What is Yin Yoga? Isn’t Yoga an Indian practice? And isn’t Yin a Chinese term? Both are so, but Yin Yoga, is the first level of Taoist yoga, which was developed even before Qigong, and has no real connection to the Hatha Yoga we know and love as Western Practitioners, but may be found in some predominantly Hatha type studios.
Traditional Chinese Medicine bases much of its practice in an observation of the natural world, of which we are a part. Yin and Yang theory holds that the whole is made up of opposites: darkness and light, masculine and feminine, hot and cold. One part being yin and the other yang. To understand the force of yin then we must understand the force of yang, and how it pertains to yoga, or the uniting of breath and asana.
The property of yang is characteristically moving, bright, hyperactive. The qualities of Yin are stillness, darkness, degeneration and hypoactivity. Yin and Yang are dependant on one another. You may even see their qualities refered to in Feng Shui where color and temperature texture and size are all incorporated to provided a balanced environment.
Yin is characteristically feminine, Yang masculine. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there is ideally a balance between the two–and when the balance is shifted, disease occurs. Either too much yin or too much yang can cause disease.
So getting back to yoga, Yin Yoga then is a quiter practice of longer held poses, focusing more on the connective tissues, or fascia, and less on the muscles, as more “letting go” happens and the poses become more passive in nature. In Paul Grilley’s book Yin Yoga, he states that this form of yoga “should only be done when muscles are already relaxed, and postures should be held for long periods– at least several minutes.” He also suggests that Yin Yoga is better preparation for meditation. Because of the length of time spent in postures, patience and lengthend breathing are developed, preparing you for time spent sitting in meditation.
Yin Yoga is less commonly practiced in the United states, but perhaps more needed. Most Yoga practiced around the United States is primarily Yang; muscular and moving in nature, like Power Yoga and Vinyasa Flow Style Yogas so commonly found in studios today.
But there are places around the Philadelphia area to practice Yin Style yoga. Stillpoint Yoga in King of Prussia in Montgomery County is one. Click here for Schedule and class descriptions. The Spirit of Yoga in Downingtown in Chester County, offers a Yin/Yang practice incorporating both yin and yang styles in a 90 minute class.
ang cannot exist by itself; it can exist only when it is supported by yin. Hence yin is the foundation of yang. Similarly, yin cannot alone manifest itself; it can manifest itself only when accompanied by yang. Hence yang is the expression of yin. Yang controls the origination and enjoys the completion [of things] while yin follows the way [yang produces] and completes the work of yang. – Shao Yong, (1012-1077), philosopher