The magic of yin yoga
Yin yoga is a practice of stillness and patience.
Yin is the more meditative counterpart to hatha or vinyasa, where we spend far more time breathing and cooling our system than we do moving and heating it. There is little to no physical effort required by our muscles and bones during a yin class, and instead the magic happens on deeper, subtler layers, leaving us feeling totally rejuvenated from the inside out.
In this practice you can expect your body to be held by the gentle support of bolsters, blocks and blankets, making you sublimely comfortable and able to soften into shapes that you’ll hold for anywhere between 3-5 minutes. Although the practice can be mistaken for being too simple or slow, with experience you’ll fast discover that there is far more happening than meets the eye.
Popular for reducing stress, improving flexibility and joint mobility, and the perfect accompaniment to a yang yoga or any other exercise regime, below we outline just some of the benefits you’ll reap!
Yin helps balance our internal organs
It does this by gently stimulating their associated meridians. The practice is grounded in Traditional Chinese medicine and works similarly to an acupuncture session (without the needles) to bring our organs back into a state of well-being. Each yin yoga shape that we make with our bodies is deliberately and intelligently designed to stimulate and re-energise a specific internal organ, clearing it of stress and stagnation. Arousing a certain meridian helps the energy of that organ to flow freely, continuously and uninterrupted once again. Regardless of the ‘depth’ of the pose, it can be common to experience a pleasant energetic release while practicing yin.
Yin is therapeutic
Yin can be used to alleviate the symptoms of nearly any condition, from joint pain to back ache, digestive issues to migraines, chronic fatigue to anxiety, and everything in between. We know that healing on all levels of the body can only happens when we are in a parasympathetic state – when we are deeply relaxed. Yin helps us to heal, whether that be our organs, joints, an injury or illness, by switching us from a state of busyness and stress, to one of stillness and surrender, where our precious energy can be diverted from surviving to thriving. Yin gives our physical body the time and energy it needs to begin restoring us to full health, with the added benefit of being in shapes that are especially therapeutic and conducive to recovery.
Yin improves our flexibility
This practice slowly and gently lengthening out the fascial sheet that covers our entire body. Where hatha or vinyasa yoga focus on exercising muscles and moving blood, yin is a practice that focuses on connective tissue. In yin, it is greater flexibility of the joints, as opposed to increased muscular strength, that gives us the feeling of ease and lightness in our body. Yin yoga postures gently stretch and rehabilitate the essential fabric of our joints.
Yin introduces us to meditation
Have you ever tried to meditate, only to find that it’s “just not for you,” or that you “just can’t turn off your thoughts”? The most common misconception about meditation is that we must stop our thoughts, when in fact we can never completely switch off our thoughts, and don’t need to. We need only to learn how to let them float out the back door as easily and drama-free as they came in the front, to become unattached and unresponsive to the fluctuations of our mind. Yin is the perfect way to practice this, because it teaches us how to sit in the seat of the observer, first by observing sensations in our physical body, then our thoughts and emotions. Best of all, because each pose is held for no more than five minutes, we enjoy all the benefits of an hour-long meditation without having to be still and silent for more than five minutes at a time. Our hour of mindfulness is broken down into smaller, deliciously digestible chunks.
Yin’s benefits are many and varied. It offers the much-needed silence that we need to self-inquire, as well as demystifying meditation and making space for a clear and content mind.
Through yin we get to enjoy soothed joints and a softer body, as well as experience our natural vibrancy. By slowing down rather than speeding up, yin shows us that all we crave is available within.
At Living Flow we love yin yoga!
We offer a class every day, so if you haven’t yet experienced yin magic, come along or ask us about the upcoming Winter Solstice Yin & Sound Journey with Natalie Ristoski and Josh Oshlack on Saturday 23rd June. Learn why so many people enjoy the transformative and healing aspects of this beautifully gentle approach to movement.