I truly LOVE all forms of yoga, it is such a special practice that helps me to forget about the outside world and tune inward. For a while (okay, a year or so- EEEEK!) I fell off the yoga-mat, only doing the practice sparingly, but thankfully I have found my yoga groove again. Since this time I have been trying to practice it two times a week, but am happy if I make it to a yoga class at least once a week. I find that yoga centers me and really helps to balance me throughout my often busy, and somewhat hectic, work (and school) week.
As of lately, I have really enjoyed practicing YIN YOGA. For those not familiar with the practice YIN, or Taoist yoga, it focuses on lengthening your connective tissues (tendons, fascia, and ligaments) and is intended to compliment Yang yoga (Hence the name!). Yang Yoga is simply the more traditional muscle-forming type of yoga practice like Ashtanga. YIN is less about having perfect poses and more about "relaxing" into poses and holding them for an extended amount of time- Sometimes up to 5 minutes!
Does it take patience? YES! Does it start to hurt? Well, yes, but in the BEST way possible. Just like stretching- it hurts, but feels so good- Yin poses can be summed up like that. I love YIN because who typically focuses on their connective tissues when working out?! No one right? Traditional yoga practices, and most forms of exercise, usually focus on building muscles. YIN stretches and works out your bone and joint areas. A lot of the poses focus on the lower part of your body where you will find a lot of connective tissue like your lower spine, hips, pelvis and inner thigh area. In YIN you will use a lot of props also, like bolsters, blankets, blocks, and more. These all help to make the extended poses manageable without inflicting any true pain- which is not the intention of this special practice. Check out the UNIQUE list of benefits attributed to YIN below!
Benefits of YIN Yoga:
Improves flexibility and makes connective tissue stronger and longer.
Teaches mindfulness and helps prepare you for meditation, both mentally and physically.
Regulates your energy levels- The prana, or life force, resides in the tissues of your body and can become built up. YIN helps to release this blockage.
Helps detox your body- After getting out of the long-held YIN poses congested lymph fluids in your body can be released. This improves your lymphatic system, which helps your body to detox and remove toxins.
Helps fight cellulite- Toxins get stuck in your fat and pushed through weakened areas in your connective tissue and create cellulite. Since YIN helps to improve and clear the lymphatic system, it also helps to get rid of cellulite/toxins. YES PLEASE!
Improves and balances your YANG yoga practice.
Helps to release stored emotions (positive and/or negative ones)- Does this mean you may start crying or laughing in class for what may seem like "no reason"? Perhaps. But more likely the emotions will come out at a random time after you have began practicing YIN. Either way, releasing stored emotions is so important to helping and allowing your body to heal from past experiences in your life.