I remember the first time I took a Yin Yoga class and was completely blown away at how differently I felt afterward. I always feel transformed after any yoga class but this was a transformation that was much deeper, more essential, and longer lasting. After a Yin Yoga class, I am deeply connected to myself. Now that I teach Yin regularly it has become one of my favorite offerings. I see a profound and palpable energetic shift that occurs within my students over the duration of the class.
Unlike Yang (vinyasa, active) Yoga, Yin is luxuriously slow but intense. It gives the body permission to present itself in an obvious way but it invites deeper examination of the subtleties presenting at a lower frequency. Yin Yoga is spacious therefore encourages a letting go of tension in the mind and in the body. Because the technique of mindfulness is used to remain present, aware and safe, it bears a great relationship to my other favorite practice: meditation.
The energies that can be explored in Yin Yoga are very easy to access and experience. Because contrasts of sensation are great and are playing off one another, both can be realized in a more accessible and accepting way. The awareness of the range of possibilities is refined: what is between high sensation and pain, what is between high sensation and pleasant sensation, what is between emotion and body sensation….are they the same thing? All of the wisdom accumulated in Yin yoga translates into a life well lived because there is no mystery to how you feel anymore and you can instead dwell in ease.
My knowledge of anatomy has taken a huge leap since studying and teaching Yin Yoga. The underlying concepts of oneness in Yoga are supported by tensegrity as a structural model for the body where everything is united and symbiotic in movement/use versus a strict compression model where muscles and bones are viewed as independent parts being affected only by closely adjacent and similar parts. My understanding of this helps me facilitate my students realization of their own beings as whole and that they are part of a larger whole.
The qualities of Yin Yoga can be brought into any style of Yoga. This is the most powerful aspect of the practice and teaching of Yin. Yin does not have to be isolated to a Yin Yoga class. The moments in Yang Yoga when there is a logical opportunity, you can slip in some Yin Yoga that will probably be greatly appreciated. Yin is a beautiful complement to any Yang practice.
Yin Yoga is a practice of maintenance. A regular practice will help anyone maintain clarity. Because it restructures the body at a cellular level, it is clarifying the body’s ability to communicate freely without any blockages and allowing it to be united. Blockages in the body create blockages in the mind. Yin will smooth out any texture in any of your realms.
This poem by Basho has always resonated for me as it reflects the way I feel after a Yin Yoga practice :)
on a branch
floating down river
a cricket singing