Yin Yoga is a quieter and gentle, but not necessarily an easy yoga practice. It works deeply into our body by placing an emphasis on holding each posture for longer with the muscles relaxed. As opposed to dynamic practices such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Power Yoga, which work hard on the muscular level, Yin Yoga targets the deep fascia and connective tissues surrounding the joints rather than the muscles themselves. Through muscular relaxation, it stretches these tissues gently, helping to create more space between the joints and thereby improve joint mobility while cultivating flexibility in a safe and effective manner. Yin Yoga works the area from the navel to the knees, but the principles can be applied to all areas of the body. Energetically, Yin Yoga improves the energy flow, enhancing the flow of chi in the organs.
Origins and History
Yin Yoga is based upon Taoist Yoga as practiced in China and founded in the 1970s by martial arts expert and Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink. Yin style yoga has become popular due in large part to the widespread teaching activities of Yin Yoga teachers and developers Paul Grilley, Sarah Powers and Bernie Clark.
Philosophy and Principles
Yin Yoga is based on the Taoist concept of yin and yang – the opposite and complementary principles in nature. Yin is the stable, unmoving, hidden aspect of things while yang is the changing, moving, revealing aspect. Other yin-yang polarities include cold-hot, down-up, and calm-excited. In the human body, the relatively stiff connective tissues like tendons, ligaments, and fascia are yin, while the more mobile and pliable muscles and blood are yang.
The Flow of Qi
Yin Yoga postures are also designed to improve the flow of qi – the subtle energy said in Chinese medicine to run through the meridian pathways of the body – in ourselves. Improved flow of qi is hypothesized to improve organ health, immunity, and emotional well-being.
Yin Yoga complements perfectly the dynamic and muscular yang styles of yoga that emphasize on internal heat and the lengthening and contraction of our muscles while Yin Yoga generally targets the connective tissues of the hips, pelvis and lower spine.