What is Yin Yoga?

slowing down somatic yin yoga yoga Sep 16, 2022

Yin Yoga is a modern technique based on ancient practices that can be used to cultivate physical health and a spacious mind. It’s unique in that it looks at the body as a friend, rather than something to be conquered or controlled. 

Yin Yoga provides a daily self-care ritual for people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities. It is so accessible that one could do it in bed, while sick, while depressed, anxious, or while incredibly inflexible. There are no attached belief systems or religious affiliations, making it universally welcoming and extremely approachable.

If you’ve been looking for a gentle and effective way to address the myriad of physical and emotional stresses that plague you, this is a practice I think you will love.

I teach approximately 45 yin yoga postures. Most of these postures are extremely passive yin yoga postures that are aimed at targeting the fascia and soft tissue network that gets tight and therefore creates pain. However, there are a few postures here that are gentle, active, more “yang” style postures that will ensure you keep your core strong and stable. A weak core can be the cause of tremendous pain and suffering all over the body, and so I felt it had to be addressed. Over the past 15 years that I’ve been practicing yin yoga, I’ve found it’s crucial to make sure we don’t ignore the abdominals or skip the important strengthening practices that we need. Remember, even within Yin there is always a little bit of Yang. 

And please remember that a full-body yang practice of some kind is necessary on a regular basis to keep ourselves healthy overall. Examples of this might be cardiovascular exercise, vinyasa yoga, running, swimming, biking, hiking, walking, or weight lifting. I go more into how to balance your Yin Yoga practice with Yang exercise in my book

While in the Yin Yoga postures, we will work on being still and quiet enough that we can focus on feeling our body. This is the key attribute of the practice that makes it somatic, rather than disembodied. Somatic means body-based, and body-attentive. Practicing in this way wakes up our power of interoception, which is a term from neuroscience that means our ability to feel from the inside out. 

Practicing yin yoga in a somatic way has dramatic results that simply are not felt when we focus on other things while we’re in yoga postures. You could do the same posture - once in a somatic way and once while listening to a very enlightening talk - and get very different results.

Even listening to the words of a brilliant teacher when we’re in a yoga posture is not enough to get the benefits we’re looking for. And especially listening to music, repeating affirmations, or making to-do lists while we are in the poses will deprive us of the immense benefits that come from taking a somatic approach.

To read more about my somatic approach to yin yoga and see pictures of the 45 postures I teach, please check out my book

If you're looking for some instruction about how to relax your tongue during meditation, check out my free guided meditations! There's a 10-minute "Relax the Tongue" practice in there that I think you'll love. 

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