yin & yangWhat is Yin Yoga?

Yin Yoga is the antidote to the ‘Yang’ fast paced, hectic lives we lead.

Hatha Yoga/ Vinyasa Yoga/ Power Yoga & general group fitness & high intensity sports all fall under the ‘Yang’ labelling when we compare them to what ‘Yin’ Yoga targets and works on within a class.  Yang Yoga / Yang activity works our muscles & increases the blood flow through quick movements that stretch, contract & strenghten the muscles (or Yang tissues) that are elastic like, within the body.

Yin on the other hand focuses on the deeper layers of connective tissues (Myofascia) & ligaments (that are more rope like in comparison to the elasticity of the muscles) and require longer held positions that are moved in and out of slowly so as to slowly tease & melt the tension and stiffness in the joints & areas of the body that have greater density and layer upon layer of this connective tissue.

What is its origins?

Coreys’ Yin Yoga classes draw from his studies with 2 renowned teachers;
Paul Grilley, who ‘re-introduced’ Yin Yoga to the world and is considered to be the main proponent and researcher into all things Yin and the anatomy of Yoga in general.
And Sarah Powers, one of Paul’s students (an incredible teacher in her own right) who not only coined the term Yin but also brought her knowledge of the Chinese Meridian system along with her Buddhist meditative practices & reflection into the Yin Yoga class and teaches it through her Insight Yoga institute programs.

Yin Yoga is in essence a blend of Classical Chinese Medicine, the ancient indian tantric yoga system and western science.  Bringing health to the joints and body’s connective tissue, which includes as a base the fascia, ligaments, tendons and joint capsules, through the slow loading of tensional stress (traction) and bone to bone compression.[1]

It complements many other forms of ‘yang’ styled exercise, such as cardio & strength and conditioning training which work on stressing the muscle fibres to build strength and health.  Combined Yin and Yang exercise are an excellent compliment for optimal health

What to expect in a Yin Yoga Class

A Yin class can consist of 7 -10 postures.  They are floor based and held between 3-5 minutes and many are done unilaterally (one side at a time.)  During the pose students may be directed to their breath, to the sensations in their body or simply to observe their busy mind.

After the 3-5 minutes students may be guided to move straight onto the other side OR do a ‘Rebound’ – which is simply releasing yourself from the pose and laying flat (similar to shivasana) but observing the bodies response the entire time.

The stillness experienced within a Yin class can be uncomfortable at first but overtime appreciated and sought after, especially in this busy world we live in.  The power of a Yin Yoga class is one that has to be experienced first hand.

[1] Notes from Yin Yoga wiki