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What is Yin Yoga and how is it different to Vinyasa or Ashtanga?

This a question I get asked often because I teach both Yin and Yang yoga. I decided to write this blog because I have been asked a few times recently for information specifically about what the benefits of Yin Yoga are. I had my own personal journey with Yin Yoga, so I feel compelled to also share a little of this too.. When I first tried Yin, I was quite new to yoga in general and was not yet a yoga teacher. I was used to hot yoga flows and ashtanga. I am quite a yang person and I noticed that when I tried Yin, although the class was well run by an experienced and great teacher, I personally felt some sadness (I was going through some life changes at the time) and also some frustration and boredom, I didn't like it and felt like it was a waste of time because I didn't feel like I was 'doing anything.' How wrong I was! Sometimes what you need the most is what you avoid at first :) Later I was at a beautiful yoga and hiking retreat in Devon that had some Yin classes as part of the schedule and I mentioned this to the teacher there. He explained that if you feel sadness then that's OK and recommended that I simply observe/welcome good or bad feelings and allow them to arise, as it can be that old emotions are releasing that were supressed and held in the body. I started to change my perspective and enjoy the classes..possibly also because we were so busy in the day physically, I really needed and welcomed the stillness that weekend, but regardless, I started to love Yin and embrace the stillness and quiet that I actually had been resisting for some time, but needed. Some time later in life, I went on to do my 200 hours Teacher Training in Vinyasa and Ashtanga. It was there that my philosophy and Vinyasa teachers helped me start to observe my own thought patterns and I realised the impact our unconscious and conscious thoughts have on how happy we are and started to realise more about how negative and self limiting thoughts hold us back and can make us feel sad because we are holding onto unhelpful thought patterns, often learned or passed down to us through parents, caregivers, teachers etc. I started to shift my perspective further and identified unhelpful thought patterns I was holding that I had learned and did not want to keep anymore. This was life changing or me. Since then I have learned to love Yin, because I know the practise is almost like medicine but with no side effects and it is completely natural. I love my yang (Ashtanga and Vinyasa) practise, and am an Ashtangi at heart, but I do practise Yin too and I find it to be the perfect compliment - we cannot be 'Yang' (moving fast) all the time, we need the balance and the body needs stillness to replenish and rejuvenate after our yang practise, be that yoga or day to day busy life.

How it works: Yin is all about embracing the stillness, the softness and the quiet. Uncomfortable at first, but this becomes blissful once we surrender to it! Yin is linked to to Moon element, whereas Yang is linked to the sun elements. Yang is faster, working on the muscles, it can be sweaty and fast paced. In Yin, we find our 'edge' (landing where gravity takes us, without over effort) and then we hold the postures longer - usually 2-5 mins. This enables us to get into the deeper layers of the body; the cells, connective tissues, ligaments, tendons and fascia. Emotionally this is where the body can hold unresolved emotions, (not always bad, for example it could be overwhelm) which is why some may find Yin brings those emotions to the surface so we can release them. Physically, this puts healthy stress on the target areas, softening them, so they come back stronger, This is why so many athletes now practise Yin as part of their schedule and why it is a perfect compliment to Yang practises. It is also really beneficial for anyone that wishes to recharge, find some stillness and peace in a busy world, or to help process/release/connect to their emotions. Yin is a very nourishing, healing and nurturing practise and can be helpful on its own, or as a compliment to Yang yoga, running, athletics etc. So, there we have it, a brief summary about Yin Yoga and its benefits and how it differs to Yang, but can compliment our Yang lifestyle/yoga practises.

I hope that this blog is informative and helpful in giving a very brief overview of the practise of Yin. Really to do it is better than reading of the benefits, as we all have our own yoga journey and will have a better understanding of the benefits from doing than reading.

I love doing Yin once or twice a week alongside my Yang Ashtanga practise. For me, it is my time to process any emotions or stresses needing releasing and to allow my body to embrace this soft and still space that we all need, especially in today's busy world. To find out more or if you are interested in coming to one of my Yin classes, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Much Love, Lorraine @Mudra Om Yoga. xxx

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