, you will be able to do the same postures comfortably.
Origins And History
Yin yoga is based on the concept of yin and yang, which has its roots in Taoism, an ancient Chinese philosophy and tradition. Yin and yang are two opposite, but complementary principles. Yin represents the slow and stable while yang is fast and dynamic. The concepts of yin and yang apply to various aspects of life.
Fast activities like running, cycling and cardio are yang. They generate heat and increase the heart and breathing rates. On the other hand, slow activities like asanas in traditional styles of yoga are yin. They are the opposite of yang because they cool, relax and calm the body by reducing breathing and heart rates. Muscles and blood are considered yang tissue because they play the major role in yang activities. In contrast, connective tissue like ligaments, tendons and facia are yin.
Taoist style of yoga focuses on holding postures for a longer time along with breathing techniques, which basically stretches the yin tissues. It was used to improve flexibility of the body and concentration in students of martial arts. Paulie Zink, a martial arts expert and Taoist yoga teacher, introduced this style of yoga as yin yoga in the west in the late 1970s. Unlike regular yoga, where poses are usually referred to by their Sanskrit names, in yin yoga, poses are referred to by English names like butterfly and dragon.
Performing Yin Yoga
In yin yoga, postures are held for 2 minutes to as long as 45 minutes depending on the expertise of the practitioner. However, for beginners, the duration can start from as low as 45 seconds. Typically, in beginner classes, the attempt is to hold positions for 2 to 5 minutes. Most of the poses are done lying down. You will not be using any equipment and there are no sequences or fast movements.
Yin yoga works by stretching connective tissues, which is achieved by holding poses for longer periods. You will also be required to observe your breath, stay in the present and listen to your body sensations. When stray thoughts arise, instead of getting involved with them, you will develop the skill to simply observe them and let them fade away.
When you get into poses, you will remain still, hold the position and allow the stillness to slowly envelope your mind and your being. You must not hurry into any position. You have a while to find your depth. Once you find the first edge, you will stay still and allow your mind and body to gradually surrender into the position.
Expect yin yoga to take you out of your comfort zone. You have to learn to accept discomfort for it to work well and give you the benefits. It’s important to listen to your body because if you don’t, you may overstretch and injure yourself. The idea is to stay at the initial levels of discomfort and hold the position for the required duration. Eventually, your body will adapt and you will be able to reach the correct posture with ease.
Yin Yoga Benefits
- It is an excellent meditative practice. It will give you the ability to stay in the present, detach yourself from stray thoughts and focus on what you are doing.
- It improves the flexibility of the body and the mobility of the joints.
- Observing your body sensations, accepting discomfort and being with them is the best way to deal with psychosomatic problems like the physical symptoms of anxiety. Expect yin yoga to help you respond better and cope with problems like anxiety and stress.