The following is a description to the weekend course on Yin Yoga at the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre on the west coast of Ireland.
This course is an introduction to the practice of Yin Yoga. Yin Yoga is an alternative approach to regular yoga asanas which focuses on stretching the connective tissue of the body by gently relaxing and letting go while holding postures for a longer period of time. Yin Yoga is a helpful tool to condition one’s body to sit longer and more comfortably in meditation.
Yin Yoga influenced by Taoist
The practice of Yin Yoga comes from lineage of Taoist Yoga which combines the insights of thousands of years of acupuncture practice with conventional yoga wisdom. From the Taoist perspective, a dynamic or stronger yoga practice focusing on movement and muscular contraction is a yang practice which strengthens and stretches the muscles. In contrast, Yin Yoga focuses on stretching the connective tissue around the joints in a mindful and gentle manner. Connective tissue is different from muscle tissue and needs to be exercised differently. Connective tissue responds best to slow, steady, and gentle stretching. A yin approach works to promote more flexibility in hips, pelvis, and lower spine which are areas that are often perceived as nonmalleable.
Holding posed for several minutes in Yin Yoga
The two main principles that differentiate yin practice from a more yang approach to yoga are holding the poses for several minutes and stretching the connective tissue around the joint.
The overlying muscles must be relaxed and free from tension so that one can soften into the pose and allow time for the connective tissue to be stretched.
Because Yin Yoga requires that the muscles be relaxed around the connective tissue one aims to stretch, not all yoga poses can be done effective or safely as yin poses.
Yin Yoga poses
Many yin poses are based on classic yoga asanas. Although the emphasis on releasing the muscles rather than on contracting them means that the shape of the poses or the approach used may be slightly different from that of other schools of yoga. Most yin poses have different names to their more familiar yang cousins in order help practitioners keep the distinctions in mind.
In this Yin yoga weekend course, we will explore the different yin poses in order to encourage and improve our seated practice while gently stimulate the flow of qi or prana through the connective tissue.
For details on the Yin yoga workshop course, please see Yin Yoga with Mel Prouty Oct10