What is Yin Yoga?

Have you ever wondered what the difference was between Restorative and Yin Yoga? Have you looked at the yoga schedule and thought “hmmm, Yin Yoga, what is that?!” In considering classes for your yoga practice, you may stick with what you know, it’s comforting and you know what to expect. Totally understandable! Or maybe you choose Restorative versus Yin, because you’ve tried it before and you know that you finally just get to lay on the floor with lots of blankets, bolsters, and an eye pillow to close off the outside world. We need that, we do. Restorative Yoga is just that, a restoration of our nervous system. It gives you permission to slow down, relax, and let an internal healing take place. It helps you get out of the chronic stress loop. Yin yoga is actually very similar because it also helps us balance our energies in this very active Yang world.

We live in a world that wants everything fast, now, and readily available. The fast-paced media driven culture plants unnecessary expectations of how we should be achieving, doing, and producing at all times. There is no value in taking it slow, doing nothing, and making time to rest. We need down time to find harmony in our world, otherwise we risk burn out and overwhelm. Where Restorative Yoga helps your nervous system, Yin Yoga is about your energy flow and the deeper tissues of your physical body. Based in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Yin Yoga helps balance your very active Yang lifestyle.

Yin Yoga is slower and less active; Yang yoga such asVinyasa is faster and more active. In this gentler class, Yin Yoga focuses on the deeper “yin” tissues of your ligaments, joints, fascia, and even your bones. Yang classes such as Vinyasa focuses more on the “yang” tissues of your muscles, circulation of blood, and detox through the skin. In aYin class you will experience around 6-8 poses and they are primarily done seated and held for longer (3-5 minutes) to invoke greater control of the overactive mind and help balance your yang lifestyle. Yin tissues appreciate and require gentler pressures, applied for longer periods of time to be stimulated and regain strength and space, especially in your joints. Yin works withChinese Meridian Energy Lines, which are channels of life force energy through the body. In yoga, we call this prana travelling through the nadis, in Chinese it is called Chi, and in Japanese it is called Ki. The teacher may focus on one or more of these lines, applying pressure through the pose using blocks, blankets, or even a roller ball on acupressure points. In Ayurveda, these connections are called marma points.

With emphasis on certain energy lines, you will experience a feeling of rejuvenation to provide energy flow through the organs and release tension in the deeper parts of the fascia. Blocked and stagnant energy causes pain and tension, especially in the fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue holding and binding together your internal body structures. Scar tissue can be held here from physical trauma and tension could also exist within due to emotional trauma. Yin Yoga will release the tension in the fascia, which helps with pain management and emotional processing. Pain management and relief is so important in our chronically stressed world. Both Restorative and Yin Yoga are wonderful for slowing you down, allowing you space to relax and just be. If you are curious about trying a Yin Yoga class, join Sirena on Tuesdays and Amanda on Thursdays, both classes at 7:30 PM. Balance out your yang life and workouts with a slow down into the subtle body and energy system with a yin healing pace.

Written by Sirena Dudgeon.

Sirena is an experienced yoga teacher holding certifications as an E-RYT 200, RYT 500, and in Yin and Restorative Yoga. As the owner of Life Cycles Yoga she specializes in astrology and yoga, teaching workshops and holding training sessions at various national yoga conferences as a YACEP contributor for Yoga Alliance.

Sirena recently co-authored a yoga book on the spiritual aspect of intersecting various mystical and religious beliefs. She engages in a yoga practice that goes beyond the mat and connects deeply with her students, encouraging them to embrace their own practice for where they are in their life journey.

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