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What is Yin Yoga?

Relax your body, heart and mind with infinite tenderness...

Yin Yoga is a calm and meditative style of yoga, where gentle seated or lying postures are held for several minutes with the aim of improving flexibility.

It is based on the Taoist concepts of Yin and Yang, opposite and complementary principles in nature : Yin is feminine, calm, stable, cold, where Yang is masculine, active, changing, hot.

In the body, the relatively stiff connective tissues (ligaments, tendons, fascia) are yin, while the more mobile and pliable muscles are yang. Passive postures in yoga are considered yin, whereas active, dynamic postures are yang, because they stimulate the muscles and generate heat.

Fascia and Flexibility

Yin Yoga improves flexibility and range of movement by targeting the deepest layers of

the body, the connective tissues or fascia. Fascia are densely packed webs of collagen fibers which envelop our whole body in sheets, cords and bags that sheathe, divide and permeate every one of our muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels and organs.

Wrapped around our individual internal parts, fascia keeps them separate and allows them to slide easily with our movements. It connects organs to ribs, to muscles, and all bones to each other, creating a mobile, flexible and resilient body unit. Because it is stiffer, it resists over-stretching and tearing forces.

It contracts independently of the muscles it surrounds, and responds to stress without our conscious command­­­­, thus impacting the way we move. In its healthy state, fascia is smooth and supple and slides easily, allowing us to move and stretch to our full length in any direction.

But lack of activity, chronic stress and/or tight muscles tighten the fascia. Becoming rigid,

it compresses muscles and nerves, inhibiting range of motion.

Fortunately, tightened fascia can be brought back to supple health by holding gentle stretches for several minutes and relaxing into the postures.

Many Yin Yoga postures closely resemble Hatha Yoga asanas, but being performed with very little muscular exertion, they are given different names to differentiate the way we approach them.

A Journey into Serenity and Meditation

Yin Yoga is an introspective practice that offers us a chance to turn inward and practice stillness, patience and non-reactivity. When we allow ourselves to stay present and experience the subtle shifts that occur during the long hold of a posture, time opens up.

The breath slows down significantly, drawing us deeper and deeper into relaxation. Commitments, to-do lists and deadlines fade to the background, leaving space for

rest and renewal.

Journeying into the deeper levels of our selves, we connect to our respiratory and circulatory functions, internal organs, and sensations within our muscles and joints.

This heightened awareness of the physiological processes of the body ultimately

moves us closer to Santosha, contentment.

Along with physical stillness, we also create perfect conditions for our brain to become clear. Many of us have active lifestyles which leave little or no time to foster our quiet, introspective side — this can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining. Yin Yoga provides an opportunity to observe, nurture and calm ourselves.

Surrender is a common theme in Yin Yoga. It is very therapeutic to give up the need to control a situation — and because of the long duration of the postures, it is said that patience is another value cultivated by Yin Yoga.

The practice of holding yoga postures (asanas) for extended periods of time has always been a significant part of traditional yoga practice : in his Yoga Sutras, compiled around

2 000 years ago, Patanjali describes asanas as "steady and comfortable postures"that

help settle the body for meditative practice.

Releasing Emotions Can Heal Disease

The long hold times of Yin postures offer the chance to sit with our emotions — our bodies store emotions, and it's not uncommon for sensitive thoughts, feelings and memories to surface while practicing yoga.

As Yin Yoga teaches us how to be gentle, patient, and nonreactive, conditions are safe for emotions to bubble up.

Chinese medicine, the far eastern counterpart of India's Ayurveda, considers emotional well-being as an integral part of health : when emotions become excessive or are repressed and turned inward, they can become pathological and cause disease.

Each emotion is associated with an organ, which if out of balance will cause specific symptoms. The belief is that balancing the organ associated with the emotion will

balance the emotion.

Sometimes the organ is out of balance and produces the emotional imbalance. But

other times the emotional imbalance can produce the organ imbalance.

Yin Yoga employs specific sequences of poses to stimulate the meridians (energy channels) connected to our organs, thus reestablishing balance within our physical, mental and emotional bodies.

By practicing Yin Yoga we can learn to truly be still, to come face to face with ourselves and bring that into our lives as a whole. We learn how to really listen, how to be, how to accept what is at any given moment — something we can all benefit from daily.

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