"Your body is your truth machine"
Yin yoga is becoming increasingly popular. And there's a reason for that. It sometimes seems as if you are expected to be constantly ‘on’ in the quite outward-looking world in which we live. A lot of people go to bed with your phone/laptop and wake up with it. That's pretty taxing on your entire system. In fact, a human being is not built for that. In addition, it is physiologically just a fact that if you are always (or often) in the so-called fight-flight-freeze mode, your body has less energy to recover from, for example, a busy working day, but also from intensive sports, an intense event in your life or from a flu.
Everything has a rhythm. In nature phases of effort and relaxation alternate. Just look at the seasons. If you have to peak continuously - in yang (energy) - your body finally says: up to here and no further. A yin phase and therefore also a Yin yoga class is the opposite of hard work. It is a period of recovery. You let the efforts of that day or of the past period slip away from you. This ensures relaxation and balance.
Doing yoga is often referred to as having a 'yoga practice'. But what exactly do you practice in a Yin yoga class? You mainly practice in 'not doing', something we hardly learn nor are used to. You consciously give your body and your brain the necessary rest. Various studies show that this logically also has an effect on other parts of your existence and leads to more creativity, effectiveness, stress resistance and satisfaction.
"In Yin yoga you're not using your body to come into a pose,
you are using the pose to come into your body"
More and more it is becoming clear that mental, emotional and spiritual well-being is very much related to your physical well-being. In short, we are not machines and if we treat ourselves as such, more and more a 'system failure' will occur, also called burnout or even depression. Then there is literally too much tension in your system. Tension in the body builds (also) when there is not enough rest and space for what presents itself on the non-mental level (feelings, emotions, needs). With Yin yoga you consciously look for that tension in the body and by consciously relaxing in the postures the tension can dissolve.
Life energy (Qi) and connective tissue
The connective tissue also has a place in this approach. The Taoists (followers of Taoism, a Chinese philosophy of life) classify connective tissue as yin. When you are active, Qi mainly flows through your muscles, the yang layer of your body. But at rest, Qi finds a way through the stiffer tissues and your bones, your yin layer. According to Japanese scientist Hiroshi Motoyama, Qi in the connective tissue is mainly transported via hyaluronic acid, an important building block of it. This substance attracts and polarizes water, allowing it to conduct electrical impulses and thus spread information (or energy) throughout the body.
Yin yoga is all about active passivity: surrendering to gravity and spending longer in one position (usually 3-5 minutes). The result is not only deep relaxation, but also stimulation of your connective tissue, joints and tendons. Connective tissue is a lot less flexible than muscle tissue and responds to prolonged pressure or stretching of a certain area. In this way, specific meridians are stimulated and the yin flow of your life energy is 'cleansed' and nourished. At the same time, you keep your mind relaxed and focused; energy flows where the attention goes.
"Yin yoga is not about what you are able to do,
but about how you deal with what you encounter"
BENEFITS OF YIN YOGA AT A GLANCE
Physically; supple connective tissue and more flexibility
Many yoga styles focus on muscle building. Yin yoga focuses on your connective tissue and joints. By staying in a posture for a few minutes, you bring your attention deeper and deeper into your body. You relax your muscles, but your connective tissue also becomes more moist and therefore more flexible. Conscious and deeper breathing also plays an important role in Yin yoga with which you 'turn on' the parasympathetic nervous system. You give your body a signal that it does not have to be overactive, and that it can recover and relax. An overstimulated nervous system becomes calm(er) in this way.
Mentally; learning to deal with stress
How do you deal with stressful situations? Do you immediately act or do you think for a few minutes before you come into action? Yin yoga helps you to deal with stress more consciously. Because you sit in the same position for minutes during a Yin yoga class, you learn to deal with what you encounter at that moment. The sensations in your body and the thoughts in your head. This goes beyond just your yoga mat. If you practice Yin yoga regularly, you will notice that you can also apply this more easily in other situations.
Emotionally; make space
Emotions are also a form of energy. If there is not enough time, space or opportunity to feel certain (often less pleasant) emotions, they can get stuck in your body. That is also the conclusion of The physics of emotion; a groundbreaking study by neuropharmacologist Dr. Candace Pert to the influence of stress and emotions on our body. What dr. Pert discovered, and describes in her bestseller Molecules of Emotion, is that pent-up emotions are literally stored in the body. Organs, tissue, muscles and glands: they all have protein receptors. Thanks to these receptors, they are able to store emotional information. However, it is mainly muscles that express negative emotions in the form of physical complaints. They try to warn us that we are not (completely) balanced emotionally. In Yin yoga you make room for these emotions by consciously looking for the tension in the muscles and letting gravity do its work. Strangely enough, you often notice that these kinds of entrenched emotions have let you go after a Yin yoga session and not the other way around.
Spiritually; connecting through your body
Because of the mainly mental and virtual world in which we live, it is easy to lose contact with your body. But your body is always present, here and now. Your body is where you can experience what you need (no longer). The body is incredibly wise in that sense. It's an indicator of how you're REALLY doing. Yin yoga can be an important resource to reconnect with yourself. Not by talking, not by doing something, but mainly by listening. After connecting with yourself, you often feel your connection with others and with life itself (better or again).
Yin yoga is an accessible form of yoga, even if you have not practiced yoga often or ever. Because you move more slowly and stay in a posture longer than other forms of yoga, you have the time and space to discover the posture. At your own pace and what feels good for your body. In a Yin yoga class, you don't have to prove that you can go deep into a posture, it's about finding peace and relaxation. Are you curious if in yoga is something for you? Maybe you are used to active sports or you suffer from physical complaints such as rheumatism, osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia. Then Yin yoga is also a valuable form of yoga for you.