Do You Have a Yen for Yin?

All of us do whether we know it or not.

Our fast paced worlds yearn for a yin-like existence; one that is slower, more reserved, sensitive and quiet. Because most of the time we live in a yang domain that is full of activity, fluctuation, and intensity.

In yoga, a yang practice is certainly a dynamic one. More vigorous practices are usually labelled as ashtanga, vinyasa or power but yang yoga can be any style that is connected with active major muscle movement.

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On the contrary, yin yoga is associated with passive movements that are held longer. The specific yin poses are designed to bypass the large muscle groups and delve into the deeper connective tissues; the areas concerning the ligaments, the bones, or the joints. These connective tissues are the more sedentary elements of the body that provide stability and subtle movement within the hips, pelvis and lower spine.

Although a yin yoga practice can be restful, it is not to be confused with a restorative practice. Great awareness and a keen focus should be taken when performing these poses. Sharp sensation or pain is to be avoided at all times. Over-extension and overexertion can lead to dire repercussions for these tissues due to their slow healing times.

Yet, the benefits are plenty.  The object of Yin Yoga is to stress these deeper tissues through traction as opposed to active stretching. By bringing yourself near the edge of your limit and holding for a significant length of time, you are fully stimulating the ligaments and the joints to provide greater opening, suppleness and health.

“The essence of yin is yielding. Yang is about changing the world; yin accepts the world as it is.”   – Bernie Clark

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