Yin Yoga is a style of yoga practiced on the ground in a slow, contemplative way. The idea is that of holding poses for 3 to 5 minutes (and even longer if needed) in order to access deep connective tissues, fascia, and ligaments, and to release fears, phobias, negative emotions, and past traumas. It is a beautiful therapeutic practice and can be healing for anyone who has pain in the back, shoulders, knees or any other parts of the body, which can be linked to an energy imbalance / organ imbalance. Indeed, Yin Yoga targets the Meridians (energy channels) in the body, which according to Chinese philosophy are linked to specific organs. Meridian lines run through the body and carry qi – life force. Hence, by compressing and stimulating different organs with various postures, we also stimulate the energy flow of these meridians, and release tensions, create flow of qi and health in the corresponding organs.
What have you observed after practicing this style of yoga?
Once I’ve started practicing Yin Yoga everyday I have learned to feel my body more than ever before and link any physical misalignments to emotional imbalances. For instance, before having an understanding about energy flow through meridian channels I would worry about the pain in my left foot without finding an actual cause behind this discomfort. I did a scan, which showed no major misalignments, went to a physiotherapist, podiatrist and even did a blood test. All of these showed nothing to be worried about, yet the pain persisted. The answers to my questions came rushing in during my Yin Yoga Teacher Training when I finally understood that the pain in my left foot was closely linked to an energy imbalance of the liver and the kidney meridians, both of which begin in the feet and are linked to emotions of fear and anger. I have then understood that my constant anger at my boss and my fear of changing career paths were both majorly linked to my pain in the foot, and I had to do the required yin yoga practice in order to release these emotions. After only a week of this practice I’ve noticed the flow of energy in the fascia of my foot – by compressing and stretching liver and kidneys through specific Yin Yoga postures I was able to unblock stagnant energy and relief the discomfort in my foot. It truly surprised me how every organ and particle in our body is closely intertwined, and how important it is for the energy to flow well through meridian channels in order for our body to feel healthy and balanced.
Do you warm up before this style of yoga?
Yin Yoga is done without prior warm-up on cool muscles because we are not targeting the Yang tissues (muscles) but Yin tissues – connective tissues (ligaments, tendons and fascia) and bones. Of course Yin Yoga can be practiced after a cardio workout or an active style of yoga such as Hatha, Vinyasa or Ashtanga, but the point of this practice is not to stretch the muscles but to enter the body and mind into stillness and a meditative state, as well as access connective tissues and bones which you cannot access otherwise with other types of yoga or physical activity.
Yin Yoga can also help someone get into a Yin-Yang practice. For instance, I am not at all a morning person and I struggle to get on to my mat in the mornings. I have found that with Yin Yoga I can trick my mind into thinking: “I will just lay low and glow for a bit…nothing too strenuous”… and after doing a few Yin postures I will always end up getting into a downward dog and want to move and do some Yang postures in order to kick start my energy for the day. Hence, my Yin practice has helped me to be more regular with my Yang one too.
How often one should practice?
Once or twice a week a one hour long practice can be enough to shift energy and create healing. On a personal level, I have found it useful to do a short 20 min practice every morning in order to start the day. I have noticed that when I skip my morning practice my mind can become foggy, and I can be grumpy and negative throughout the day. Hence a short morning stretch with a little breath meditation before work can help one’s mind to stay sharp and clear throughout the day, and for emotions to be balanced and in tune due to a natural flow of energy through meridian channels activated by a gentile Yin Yoga practice.
What are a few examples of Yin Yoga postures?
Shoelace / Half Shoelace – a great hip opener which decompresses the lumbar and sacral area when folding forward.
Sphinx / Seal – compresses and stimulates the sacral-lumbar arch and stimulates all meridians.
Straddle / Dragonfly – opens hips, stretches the groin and stimulates ovaries.
Child’s Pose / Wide Knee Child’s Pose – gently stretches the spine, compresses liver and stomach.
Butterfly – stretches lower back and is good for urinary bladder, kidneys and spleen.
Melting Heart – extension of the spine, opens shoulders and chest and softens the heart.
Cat pulling its Tail – a great pose for all meridian channels; compresses the lower back, stretches the intercostal muscles, hip flexors and chest muscles.
If you are interested in scheduling a private Yin Yoga class in Paris with Julsie send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Instagram @YourSoulfulGuide for further information on workshops, retreats and group classes.