There are many benefits of a more gentle Yin Yoga class but what Yin Yoga and how does it compare to a more vigorous Vinyasa FLow or Yang style?
Yin and Yang comes from Chinese Philosophy whereby everything in the universe in an inseparable and contradictory opposite. Yin may be described as the coolness of the moon and Yang is like the heat of the sun: for example, light and dark, old and young, day and night. In our yoga practice we work with these opposites. Specifically, one type of physical yoga practice is Hatha Yoga. ‘Ha’ means Sun and ‘Tha’ means moon. Therefore, we recognize an inherent expectation in yoga that brings these opposite energies together to help us find balance in our bodies, hearts and spirits.
My initial practice was a Yang style yoga class set to hip hop music on the Sunset Strip! But, even within that approach to yoga, I found that there was an encouragement to find a Yin energy within the class. In other words, while holding a challenging posture I was asked to find an ease, a comfort or a sense of coolness. But one doesn’t need to do difficult asanas to experience Yin energy.
There are specifically Yin postures such as Pigeon and I was beginning to see that spending two or three minutes in Pigeon during a Vinyasa class permitted me to go a lot deeper. I was able to experience a deeper therapeutic release that affected my physical, emotional and mental well-being. And over time, I began to make a connection between these longer releasing holds and my own personal healing at every level of my being. (Which coincidentally is what led me to become a yoga teacher.)
After many years into my Vinyasa practice I wanted to further improve my flexibility and my Vinyasa practice. I was reminded of the benefits I experienced from these Yin postures. I started on my own doing a Yin Yoga practice. I would spend part of my home practice in a lot longer holds in postures where I knew my body needed extra attention. I carved out time to work on opening my hamstrings, hips and shoulders. As I continued, I began to witness how this Yin practice was helping my Vinyasa practice. I would come back to my Vinyasa classes to find that I was more limber and open. I found a lot more space in my body. And, also, within this Yin exploration, I discovered I really loved to slow down.
This type of slowing down is not a part of the Vinyasa practice. Most of the Vinyasa style is flow based – which I love – the dance like quality, the fluidity. It is a meditation in effect by connecting to the breath and linking that breath to the movement but I was really craving this opposite yet complementary Yin Yoga to my yoga journey.
[The end of part 1]
A yin practice is being very quiet and very still during long period of times in certain holds. I found that Yin is way to bring movement and meditation into the yin practice. During this time, we are able to focus, to be present with our breath, what feelings and what sensation and what emotions are coming up. And with those things emerging, I found that there was a Yang aspect of a Yin practice.
It can be confrontational to do these long holds; to hang out for a long periods of time feeling all the feelings and breathing through the sensations and working through the various blocks. It can be intense. Some buttons can be pushed. It can be triggering. That, for me, is the Yang aspect. We ask our self, “Can I stay through the heat of it” – knowing that it is for my benefit and healing. A Yin practice helps us to find the balance of opposites of these yang components.
I started on my own yin practice and had a chance to teach a yin practice.
I loved in teaching this slow down type of yoga because we need it. We are living a world that is fast-paced. I find there is a lot of pressure to achieve and accomplish things – spreading our energy in all different directions, and not to mention there is a lot of stimulation and a lot of distractions with checking our gadgets and mobile devices like 450 times a day.
The benefits of a Yin practice is an antidote to the stressful world we live in. We can carve out time to be more still in a slower pace style – practicing being more self-reflective in a meditative way. A Yin practice is also very therapeutic. It gives more flexibility and space for your other yoga practices whether those other practices are Flow, Iyengar, or Kundalini. The Yin class crosses over very nicely.
I want to share my intro to Yin and Yang and my passion to teaching these different approaches. I look forward to sharing this style with you. Getting you to explore this balancing of opposites of Yin and Yang and encourage you along that path as to how the two can complement one another.
Looking forward to being in class with you.
This post was written by Josie Kramer