By TNT Bureau
Nov 8, 2017: Yin yoga encourages the prāna, Qi or life force to flow consistently through our meridian system. Our well-being abides in the maintenance of this meridian system and it’s our fascia that houses this intelligent network system. Whenever we stimulate our fascia it directly affects the quality of the Qi that is flowing in our body.
Physically a yin practice increases pliancy in joints within its natural range of motion. Agility, mobility, flexibility and motility will all increase. As one ages we move from a very yang physical body towards a yin physical body. When one is born the body is mainly yang, with little or no stability in the joints and muscles, this indicates a large amount of fluid within these areas.
Longer, deeper stretches are the ideal balance for more yang forms of activity. During yin stretches, the muscles are able to relax and release fully into the postures, which allows the yin tissue to also be stretched and stimulated. This has a number of benefits. Firstly, it re-hydrates the yin tissues, helping to keep them healthy and “young.” Secondly, by releasing restriction or holding patterns in the tissues of the body, Yin yoga can enhance the range of motion of the joints.
Interestingly, it is a misconception that stretching makes muscles longer. What we often think of as shortened muscles are actually caused by the nervous system “applying the brakes” and preventing muscles from lengthening further. It’s a safety mechanism to prevent us from injuring ourselves. Thus, the only effective way to improve flexibility is with gentle, sustained stretching over time.
This gradually teaches the nervous system that it is safe to allow the muscles to release and lengthen into their full capacity for stretch. In Yin yoga, this is essentially what you do. You enter a posture where some stretch or stress sensation is experienced, then you relax as fully as possible, allowing the muscles to release over time.
The mental stillness and calm cultivated during a yin practice is exactly what so many of us are lacking in our day-to-day lives. Meditation is suggested as the solution to stressful lives and over-active minds, but it can be a challenge to prioritize and to practice.
Yin yoga, with its deceptive passivity and surrender, can become a deeply meditative practice. In Yin yoga, the breath, prana and the physical sensations felt are an anchor for the mind, helping you to remain present in the moment. It is a truly mindful practice where the intention is to stay fully immersed in the experience, rather than distracting yourself from it.
During Yin yoga, it’s common to notice the agitations of the mind and the tendency to want to distract yourself, or resist, particularly when faced with uncomfortable sensations. Yin can teach you to sit with discomfort and surrender to it rather than fighting it. This letting go alone is a valuable life skill and one which can be experiences through Yin yoga.