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YIN YOGA 101: What You Need to Know

By May 23, 2017Blog

Over the next few posts we want to demystify some of our class formats. At this point, you probably know what Barre is (if you don’t, don’t panic!), but some of the other classes on the schedule might have you scratching your head. Here’s a primer on Yin Yoga, and how to know if it’s a good fit for you.

Any class that has people heading to the door saying “Oh my God, I feel like I just got a massage!” probably sounds pretty incredible, right? But before you assume that sounds nice but not necessary (after all, making time to workout is hard already — do you really need an “easy” class?) let’s dig a little deeper.

Do I Need Yin Yoga?

Yin yoga is for you if:
You’ve done lots of exercise and you feel tight.
You have pain in your tendons/ligaments/joints which prevents you from exercising normally (do be sure to discuss these injuries with your instructor!). Yin yoga can be very therapeutic for a wide range of injuries. Of course, discuss your exercise plans and get clearance from your doctor.
You haven’t done any exercise in a long time, and you’re worried about how your joints and muscles will acclimate.
You feel stressed, anxious, or overtired. You need some time to just chill out.

What is Yin Yoga?
Yin yoga refers to the Chinese daoist idea of yin and yang. These are two kinds of energy. Yang energy is expressive, warm, extroverted, and associated with the sun. In short, all forms of exercise, including most yoga is yang. Yin, on the other hand, is quiet, cool, introverted, and associated with the moon. Daoism — and common sense — teach us that we need both of these energies to be healthy, happy, and balanced people.

We’ve probably all known times in our lives when we could barely get off the couch; we were exhausted; we didn’t want to talk to anyone. We’ve also all had times that felt hectic, chaotic, and all around too everything. Some of us even think we thrive off of this unhealthy level of stress. Both ends of the spectrum are harmful if they’re taken to the extreme, though, which is why we make time for balancing our yin and yang energies.

Yin yoga helps achieve this balance by nurturing a meditative state in your body and mind. Poses are held for 3-5 minutes or more and are fully supported by the floor and props like blankets and bolsters. The goal in yin yoga is not actually to stretch the muscles — though you very well may experience this — but to slowly and gently stress the connective tissue in our bodies. Gentle stress spurs the growth of new, healthier cells. In this way, yin yoga can help improve joint and spine health.

When we feel busy and stressed, the temptation may be to run to the gym and blow off steam. In small doses this isn’t necessarily wrong, but it doesn’t address the underlying imbalance in our lives, which is pulling us too far toward the yang side of things. In fact, when we least feel we want or need yin yoga is when it is most beneficial (and vice versa!).

What to Expect in Class
When you arrive to class, you’ll be instructed to gather an assortment of props. Yin yoga is our most prop-heavy class. The teacher will be happy to set you up if you’re not sure what’s what. The lights will be low and music will be relatively quiet. We ask that you respect the quietness in this space and refrain from conversation before and during Yin Yoga.

Many, though not all, of our yoga classes begin with a reading or a brief meditation from the teacher. You are welcome to engage with this in your own thoughts or leave it if it’s not serving you.

During class, you will be instructed into a posture. Then you will sit still and silent for a prescribed amount of time; usually the teacher will not tell you the amount of time at the beginning so that it doesn’t distract you. The poses may feel uncomfortable. This is totally normal! However, you should not feel sharp pain or numbness. If you feel pain or if you are concerned that a pose is unsuitable for your body, please quietly get the teacher’s attention. She will be happy to help you.

Every class closes with savasana. During savasana we lay on the ground with eyes closed in a position of complete surrender. Don’t worry, if you fall asleep, we’ll gently wake you after class.

Book Your Class

Yin yoga is available:
Monday at 6:15PM with Kelly
Thursday at 6PM with Nancy
Book your class now!

Start “Living BOLDER®!”

Kelly Bryant, RYT200

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