The term “Yin” comes from the Taoist tradition. When it comes to your body, Yin is all about learning to find stillness and aims to cool down your body, whereas Yang relates to movement and creating heat in the body. Ideally, we need a bit of both of these in our lives to find balance and to stay in optimum health.
Running, spinning and certain forms of yoga i.e. Vinyasa yoga can be classed as yang activities, but Yin yoga falls obviously into the opposite category.
Yin yoga is regularly practised sitting or lying down on the floor. There are no standing poses, no sun salutations and no warrior sequences. The pace is slow, and you can still expect to practice forward folds and gentle backbends, but all poses will be held for much longer periods - often between two and twenty minutes.
Who can practice Yin Yoga?
Yin is suitable for both beginners and more advanced yoga practitioners alike. During a session, you will hear none of the Sanskrit names for the poses, but instead you will hear more descriptive English names, which are often easier to remember. Popular Yin poses include butterfly, dragon, swan and twisted roots.
Yin helps us to heal both our hearts and our minds. It allows us the time to just be still, and to notice what our minds and bodies are telling us at that time.
What are the benefits of Yin Yoga?
In a world of anxiety and stress, Yin offers us the time and space to do nothing other than ‘just breathe.’ If we focus solely on the yang, our bodies and minds can suffer from fatigue and burnout, so Yin offers a much-needed chance to slow down the mind and to be guided deeper into the practice.
With the longer holds of the poses, Yin yoga helps to stretch out the deep connective tissues in between the muscles and aims to increase circulation of the joints and regulate the body’s natural flow of energy. You will also notice increased flexibility as you focus on the bone and joint areas.
Where can I practice Yin Yoga?
Ten years ago, it was rare to find a Yin yoga class in London, let alone Yorkshire, however, today there are regular classes to choose from, regardless of where you live.
Yin is also a very portable form of yoga and you don’t always necessarily need a studio or even a mat. Most Yin yoga poses can even be held while sitting in your office, watching a movie or even lying in your bed!
As the pace is slow, you will need to wear comfortable, warm clothes, and you can even leave your socks on!
Is Yin Yoga difficult to learn?
Yin yoga is a simple, slow and quiet practice, however, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy.
One of the leading teachers of yin yoga, Bernie Clark, says: “Yin yoga is not meant to be comfortable; it will take you well outside your comfort zone. Much of the benefit of the practice will come from staying in this zone of discomfort, despite the mind’s urgent pleas to leave.”
During a Yin classes you may find yourself with a lot of time on your hands, facing the challenge of entering into a gentle meditation. Practice to slow down your breath and calm your mind, allowing it to shut off from the world outside.
Yin yoga is not easy, but if you can stick with it, you are sure to reap the rewards and benefits of increased perception and awareness around the breath, and therefore of life itself.
Look out for our Candlelit Yin Yoga Classes with Martin at Go Yoga Harrogate.