What is yin yoga?

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While “yang” yoga focuses on your muscles, yin yoga targets your deep connective tissues, like your fascia, ligaments and joints.

A misconception is to think Yin yoga is easy. That seems to stem from a common belief that Yin Yoga is a form of restorative yoga. Although on the yoga styles scale it would certainly come closest to Restorative yoga, there are some essential differences to the practice. In Yin yoga you are actively trying to create space from the joints without allowing the muscles of the body to ‘take over’ whilst staying in a relaxed receptive state. Within restorative yoga you are allowing yourself to become completely relaxed.

There are five main points to remember:-

Mindfully move with kindness

During the practice we explore how to move to an ‘Appropriate Edge’ in the asana. This is achieved by learning to listen to the body, working into the maximum posture and then allowing yourself to pull back 10%. This pulling back gives us the ability to relax for the time length required. In Yin Yoga we do want some discomfort in and around the connective tissue; however, the muscles around the connective tissue must be relaxed. The Anatomy principle at work is when muscles are tense and stressed the connective tissue cannot be lengthened or stressed. Muscles that are relaxed allow the connective tissues to be stimulated.

Remaining still for a length of time

Once we have reached our edge in a pose, it is important to then hold the pose for a certain length of time, this can be between three to eight minutes for our Yin shapes, and up to twenty minutes for more restorative poses. Connective tissues in the body do not respond to rapid movement, but through moderate stress over a length of time, connective tissues will produce lengthening, growth, and realignment and this provides increased flexibility and mobility.

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Want to learn more about this beautiful yoga style?.

Stillness

Through the complete stillness we can learn to turn our attention turned inwards and develop  introspection. We can use guided visualizations with the breath and begin to influence the subtle body of connective tissue and fascia. Being still allows us to sit with the minor discomfort of joint stress, therefore learning to sit with both our physical and our emotional discomforts, building inner strength. We learn that we do not need to push ourselves to the point of pain or ignore the messages of the body but develop our body/mind connection.

Taking care coming out of the pose

We try to stay relaxed as we come out of our Yin yoga postures. We often do not realize how hard we have worked the body until we come to move out of a pose. Therefore, we have to learn to also release with care. As with all yoga asana, it is just as important how we come out of a posture as to how we go in. It is normal to feel stiff or a achy sensation upon first release. This doesn’t last and shows we have stressed into the connective tissues.

Use of mindful breath

We breathe normally in a posture, one that suits us and feels unstrained. We can then slow the breath down and work with a deepening of the breath to aid relaxation but this still needs to be at a rhythm that causes no anxiety within the body. Trying to force the breath into the same rhythm throughout an entire Yin class is a Yang way of practicing. We need the breath to be soft and steady.

• The stages of a Yin yoga practice.

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• The Rebound

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• Physical & Emotional edges.

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• The correlation between the physical & emotional.
• How Yin yoga works with your chi.

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• How Yin yoga can become a healing practice.

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• Developing a Introspective practice.

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• Developing a Self reflective practice