Yin yoga (sometimes call Tao yoga) offers a lovely counterbalance to the movement and core strength (the yang) provided by your regular Hatha or Vinyasa practices to help you stay well balanced and flexible.
Yin yoga involves longer held postures (asanas) that target the connective tissue, joints, fascia and ligaments to improve joint mobility and restore a wider range of motion. Using poses such as ‘butterfly’, ‘dragonfly’ or ‘cat pulling tail’ to work with our hips, pelvis, shoulders and spine through forward bends, hip openers, back bends and twists.
This slow, soothing and often meditative practice helps to create more space in the body, as well as space in the mind. It can teach the body how to relax and let go; using the extra time spent in each asana to focus on the breath (our pranayama), helping calm the nervous system and slow the heart rate. Many people find that their Yin practice releases tension or emotions held in the body – perhaps just the tension of that day, but in a deeper practice it might also help unravel and release the tensions and memories that we can hold in our bodies for many years.
Yin yoga has evolved to combine the Indian wisdoms of yoga with the Chinese philosophies of the meridians used in acupuncture and acupressure. For example, working with asanas that support specific meridian channels (yin/yang pairs) such as the spleen and stomach to stimulate and nourish the organs and rebalance the mind-body-spirit. It also builds on more modern science that increasingly suggests that our connective tissue provides key pathways for physiological energy flow. As well as creating openness and restoring flexibility, the different Yin postures are believed to help unblock these pathways so that the prana or qi (chi) can flow freely. Helping to keep the body in general good health.