22 Dec Yin Yoga
Yin yoga is a slow, calm practice…the perfect antidote to yang activities like running, ashtanga yoga, cycling and vinyasa yoga.
Our bodies need balance. A combination of yin and yang activities help to keep us healthy and strong.
Yang activities focus on muscle strength and building heat but Yin is entirely different.
The prime focus of Yin is strengthening our connective tissue: ligaments, fascia and tendons. All poses take place low to the ground (either seated or lying down) and are usually held for periods of 2 to 5 minutes, sometimes even longer.
There are no planks, no warriors, no standing poses nor sun salutations, though you will recognise poses from other styles of yoga – for example, reclined spinal twists and seated forward folds. The pace is slow, so you need to wear comfortable, warm clothes and even socks. Yin classes are suitable for beginners and more experienced yogis alike.
Yin is all about putting a good stress on connective tissue, never a rigorous stretch. Holding a gentle stretch for a longer period puts a beneficial stress on connective tissue to which the body responds by strengthening and lengthening the tissue. Time and gravity are the key to the magic of Yin yoga. Strengthened connective tissue leads to stronger and more stable joints with the added benefit of greater mobility and flexibility.
Yin also targets the fascia (a web of fibrous tissue encasing our joints, bones and organs). Longer Yin poses apply good pressure to the fascia, keeping it healthy, springy and hydrated; Yin also helps to relieve fascial restrictions which cause pain and tightness.
The benefits of Yin do not stop here. Yin sessions give us the opportunity to focus on our breathing and simply to just ‘be’; this counteracts the stresses of modern life perfectly. Concentrating on long, deep, even breathing helps to switch the body over to the parasympathetic nervous system, encouraging the correct function of the ‘rest and digest’ system. This leads to a calm, relaxed state of body and mind; it is deeply healing on both a mental and physical level.
Since interspersing Yin sessions with my yang practices of Hatha/Vinyasa yoga and running, my flexibility has improved greatly and my body feels balanced. Yin poses for the spine relieve my morning lumbar stiffness immediately, leaving me mobile and flexible. From my own personal experience, I can’t recommend Yin yoga highly enough!
If you have any questions or would like to book a Yin yoga session, please contact Nicola Wright at email@example.com
Blog compiled by Nicola Wright, Yoga & Meditation Instructor at Halo