The concept of Yin and Yang has been around for thousands of years, and one cannot exist without the other. It appears everywhere, including in nature, the cosmos, our society, and within our own bodies. Yin is the feminine element that exists in us all and includes cold, night, the Moon, the Earth, and is passive and accepting. Yang is masculine, hot, the Sun, the Sky, and is active and striving. Within our bodies, we have Yang tissue - the muscles, and Yin tissue, the joints, bones, and web of connective tissue that holds us together. Also, our lower body is more Yin (closer to the Earth) and our upper body is more Yang (closer to the Sky).
Yang Yoga involves contracting and working the body on a muscular level. Think Vinyasa, Power Yoga, Hot Power, and postures (or exercise in general) where we contract our muscles, including standing poses, warriors, backbends, and anything where we strive. In Yin Yoga, we relax the superficial layers of our muscles and are able to affect the bones, joints and connective tissues. By holding passive postures on the mat in stillness for several minutes, the muscles begin to let go and these deep Yin tissues are reached. On a physical level, this practice releases built up tension that results from our lifestyles (standing, sitting, working, sports, etc), and helps our bodies stay healthy and flexible as we age. By holding the postures and then releasing, fresh blood, fluids and nutrients flood the areas worked on, and we are able to heal the body and counter aging and what we put the body through in daily life.
In Yin Yoga, we go to our Edge in the pose, and stay there for a period of time. It is different from Restorative Yoga, where the goal is to relax, and you are supported comfortably in the pose by props. In Yin Yoga, sometimes our edge can be intense or a bit uncomfortable. We use props in this practice for support and to be sure we are not using Yang energy to hold ourselves out of the pose (for example, in our arms and shoulders in a forward bend). We breathe and our bodies go deeper as we continue to let go. This is a meditative practice where we need to be mindful, feel each moment, and realize when we might need to back off or release deeper. This practice helps us off the mat as well, with mindfulness, facing and accepting uncomfortable situations, accepting ourselves the way we are in each moment, and helping us realize when we need to go inward, take rest, and take care of ourselves.
On an energetic level, this practice affects the Chi (or Prana ) energy in the body similar to acupuncture. In Chinese Medicine, the Meridian system runs through the connective tissues of the body. Chi can become stagnant (stuck) and cause dis-e. When we hold a Yin pose and then release, we invite a free flow of Chi through our bodies and the areas worked. We also hold emotions and trauma within the body, and the Karma of our ancestors and our past lives. This Yin Yoga practice can provide intense emotional releases, sometimes we are not even sure what is being released, but we feel each moment of it and feel better and lighter afterwards. If the feelings in the postures become too much, you always have the choice to back off, or you can choose to stay for a few more breaths.
So, Yin Yoga is not simply for beginners or those with injuries, although it is certainly wonderful for healing the spine, hips, and shoulders, and it can help those who work while sitting or standing, those who drive, and anyone who is tired or very active, and anyone with issues of the spine, posture, bones and joints. And similar to acupuncture, it can help work on and heal many physical, emotional, or mental ailments.
Lastly, Yin Yoga is for anyone having a human experience. We live in a society that is always pressuring us to do more, be better, be more active, and be something different than we are. It is Yang - striving for change. And there is certainly a time for Yang - when we are working, when we need to build and work our muscles, when something does need to change. But we all need Yin too. We need total acceptance of ourselves as we are and know that sometimes we need to slow down and take rest, and that we are exactly where we need to be in life. There are a lot of bad things happening in the world. We need to return to the Mother Earth and take care of her right now. In Yin Yoga, we are literally going deeper into the Earth as we breathe and let go in the postures. This practice helps us go inward, re-connect with the Earth, realize the connection that we all share, and care for each other. The world needs it.
Experience Yin Yoga with Adele
Classes at Prana Studio
Yin Yoga Class: Thursdays, Weekly, 8:00pm-9:15pm
Vin Yin Class: Saturdays, Weekly, 11:30am-1:00pm
Yin Yoga Workshop: Sunday November 16, 2:00-4:00pm
Yin Winter Solstice Community Class: Sunday December 21, 5:00pm-6:15pm
I am also available for Private Instruction, one on one or group sessions.
I have received Yin Yoga training from Tina Lanzoni and Biff Mithoefer, two amazingly beautiful teachers who have influenced my life and teaching in more ways that I can express, and I am so grateful to them for this gift of Yin Yoga.
I am Adele, a yoga teacher, acupuncture student and woman of many interests including health and wellness, food and nutrition, wine, art, nature, and much more. I am writing this blog to share my insight of being a teacher, healthcare practitioner and student of life in the modern world, and to share health and mindfulness information, recipes, and a few other things I have learned along this journey.