Yin Yoga is a type of yoga practice based in concepts of Taoist Yoga. Yin Yoga emphasizes the connective tissues of the hips, thighs, pelvis and lower spine. It is characterized by the relaxed practice of floor asanas for three to five minutes at a time.
History of Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga contains the ancient, and some say original, form of asana practice. The sages who pioneered the path of yoga used asanas to strengthen the body, so that they could sit for long periods in contemplative meditation. If you have ever sat for a long time with legs crossed, you know the hips and lower back need to be strong and open. The sensations you felt were deep in the connective tissues and the joints. These are the deep yin tissues of the body, relative to the more superficial yang tissues of muscles and skin. Yin Yoga opens up these deep, dense, rarely touched areas. Yin Yoga targets the connective tissues, such as the ligaments, hips, pelvis, lower spine, bones, and even the joints of the body that normally are not exercised very much in a more active style of asana practice.
Most yoga now practiced in the West is yang - an active practice that primarily focuses on movement and muscular contraction. Yang yoga provides enormous benefits for physical and emotional health, especially for those living a sedentary modern lifestyle. But it does not stretch the joints.
Yin Yoga vs. Yang Yoga
If we don't exercise our muscles, they will atrophy and weaken. Similarly, if we don't stretch our connective tissues, joints, they will shorten and stiffen due to injuries, neglect, and aging. Athletes don't retire because of muscle problems; they retire with joint problems - bad ankles, bad backs, and bad knees.
Yin and yang tissues respond quite differently to being exercised. You need to experience this to really know what Yin Yoga is all about. After you have experienced it, even just once, you will realize that you have been doing only half of the asana practice.
Rediscovery of Yin Yoga
Recently Yin Yoga has been "re-discovered", and more and more students of yoga are adding this challenging form of practice to their regular sadhana.
Years of a dedicated asana practice will make anyone healthier, stronger, and more flexible, but at some point the muscles will have reached their limit of flexibility. New depths in postures, deeper ranges of motion, or an increased flow of energy may only be achievable by focusing on the deeper tissues of the body. This is why so many students are finding
Yin Yoga to be the perfect compliment and balance to their more active, yang practices.
Ying Yoga is suitable for almost all levels of students.Yin Yoga is a perfect complement to the dynamic and muscular (yang) styles of yoga that emphasize internal heat, and the lengthening and contracting of our muscles.