Yin Yoga: Get intimate with yourself
Yin yoga, also referred to as Taoist yoga isbecoming more and more popular on the modern yoga scene. While still a lesserknown and understood form of yoga, as more and more practitioners discover thestyle and its many benefits, yin yoga is sure to move its way to yoga’sforefront. Most styles of yoga popular among modern yogis are yang in nature.They are muscular and dynamic. It’s important to complement your yoga practicewith the yin-style for many reasons. Let’s explore the style in detail so that wecan better understand the hows and whys of its inner workings.
On a physical level, yin yoga is the perfectpractice to prepare us for sitting meditation – a discipline that more and moreof us are realizing is essential to our mental, emotional and spiritual growth.When we sit in meditation, we are aiming for a long spine that is supported bythe vertical alignment of the pelvis. Yin poses help us with this alignment.
It’s true, that ashtanga, kundalini, vinyasa andother dynamic yoga styles help us prepare to sit and meditate. However, thepassive yin style is an even more essential complement to our meditationpractice if we wish to sit for long periods of time. The yang styles of yogafocus on muscular movement, whereas yin yoga targets the deep connectivetissues of the body – tendons, ligaments and fascia. As we sit in meditation,with a long spine and open hips, we are relying upon the flexibility of ourconnective tissues to support us. A gentle stretch which we hold for a longperiod of time makes connective tissues grow longer and stronger.
It’s also a wonderful style of yoga toillustrate the connection between Western science and the energy systems of thehuman body within the Indian yoga and Chinese medicine traditions. Untilrecently, no scientific evidence existed that there were actual energy mapswithin the human body. However, Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama and Dr. James Oschman arein the process of finding that our connective tissue might provide the pathways(referred to as nadis or meridians) through which the energy, or prana flows.When we open up those tissues, energy can flow freely. It becomes morebalanced. This is compelling information that may motivate us to incorporate ayin practice into our regular yoga practice.
Another very cool aspect of a yin yoga practiceis that it sorta forces us to get intimate with our stuff. As with anypractice, the slower we go, the more present we must be. It’s easier to glossover our issues when flowing through a vigorous ashtanga sequence or dance-likevinyasa practice. When we slow down, when we get present, things naturallybubble up. And this is something we want to let happen and support. A yinpractice does just this.
There’s a concept in Ayurveda that goessomething like this:
Ama is anything that remains undigested withinour bodies. When we profoundly open the hips and sit in positions for longperiods of time that force us into mindfulness (as yin yoga poses do) we beginto release and balance this accumulated energy – which could be anything. Amacan be unprocessed food that makes us feel lethargic and manifests as the bileor mucus layer. It can be unprocessed thoughts or emotions that leave usfeeling depleted or depressed, manifesting in the energetic-emotional layer ofthe body. The hips are one of the largest storehouses of accumulated energy orama. If you can start your day by stirring up the cauldron of the hips you canrelease a lot of this latent energy.