Yin Yoga – The Other Half of Yoga

By Guest writer:  Niki Venter MSW, RYT-200

Yin Yoga classes are offered with Niki at Posabilities on Fridays, 4:30 – 5:30 PM

It has frequently been asked what is Yin yoga and how is it different from regular yoga?

Yin YogaYin yoga is sometimes referred to as “the other half of yoga” when considering our practice of yoga postures (also known as asana practice). That being said, the posture practice that many people are most familiar with can be considered yang yoga, which is a more active and heating style of yoga. Yang yoga targets the muscles, building strength, balance, and flexibility, and creating greater energy and vitality to the body, mind, and spirit. Yin yoga, equally important, is a more meditative form of yoga that targets the deeper tissues of the body including the connective tissues, bones, and joints. Connective tissues targeted are ligaments, tendons, fascia, and cartilage. Yin targets the connective tissues of the hips, pelvis and the lower spine. In addition to the physical benefits, Yin yoga provides an increased state of calm and ease for the body, mind, and spirit.

What’s the benefit of targeting these deeper tissues through Yin Yoga?

Did you know that roughly 47% of the resistance to flexibility occurs in our connective tissues while about 41% occurs in our muscles? Without getting too technical, our connective tissues work as a network to bind, support, connect, and protect all the other tissues throughout our body. As we age our connective tissues can become overly dense and compacted, trapping toxins within the cells, resulting in decreased flexibility and range of motion. The good news is that yoga, yin yoga, in particular, can help to lengthen, strengthen, rehydrate, and decompress these networks of tissue, creating spaciousness, releasing built up toxins, and bringing greater health and vitality to the connective tissues.

Due to differences in fluid content, connective tissue generally is not as flexible as muscle tissue. To lengthen and strengthen our connective tissues stretches need to be held for a longer period. Because of this Yin yoga poses are held anywhere from one minute on, with an average duration of three to four minutes.  In Yin, it is not how deep you go in a pose but how long you hold the pose that creates the benefit. For younger people the practice of Yin Yoga can help maintain their youthful tissues and minimize, or reduce, any damage that has occurred due to injury. For the older person, Yin yoga can reverse and slow down the bodies aging process at a cellar level. But you don’t need to know all this to be convinced of the benefits of Yin, you need only to feel the results of a practice to know something good is going on inside.

So how do we practice Yin?

In a Yin yoga practice, you slowly relax into the poses, which are usually seated or lying down on your mat, allowing the muscles to be soft as you explore your individual edge, or stopping point. Each person’s stopping point will be different therefore each person’s pose will look different.  Similar to the more yang practices we allow the breath to guide us and move the prana (vital energy) around the body. Through focus and attention to our individual edge, we develop a calm state and a sharpening of awareness at all levels of our being. Gradually, over time, as the body rejuvenates, the tissues lengthen and become more spacious and flexibility increases allowing a greater range of motion and ease of movement. I have had students tell me that the day after a yin class they experience, “a greater sense of well-being.”

I have experienced first hand the benefits of a consistent Yin practice and am so excited to share this practice with my students. Remember like all yoga practices if you have any physical limitations you should check with your doctor or you can contact us here at Posabilities. Together with a balanced practice of both yin and yang styles, I feel yoga is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. Yoga nourishes the body, mind, and spirit. I hope to see you all on your mat. Sending Love. Namaste – Niki Venter

Niki VenterAbout Niki:

Niki Venter MSW, RYT-200 has completed a number of advanced yoga training in both Yin Yoga and alignment based yoga and teaches Gentle and Yin Yoga classes at Posabilities.  Niki enjoys sharing the practice of Yoga with her students and feels that Yoga prepares you for all of life mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  She is eager to share this with all who attend her classes.

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