The active practices of yoga we’re most familiar with (Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Hot, Power, Flow, Iyengar) are considered to be Yang styles of yoga, stretching and strengthening muscular tissues with an emphasis on internal heating. Most Yang style classes involve standing postures and some or all aspects of balance. Yin Yoga focuses on the other tissues of the body, the ligaments, joints and deep fascial networks. Yin classes involve postures done sitting or laying down. Many of the Yin postures are found in Yang styles as part of the stretch portion of an active class but are done for longer periods of time in a Yin class (3 minutes or more) and with the aid of props to allow the practitioner to settle into the stretches at their own pace. Yang qualities are light, hot, active, upward, rapid, masculine. Yin qualities are dark, cool, passive, downward, slow, feminine.
Restorative Yoga also involves Yin qualities. Both styles are done seated or lying down, props are used for comfort, the pace is slow and both styles are calming to the mind and nervous system. In both styles the practitioner is asked to surrender muscle tension and become deeply focused on the breath. They are both suitable for all levels of experience and fitness. Yin Yoga asks us to do three things that Restorative Yoga does not: settle deeply into stretches that will create sensation, sometimes very intense, helping us learn to sit with discomfort, engage muscularly in specific ways to assist the stretch, and to be calmly aware of the mental/emotional responses that arise as we work “the issues out of the tissues.”
Beyond the immediate physical benefits of Yin Yoga are the mental, emotional and energetic benefits. We learn how to sit with difficult or painful emotions that arise and work through them – the same way you physically work with a difficult posture – adjust as needed, sit with it, breathe through it, send the breath to the areas with the most sensation, and smile. We’re given an opportunity to shift how we handle the stressers of life and practice non-reactivety in a safe environment, a tool we then get to practice off the mat. Through the use of conscious steady breathing we’re able to let the immediate reactions pass and see whats underneath. As we free up blockages in the body and mind we bring balance back to the internal organs through the meridians (nadis in the Hatha yoga tradition), allowing our full being to return to homeostasis.
Yin Yoga is taught every Sunday by Danialle at ZOE Yoga Lifestyle from 4:30-6pm. The best way to find out for yourself is to experience a class!
Written by Danialle Dupree
Certified Yoga Teacher
Yoga is about finding balance and feeling whole. If you don’t have a Yin Yoga practice or have never tried it, check it out. You will likely be pleasantly surprised by the growth in your yang and meditation practices. Related Items beginner yoga breathe circulation deep focus deep tissue fascia flexibility mindfulness stress relief tension yin yin yang Yin yoga yoga benefits