Yin is a yoga practice where we are applying healthy stress to connective tissue of the joints- tendons, ligaments, and fascia. We are not trying to stretch or strengthen the joints.
During a yin practice we hold poses longer than we do in other yoga classes. Generally, we will hold poses from 1-5 minutes.Because we are holding poses longer, slow, safe opening of the connective tissue is encouraged within the body.
Throughout a yin practice I will often remind you to round, release and relax. We want to work as far as we can go, but not further. We want to gain benefit, but not injure. As we move into a pose we want to find a place where we can stay.
Most poses in yin are done from a kneeling, seated or lying position. Many of the poses are similar to those we do in other classes. However, our focus is different as we hold these poses longer. Moving into the poses we want to come to an appropriate edge where the body naturally stops. We will then allow the body to find stillness. Throughout a pose we may check in with the body. As the body begins to open we may find we can naturally release a little deeper into a pose. Sometimes though, we might notice that we need to back off a little. Learning to listen to your own body and respect its needs is an important goal in any yoga practice.
While holding a pose we’ll try to be conscious of our attention. I will encourage you to note what is going on in the body. I will invite you to notice what you might be feeling. We will also focus on being aware of the breath. We’ll also try to notice if the mind wanders. If it does, no judgement, just gently bringing the attention back to body or breath.
When ready to come out of a pose I will cue you to gently return to a neutral position. Of course, one is always encouraged to come out of the pose earlier if needed.
Yin is very different from many other yoga practices. Though slower than some other practices it can be more challenging to some people. I had no interest in practicing yin for many years. My thought was that if I was going to be doing yoga that I wanted to be working hard, having challenge and working up a sweat. For me the idea of being so still for minutes at a time sounded horrible. However, when I eventually tried yin I found myself enjoying it. Additionally, I found my body benefitting it.
When in my studio I often offer yin as the last class of the evening. With the lights off and the flicker of candlelight it is a fabulous way to end the day. We use several props in this practice including bolsters, blocks and pillows. Many people bring blankets or eye masks to use throughout our practice and in final Savasana. I am often told that people sleep very well after some evening yin. I invite you to try a yin class soon and see if it might just be something you also enjoy.