My yin class is very popular class among my students which is why I wanted to spend some time discussing it and its benefits.
As with all types of yoga styles, yin yoga is multifaceted in that it works on different levels of our being effecting us long after we have rolled up our yoga mats.
What is yin yoga?
Yin yoga is steeped in the tradition of Taoism and the concept of yin and yang. In Taoism, everything within the universe, is interconnected and comprises of ‘chi’ (also know as prana in yoga traditions).
Chi is the unseen energy or life force within us and around us and that, which changes all the time.
In Taoism, chi manifests as two polar energies or qualities called yin and yang. These energies co-exist and cannot exist without one another. In simple terms, yin represents the darker, colder, harder and hidden aspects and is balanced and complimented by yang, the lighter, brighter, more heating energy.
Our yin and yang energies are influenced through our lifestyle through things such as our thoughts, breath, food and environment. This means that dependent on our lifestyle factors, they can become imbalanced either through being in excess or depletion.
It is said that when chi is overstimulated, compromised or depleted, it can cause a psychological imbalance and/or a physical ailments/disease.
Once we understand how to work with chi we can begin to influence and enhance our state of health and well-being. One such way is through the meridian system.
Within the physical body, chi is moved and circulated through a set of energetic pathways known as meridians. These pathways run through our body and organs in yin and yang pairs and express themselves physically in relation to the organs function, as well as energetically, mentally and emotionally.
In yin yoga, we take positions or postures to target and stimulate the different meridians pathways. For example, we may chose a posture to stimulate kidney chi such as the pose below which is called shoelace.
The kidneys are responsible for flushing out toxins and purifying the blood.
As the kidney’s flush out the waste it allows the blood to move more freely and nourish our cells but when the chi is impeded, we may experience poor blood circulation, toxicity in the body or aliments such as low back pain or urinary problems.
The kidneys are also considered to house the emotion of fear which can express itself in many different ways, such as low energy and self-worth, lack of motivation, procrastination and phobias.
Staying in poses for longer periods allows chi to pool into an area and also stresses yin tissues (bone, ligaments and connective tissues) and when we release from the pose, chi is released and allowed to flow and circulate more freely helping to re-balance body and mind.
Yin complements Yang
It is said that in the western world, we live very yang type lifestyles, in that we are constantly busy, over stimulated and stressed.
We need to slow down and become stiller in order that we can unpack and tune into how we really feel. The slower pace of yin sets up this mindful enquiry by allowing a space for the mind and body to rest in.
This mindful enquiry benefits not only what we need from our yoga practice but also in our every -day lives, exploring what to hold onto and what and when to let go.
In yoga and in life, we should be working towards being between, comfort and challenge.
We can play these edges in yin spending time exploring them and the fluctuations of our mind body experience.
We want to be comfortable enough so that we can relax but challenged enough in order that we can grow.
So, we must learn to soften; to be with stronger sensations and all that arises from it, to understand its impermanence and ultimately, give ourselves the space to grow.
The principles and process of a yin practice gives rise to awareness, acceptance and refinement which are all skills that we so desperately need in today's busy life.
If you would like to experience a yin yoga class, please click here.