Yin Yoga, a less known style of yoga in the west is an approach that some may have never even heard of. Initially called “Daoist” yoga this style of yoga targets the deep connective tissues of the body (vs. the superficial tissues) and the fascia that covers the body; this Daoist yoga is to help regulate the flow of energy in the body.
In Yoga postures are more passive postures, mainly on the floor and the majority of postures equal only about three dozen or so, much less than the more popular yang like practices. Yin Yoga is unique in that you are asked to relax in the posture, soften the muscle and move closer to the bone. While yang-like yoga practices are more superficial, Yin offers a much deeper access to the body. It is not uncommon to see postures held for three to five minutes, even 20 minutes at a time. The time spent in these postures is much like time spent in meditation,
It is a more meditative approach with a physical focus much deeper than Yang like practices. Here the practitioner is trying to access the deeper tissues such as the connective tissue and fascia and many of the postures focus on areas that encompass a joint (hips, sacrum, spine).
Yin yoga teaches you how to really listen, you don’t get the opportunity to go in and out, jump around and find a distracted version of stillness within your practice. Yin is such a great compliment to other styles and your own personal life, because it brings long periods of time in an uncomfortable position, which then asks you to learn to “be” to “accept what is” in that given moment.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine’s Yin and Yang theory, Yang qualities of mind are connected with our ability to direct our attention, control our focus, and create specific outcomes. Yin qualities of mind, on the other hand, relate to our capacity to be receptive, to allow, and to become reflective.
Yin meditation helps you cultivate fluid stillness. It encourages you to ride the waves of your experience. By being more receptive and interested in the totality of your experience while practicing, you gain greater insight and understanding about your inner world. Instead of banishing thoughts and feelings from your mind, you gently explore your thoughts and feelings with kindness and interest. This cultivates an understanding about yourself that allows you to step outside of your conditioned patterns of reactivity and engage with things from a responsive place that is unconditioned by the past. By being more receptive—less resistant—to whatever is happening, the mind tends to grow calm on it’s own. The classic metaphor for this is a basin of agitated water left undisturbed. Sooner or later, the surface of the water will become smooth and still. In other words, by doing nothing, the mind becomes still.