I began my ‘love affair’ with Yin yoga in Bali, several years ago. At the time, its fair to say that EVERYTHING in my life was yang – fast, busy, stressful. To be still for 90 minutes was an interesting experience for me & not one that came very easily at first. Restorative yoga this was not, and the process of finding my edge, or that place where comfort can so easily tip over into discomfort, really opened my eyes to the idea that less is more and allowed me to tune in and listen to my body.
Yin Yoga is a still practice which contrasts perfectly not only with our busy lifestyles, but also with other moving styles of yoga and serves to mobilise and strengthen joints, ligaments and fascia which helps to provide a strong framework for our bodies, however we use them. It is very beneficially for sports, the shapes that are held in stillness not only help to strengthen the joints & ligaments, but also bring about a stillness of mind that helps bring calm & focus.
A Yin yoga practice is perfect for beginners, and people who are looking for a still practice. A typical class will either focus around performing shapes, or postures for the hips, spine, shoulders, feet & ankles & holding them for between 3 and five minutes. Participants are encouraged to find a position where they can find their own edge, instead of forcing the body or striving to too far. We will also use shapes that target the meridians, the subtle energetic lines of the body, to aid the energetic flow to internal organs. We will sometimes use props (blocks, bolsters, straps & blankets) to ensure that the body is held in the correct position to experience the ultimate benefits of each shape.
In a mixed Yin & Vinyasa class, we always practice our yin shapes first. As Yin yoga targets the deeper, less elastic tissues of the body, our muscles need to be cool so that they don’t ‘take over’ and give the impression that the joints are more mobile than perhaps they really are.
As with life, we need to bring more balance – just as we balance hot & cold, night & day, hard & soft – Yin yoga balances perfectly with busy, active lives & activities. So, a Yin yoga class is a great addition to your existing training, whether it is running, cycling, weight training or dynamic Vinyasa class.
My own love of Yin yoga grows everyday, I always learn something different, not only about my body, but my inner self, every time I practice. I am continuing my studies into this delicious, deep and meditative style of yoga and look forward to sharing the Yin love with you.