What is Yin Yoga?

Most of the asana and yoga practiced in studios in the West is very ‘yang’ or ‘active’. It works the muscular body, strengthening, toning and lengthening the muscles. Yin yoga is the counter to this – a gentle, passive practice where poses are held with support for longer, to work into the hidden aspect of the body – the joints and ligaments. Whilst the key words of yang yoga may be ‘engage, focus, deepen’, the key words of yin are ‘yield, soften, surrender, become receptive.’ Yang practice inspires change, Yin yoga inspires acceptance.

The terms yang-yin come from Chinese wisdom, representing the polarities in the natural world – and actually how seeming opposites are interconnected and interdependent. Yang: Yin is masculine: feminine, active: passive, external: internal, light: shadow, mind: soul. In yoga, the dance or ‘play’ between these two opposite forces is called ‘lila’, it characterises the ups and downs of life, and yoga is the path to bring both aspects into union, balance and harmony.

‘Yoga is a dance between control and surrender – between pushing and

letting go – and when to push and when to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your being.’

(Joel Kramer, The Passionate Mind)

There are Three Stages to Yin Yoga:

  1. Find your edge

  2. Become Still

  3. Hold for some time

Finding your edge involves using the asana (posture) to get deeper into the body, rather than using the body to get deeper into the asana. This requires a surrender of your ego. You have to work with the body and mind you have right in this moment on the mat. This is an invitation to begin your practice with a very honest and humble reality check. How am I really right now?

On being introduced to an asana you make self adjustments within the pose, exploring the interconnected muscles and systems in the body, so that you feel