All you need to know about Yin Yoga – Origin, History, Benefits and Steps
Yin Yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga as exercise which is incorporating principles of traditional Chinese medicine with asanas that are held for longer periods of time than in other styles. For beginners, asanas may be held from 45 seconds to two minutes or more advanced practitioners may stay in one asana for five minutes or more. The sequences of postures are meant to stimulate the channels of the subtle body known as meridians in Chinese medicine and as Nadis in Hatha yoga.
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Origin of Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga was founded in the late 1970s by martial arts expert and yoga teacher Paulie Zink Taoist yoga (Tao Yin). Yin Yoga is taught across North America and Europe encouraged by its teachers Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers. As taught by Grilley and Powers which not intended as a complete practice in itself, but as a complement to more active forms of yoga and exercise.
However, Zink’s approach includes the full range of Taoist yoga, both yin and conventional.
History of Yin Yoga
Paul Grilley was a student of Paulie Zink who led Taoist yoga. Grilley had admired the flexibility that Zink exhibited in his martial arts. The Taoist yoga asana Zink offered was a mixture of yang style martial arts and yin like poses.
Grilley connected with yin asana and began to offer “all yin” classes. One of Grilley’s students was Sarah Powers who coined the term “yin yoga.” Grilley had been referring to the practice as Taoist Yoga until Powers made that distinction.
In the 1990s, Grilley and Powers popularized yin yoga. Powers was a prolific teacher who traveled and had an expansive student base. She added dharma talks and meditation to her courses, enriching yin.
She referred students to Grilley who wanted more knowledge of anatomy and energy bodies. Grilley and Powers remain great yin teachers, today. Information referenced with the permission of Bernie Clark.
Benefits of doing Yin Yoga
Some of the benefits of doing Yin Yoga are listed below:
- Calms and balances the mind and body
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Increases circulation
- Improves flexibility
- Releases fascia and improves joint mobility
- Balances the internal organs and improves the flow of chi or prana
Steps of doing Yin Yoga
Some of the steps of doing Yin Yoga are:
- The first step in doing yin yoga is serenity. One Should believe that one of the primary roadblocks to an at-home practice is the availability of our technology when no one else is watching. You should not only have to turn off their cell phones, television, and computer but intentionally put them in an entirely different room to avoid the temptation of a mid-practice snap.
- The second step of doing yin yoga is staging. Lighting has a huge influence on our ability to drop into your breath, body, and yin yoga practice. If you have the blessing of dim lighting, dim those lights. If you have a fireplace, practice by a burning fire. Alternatively, ditch the artificial lighting altogether and set candles safely around your yoga mat for total and complete calm.
- The third step of doing yin yoga is the scent. Staging the everyday smells of our homes (pets, dirty laundry, kids diapers) can sometimes feel anything but soothing. You should burn essential oils, incense, or sage or setting up a nebulizer before and or during your practice to garner the many benefits of aromatherapy throughout your yin yoga session.
- The fourth step of doing yin yoga is sound. Any external sounds from cars honking, your neighbor’s music, or kids playing outside can deter you from really dropping into your practice. You should Play soft soothing music, ideally without lyrics to accompany you on your yin yoga journey.
- The fifth step of doing yin yoga is surrounding. Think about your favorite place to practice yoga. You should visualize the aspects of the space itself that are transferable to your home yoga space. You should Make an investment in lush green houseplants, decluttering otherwise chaotic spaces, and setting up a meditation altar with meaningful items such as deities, salt lamps, crystals, and your journal will rapidly transform a home into a yoga home.
- The sixth step of doing yin yoga supports. A great challenge with an at-home yin yoga practice is the costly need for props. Don’t despair- your home is probably already stocked with everything you need to support your practice. Be creative and support your body as you yin.
- The seventh step of doing yin yoga is surrender. You should try to practice at home, but the moment your nose dips towards the floor. You should catch a glimpse of how dusty it is down there and suddenly sweeping and mopping becomes your yoga practice instead. You should resist the temptation to clean that spot on the floor you notice while folding forward in butterfly pose and stick to the completion of your entire sequence.
- The eighth step of doing yin yoga is safety. When you have no “in-person” yin yoga teacher to guide you, it becomes really important to tune in and listen to your body, especially in a yin yoga setting. Do not push yourself beyond your edge, linger with sensations as they arise, and come out whenever you feel sharp pain or feel at all unsafe.
- The ninth step of doing yin yoga is the screen. Yoga is about disconnecting.
- The tenth step of doing yin yoga is savasana. Sweet sweet savasana. Something about our at-home practice tends to prevent us from fully indulging in savasana.