The Yin to Your Yang: Discover the Yoga Practice You Need
Journey peeps, long time no talk. I’m back this month to (hopefully) strike your curiosity on a practice that can enhance your Sadhana (self-study).
If you are anything like me you love a good, sweaty vinyasa-power yoga class that challenges you physically, gets your heart rate up, and leaves you begging for that oh-so-sweet savasana at the end….
You are like me, right?
However, every now and then, I do crave a slower paced hatha class with fewer sun salutations, but still not enough time for my body and mind to explore the inner knowing and spaciousness that we hold deep within.
If this scenario sounds remotely familiar, let me introduce you to a practice that has flipped my yoga world upside down + deep dive into the important lessons it has taught me.
What is Yin Yoga?
- While Yang practices (Vinyasa, Power, and Ashtanga) target muscles, Yin targets the connective tissue- the fascia, ligaments, and tendons.
- Yin postures are held from 2 minutes to 10 minutes without any props.
- Yin postures are often done seated, supine or prone (lots and lots of hip openers).
- Yin stems from the Taoist Yoga methods and follows our meridian lines by the energy form of Qi.
Yin practitioners believe that a yang practice stimulates stagnant Qi energy, helping the cleansing and strengthening of our bodies and minds. Yin on the other hand, prepares the body and mind for a meditation practice.
Since, yin yoga stretches and releases the connective tissue- our joints, tendons, ligaments and fascia – along our spine, hips and heart – we become more open and supple to sit in meditation allowing for our energy to flow freely along our central axis.
The goal of Yin yoga is to promote flexibility in areas that are perceived as tight and rigid (i.e. the spine, hips, and upper back).
Yin Yoga Must-Knows:
- As stated above, yin holds postures for several minutes. This alone is intense, not to mention the stretch and uncomfortableness you are bound to feel.
- Speaking of uncomfortable- it’s heavily emphasized you completely relax into a pose (not relaxing would take you into a more yang practice).
- Incredibly different than our yang practice is the factor of slowly, super slowly, coming out of a pose.
- You are holding a pose, i.e. side-body stretch, for 7 minutes and if you move too fast, you’ll experience spasms in those muscles surrounding the connective tissue… not good.
- Every yin posture correlates with a meridian line, which makes this practice so versatile as to what you can target.
The key factor, in my opinion, is the fact that you are intentionally moving your Qi and healing blockages that have manifested as physical problems for your body or mind.
Okay – we’ve covered a condensed yin yoga background – but please, keep researching, learning and experiencing on your own (always).
Now let’s dive into the lessons I’ve endured + you can expect to experience.
…. and hopefully I’m not the only one who has a love-hate relationship with this practice.
Here’s the deal.
I need my yoga practice like I need oxygen, but lately it had become a work out and not a way of listening to my inner voice. I relied on my practice to let me know where I was “now”, to open me up, break down barriers, and cue in to my breath.
But I lost that.
Have you ever experienced your practice going from a work-in to a work-out?
This transformation of my yoga practice unfolded at the same time I attended a FOUR HOUR yin workshop. Holy shit, the emotions were intense, y’all.
Females hold a lot of emotional baggage in their hips and since yin is hip happy, I felt it. I was holding on to so much fear, doubt and insecurity, that the four hours were brutal, but not nearly enough.
Oh by the way, Yin will also bring out emotions. Lots of them. Be prepared.
But regardless of the brutal, feeling vomit release – Yin yoga has been my saving grace.
I now have the best of both worlds – cleanse with my vinyasa practice and purify with the yin practice.
Yogis, if you made it this far, it’s my hope that by sharing my experience – yoga practice burn out + life burn out – I’ve sparked a little fire that wants to grow. If not because you’ve become disconnected to your fast-paced practice, maybe it’s because you want to explore all that the world of yoga offers.
But, if it’s because you are like me and need a wake-up call/way of connection- research this yin phenomenon some more.
I promise good things await.
If you’re curious to learn more about this style of practice – Yoga Journal has tons of great content and my favorite book at the moment- The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga by Bernie Clark holds wonderful learnings.
As always, if you want to chat don’t be afraid to reach out through Instagram @emilytheyogi or through www.emilytheyogi.com. I love to talk about struggles, breakthroughs and everything in between with like-minded yogis!
Until next time friends,
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