To Yin or Not To Yin? That is the Question...
What is Yin Yoga? And should you be practicing it?
There’s a lot of confusion concerning yin yoga - what it is, where it comes from, and who should practice it. When I was first introduced to Yin Yoga in my 200 hour training, I absolutely hated it. The teacher made us hold incredibly difficult poses for an insane amount of time. The heat and anger engulfed me to the point I was ready to scream, and I silently cursed her throughout the class.
But over the years as I continued to explore this practice, I noticed a calming and yet rejuvenated energy. I learned how to sit with my thoughts, feelings and emotions, and in doing so, realized that they do not define me. I can be okay with not being okay 100% of the time.
I lost touch with Yin for a few years until I became interested in Bernie Clark’s functional approach to anatomy. When I saw that he and Diana Batts trained students in Yin Yoga, I thought, “Why not? What do I have to lose?” So, in the Fall of 2019, I traveled to Vancouver, BC to embark on a 10-day immersion of Yin Yoga. Here is what I learned.
According to Bernie Clark and his teacher, Paul Grilley, Yin Yoga focuses on the connective tissue in the body. Most forms of yoga are dynamic, active practices designed to work only half of our body, the muscular “yang” tissue. Yin Yoga safely works the other half of the body, the deeper tissues of our ligaments, joints and fascial networks. Yin is a slower, more introspective practice, and a great compliment to any yang activity.
The three principles of Yin are coming into the pose with ease, resolving to remain still, and holding the pose for time. Props are used in class to ensure safety and integrity while holding the poses. Yin is designed to cultivate deeper body awareness, reflection and introspection.
Yin is different from gentle or restorative. Yin yoga can produce similar results such as relaxation; however, it can also bring up trapped emotions such as anxiety, anger, and sadness. Because you are getting into the deeper connective tissue of the body, Yin can release those deep seated feelings and emotions. This can be a good thing, but make sure you’re in a safe and nurturing space. Practicing with a certified teacher is optimal.
Yin can be practiced at any time of day and by anyone. However, you should speak with your health professional before starting any new regiment of exercise or mind-body practice. Yin is especially beneficial to those who are aging, as we tend to become stiff in our joints. Yin can also help rehabilitate athletes and strengthen areas of the body more prone to injury.
Curious to explore Yin? Jai Dee Yoga Wellness holds weekly Yin classes on Tuesday from 7:15-8:15PM. The studio is also hosting a special event, Candlelight Yin with Sound Healing on Friday, February 26th from 6-7PM. Check out this and more on our website.