Yin Yoga is has its roots in the Chinese traditions of the Tao, a concept of opposite complementary principles in nature. The Taoist philosophy states that the body is mapped with energy channels called meridians that carry the life force called chi or prana through the body. The concept of Yin, the stable, receptive unmoving and Yang, the changing moving and active force. The intention behind the physical postures of yin is to open up these meridian lines to allow the free flow of chi or prana, thus improving both the physical, emotional and mental health of the practitioner.
Yin Yoga classes are usually taught at a slow pace as a contrast to the yang dominated practices of Ashtanga or Hatha yoga. Yin Yoga emphasises the importance of slowing down, immersing oneself into a state of stillness and cultivating the expansion of one’s consciousness.
The practice consists of a series of long held passive and static postures, normally practiced on the floor. From a physical perspective the yang tissues namely the muscles should not be engaged during practice. By relaxing the muscles we are able to safely apply gentle stretch to our yin tissue such as our ligaments and fascial networks. This in turn, improves the health and mobility of our joints.
Different yin yoga poses stimulate and remove blockages in the myofascial meridians in the body. This has the effect of balancing the body’s internal organs and systems. Since the muscles are not engaged, a deep level of surrender emerges on the physical and the mental-emotional level. By this surrender many experience a deep feeling of compassion and a sense of meaningful presence that counteracts the attitude of striving to improve ourselves. Thus unfolds a profound silence within. In essence, yin yoga is a very nurturing mindfulness practice which allows us to release deeply embedded tensions and changes old patterns in a gentle and safe way.
You learn to observe only the pure physical sensations of emotions, without getting caught up in the stories about these emotions.
The postures themselves are the least important part of the practice. Most important is development of the melody, or the spirit that infuses the transitions and the flow of postures.
So what is fascia? Fascia is the buzzword in the anatomy world. For so long, we were educated in muscles – how to stretch them and how to build them. But our muscles are encased in fascia, a continuous web of tissue that weaves in and around not only our muscles but also our organs, nerves and lymph. It is rather like a silk body stocking, only it is inside our bodies. The whiteish, sometimes glistening fibres you see when you pull a piece of meat apart – that is fascia. And to keep it healthy and springy, we need to keep it hydrated and we need to be open on a mental and emotional level, the practice allows the body to drop down into the parasympathetic nervous system, and therefore becomes deeply healing and nourishing. Practitioners report that it is grounding, calming and revitalising, with profound energetic and emotional effects. Om shanti.