Yin Yoga is gaining more and more popularity in the scene and beyond. It is a passive yoga style which means that the positions are held over a longer period of time (3-5 minutes, sometimes longer), mainly seated or lying.
Doing so, we target the deep connective tissues and the fascia, the web that gives our body shape and protection. However, not only physically, but also mentally, you may be challenged during your practice.
Yin Yoga is an excellent complementary yoga practice to the more dynamic yang yoga styles that are predominant today. It is also a great addition to your sport or workout routine.
In this article, you will learn
why more and more people fall in love with Yin Yoga,
why it is so good for us men
and why it is more than just stretching.
Please also let me know if you have already had experience with Yin Yoga, if you would like to give it a try or what you are taking out of your Yin Yoga practice.
1.Yin Yoga is for (almost) everyone
First things first. (Almost) Everyone can do Yin Yoga.
Why almost? Persons with Hypermobility syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome persons or similar might not be helped by a Yin Yoga practice. This topic will be discussed in another blog post.
Let's assume our body is not pathologically restricted. We don't have to be flexible or athletically gifted. We don't even need the handstand or be able to sit up straight. No fancy poses or yoga pants (except for the Instagram pics).
You are not flexible? Don't care. As soon as you feel mild stress in your target area, you are doing your yin yoga. Very flexible people often have to go deep into the pose to feel something.
For Yin Yoga, we use our body as it is. According to Paul Grilley, the founder of Yin Yoga, functionality goes over aesthetics. There is no perfect alignment in the pose. Every body and bone structure is different, thus every pose is done differently. Props like blocks, bolsters, blankets, belts, and more help you to sink into the pose properly.
Nevertheless, there might be a pose, that is not good for you. Be aware of the many options and variations Yin Yoga has to offer to make each pose more accessible. Practice with intention and attention.
2. It harmonizes the energy in your body
According to the Yin Yoga Sutras by Paul Grilley, founder of Yin Yoga, the purpose of yoga asana is to harmonize the flow of chi in our body. Chi (in the Indian system called Prana) is the vital lifeforce energy. In Yin Yoga, the effect on the meridians and chi is of outstanding importance.
The theory of TCM says this energy flows through the body in special channels, the meridians (in the Indian system they are called Nadis). Meridians are channels in the muscles and fascia. The term "meridian" means "transmitted pulsation", a kind of pulsating vascular system that flows through the muscles and fascia.
Since the topics around fascia, chi and meridians are very comprehensive and important, they deserve their own articles. Enter your name and e-mail address in the newsletter to be the first to be informed.
Through injury, bad posture or other physical, mental or emotional overstress, inflammation may occur, the energy gets disharmonized. In the event that chi does not flow smoothly through the meridians, the body develops its own pathology that can lead to serious diseases.
The practice of Yin Yoga stimulates the flow of chi in the meridians, activates the organs, and releases energetic and emotional stagnation. The right selection of Yin asanas contributes to revitalizing and restoring vitality.
Don't be afraid of your own female energy! I experienced that there is a belief in our society that when you do yoga as a man, you have to celebrate handstands, sweaty Vinyasa flows and muscle-orientated Ashtanga poses.
However, I think this is a mistake. You might have more followers on Instagram, because Padmasana in the handstand done by a shirtless, fit man simply looks good optically and aesthetically.
But let's put our superficial ego by side for a moment and take a look inside. We all have it within us, the precious female energy.
Some more, others less. In my world, to strengthen one's own masculinity means not only to foster the male Yang energy but much more to become aware of one's own female Yin energy and to connect with each other.
The fusion of Yin and Yang, the energy balance, makes us real, strong, and loving men.
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3. Yin Yoga increases our flexibility and range of motion
In Yin Yoga, the poses are held several minutes. The target is to access mild and positive stress to the deep connective tissues between the muscles, and the fascia in our body.
Holding poses that gently works the fascia helps break up adhesion. Applying this safe, therapeutic stress to joints and connective tissues can increase their range of motion.
Besides harmonizing the flow of the chi in our body, a very beneficial side effect of Yin Yoga is that we maintain and build up a healthy range of motion and flexibility by releasing adhesion in the fascia.
4. Yin Yoga teaches us to stay in the present moment
By going deeper and deeper into the pose we will get to a point where we get confronted with our feelings, sensations, and emotions, something we might not notice it so much in yang classes.
With practice, just like in meditation, we learn to recognize our thoughts, to see them coming and let them pass by, instead of having them race through our mind like an escaped roadrunner. This, in turn, increases our mindfulness and ability to be in the present moment.
Eckhart Tolle stated in his book "The Power of now": “All you really need to do is accept this moment fully. You are then at ease in the here and now and at ease with yourself.”
When you allow yourself to stay present and just feel what you feel while holding a yin posture, time opens up, and you can just be.
5. We learn to let go
The information we take in through our daily life is relayed through our brain and recorded on brain and body cells throughout our whole body. Over time, despite the fact that you may no longer recall a particular incident, it still exists in our subconscious mind and continues to affect our life to some degree, and its effects may be positive, negative, or neutral to our mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
When we get to the point where we are able to recognize your thoughts, the free flow of our breath and the sensation of certain body postures will guide us to release tensions and blockages, not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally.
With Yin Yoga, it gets possible to completely digest emotions that one permanently absorbs in everyday life, but often has no time to devote to them in an adequate form. By opening up the body more and more, you create space to let go of everything that no longer serves you.
6. Yin Yoga calms our nerves
In combination with conscious breathing, Yin Yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for stimulation of "rest-and-digest" activities that occur when the body is at rest, slowing down and becoming calm. Its action is described as being complementary to that of the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for stimulating activities associated with the fight-or-flight response.
As we move deeper into the yin practice, the breath slows down significantly drawing us deeper and deeper into this parasympathetic, or relaxation mode.
The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are always operational, but there is a balance between them. One of the others is always more active. The yin and yang pull of these two systems keeps our body in homeostasis or balance.
7. Yin brings balance to our yang lifestyle
Many of us live in a yang world. We're being suggested to become better, faster, stronger, all the time. Sometimes it helps to take a heavy workout routine or run an hour and a half to sweat out the overstress. However, sometimes all we need is to foster the quiet and introspective side, for body, mind, and soul.
By having a Yin and a Yang yoga practice, we are creating a beautiful balance within our energy systems. Yin and Yang tissues respond differently to being exercised. Muscles require heat and movement to release in a Yang practice like Vinyasa, while connective tissue responds best to the long steady holds within a Yin practice.
I often get asked how frequently Yin Yoga should be done. Well, it depends on the intensity of your yang activities and many other facts like your health, environment, mood, etc. I encourage you to experiment to find equilibrium and feel whole.
That's why we love Yin
Yin yoga is amazing for opening up our hearts, calming our nervous systems, and providing a space for the body and mind to deeply relax and release tension.
It allows us to recover and nourish ourselves, wash away our fears, and cultivate compassion and love for ourselves.
Practicing Yin is like thanking yourself for being so awesome. Yin Yoga is a beautiful way to reconnect your body, mind, and soul in a gentle, compassionate way, women and men.
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Namaste and lots of love,