Yin Yoga -focussing deep connective tissues of the body (vs. the superficial tissues) and the fascia that covers the body; this Daoist yoga is to help regulate the flow of energy in the body.
There was a great article in MinBodyGreen in March 2015: “5 ways Yin Yoga will transform your life”. There were several great facts about yin yoga and I agree with all of them:
1. Flexibility is increased 2. Self-regulated healing is promoted 3. Tension and stress are alleviated 4. Heart is opened and Chi is unblocked 5. Energetic toxins are released
I wanted to create my own short list explaining how I’ve experienced yin yoga. After many years of practicing martial arts – mainly Qigong – I had discovered how to move energy internally. I also practiced a lot yang-style yoga (Vinyasa Flow). When I found Yin yoga practice to my life I felt like I was coming home – circle was closed when I could combine learning from Qigong and yoga (roots of yin-yoga are in martial arts and Daoist Philosophy as well as Chinese Medicine). I enjoy and also teach dynamic flow-yoga in addition to Yin, I need both, then there is a balance!
There are 3 things Yin is a must for me and it is based on my wonderful master’s Victor Chng’s list 3 principles of Yin Yoga practice.
1. GROUNDING – To be in the body
In my dynamic practice of yoga I have found myself many times “just doing the poses”. My old sportive and competitive mind patterns have been telling me “just do it, little more, you can do it” and I’ve been fooling myself to be present with my breath and yet overdoing asanas just because of getting to or reaching the asana. Asana itself has been the goal.
Yin yoga has helped me to understand so much more of the asanas: we don’t use the body to get into a pose and do the asana just because of the asana, we use the asana to get into our body and feel our body, learn from it, listen to it and BE it.
In YIN-Yoga I’ve learned to surrender to asana, to observe, to feel the body’s connection to earth. Balance the elements. Feel the ground rebound force and use it for making space inside. Yin is excellent style of practice when we need grounding – and in this busy western lifestyle very many of us needs grounding! We live so much in our minds – so getting into the body yin will help you!
2. HOLDING – Reshaping the body and mind
In Yin when I hold the pose for several minutes, there is no escape. My mind tries to escape but I need to be back because without presence and breath the uncomfortable feeling comes to edge of pain (maybe not that bad physical pain, but terrible pain in my mind) so I need to stay in the body and work with the pose with every single breath. When holding the pose I can really see how much is happening in my body even though I don’t move. I feel with every breath how I reshape, I heal and I let go.
3. RELAXATION – Finding calmness and higher consciousness
When I work with the timing and holding with the pose, I finally come to the calmness state of mind and body. Keeping the breath as a tool I have learned so much of my mind how it reacts to different levels of uncomfortable feelings. How it tries to escape and actually how I try to escape from myself? With breath I can face it and let go. With inhale I get more light and new chi (prana) to my body, with exhale I let go of old patterns. That is reshaping myself towards to trueself – understanding the balance and calmness that is inside always.
Calmness in the pose is also understanding the yin energy: to understand how unmanifested is running the manifested. The source of change happens in unmanifested and then comes visible. At the state of calmness I can understand the meaning of existence and sense of softness. I can experience everything in one pose!
The whole yin-practice for me is itself very meditative. However, the flexibility and the power of staying still has helped me a lot with meditation. Before I was practicing yin actually sitting in meditation was very difficult for me. Even though I was doing lot of yoga, sitting for long time was difficult and how to calm the mind when the body is shouting all the time! Yin has brought me to experience new levels of meditation.
Does simple mean easy?
I’ve heard many people saying that yin is “boring, passive or simple”. It might be, but simple does not mean easy or does it? And what is boring anyway? It’s all up to your mind how you find observing yourself – is it boring to get to know yourself or are you boring?! 🙂
At the end I want to emphasize that everybody’s experience is unique. I wanted to share some of my experiences of this wonderful style of yoga. I also would like to hear yours?
Few words of Yin-Yang
Yin cannot exist without yang, nor yang without yin, they complement each other. Since existence is never static, what is yin and what is yang is always changing. In the centre there is balance and it is always there even if we are not always there to enjoy it.