We've all heard the phrase 'Less is more'. Nothing could be truer in yogic terms when it comes to describing Yin yoga. Not only do you do less asanas in a class but you somehow end up feeling you've done more at the end of the practice than you would do in a dynamic flow class.
How is this possible ? In Yin yoga the twelve specific meridians or 'chi' (energy) channels are targeted through specially designed asana sequences. It has long been known in Chinese medicine that every organ has many energetic components that affect us physically, mentally and emotionally. For instance we might focus on the kidney sequence one day and the liver on another. The Chinese believe in chi balancing and grow up believing everything has a 'yin' quality and a 'yang' quality. So in simple terms, in a Yin class you might expect to focus on one area of the body, clearing the energetic pathways and therefore bringing balance back to the energy body. Because poses are traditionally held for longer periods of time, there is time to go deeper inwards focusing not only on the breath but on the subtle energy body too. A yin practice gives us a strong foundation for a meditative practice helping to build awareness on how to train the mind.
Yin is often practiced at the start of a class before the muscle or Yang tissues have had time to warm up. Summer is therefore a wonderful time to practice Yin yoga as we remain still and therefore cool, focusing inwards. Our contemplative and receptive qualities are enhanced during Yin and the deeper yin tissues (ligaments)are targeted. Yin, though often seen as a quiet practice is just as beneficial for the adrenalin junkie whose cortisol levels are already high enough. They may be surprised at the effect a Yin class may have on their overall sense of well being. And just when you think you haven't done enough, you may realize that loading your ligaments has given you the deep stretch that you needed, you've learnt how to switch off, if only for a moment and your stress levels are down. How much more could you want from an hour of practice ?
Over time, anyone who has ever practiced Yin recognises the long term benefits. Our overall sense of well being improves, we've learnt directly how to trigger our parasympathetic nervous system and we shout less at our loved ones !
Try it and see. Suitable for all levels of yoga practitioners, beginners and ballerinas alike.
Sarah Corbett is a Mum, Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 500) with Yoga Alliance, USA and Level 2 member of Yoga Australia and a certified Yin/Yang yoga specialist with Sarah Powers. She has been teaching across Asia and the USA and Australia for the past 7 years. You can experience Yin Yoga in Sarah's Yin Yoga classes at Adore on Mondays 10.30am or join her Yin Yoga workshop on Saturday 24 March, 12-3pm. SPECIAL CLASS! Try out Yin Yoga for just $20 at 10.30am on Monday 12 March. Book here.