How to Get Started with Yin Yoga
What is Yin Yoga?
Yin Yoga is a slow paced form of yoga. It consists of principles of traditional Chinese medicine.
The asanas are held for longer periods of time. Asanas can be held from 45 seconds to 5 minutes.
Yin Yoga is meant to target deep connective tissues, such as bones, joints, ligaments, fascia.
One of the main purposes of yin yoga is that it helps one stretch and lengthen the tissues that have been rarely used, while also learning how to breathe through discomfort and sit with one's thoughts.
The Goals of Yin Yoga
The Yin Yoga sequence is very often compared to the acupuncture treatment, as it has a similar effect to the energies. By holding various poses, a sequence can help restore a healthy flow of Qi in our bodies.
These poses lay emphasis in the lower part of the body – lower spine region, inner thighs, pelvis, hips.
Each yoga pose stimulates and removes blockages in the myofascial meridians in the body, thereby balancing the body's internal systems and organs. This type of yoga requires the muscles to relax around the connective tissue in order to feel a stretch.
The sequence of postures is meant to simulate to subtle postures of the body, also known as, meridians in Chinese Medicine. Yin Yoga is a more meditative approach to Yoga.
This practice is based on ancient Chinese philosophies and Taoist principles which reinstate there are pathways of Qi (energy) running through our bodies. Thereby stretching and deepening into poses, we're opening up any blockages and releasing that energy to flow freely.
What are meridians?
Just as Prana moves through energy channels called Nadis in the Indian tradition of yoga, the Chinese tradition of Qi or Chi moves through a network of energy pathways that interconnects all tissues and cells. The word is translated as 'Channels’ commonly known as 'meridians'.
Where did Yin Yoga originate from?
Yin Yoga has been inspired by ancient Chinese Taoist practices in which stretches were held for long periods of time. These practices have been incorporated into Kung Fu training for over thousands of years.
Yin Yoga started in the late 1980s, inspired by Paulie Zink, a martial arts champion and Taoist yoga teacher. Amongst Zink's students was Paul Grilley who took this practice on religiously. He had a profound interest in yoga and the martial arts. Grilley used his knowledge in various yogic practices of the Chinese systems and made his own, which is now termed as Yin Yoga.
It's based on the Taoist concept of Yin and Yang, the two opposing concepts in nature. While Yin is slow, stable and feminine, Yang is hot, active and masculine.
How to get started
Yin Yoga can be done anywhere, anytime. The main principle is holding each pose for an extended length of time, ranging from one to five minutes, and can even go longer. These postures require the muscles to be fully relaxed.
The key is to search for stillness while in each pose. Fidgeting can be avoided. The goal is to push oneself to a point where one can feel a deep sensation that stretches the ligaments and fascia. Stretching to the point of pain can be avoided.
Breath is an essential part of yin yoga as it requires a lot of focus especially during difficult postures. Breathing in from the diaphragm and with every exhale, pulling one's navel into the spine. There are different deep breathing techniques in yin yoga that exceed the normal exhalation time.
Props for support: Making use of props such as yoga blocks is wonderful for added support and strengthening. The more the bones are supported, the more the muscles can release.
Example: Blocks can be used under the knees in a forward fold. You can visit our shop for sustainable and state of the art cork yoga blocks here.
Erthe Life's Yoga Block is made up of 100 % natural Cork, which sets the standard for high performance. Its rounded edges provide a comfortable grip given the natural texture of the cork – giving the everlasting grounding feel.
Benefits of Yin Yoga
There are plenty of mental and physical health benefits to Yin Yoga:
- Strengthens the connective tissue: By gently stretching the connective tissue by holding a yin pose for a long time, the body responds by making the tissues longer and stronger. The more the connective tissue is used, the stronger and more elastic it becomes.
- Increases Flexibility: Due to the long holds, Yin supports in stretching and flexibility of the muscles. It's one of the most effective ways of stretching.
- Reduces stress levels: Yin Yoga shows a significant impact in lowering the levels of stress, anxiety and depression. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, thereby relaxing it. It calms the body down and lowers the heart rate.
- Rebalances energy levels: It simulates the specific energy pathways that run throughout bodies Due to the chaotic nature of modern lives, there is a disruption of the fluidity of our energy known as ''depleted energy'' in Chinese Medicine. This can manifest into insomnia, lethargy, exhaustion, pain, etc. By practicing yin yoga, there is a rebalance of energy levels by targeting the meridians (energy pathways).
- Induces deep relaxation: Yin Yoga benefits especially those who have experienced trauma or burnout by providing a safe space to reconnect to the sensations in the body without the feeling of being overwhelmed. One experiences a range of emotions that generally are pushed away or hidden. This could be due to lack of time, feeling unsupported or simply not wanting to deal with them. It helps in releasing painful emotions and removes blockages in the chakras.
- Supports the Spine and lower areas of the body: It improves the spinal strength of the body, eases the tension in the hamstrings, flexibility in the back, core, and hamstrings.
- Yin Yoga helps in revitalizing the tissues in the body: Our bodies revive in a very similar way to a stiff sponge: a good long soak. When one holds a yin pose, there is a subtle release that takes one deeper into the pose. This hydrates the tissues resulting in strengthening. There is stretching, squeezing, twisting and compressing of the tissues. One yin practice can leave one feeling as though they have had a massage.
To conclude, Yin Yoga is an excellent form of inspired Chinese medicative practices that have a range of benefits and can be practiced at any time of day. It stimulates the energy channels and has a profound impact on the connective tissues of the lower body. In order to practice this yoga, there are various yoga and wellness products that can be purchased from our eco-friendly yoga collections.