We do not use the body to get into a pose; We use the pose to get into the body - Bernie Clarke
What is Yin Yoga?
Yin Yoga is a much slower and deeper practice than your regular Hatha classes which focus on stretching and strengthening the muscles. Yin Yoga focuses on getting into the deep connective tissues such as the fascia, ligaments, joints, and bones.
The poses are held for around 3-5 minutes each which gives you space to really tune into what is happening in the body as we hold these positions, meaning that this is a much more meditative practice too.
The practice of yin yoga is based on ancient Chinese philosophies and Taoist principles which believe there are pathways of Qi (energy) that run through our bodies which are called the Meridians. It is believed that by holding these poses we can stimulate the flow of energy in these Meridians allowing any blockages to be released and bring wellbeing and balance back into the body.
If you imagine that your faster practices such as Hatha, Ashtanga or Vinyasa Flow are the "Yang" of yoga then we need the Yin practice to be truly balanced. Pairing you regular practice with Yin is to create balance and to really work the body as a whole.
But, honestly, the magic of Yin needs to be experienced as I can only tell you how wonderful the post Yin Yoga glow is and once you've expereienced it too you'll be hooked!
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1. Lengthens connective tissue
The fascia surrounds everything in the body, including muscle and bones and can become tight which can lead to aches and pains. By holding Yin poses we can get the body to respond by making fascia longer and stronger.
2. Increases flexibility
It is not only our muscles that need to be longer to achieve improved flexbility, we also need to stretch and strengthen the tissues that connect the muscles to the bones, these tissues respond much better to static stretches than fast repetitive stretches.
3. Improves circulation
By slowing down and focusing on deep breath work, we invite more oxygen into the body which in turn increases blood flow and circulation.
4. Reduces stress
Calming the body and mind, slowing down the heart rate can all have an impact on the level of stress that we are experiencing. Yin teaches us that we are able to be with discomfort and that we can become stronger for it.
5. Balances the meridians and chi in the body
Yin poses target the meridian system which are energy pathways in the body, we use yin poses to remove blockages and stagnant energy and bring our internal energy back into balance.