What is YIN Yoga and how can it help you to increase performance, move better, lose weight and manage stress.
Yin Yoga is a deeply restorative, therapeutic and nourishing practice that when performed correctly assists in the hydration of the connective tissue within the body. Think of this as the tissue that connects, surrounds and intertwines with all of our muscles and organs(it’s like a sheath of glad wrap). Otherwise known as Fascia, this collagen based connective tissue holds everything together.
The problems that can arise with Fascia stem from the periods of our lives when we are sedentary for rather long periods. Think sitting at your work desk or being trapped in your car all day. We are going to develop stiffness and rigidity. Our posture will most likely become misaligned and it will be much harder for energy and life force to travel efficiently around the body. This is why when you don’t exercise or move regularly you feel tired and out of flow.
Through YIN Yoga this Fascia can be restored and hydrated by holding certain postures (think stretches) for periods of 3-5 minutes at a time at a level that equates to about a 6/10 intensity. Performing the stretch in this gentle way allows the muscles to relax and the fascial stretch to take over. This delivers a much different benefit to the body over traditional muscular stretching.
The practice of YIN Yoga works with the meridians of the body and and ties in closely with Traditional Chinese Medicine as it works to move Qi (Chi) throughout our system.
YIN Yoga does a similar thing to Self-Myofascial release or SMR, which is just a fancy term for foam rolling. So if you have ever used a foam roller or therapy balls to loosen yourself up, surprise, you have been working the fascia and connective tissue.
The benefits of YIN Yoga are greater flexibility and more flow within the body, meaning energy is much more easily generated. It helps to restore health and vitality to all organs and improves function of Central Nervous System (CNS). It’s great for your posture and the other benefit is the effect it has on the mind. Being such a gentle practice YIN allows us to remove excess noise and chatter from the mind by encourages us to look inward. This can take off a load of unneeded stress.
YIN is a very unique and disciplined practice that involves fully relaxing body and mind in order to allow yourself to go deeper into the pose. The YIN approach is gentle, slow and about finding depth through softness according to master guru and one of my mentors Duncan Peak. It is as much a mental practice as it is physical and can challenge people quite a lot despite it being quite subtle.
The other great thing is that the YIN style practice is extremely accessible for people of all ages and body types. Everyone can benefit and the poses can be easily modified to be made easier or more intense. And due to its gentle nature, if you haven’t exercised in a while or are completely new to exercise this is an amazing way for you to get started on this journey in a safe and accessible way. It really is a beautiful practice.
To get the full benefits of YIN you will over time become deeply in tune with your body on a very subtle level. A good teacher will guide you towards this and this is where the true benefits of this practice begin to expose themselves.
I have personally found this practice quite amazing. Yin is the opposite of Yang. Yang being a stronger practice of movement, whether that be lifting weights, running or doing more vigorous styles of Yoga such as Vinyasa. Therefore YIN Yoga is very much a balancing practice. It provides the body with deep, deep rest and opens us up for rejuvenation.
The feeling I get after a practice of YIN is extremely light, tall, energised and completely blissed out. It is a very grounding practice. Often I can literally feel the energy making its way through the newly hydrated channels within the body. Like water trickling down a mountain.
I highly recommend to people who have not tried YIN to give it a go for at least 6-8 weeks, doing at least 1 x 60 minute class per week. Be careful not to judge the practice but rather be disciplined with it and do your best to notice the subtleties where you can. I promise whether you are an athlete, a driven business person or a regular mum or dad you will get huge benefits from this practice.
I am looking forward to teaching this practice to many students this year and opening up their eyes to a whole new world of performance and health.
I would love to answer any questions you may have in regards to this practice and am excited to see you on the mat.
Have a great week.