Finding Balance with Yin Yoga
Most of us are drawn to yoga for the physical benefits. But there is another side to yoga. A softer side.
A lot of the yoga practiced is what is known as “yang”. Yang is
more vigorous and fast-paced—
classes such as Vinyasa, Hatha, Power, and Ashtanga. But there’s another equally important style that’s completely opposite—yin yoga which is often referred to as the yoga of surrender and compliments our busy yang lifestyle.
What is Yin Yoga?
While “yang” yoga focuses on your muscles, yin yoga targets your deeper connective tissues, such as the fascia, ligaments, joints, and bones. It’s slower and more meditative, giving you space to turn inward and tune into both your mind and the physical sensations of your body. Because you are holding poses for a longer period of time, yin yoga helps you stretch and lengthen those rarely-used tissues.
During a yin class, poses are mostly seated and include postures which focus on areas that encompass the joints such as the hips, the sacrum, and the spine.
Many of you love Yin because it is relaxing, however, yin has many health benefits which include increased flexibility and range of motion, improved joint function, reduced symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety, improved organ function, and it regulates the nervous system.
When is the best time to practice Yin?
According to Bernie Clark, the author of The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga, “There absolutely are no absolutes. The question of when to practice Yin Yoga has no single answer. We have many options for when to practice Yin Yoga, depending on what we would like to achieve through our practice. It comes down to our intention.
We could do our yin practice:
-When our muscles are cool (so they don’t steal the stress away from the deeper tissues)
-Early in the morning (when the muscles are more likely to be cool)
-Later in the evening before bed (to calm the mind before sleep)
-Before an active yang practice (again, before the muscles become too warmed up)
-In the spring or summer (to balance a natural yang time of year)
-When life has become very hectic (to balance the yang energies in our lives)
-After a long trip (traveling is very yang, even if we are sitting down a lot)”.
Many of you love our evening Yin classes because they are calming and prepare you for sleep. However, Yin is just as effective when practiced in the morning before the connective tissues are warm so you can better feel the resistance in your body (this is known as your edge). This is why it is not recommended to combine yin and yang in the same class especially if yin is followed by yang poses.
Beginning April 30, I will be teaching a Morning Yin Foundations class on Friday mornings at 9:30. This yin class is beginner friendly and is perfect for athletes or anyone new to Yin. Poses will be held for a shorter length of time so you leave feeling calm but not sleepy.