by Naomi Zahler
Yin Yoga is a specific style of yoga that encourages the holding of supported postures for a duration of 3-8 minutes. Not to be confused with Restorative Yoga, the purpose in Yin Yoga is to support the body only enough that the “yang” tissues of the body (muscles specifically) can relax, allowing the “yin” tissues of the body (connective tissues) to find space. The muscles of our body move our skeletal system into action. The connective tissues, like our ligaments, tendons and fascia support our joints and stabilize our skeleton. If a posture is held in a “yang” way, meaning, we find sensation or depth in our postures by using large muscle groups; our connective tissue would automatically go into protective mode. In other words, if we want to release our “yin” tissues, we must let go of strain in our “yang” tissues first. The practice of Yin Yoga focuses on exploring ways of doing just that by focusing awareness onto these connective tissues of the physical body, while clearing the energetic pathways of the subtle body as they are taught in Traditional Chinese Medicine (also know as the meridian lines of the body) and using breath work to help settle the mind throughout the practice. Stillness is encouraged while holding Yin postures so that we can witness the mind as we challenge any static energy within the subtle body. This is the true beauty of Yin Yoga and also its greatest challenge. It is while we hold these postures we are able to observe our habits toward whatever emotions arise and learn to lean toward these existing habits through breath, awareness and love for the Self.