Young woman practicing yin yoga pose

What is Yin Yoga?

April 26, 2020

What is Yin Yoga?

Yin Yoga is a deeply nurturing passive yoga practice.

During a Yin Yoga session postures are held for two minutes or longer to release deep set tension stored in the muscles and the connective tissues, the postures mainly target the shoulders and hips as these areas contain large junctions of connective tissues.

Any tension stored in the connective tissue can influence the alignment and the functioning of the whole body.

The connective tissue connects and supports the whole body. Without connective tissue the body would be a pile of bones and goo.

By releasing tension in the connective tissue joint mobility is improved and so too is the stability of the joints as tissue is less likely to strain or tear. Circulation and energy flow are improved, enhancing overall health and well-being.

Yin Yoga works by holding a series of gentle yoga postures that subtly release tension without adding unnecessary strain to the body.

As tension leaves the body a vast array of benefits are experienced and enjoyed such as: -

  • Reduced stress.
  • Less tension.
  • Greater flexibility and range of movement.
  • Improved circulation.
  • Raised energy and vitality levels.
  • Improved posture and alignment.
  • Reduced mental clutter.
  • Improved sleep pattern.
  • Enhanced ability to relax and switch off when needed.
  • Greater self- awareness.
  • Injury prevention.

Most people are familiar with the terms, Yin and Yang, although opposites each one is totally reliant upon the other.

The yin yang symbol symbolises balance and harmony. It is circular and contains two interlocking spirals. The black one represents yin and the white one represents yang, inside each spiral is a small dot of the opposite colour revealing that in all Yang, there is Yin, and in all Yin, there is Yang.

Yin Yoga provides balance for the more yang lifestyle that many of us lead. It also provides balance for other yang style yoga practices and activities.

Yin Yoga encourages practitioners to surrender and accept whereas many yang activities encourage action and strength. Both are beneficial and very much required.

Yin Yoga and the Nervous System

Yin Yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is often referred to as “rest and digest”. The parasympathetic nervous system provides balance to the sympathetic nervous system which is also referred to as “fight or flight”, the sympathetic nervous system is a survival mode that kicks in when we sense stress or danger. Many people today experience high levels of stress, the sympathetic nervous system is often in a state of alert, during a yin yoga practice the sympathetic nervous system is able to relax, and the parasympathetic nervous system that encourages relaxation is activated.

Stress is not negative, it is natural and required for survival, but too much stress is not healthy.

Yin Yoga is suitable for everyone. During a Yin Yoga session it is not uncommon for the mind and body to struggle with the stillness, when this happens focus on a smooth steady flow of breath, relaxing with each exhalation.

This blog article was written by Sue Fuller creator of the Yoga 2 Hear range of audio yoga classes and teacher training courses.

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