The Taoist philosophy states that a balanced life requires a balance of yin and yang, perceived opposites that exist in every aspect of life, such as feminine and masculine energies, left and right, hot and cold, soft and rough.
In today’s society, we tend to give more value to yang (masculine) properties like competition, logic, force, action, and power. Yet yin (feminine) qualities, such as passivity, creativity, intuition, and emotion, are just as valuable and in fact necessary to cultivate in order to create harmony within ourselves and around us.
In yoga, just as in most aspects of society, the yang practices, like vinyasa, have gained more popularity. Yet the yin yoga practice benefits the person in ways that yang practices can’t, and when combined, these practices help create balance and harmony for body, mind, and soul.
A physically passive and seemingly easy practice, yin yoga is about yielding to specific postures and emotions, going deeper into the body and feelings. The majority of yin yoga is done sitting or lying down where one holds a pose for approximately 5 minutes. Instead of working the core or the muscles, yin poses strengthen the ligaments, joints, bones, and connective tissues, improving mobility, increasing flexibility, regulating the body’s energy flow, and benefiting organ health.
Initially created for students of meditation who found it difficult to sit in the same position for extended periods of time, yin yoga is a very mindful practice where the instructor guides students through the poses, asking them to focus on the emotions that rise in each pose, teaching them to allow their feelings to come and go without creating an attachment to them.
This practice, in turn, allows the person to learn to decrease the volume of mind chatter, which unsurprisingly creates an inner calm and an increased strength to deal with situations that rise up in our daily lives. Yin yoga practice teaches the student to stay in an uncomfortable position, and the student then develops the mental strength to keep that same calmness when life’s obstacles arise.In short, yin yoga is an intimate practice through which one learns to become more intimate with the self and their emotions, explore what is happening inside at the moment of stillness, surrender to what is happening at a given moment and let it go.