Yin yoga is the combination of taoist yoga and western medicine. When we lie down in shavasana at the end of a yoga class , in a state of relaxed awareness, we sometimes experience a tingling sensation in our spine , back of the head , hands , fingertips , feet maybe even throughout the body , a floating sensation or a feeling like there is something is flowing inside us , this sensation is believed to be energy flowing within us.Yogis call this energy as ‘Prana’ , in China the Taoists believe this energy to be ‘Qi’ .This energy is said to flow in specific pathways along the body , called ‘meridians’. Combining Taoism , asana practise and the understanding of human anatomy , yin yoga was developed , the intention being to be able to sit comfortably and for longer hours in meditation and to gain flexibility especially around the joints.
Yin and yang are opposing forces , yin is anything stable , hidden , cold , dark , dense and constant. Yin can be described as the passive female principle of the universe. Yang is the opposite anything with has rhythm, which flows, dynamic, light , masculine. Yin yoga differs in its approach, as the name suggests it is a practice of exploring the body through stillness, of becoming tuned in to the breath and the mind . Just like in a meditation practice where we
cultivate a deeper sense of awareness , by focusing on sensations , by focusing on the patterns of breathing, similarly in yin yoga , we hold the postures for a period of time , long enough for the body to stop resisting , for the nervous system to stop firing impulses and finally for the muscles to stop reacting , by doing this not only are we relaxing the body , we are also freeing the energetic pathways ‘meridians’ . Yin yoga gives space for deep introspection through simple asanas practiced mindfully.
Most often people carry tension and stress in their bodies in the form of tightness or stiffness in the joints . If nothing is done to release the stiffness , it may lead to bigger problems , like loss of flexibility , improper circulation of blood and energy , chronic pain , immobilization of a particular joint etc.
Yin yoga is specifically designed to target the connective tissues and articulations of the body, and apply a very moderate amount of stress on them for a constant period of time, anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes . But keeping the approach very relaxed and gentle.In yin yoga you are never moving too fast or too quickly, thus we have enough time to explore the body . Yin yoga is not just a practice of the body , we are using the breath as well to further relax the
muscles .When the breath moves the mind moves , and when the breath is controlled the mind is also controlled . Keeping the breath in a steady and constant rhythm is also an important thing to remember as we hold a posture.
Yin yoga helps us experience how the body , breath and mind move in coordination and harmony , leaving us with a feeling of being open and free .It is here in the 60 or 90 minute class that we get to become completely free , disconnected from the outside world , where there is no pressure and no expectation , its a practice where we surrender to a deeper force.
Author : Mrinali Madhukar , Internationally trained RYT 200, RYT 500 yoga teacher
Mrinali will be conducting a Yin yoga session @ Yogasakhi, on the occasion of yogasakhi’s third anniversary.
Date : 19th July Time: 8 am to 9 am