The beauty of yin yoga is the slippery line between form and formlessness.
Yin is the liminal space, in which the pose serves as a gateway or portal into some unknown territory in the body, mind, psyche.
Through an anatomical lens, stretching muscles and releasing tension creates an effect on the nervous system that chemically switches us from sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze) to parasympathetic (rest, digest, repair, connect) dominance.
Since we hold the poses for 3-5 minutes in yin yoga, we have time to detect imbalances and discrepancies throughout our physical body, and soften into poses with breath in a way that has the potential to reorganise and heal fascia, connective tissue.
In the quest to understand why yin feels so beneficial I think we overlook the profundity of stillness. It is only in a state of deep stillness that our bodies can regenerate. It is only in stillness that our breath falls into it's resting state. It is only in stillness that we can process, digest and assimilate stimulus in the mind that may otherwise be overwhelming.
I guide yin students through three stages to facilitate yin as a journey into the liminal space of transformation and insight:
1. FORM - Connect to the bones and structure of the pose. Observe the tissues in the body and discern which area is speaking the loudest. Tend to the specific region that is feeling the posture the most intensely. Use props or readjust the pose so that there is a presence in the area that the pose opens, but the intensity is distributed over a wide space.
2. INTERCONNECTEDNESS - Now, allow your attention to be carried from the particular to the whole. Explore relationships within the body between limbs, across muscle groups, to the space around and within you. Tune into not the body, breath nor mind, but the spaces in between this trinity.
3. VOID - Fall into the liminal matrix of stillness that lies beneath our tangible, material reality. Elevate just a breath above specific thoughts and notice the patterns of sensation arising, surfacing and passing. The void is the gateway to experiencing insight, healing and transformation.
The liminal space beckons
in this pure pose.
She is where the void meets form,
A portal only one breath worn.
One breath warm.
This is the luminous space, one step
above the thinking storm,
One gravitational tug beneath soul's secret kept.
It's like coming home when it's wet.
Lying yin-soft, unfold wide.
From your heart our skies collide
'N' all the small tasks and big smiles
Of the everyday grit, get wings
and become lighter things.