What is Yin Yoga?
By Rhonda Williams
A common misconception about Yin yoga is that it is simply restorative yoga. Although it includes long holds and reduces stress much like Restorative yoga, Yin yoga is not intended to be Restorative yoga only. Yin yoga involves long-held, static poses that stress the deep connective tissues. The main goal of Yin yoga is to maintain and improve our current state of health to optimal levels. Restorative yoga is a gentle yoga for those looking to regain quality of life by taking an unwell body (for example from injury, illness or surgery) and bringing it back to normal, while Yin yoga takes a normal healthy body to an optimal level.
A Yin yoga practice is a slower, deeper practice. The postures are mainly passive floor postures, which are held for a longer period of time, typically 3-5 minutes. Holding the postures for an extended time helps strengthen and lubricate the connective tissues around our joints. We emphasize relaxing the muscles so that we can properly stress and strengthen the connective tissues, making them a little longer and stronger.
Connective tissue is found in every bone, muscle, and organ, however, it’s mostly concentrated at the joints. If you don’t use your full range of joint flexibility, your connective tissues will slowly stiffen and shorten over time causing limited mobility. Yin Yoga promotes flexibility in your connective tissues, joints, ligaments, and tendons, which may have become tight and restricted due to injuries, repetitive stress, poor posture, and even emotional trauma. Yin Yoga especially promotes flexibility in the hips, pelvis, and lower spine, areas often thought as nonmalleable.
The time spent in the long Yin postures is like time spent in meditation. Once you get into the posture, you find your first edge by sinking into the posture to an appropriate depth and then you find stillness in the posture. During this stillness, you learn to be present and accept “what is” in the present moment. You become more intimate with your feelings, sensations and emotions. It becomes a time of inner reflection and peace, something we can take off of our mats and into our daily lives.
Yin Yoga also improves the flow of energy through our meridian pathways. These run through our connective tissues. When we practice Yin yoga, we stimulate the deep connective tissues and the energy flow.
There are many benefits to Yin yoga such as a more relaxed, calmed, and balanced mind and body. Yin yoga also helps lower stress and anxiety and calms the nervous system. It helps the body return to its natural healthy rhythm.
Yin cannot exist without Yang and likewise, Yang cannot exist without Yin. They complement each other and are always changing. Both forms of yoga are important for a complete yoga practice that works the entire body. In an active Yang yoga practice you use your body to get into the pose, whereas in Yin yoga you use the pose to get into your body, mind, and spirit. Both are important for a balanced and healthy life.
Please join Rhonda for Yin Yoga Classes:
Mondays 6:30 – 7:45 pm
Tuesday s 9:00 – 10:15 am
Thursdays 9:00 – 10:15 am