Although its teachings are based on ancient Daoist practices, the practice of yin yoga is relatively new-we’re still exploring our relationship with yin in the modern yoga community amongst of forefront of adjectives like hot, power, and vinyasa.
Yin, by definition and by nature, is a passive practice, and often gets dismissed as “too easy” without further investigation. But yet, those that open themselves to the concept of stillness find that yin is quite the opposite.
Yin is slow, quiet, and still and this is where lies the challenge. It becomes a practice of “active un-doing.” We learn to sit and experience the sensations that arise, both physical and mental, without moving away from them. We learn to define and discriminate what it is we are feeling, creating a deeper knowledge of the self, and honing our awareness skills. We learn to feel on a visceral level.
Structurally, we deepen our awareness inward as well. The yin sequence is designed to place deep, sustained pressure on the marma points (or more traditionally referred to as acupressure points) that works to relieve blockages in the nadis and sen lines by increasing the flow of prana. In modern science, this is synonymous with removing waste, or toxins, from the connective tissues in the body by increasing circulation to the joints, ligaments, and fascia. It increases mobility and flexibility, mainly by nourishing the connective tissues, preventing rigidity and dryness, dubbing it “the fountain of youth” and can help to prevent injury. From an Ayurvedic perspective, because of its cooling, grounding effect on the body and mind, yin is an ideal practice in times of increased pitta. The summer season, stress, aggravation, menstruation and menopause can all increase pitta in the body.
In Daosist tradition, nothing is completely yin (passive) or yang (active.) One may be dominant, but both must be present to achieve balance. Yin yoga, even in small doses, grounds us in our modern, over-stimulated society, compliments our vinyasa flow or heated practices and helps prevent injury, but with patience, can create peace in mind, body, and soul.