‘We don’t use our body to get into a pose, we use the pose to get into our body’
I have been practicing Yin Yoga for a while (maybe not as regularly as I would have liked to but still), attended a couple of workshops and self taught myself through videos and books. I eventually completed a proper full 4 day Yin Yoga and Mindfulness training with amazing Sarah Lo in June and it has been wonderful learning more in depth about the practice. It has also opened up a door to many many more questions about the practice of Yin Yoga, mindfulness and Chinese meridians. I do not normally read books, I mostly listen to them, but I have actually managed to read 2 books on Yin Yoga and reading a book on Yoga & Fascia as well as Yin Yoga book N3.
With a gradual introduction of Yin Yoga into my current weekly sessions and workshops, I thought it would be beneficial to introduce you to the world of Yin Yoga. Yin Yoga in a nutshell is a a series of long held postures aiming at releasing tightness in the body and targeting the deepest tissues, while letting your mind relax. Yin Practice helps to balance the mind and the body, reduces stress and anxiety and has the whole lot of emotional and physical health benefits. Every posture in Yin Yoga focuses on a specific area (or areas) of the body and on certain emotional qualities. It also targets specific meridians.
Yin Yoga is deeply connected with the Chinese Meridian theory (these meridians flow through all tissues and bones. The energy – chi – flows via these meridians and its strength and flow is vital for a healthy balance of body and mind. If the energy is stagnant and the meridians are blocked it can cause an illness or emotional imbalance. The energy then needs to be redirected to allow for a smooth flow of chi throughout the body. To get it all back on track we use acupuncture, physical practice, breath work and a focused mind. The last three methods can be achieved through a balanced yoga practice (Powers, S. 2008). We have Yin and yang organs and they all correspond to five elements: fire, water, wood, metal, and earth. This is a very concise description of how it works and throughout our time together I will talk a bit more about the organs we are targeting and the emotional and physical elements of each posture.
Chinese medicine has been recognised as a viable science (not sure if it can be called science but let’s just assume it can be). Acupuncture is a well recognised treatment worldwide, as well as reflexology. Our body is a map of thousands of acupuncture or trigger points each positioned on various meridians. Dr Motoyama, with the help of modern electronic instruments, has been documenting the existence of a system of energy channels in the body. Dr Motoyama has demonstrated that the energy flows through water-rich channels in the connective tissues, which could also be called meridians (Grilley, P). It is all very fascinating and it might be a little bit of a woo woo information for some, but if you have a curious and open mind I think it might very well be of some interest to many.
Western Yoga practice is heavily Yang dominant: movement, pace, sweat, & flow. Physical exercise is Yang, mindfulness and stillness is Yin. They are like two sides of the same coin – one always complimenting the other one. Muscles are yang, connective tissues is Yin… muscles do not exist without connective soft tissue; and we would not be able to exist having no muscles. Every Yin practice has a bit of Yang in it.. we can’t just sit still and meditate fo a long period of time if our body is weak. We strengthen the body with Yang practices to be able to sit still during our meditation.
As Paul Grilley states in his ‘Yin Yoga Principals & Practices’ book: ‘The modern world is very yang; life should be a balance between competition and compassion, between ambition and contentment, but the balance has been lost’. Yin yoga can help in balancing a predominantly Yang lifestyle and making us into a calmer, better versions of ourselves.
‘Our goal in life is not to become perfect: our goal is to become whole’
Holding Yin postures for a few minutes trains mind and body to become calm, less distracted and helps to deal with all those scattered thoughts. Our minds are so full of various things we have to do and remember that we all need to stop and let the mind be still for a while. Yin yoga does not just make your joints more flexible, it cultivates physical ease and mental calm (Grilley, P. 2012).
In terms of purely physical benefits, Yin postures gently stretch and rehabilitate the connective tissue that form our joints. You have a few minutes to find that place that comforts and challenges you. Yin postures are not meant to be ‘easy’, they serve a purpose and you have time to find that sweet spot where you feel the pose is working for you: if you are feeling it, you are doing it (Clark, B. 2019). Yin Yoga (and any other forms of Yoga) is not about showing off your ego: we do not need to look great and flatten into a pancake to impress others – it. Is all about how the pose makes you feel; it is about creating your own practice and going deeper into it session after session.
‘How you look in a pose is irrelevant: how you feel in the pose is what matters’.
I am really looking forward to welcoming you on the mat and even if you are not joining us, I hope this post has given you a bit of an YINsight into this wonderful practice.
In terms of props, you might not need any, or you might need all of them. I do like knowing that I have a cushion, a bolster, a couple of blocks and a blanket for the practice. There is a video on YouTube of how to make a bolster from a couple of pillows and a blanket. Click here to watch it. It is super easy and you will probably benefit of having something like that for the Yin Practice.
Have a wonderful week and I hope you are all doing well, practicing Yoga and staying positive during these strange times!
Sending Love & Loads of Positive Vibes Your Way
Visit www.natalliasfitness.com to view all our upcoming Classes & Workshops.
- Grilley, P. 2012. Yin Yoga Principles & Practice
- Clark, B. 2019. The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga. Philosophy + Practice.
- Powers, S. 2008. Insight Yoga