A Yin Yoga practice without rebounds is like holding your breath and never getting to exhale.
The rebound is quite possibly the most important part of the entire practice, and if you have been going to yin yoga classes and the teacher does not include rebounds, you are being shortchanged!
These are a few layers to my strong feelings about the importance of the rebound.
1. The Physical Layer
In a yin practice we are intentionally exercising the yin tissues of the body. These include our ligaments, tendons, and fascia. These kinds of tissue in the body respond to long held static stress best when followed by a rest period.
The resting period is where the tissues rebound and rehydrate. They do not like being pushed and pulled quickly, hence these tissues being famously injured from yang style sports. These tissues are usually low in elasticity, so they need time to settle and adjust after coming out of a yin posture.
If we are listening/feeling into the body with plenty of awareness, directly after you exit a yin shape, your instincts will tell you that you need to be still for a little while before you move again.
2. The Mindfulness Layer
What sensory information do you receive in the stillness of the rebound?
In other words, are you able to feel and learn about how that last yin shape you experienced, has influenced your body and mind?
Did you just realise you were holding your breath the whole time?
Or that you have a tendency to push through pain?
Or that the glutes on your right side are so much more intense to target than you left?
Maybe you have started to become aware that your inner critic is really mean and relentless or even perhaps that the whole time you were in that yin shape you were projecting your thoughts out of the room and far away from the present moment you were in.
How often do you allow yourself time to rest?
In our fast-paced modern life we are constantly being conditioned to produce more, work harder, multi-task, and barrel through life until we can arrive at retirement and take an annual trip to a tropical beach and finally earn our rest. What's the hurry? Why are we trying so hard to live our lives quickly and get them over and done with?
The rebound is a magical place to slowly rewire this deep societal conditioning. By resting in between each place of intensity, we are subtly being reconditioned to receive resting as part of life, and to have dedicated time to feel how life is impacting us. In these exquisite moments of the practice we may finally have slowed down just enough for our higher self to lean in and whisper "here is the wisdom I have been waiting to share with you."
The rebound might be a rare place in your busy world where you get to connect with yourself, learn about yourself, and cultivate a beautiful relationship with yourself.
3. The Energetic Layer
The buzzing sensation that spreads through the body during the rebound is a curious sensation indeed. At times it can feel like it has a roaming or wandering quality about it. We already know scientifically that when connective tissue is stressed and placed under load, fluid is squeezed out of the tissue. When the tissue is released (rebounding), this fluid is pulled back in by water-loving molecules that live in your superficial fascia. It's quite possible that the buzzing sensation being felt during the rebound is actually the feeling of fluid being pulled through the connective tissue.
From a Chinese Medicine understanding, Qi governs all movement in the body, including the movement of fluid. Therefore, the sensation of fluid being pulled across tissues is really the sensation of Qi moving that fluid. The sensations being felt roaming around the body during the rebound might actually be the sensations of Qi moving through the body, creating a very subtle boundary line between yin yoga being a physical practice and/or an energetic practice.
There is much richness to explore within all of these layers of the rebound experience.
PS. If you happen to be a Yin Yoga teacher who doesn't currently include rebounds in your classes, I strongly encourage you to look into more training so that you can really appreciate the depth of all of these layers, and create a safe and well rounded practice for your students and their tissues.