I had a great time this past weekend in my Yin Yoga training. I have one more weekend to go before getting my certificate and being able to teach this wonderful practice. Before now I always thought of Yin as similar to Restorative Yoga and did not understand the distinction between the two. This weekend opened my eyes to what Yin is and I’m anxious to share what I’ve learned so far!
The term Yin comes from Taoist philosophy. Yin together with Yang form something that is whole (Tao). Yin and Yang have individual qualities that compliment and balance each other. Some of the qualities of Yin are darkness, night, coolness, softness, stillness, quiet and calm. Yang is represented by fire, heat, energy, light and movement. It is said that Yin is the snow on the mountain and Yang is the sunshine that melts the snow on the mountaintop.
Most yoga practiced in western society is Yang yoga because there’s a focus on movement, energy, and strengthening muscles. Where Yang yoga targets muscles, Yin yoga targets connective tissues, such as fascia. Fascia is connective tissue that surrounds muscles and other structures in the body. In a Yin practice, postures (called shapes) are used to allow a targeted muscle group to gently stretch. Shapes are held for a long period, usually around 5 minutes. This allows a gentle release of muscles and stretch of the fascia. Because we all have different bone structures, or tissues that may restrict a shape, many shape options are offered to target a muscle group. In a Yin yoga class, each student may be in a different shape to accomplish the desired result.
Aside from an excellent lesson on the anatomy that’s important to Yin practice, we were guided through several Yin shapes. The practice was quite lovely! Not only did I feel physical benefits, but the long quiet holds were meditative and released tension one feels in the mind. I look forward to the remainder of this training and can’t wait to share this beautiful practice with others!
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