To the outsider observer, a Yin Yoga practice may seem quite basic.
However the experience of a Yin Yoga practice can be deep, rich, challenging, mindful and insightful.
Yin Yoga is a particular style of yoga that embraces a series of floor based postures that are slow and held for a period of time, before they are released and followed by a period of rest. This practice aims to target and maintain the health of the yin tissues of the body; ligaments, tendons, fascia, fluid and other connective tissues.
During the class we focus on targeting physical locations, rather than trying to master the "look" of a shape, making this practice highly inclusive and accessible for all bodies.
Because of the time spent in one place, this practice is also very impactful on the mind, and can be a powerful tool in helping us become more aware of our internal dialogue, as well as greatly challenging at times if we are not used to being with our own thoughts.
This practice has powerful healing potential; its greatest gift is to give us time to really get to know ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally.
Yin Yoga has been a way that people have taken care of their bodies for a long time, but it was not coined as a style of yoga until Paul and Suzee Grilley gave it a structured format.
The daoist term “yin” refers to the darker denser side of the dualistic polarity, exploring the practice of long held postures in order to maintain the heath of yin tissues in the body. As opposed to "yang" styles of movement that focus on conditioning and strength of the yang tissues of the body, namely our skeletal muscles.
All tissues of the human body need to be "exercised", and we need both yin and yang approaches to our body to keep it both supple and strong. As Bernie Clark reminds us "beware the binary."
For some people, their initial experience of Yin Yoga can be very challenging, perhaps they are more comfortable exercising in a way where they can move constantly, and when things begin to feel uncomfortable, they can immediately shift position. Yin Yoga invites you to stay, to lean into discomfort (not pain!), and notice what comes up for you mentally and emotionally when you cannot shift away from discomfort. A deeper question can arise in us regarding how we deal with difficulty in our lives? Do we run away, look for distractions, or even look for escapism and numbing out?
A very important part of the practice is the rebound. This is a mini Savasana experience after every posture. This place of rest is also a crucial aspect of the class giving you have time and space to feel how the previous yin posture has impacted your body and mind. A Yin Yoga class is not complete if rebounds are not included.
Many students report that having a Yin Yoga Practice has given them permission to slow down, to witness their thoughts, and has helped to keep their body supple and happy.