I teach Yin Yoga as part of my Slow Sunday monthly yoga workshops, and starting in September I'll be teaching a new weekly Yin Yoga class at the beautiful York Yoga Studio. So I wanted to tell you more about this wonderful style of yoga, and how it can really be of benefit to you dealing with the stresses and strains of modern life - whether you are a seasoned yogi or a complete beginner.
~ What is Yin Yoga? ~
Yin yoga is a style of yoga that really helps you become more aware of living in your body. It's a yoga practice where we hold the postures for longer (3 to 5 minutes usually) to allow the body tissues to really release, let go and soften. It's called 'yin' to illustrate its contrast to some of the faster, more intense and dynamically moving yoga styles such as vinyasa, flow yoga or ashtanga which could be described as 'yang'. Yin is a slow practice, but one where we still find our edge, and it therefore provides a brilliant balance to these more dynamic yoga styles, or to other activities such as running, cycling, swimming etc.
~ Why Yin Yoga is brilliant ~
Yin is simply great at balancing us. Whether that is balancing our super busy, always on, modern lives by allowing our bodies and minds to replenish and to nourish ourselves in slowing down. Or balancing the physically dynamic activities we do such as other sports, or dynamic yoga practices. Its great for people with tight muscles from lots of running or cycling, whilst also be amazing for people who are simply depleted and exhausted by the busyness of modern life. Its grounding and calming effect mean we can be more at rest in the natural default setting of the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and digest setting) where we can cultivate relaxed acceptance and gratitude.
~ What we'll do in a Yin class ~
In a Yin yoga class we do postures mainly sitting or lying down (although there are a few standing postures), and we work alot with the hips, the thighs and also the spine. There are fewer postures to learn than in other yoga styles, and they have simpler names (although the forms will be familiar if you have done yoga before) like Butterfly, Deer and Caterpillar. The postures are held usually for 3-5 minutes, and this gives the body time to release and deeper tissues to be accessed. It also allows us time to tune into our body and our breath, become more aware of ourselves, and appreciate a conscious stilling of our busy minds.
~ Who can benefit from Yin Yoga ~
Basically everyone! Its brilliant for the frazzled, the busy, the tight, the super sporty, the office workers, the people who do a lot of driving, the couch potato. The practice of Yin yoga allows us to become more present, have more openness and be more curious. It can be a brilliant practice in Mindfulness - being aware of the present moment.
It gives you some time to slow down, reconnect with yourself and be more aware of and appreciate your body. And nearly everyone can benefit from that.