In the huge family of Yoga styles, Yin Yoga can be described as the gentle, peaceful and very Zen sibling. The one who welcomes everybody and makes your first steps into the Yoga family very easy.
Yoga. A term which stands for pure bliss, health and a great way to shape your body. If you’re one of the estimated 300 million people worldwide, who do Yoga in one way or the other. If you’re not, Yoga stands for a lot of other things. Like incredibly flexible women and men, whose bodies seem to be chiseled out of marble. All of them potential models for renowned escort agencies in Frankfurt, New York, Paris, and London.
The idea of your own body looking like that can be very motivating and might lead to a tryout in one of these big city gyms. You’re the guy in the back trying to understand why the “downward facing dog” is considered a relaxing pose. And while ungraciously flowing into the next strangely named position, you realize that Yoga stands for some other things as well: Pain? Definitely. Frustration? Highly possible. The urge to get out of here and drink a beer? Absolutely! You might come home that day and tell your partner, who’s totally into Yoga, that you gave it a try but that you’ll stick to your daily meditation practice as your workout. In the discussion which follows, you might hear the term “Yin Yoga” for the first time and after some pep-talk you might even agree to give this Yoga thing one more try.
And this is the moment where not only your appreciation for Yoga will make a 180° turn, but your life will be enhanced by something wonderful.
What is Yin Yoga?
If you start researching Yoga as a general topic you will be overwhelmed by the many different styles, there are. The most famous ones are Ashtanga Yoga and Hatha Yoga. “Hatha” is the origin of Yin Yoga. “Ha” is the Sanskrit term for “Sun” – “Tha” for moon. Two opposites which create a whole. Now Yin and Yang in the Daoist teaching also describe two sides of the same medal. Yin being light, easy, feminine, passive and so on. Yan represents dynamic, masculine, dark, aggressive, etc.
You get the jest.
Yin Yoga is a very calm, peaceful and meditative from of Yoga. It focuses much more on stretching and lengthening your muscles as well as softening your fascia and your connective tissues. In other words: Yin Yoga goes deep to the bones while Yang Yoga concentrates more on dynamic fitness and flexibility.
What do you do in Yin Yoga?
In a nutshell: You relax while holding one position for a couple of minutes.
Yin Yoga only has a few postures. A ‘few’ meaning around three dozen or so which is cute compared to the hundreds of postures practiced in other Yoga styles. And Yin Yoga is mostly done while sitting or laying down. You hold each posture between 3 and – once you’re more experienced – even up to 20 minutes. (A good Yoga mat is a must in Yin Yoga!) While holding the pose, you focus on your breathing, on consciously relaxing each and every muscle and on really being in touch with both with your inner self and your body.
Where Yin Yoga becomes even more meditative is in between the poses. After you have held one position you switch over to a relaxing posture. For instance, “Shavasana” (by the way – what a great name for a cat!) where you lie on your back, resting legs and arm slightly away from your body and your hands facing upwards. Here the energies can flow freely through your body and you feel all those muscle parts and joints which you’ve stretched just a few moments ago. Amazing.
Of course, you might experience moments of awe while sneaking a peek to your partner who seemingly effortless folds together like a multi tool. Whereas you feel like the back muscles of your legs are anything but flexible, making your posture look like two pieces of wood glued together in a 45° angle. But – and here is another cool aspect of Yin Yoga – that’s totally OK. You just go through each pose the way it is most comfortable for you. There is no competition, no stress, no must wear Yoga fashion. You feel and see the progress you’re making every time.
Eventually, you might sit in front of a computer writing an article about Yoga. A topic, which just a couple of weeks ago was not a topic at all, has become a cherished and enhancing part of my life.
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