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What is Yin Yoga?

Yin Yoga is a meditative, gentle, slow-paced practice, consisting of passive, and sustained holds (3-5 minutes) of floor poses, where gravity and time work together to soften, open, and stretch connective tissue. This is because our ligaments, tendons, and fascia* cannot expand quickly, so the use of gravity, body weight, and time are leveraged to allow the slow expansion and release of these connective tissues. Yin Yoga involves prop-supported poses that generally take place on the floor. It is during these long-held postures that the opportunity for stillness, guided breathwork, inward focus and presence all work together toward connected wholeness and increased mobility. These longer holds nourish and strengthen connective tissue, creating deep opening and release in the body, while grounding the mind to our inward breath and presence. In contrast, traditional yoga is much more active and energetic (yang), involving large muscle mass, faster transitions, focus on strength and balance with shorter holds.

Yin and Yang are relative terms describing the two facets of existence representing harmony and balance. Yin cannot exist without yang and vice versa. The ancient Chinese observed patterns in everything and there is no absolute yin or absolute yang. The attributes of yin are more passive, hidden, more mysterious. Yang attributes are opposite; lighter, more obvious, more dynamic.

Why Yin Yoga? My personal experience...

I first started attending a yin yoga class because I was happily intrigued and surprised to read the class description. It sounded as though the class would be on the floor the entire time, and the 60 minute duration included a 15 minute guided meditation ending. Those were 2 very big boxes being checked for me. A) I was very tired from the day, so regular yoga classes felt too strenuous for me at the end of the day, and B) A live, guided meditation is such a gift to receive when I am not doing the guiding.

I drove home after that first class with such restful inner joy, I knew this was something worth paying attention to. For me personally, attending weekly yin yoga classes has helped my sciatic nerve in my leg, and open up my very tight shoulder blades, and hips, however, I would still attend even if these body bonuses did not occur. The more I learn about the science of emotional stress staying in our bodies, yin yoga provides a way of combining mind, body and spirit in a very integral way, that personally complements and supports me as a spiritual companion, friend, and human being.



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