I have a body
I have breath
I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts
I have energies and powers inside of me, some I was born with, some I create, stimulate, and balance as I need.
There is a physical world around me, I know I can have a positive impact on it; however, I move with the seasons and remember not to push only to flow and nurture the change I wish to see in the world. I trust when the time is right it will be so.
There are also many people around me. I intend to interact with all of whom cross my path with openness, love, and kindness however never at the expense of my own humanness nor self-love.
I give and I receive
I manifest and I adapt
I stretch and I compress
I am soft and I am powerful.
The benefits of Yin yoga are a touch like the fascia it works with, you can try and simplify it and say it works on different layers – the physical body, the energetic or spiritual body and the mind. However, like fascia it is more like an interconnected web of benefits. A web of benefits that supports the creation of a balanced lifestyle, or Wu Wei. The benefits of yin accumulate to a human experience in which we can stand in our own power, beauty and wonder whilst equally moving with and flowing with the ebbs and flows of the universal seasons.
However, our human minds still prefer the logical and analytical so let’s take this layer by layer.
The physical body.
Yin yoga is a practice is for any and all body types, it is one of the most accessible styles of yoga as it honours the concept that functional alignment is greater than ecstatic alignment. Within yin practice there is space for modifications for all bone structures and body types. “I’m not flexible so I can’t do yoga” doesn’t cut it here.
If we strip it back to anatomy yin yoga works with ‘yin tissues’ this includes joints, bones, ligaments, and fascia.
Joints – Yin supports the rejuvenation and maintenance of our joints, by compressing our joints we are stimulating the production of synovial fluid which is responsible for the lubrication and health of our joints.
Fascia- the fascia is a type of connective tissue that essentially holds all our bones, muscles and organs in place without it we would be a puddle of bones, organs and skin on the floor yin yoga we take passive long holds to stretch the fascia, this stretching creates space and releases tensions in the body, increases range of motion, reduces feelings of stiffness and improves circulation. Fascia is also responsible for our sense of proprioception (our ability to know where our body is in space). By working with our fascia, we are developing a strong sense of body awareness, which physically supports our motor planning, sequencing and execution which translates to improved skill acquisition in relation to any new skill.
There is much we don’t know about fascia however there is exciting emerging research around its functions and roles within the body. Some neuroscientists are coming to believe that fascia is capable of carrying conscious thought, meaning yin will allow and create a strong body-mind connection. There have also been studies on the impact healthy fascia can have on cancer recovery and autoimmune disease.
The energetic body.
Yin is a powerful modality to develop an awareness and understanding of the energetic body.
Yin is based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine concept of the meridian system and the flow of chi. The meridians are pathways in which chi flows. Chi refers to our life force energy sometimes referred to as prana. Throughout different stages of life our chi can become stagnant, and it can also be overactive in various areas of our body. The practice of yin helps to balance our chi by stimulating and compressing our meridians the end goal is to have free-flowing chi around the whole body. Yin also offers a space in which we take the time to feel the flow of our chi.
Being in contact and having awareness of our chi and our meridian system is an unbelievably helpful tool in understanding our emotions and how we can work to regulate them.
We have 12 major meridians all of our meridians have various emotions and characteristics associated with them. Meaning that depending on what energies, emotions or life situations are present we can use certain yin postures to work toward free-flowing chi in the associated meridian.
Below are our main meridians and just one of the many examples of life situations/ emotional states associated with them.
Urinary Bladder Meridian – It can be helpful to work with the UB when we are experiencing nervous system dysregulation and to stimulate a parasympathetic state.
Kidney Meridian – Working with the kidney meridian can be a powerful tool in learning how to respond to fear particularly when faced with change or challenges it allows us to tap into a general trust in life and ability and trust in universal guidance.
Liver Meridian – Working with the liver meridian is useful when dealing with feelings of frustration and anger that emerge from plans gone wrong. The liver can help us to gain perspective, develop cognitive flexibility and learn to overcome barriers.
Gallbladder Meridian – Working with the gallbladder energy helps us to tap into our sense of courage helping us to make decisions and follow plans. Less talk more action!
Stomach Meridian – Activating the stomach meridian promotes the nourishing and nurturing of ourselves and the people around us in an appropriate manner.
Spleen Meridian – Working with the spleen is helpful for any of those who tend to overthink, healthy chi flow of the spleen promotes mindfulness and one thing at a time mentality. No hurry, no worry, no sorry!
Heart Meridian – Working with the heart vibration we cultivate a sense of joy, passion, and laughter we remember to be playful and lean into joy.
Small Intestines Meridian – Working with the small intestines energy can help us to become more in sync with those around us supporting connection and interaction with another.
Lung Meridian – With this energy in balance we know how to be with strong emotions like sadness, sorrow and grief without trying to hide them, fix them or fade them.
Large Intestine Meridian – Great to tap into during a full moon ritual or in the waning moon phase, the ultimate energy you need to let go of what no longer serves you!
The process of yin promotes the development of mindfulness. Yin has a superpower in challenging the western “go go go”, “rise and grind” lifestyle. Yin allows us to firstly slow down, gain awareness of our thoughts, separate ourselves from our thought and realise importantly that we are not our thoughts. Our thoughts can say whatever they want to say at the end of the day they have no real power over us, we always have choice and control over our actions and how we show up in this world.
Let’s look at an example: You’re in a yin class and so far you have been enjoying some gentle forward fold and you are excited to continue to enjoy a nice relaxing gentle sequence but then the teacher tells you, “and now 5 minutes in frog” your thoughts tell you ff off, not happening, give up, they tell you that it’s too much, that wasn’t what I was expecting, that you can’t do it, you feel angry and frustrated. However instead of hooking onto these thoughts and feelings you unhook, you let them drift around. Slowly time passes, you begin to sink into the pose you create some space physically but also mentally for these thoughts to come and go, the intensity of the thought reduces and what’s this? You are actually beginning to enjoy the sensations. Now the teacher tells you it’s time to find your rebound.
The cognitive skills displayed here are extensive.
- Emotional awareness
- Awareness of thoughts
- Cognitive flexibility, there was an unexpected obstacle to a plan, and you overcame it
Yin yoga importantly creates harmony in our lives bringing together our mind, body and energetic field helping us to connect to mother earth and equally the universe.
Colleen Mann, Yin Yoga Therapy Ambassador Australia