Yin energy is represented as the feminine, dark, passive side of nature. The resting state of the body in sleep. The stillness of earth. The nurturing energy of the mother.
Yin yoga accesses this deep power through holding postures for up to 5 or 6 minutes each, with resting periods in between. This means an entire class could consist of less than ten poses.
Although the postures are based on traditional Hatha yoga asanas, the intention is quite different. Rather than aiming to stretch the body actively, during yin yoga we try to relax and melt into the poses, with most attention being directed to let go of effort and allow the body to release and realign fascia and muscle fibres.
Yin classes can be extremely relaxing, inducing a near sleep-like state of euphoria as you let go and rest in place. To assist with comfort, we will often use props, especially bolsters and blankets.
If you are more used to a vigorous, yang style of yoga such as vinyasa “power yoga”, yin may seem at first not challenging or even boring. But stick with it for three or four classes and see if you benefit from the yin approach. It may take a bit of acclimatisation.
Yin is a relief and refresher from 21st century media overload. Just relax and watch as your body responds to the postures, noticing the changing sensations and the feeling of unblocking your energy channels.
All of this does not necessarily mean that yin is an easy option however… as we all have unique bodies, what one finds restful another may find very challenging. It can take focus and endurance to stick with a posture which elicits a negative response rather than coming out of it at the first opportunity. To understand this, try kneeling up on your heels with toes tucked under for one or two minutes. Simple to set up, this “toe crusher” pose can require a lot of active willpower to sustain for a long count.
Yin yoga can facilitate the easier flow of energy, chi, or prana throughout the body, revitalising organs by working with the meridians in a similar way to Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Joints have time to soften and lubricate and soft tissue to disentangle and realign, resulting in easier movement and greater range of motion.
If Yin Yoga sounds like something you would like to try, Shala Om offers yin classes every Thursday evening in Semaphore. You could also book a private class at your house at a time to suit you.