Yin Yoga is a slower, quieter practice of staying for an extended period (3-10mins) in passive postures, whilst softening the muscles around a specific area of the body which provides the focus for our practice. As we soften the muscles in the target area, the joints, ligaments and deep connective tissues (fascia) benefit from a healthy amount of stress, enabling them to open and release tension. Over time, this allows greater freedom and ease to develop in movement. Since Yin Yoga centers mainly around the joints of the spine and pelvis, it softens the surrounding tissues and the accumulated effect of this makes seated meditation a more comfortable experience for longer periods of time.
Energetically, when we stress, manipulate and pull on our fascia in Yin poses, this allows chi (energy) to flow more freely through the meridians (energy channels) which run throughout our bodies and connect to our organs. By allowing the chi to flush through the meridians, this unblocks stagnation and nourishes organs and tissues so they can function more effectively as a more harmonised system.
Yin Yoga is a powerful resource for self-healing as it facilitates the release of previously unresolved emotions held and stored in the body. We often repress, suppress or push away emotions, causing them to be retained in the tissues and eventually lead to the onset of disease. By staying in postures that open up our body, we create space to let emotions naturally arise, simply watching this process without attachment. Giving emotions room to breathe allows them to be felt and processed, while teaching us how to let go.
In these long stays, we have time to observe our habitual mental patterns, reactions and repetitive ways of thinking. This develops self awareness through showing us how we tend to attach and cling on to cravings and aversions. We learn to recognise when our mind is restless or lethargic. We discover the value of and joy in contemplating our life and the nature of mind. We learn how the mind can cause us suffering and through this discover ways to liberate ourselves by accepting what is happening around and within us. We develop ways to let go of attachment to the past and/or future, and how to live in the present moment. This mind training cultivates harmony in our Shen, which refers to the spirit/mind in Chinese medicine. When Shen is harmonised we have a vibrant spirit within, are able to think clearly, and have a wise discerning mind.
Our Yin Yoga practice helps us to develop compassion for ourselves and for others by seeing life as it really is. This leads us towards self-acceptance; a path in which we treat all sentient beings with loving kindness which flows from a peaceful place within.
If you would like to know more information about Yin Yoga check out http://www.yinyoga.com
by Hugh Lee
Hugh will commence teaching Yin classes at Kyo Yoga on May 22.