“Yoga is a beautiful way to serve and uplift life. It opens space for a person to come back home into their body and heart, quiet their mind, hear their inner voice, and soften into the unfolding of life.” -Monica Hansen
The concept of Yin yoga has been around for thousands of years. It is a more meditative approach with a physical focus much deeper than Yang practices. In Yin the practitioner is trying to access the deeper tissues such as the connective tissue and fascia, and many of the postures focus on areas that encompass a joint (hips, sacrum, spine). As one ages, flexibility in the joints decreases and Yin is a wonderful way to maintain that flexibility.
Yin yoga postures are more passive, done mainly on the floor and there are only about three dozen or so postures, many fewer than Yang practices. Yin is unique – you are asked to relax in the posture, soften the muscle and move closer to the bone. Yin offers a much deeper access to the body – it is not uncommon to see postures held for three to five minutes, even 20 minutes at a time. The time spent in these postures is much like time spent in meditation. While in a Yin class you might notice similar postures to a yang class except they are called something else. On a basic level this is to help the students mind shift form yang to yin – from active to passive.
The practice of Yin encourages students to get intimate with the self – with feelings, sensations, and emotions. Yin yoga is often used in programs that deal with addictions, eating disorders, anxiety and deep pain or trauma.
Some of the benefits of Yin yoga are:
- Calms the body, mind and spirit
- Balances and regulates the energy in the body
- Increases mobility, especially the joints and hips
- Lowers stress levels
- Increases stamina
- Lubricates joints
- Increases flexibility in connective tissue
- Releases fascia throughout the body
- Helps with TMJ and migraines
- Encourages Deeper Relaxation
- Increases ability to cope with anxiety and stress
Yin yoga teaches us how to really listen. In this practice we don’t have the opportunity to go in and out, jump around and find a distracted version of stillness. Instead, we settle into positions for long periods of time, which may be slightly uncomfortable at first. And so, Yin guides us to “just be” and “accept what is” in a given moment. It is a great compliment to other yoga styles and to our own lives, and something we can all benefit from daily.