The concept of Yin and Yang or the concept of two opposing forces that complement each other such as hot and cold or night and day is something most people understand. Yet when it comes to the Yin and Yang of yoga, we might be scratching our heads a little bit because yoga seems to be of one with itself. There doesn’t seem to be any opposing force.
Oddly, there is a Yin and Yang in yoga. Yang styles like Bikram and Ashtanga are positively full body contact sports compared to the more meditative Yin and it’s Yin which has been slowly rising to the fore over the last decade or so.
So, what exactly is Yin Yoga?
Yin Yoga is the opposite of what we’ve come to expect from “traditional” yoga. Yes, breath work is crucial, as is achieving emotional, physical and energetic balance, but that’s where the similarities end. Instead of focusing on strength and perfect physical form, Yin Yoga concentrates on stillness and surrender. It’s a meditative practice, which involves variations of seated and supine poses, typically held for three to five minutes. The aim is to be able to relax completely into the pose with no tension held in the body. Don’t be deceived though, while you may look comatose in these poses, your body is doing essential work – stretching and hydrating the fascia (the connective tissue around the joints), and gently massaging internal organs.
Why should I do Yin Yoga?
Because it is amazing! There is a heap of reasons why Yin Yoga should become part of your wellness routine.
For starters, Yin Yoga is extremely effective in releasing the day-to-day stress that accumulates in your body such as tight calves from walking in high heels (although most men won’t be aware of the high-heel issue), stiff shoulders from hunching over our computers and the sore knee that you either can’t explain or blame on any number of previous accidents ranging from football to skiing to falling over in a nightclub.
Secondly, regular Yin Yoga practice will promote healing and prevent sports injuries by improving the relationship you have with your body, teaching you to listen to and respect your physical limitations.
What’s more Yin Yoga clears Qi (vital lifeforce) pathways in the body and re-energises your organs. Like traditional Chinese medicine, Yin Yoga works with your body’s major energy pathways to ensure good flow, removing stagnant energy that can cause inflammation and disease.
It’s a state of being
Yin Yoga is purposely slow, allowing you precious time to just “be”. Time to be still, to relax deeply, and focus on your breath. Basically, it’s a sneaky form of meditation and mindfulness which can positively impact your life off the mat – giving you more patience, acceptance and compassion to tackle life’s challenges.
To experience these benefits yourself, book a Yin Yoga class at your favourite Karma Spa.