I was practically dragged to my first Yin practice. I did not understand the appeal. Laying around staying still? I did that 8 hours a night. At this point in my yogic journey, I was all about high energy, heat and feeling like I had “done something” or “achieved” something in my practice. I had been working at Triyoga for a while, and this Yin, and how wonderful it was, kept creeping about, and my intrigue started to grow! My first class, I just lay there feeling a little bored, and like I should be DOING SOMETHING. The idea of being passive, did not sit well with me, until something just clicked. My Yin teacher is also a Craniosacral therapist, and as she explained the benefits to different ligaments, and different parts of the spine, it all just sunk in, and I sunk with it. I was hooked. The idea of stretching these parts of the body, made me realise I had only been doing half a practice.
So what is this magical Yin?! “It’s a passive yoga for the joints.” “It balances out a high energy practice.” Whilst both statements are true, they are not really explaining it or selling it!
Yin Yoga focuses on the deep connective tissues: ligaments, joints and bone, as opposed to the superficial muscular tissues, which is more commonly exercised, but the “end goal” is the same as most other styles of yoga. In Yin, we hold the postures for long periods of time, up to twenty minutes in some cases, and this can be extremely difficult, and challenging for some people, mainly because it can feel tedious. For some it can get a little uncomfortable, for some (mine) their mind wanders. It is so important to balance out the mind and body. It is important to remember that Yin cannot exist without Yang and vice versa, true harmony and peace is achieved when the two balance perfectly. This is why Yin yoga balances us out nicely after a more high heat practice or indeed, lifestyle.
Yin has been around for thousands of years, and older texts such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes only sixteen asanas, of which half are seated, very Yin like. Over time, more and more asanas are mentioned in different texts, the “Yin” like postures being booted out in favour for a more Yang style practice.
“This gradual, and then sudden, evolution of asana practice moved the practice away from the original yin style of holding seated poses for a long time as a preparation for the deeper practice of meditation to the more active yang style of building strength and health.”Bernie goes on to say, one is not right, and one is not wrong. A Yang style practice can help prepare the body for the Yin style.
Anyway, I love Yin, and would love to spread the word a little. So there you go! Go do Yin yoga!