Since introducing Yin to the studio its had a deep and profound effect on everybody’s practice. It really goes to the essence of yoga as we’re able to transcend the body and leave the posture behind and begin to look at a much deeper aspect of ourselves. It shows us how much our mat is mirroring our lives and how we function.
Fundamentally yoga is about building our relationship with this conscious vessel that we inhabit – our body. It is our lifelong partner. And is also longing for us to connect with it. How it looks and feel gives us a good guage of our relationship with it and the practice of yoga is all about bringing awareness to this relationship. Don’t underestimate the power of this class.
We need to take care of our physicality and our energy in order to deal with the things we encounter in life with grace and awareness.
Our body is a functional system – it receives, processes, and accomplishes ongoing tasks constantly. And so it needs cleaning, needs care and needs tuning regularly. Constant normal use of the body system creates wear and misalignment. We also need to be sensitive to its capacity for action, its potential to deal with demands, and its possibility for endurance and longevity. The balance of the physical body affects the rest of your capacity and experience. Its important to understand it and learn how you can make the best use of it.
With a Yin practice the focus is on stretching the deep connective tissues in your body (ligaments, tendons, and fascia) -to lengthen & strengthen them -and is best stretched with a slow, steady weight, which is exactly what you give your tissues when you hold a yin pose for a long time. The main connective tissue that yin yoga focuses on working with is the fascia. Fascia is a type of connective tissue that forms a continuous body-wide web which holds us together. It’s the structure that gives our bodies form and gives it its proprioceptive awareness. It’s also a part of our body that holds psychological and physiological trauma.
By stretching our fascia through yin yoga, a few things happen:
1. Increase strength and flexibility. Healthy fascia is springy, strong, and fluid. When our fascia is healthy and strong, it helps our muscles move more efficiently and our body find more strength, space, and flexibility.
2. Improve joint mobility. Since our connective tissues support our joints, strengthening and stretching them helps keep our joints healthy and mobile.
3. Improve our posture. Everything is interconnected with this web of tissue, and stretching your fascia can help improve your posture throughout your whole body.
4. Release trauma and emotion in the body. Yin yoga works on an energetic level, not just a physical level, by working with your body’s system of energy channels . These pathways allow the flow of energy, called prana through the body. Yin yoga helps stimulate and release blockages in these energy pathways to balance your internal organs and systems.
Yin gives the gift of time. Time to find the pauses, time to slow down and feel into things, time to be aware of our breathing, time to be with what is. With a Yin practice its more about how much you can let go and anchor yourself into the stillness. How can you stay grounded into your body and breath and remain aware of the sensations, feelings and emotions that arise without judging attaching yourself to them, or pushing them away.
In this aspect it is also like meditation. It can be a deep practice of presence, of surrender, and of showing up to do the work of deepening our understanding of the relationship with ourselves and the body we live in.
“To utilize yoga in its totality, you have to know what living is, what a relationship is, and what values this life can give. If you know what you want, then you can find it. Through meditation, you can calm the mind and develop your intuition to recognize what is real and important to you. Without knowledge, are you going to close your eyes and just start walking? Where will you go? You have to know your direction and monitor yourself each step of the way. Your inner compass must tell you your location in relation to your goal. Life has its own innate organization, which you can sense with intuition and intelligence.” – Yogi Bhajan