The Power of Yin
If you work in the corporate world, you may be expected to wear a suit and tie if you're a man, or a dress and maybe even pantyhose (ugh!) if you're a woman. If your company offers casual Fridays, then you might have the opportunity to wear soft, comfy blue jeans and worn-in cowboy boots, sneakers or sandals (yes!). In business, we understand that there is a purpose for both the dressy and casual styles, and wearing each style gives you a different feeling doesn't it? So, now you're probably wondering, what does this have to do with yoga, right?
I chose this analogy because on a higher level, it helps to illustrate the differences between how an active Yang yoga practice and a passive Yin yoga practice make us feel. Both are very beneficial and appropriate for different reasons, and practicing both regularly can bring our bodies into balance.
Active Yang types of practice such as Ashtanga, Bikram, Power and Flow styles are wonderful for building strength and flexibility, and are the most widely practiced types of yoga in the West. Yin yoga postures are more passive and strengthen the connective tissues (fascia, tendons and ligaments) that support and connect our joints and muscles to bone. And like a suit and ties and casual day, Yang and Yin serve different purposes, but they work very well together.
When I started yoga many years ago, I veered toward a Yang-based active practice that I enjoy to this day. But along the way I tended to put too much focus on building strength and flexibility without consideration for my joints. Strains and pains became more frequent until I discovered the benefits of Yin yoga.
Our connective tissue is much less elastic than our muscles and usually is the first area of our bodies to injure, either by accident or overuse. In our 20's, our connective tissue is at its peak, but as we age, this tissue becomes drier and more brittle. Passive Yin postures slowly and gently lengthen and strengthen these tissues to stay supple, prevent injury and allow us to stay active. Yin postures are specifically designed to be held for longer periods of time and can be practiced in a specific sequence to work particular areas of the body. They also can be incorporated into your regular active practice if done first while your muscles are cool. But, for the greatest benefit, it's best to practice a separate Yin sequence on a different day than your active Yang practice. Think of it as cross-training … focusing on different aspects of the body on different days.
Learn more about its benefits of Yin during my upcoming workshop, The Power of Yin: No Pain More Gain on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 10 a.m. during the Austin Yoga Festival. We'll discuss the Yin yoga in-depth, practice a Yin sequence and much more! You'll leave with tools that you can incorporate into your regular yoga practice.
You probably have the Yang practice down well, now discover the power of Yin. Think of it as a casual day!