What is Yin Yoga?

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Posted by Elanor Davies (Spirit Yoga) on 24 Apr 2018

So what exactly is Yin yoga? It is a more meditative approach with a physical focus much deeper than Yang (strenuous) like practices. Here we access the deeper tissues such as the connective tissue and fascia and postures focus on areas that encompass a joint (hips, sacrum, spine). As one ages flexibility in the joints decreases and Yin yoga is a wonderful way to maintain that flexibility.

The reason behind these longer holds involves a short lesson in anatomy. Our bodies are made up of yang and yin tissues. Muscles are yang, so in order to be strengthened they must be subject to yang activity (repetitive movement, creating heat). Shorter holds, dynamic stretching (eg sun salutations) and running, cycling etc target yang tissue – muscles.
Longer, static holds enable us to access yin tissue – fascia and connective tissue. We need the combination of yang and yin to keep the joints healthy. Teeth are an example of a very yin part of the body. If you wanted to change and shape the position of your teeth, you wouldn’t knock or hammer away at them quickly, but rather apply extremely gentle pressure over a long period of time – months or years.
So what is fascia? Fascia is the buzzword in the anatomy world. For so long, we were educated in muscles – how to stretch them and how to build them. But our muscles are encased in fascia, a continuous web of tissue that weaves in and around not only our muscles but also our organs, nerves and lymph. It is rather like a silk body stocking, only it is inside our bodies. The whiteish, sometimes glistening fibres you see when you pull a piece of meat apart – that is fascia. And to keep it healthy and springy, we need to keep it hydrated and we need to apply pressure to it with these longer holds.

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