Yin Yoga

Group of yogi in yin yoga asana

Yin represents passive, feminine, moon energy. Its uniqueness lies in its access to connective tissues and fascia that lie deeper than muscles and joints and it benefits through maintaining flexibility of joints even as the body ages. Yin Yoga postures are designed around joints such as shoulders,knees, hips, sacrum and spine. These postures steer us towards more open hips, lighter backs, focused minds and a much relaxed body and spirit.

The intropective side of yoga

Let us get in Yin

The ultimate aim of Yoga in its entirety as a holistic health regimen is to achieve stillness of mind and body. While asana practice does leads to calming the system and inculcating inner awareness, it does in an active Yang form that engage different sets of muscles and joints. Yin Yoga complements such a practice by leading gently to a state where connective tissues rather than muscles are approached and stretched. The flexibility thus achieved aids in bettering a Yang based practice of Yoga. In Yin Yoga postures we reach deep into connective tissues which are a group of cells made of protein mainly Elastin { that gives us flexibility} or Collagen { that give us shape and form}.The tissues that are affected in Yin Yoga are skin, fascia -both superficial and myofascial,ligaments, and tendons.
Yin and Yang Yoga complement each other by giving an opportunity for Yoga enthusiasts to explore both feminine and masculine sides. While Yang practice keeps us constantly moving and engaging muscles so as to strengthen them for joints health, Yin Yoga shows us how to relax muscles in order to move deep within ourselves through various layers until we reach the bone.
Muscles, tendons and fascia are elastic in nature and therefore easier to stretch but they tend to come back to their original state. Whereas ligaments and bones are plastic in nature and hence remain stretched once pressure is applied on them. Therefore it is essential to support a Yang practice with a Yin practice.

Origins of Yin yoga

To know what is Yin Yoga we have to understand the concept of the Yin and Yang embedded in the roots of Daoism, a Chinese religion and philosophy. It is based on the principle that everything in life exist as inseparable though contradictory opposites. Applying this principle to Yoga, while Yang symbolises active and energetic flow of asanas that activate and tone muscles, Yin stands for still mindfulness of deep tissue stretches. Supported by props and meditative music, a Yin Yoga session allows the practitioner to experience the power of inner silence. Stabilising the mind to explore one’s personal emotions, feelings and perceptions, Yin Yoga sessions help complement one’s Yoga journey.
The credit for laying the foundations of Yin Yoga in the modern world goes to Paulie Zink, an American martial arts champion and a Taoist Yoga Teacher.
Yin Yoga poses are named differently from their Yang versions. Most of the names are descriptive of the posture assumed to achieve deep and intense stretches. These include -Seal Pose, Tadpole with a twist, Dangling, Shoe Lace,Reclined Butterfly, Dragon, Swan among others.

Yin yoga teacher training

With rising popularity of Yin Yoga which has been perceived to play an important role in balancing Yoga practice, many Teacher Training Certification Courses are on offer by reputed Yoga academies. The most vital knowledge required is underlying philosophy and anatomical principles so as to guide practitioners into the right postures in appropriate alignments.
The 50 hours Yin Yoga Training offered by.Aayana Yoga Academy of Bangalore teaches 20 main Yin Yoga postures along with variations. A thorough knowledge of Yoga Philosophy including Yamas and Niyamas as well as relevance of Pratyahara, Dharana and Dhyana, Psychic breathing, Kleshas and Gunas,Karma Yoga, getting familiar with the nervous system and States of Consciousness is theoretically and practically assimilated during the training.
Anatomy basics classified under Mandalas , Fascia and Spine along with guidance regarding tension and compression and the method to overcome stretch reflex makes for a deep understanding of the human body and the beneficial effects of Yin Yoga. .

Yin yoga sequences

Various sequences are created in Yin Yoga, based of different themes where the main poses with variations are arranged in a meditative flow.With each pose being held for 2 to 5 minutes, a sequence may start with meditation,move on to various poses that engage deep tissues in different part of the body and culminate in supine poses that ends with shavasan.Considering the emotions that need to be addressed and released a Yin Yoga teacher would design a sequence accordingly.
The world has witnessed the trend of Hot Yin Yoga in a few studios that offer Bikram Yoga. Though Yin Yoga requires muscles to be cool so as to let ligaments stretch, for some practitioners, a heated studio enables relaxation required to reach deep tissue stretches of Yin Yoga.

Yin yoga benefits

Leading a still body to observe a still mind, Yin Yoga practice packs in huge and lasting benefits.Getting in touch with our Yin side is crucial to balance the nervous system. This is achieved by creating awareness from a Yang state giving enough time for the body and mind to settle down into a Yin frame of mind. Shifting gently from physical awareness to breath and finally the mind, Yin holds up a mirror to our emotions and feeling held suppressed within us, helping us to gain release.
The practice of Yin Yoga makes the practitioner meditative and focussed. It challenges one to remain in the present as as observer of one’s own physical, mental and emotional state. Bone density increases since the poses require to apply pressure on the joints. Surrendering to sensations and feelings is a lesson learnt to last from Yin Yoga and one cannot come away untouched by the experience at different levels.