In yoga, there are two broad general forms: Yang and Yin. While Yang yoga – Vinyasa, Power and Ashtanga – is dynamic and builds strength and movement in the muscles, Yin yoga works the fascia and joints in non-weight bearing poses.
The practice of Yin yoga
To understand Yin yoga, you first need to understand the fascia. This matrix of connective tissue is similar in many ways to a spider's web: Tug on one thread and there's a reaction across whole chains. Similarly, with our bodies, a problem in one part can create problems in other parts. If you think of your body as a wrinkled shirt, you'll have a clearer idea of how the fascia functions in many of us, creating joint imbalances and physical difficulties.
Yin yoga is designed around stretches that target the fascia. These stretches release tension in targeted spots, ironing out the 'wrinkles' to create joint space and assist energy to flow correctly, aiding organ function in the targeted areas.
The practice of yoga cultivates attention, which is the initial and ultimate practice of meditation. This attention in a Yin class allows for non-engagement of physical sensation and allows the body to soften, creating access to deeper layers of tension and the ability to release these areas through the breath. The breath is the somatic intelligent link between Body-Mind-Spirit – first the body, then the mind, and then the spirit soars.
The 12 major meridians (Jing Mai), in particular the lower six Yin meridians, are the focus of the practice. The Governor and Conception meridians are also important. The goal in a Yin practice is always to go deeper into the body finding safe, but challenging edges – we work at the edge of discomfort to introduce long-term change. In other words, we work to the place where we feel resistance, stay until the resistance eases, then go deeper. This edge becomes the place of meditation – we create the stillness to stay and observe the sensation without engaging or being the sensation.
Yin yoga uses props and has no weight bearing poses, making it suitable for all ages as well as anyone with an injury.
Principles of Yin
Study Yin yoga with Don Peers
Elixr's upcoming Yoga Teacher Training programme, led by Don Peers, includes a comprehensive Yin yoga module. The three-month program commences in February 2017. To find out more visit, elixr.com.au/schoolofyoga
Don has trained with leading practitioners in Australia, India and the US, and has studied pranayama and meditation in India. He believes the inward journey that takes place through yoga practice is as important as the final destination.