Yin Yoga is the slow paced yoga that is fast becoming the go to for stress release, relaxation and maximum stretching. But, what exactly is it?
Let’s start by thinking about the ancient Chinese concept of Yin and Yang. Yang represents the qualities of heat, movement, activity and doing. Yin represents the qualities of stillness, coolness, passivity, resting and just ‘being’.
Movements can be classed as Yang or Yin depending on those qualities. So, when we think about yoga styles, let’s take Ashtanga, which has a focus on strength, stamina and dynamic movement, can be classified as a yang style of yoga. Yin Yoga is completely different to this – it’s long-held poses done on the floor with an emphasis on mindfulness and surrender rather than strength and perfect form.
These postures are held for long periods of time – for beginners, it may range from 45 seconds up to two minutes and for those more advanced you could be in one posture for five minutes or even longer!
Yin yoga poses apply moderate stress to the connective tissues of the body – the tendons, fascia and ligaments with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility.
Practicing Yin yoga is also a great way to offset other forms of exercise such as running or working out at the gym because the deep stretching can help to prevent risk of injury.
We live in a culture that values a ‘Yang’ based lifestyle and this could just be the perfect antidote to that. Holding the postures, for what feels like a lifestyle can be slightly disconcerting at the start, especially if you’re used to a much quicker paced yoga style, but once you start focusing on the breath and surrender yourself to it you can find yourself in a deep state of relaxation.