Monday, February 21, 2011

Yin Yoga

Hands in Savasana
Photo "Hands in Savasana" kindly provided by Kona Yoga

Yin Yoga helps me bridge the gap between Yoga and Qi Gong.

My first exposure to Yoga was the Tibetan 5 Exercise Rites a very "Yang" style of yoga, that focused on a repetition of 5 postures 21 times.  Though it did help my core muscles, strength, I did not feel the transformational effects of personality that I wanted.

Once I settled into a yoga class at work I had a great teacher that offered a good mix of Active (Yang like) and Passive (Yin like) asanas.  I kept on bumping into people that had inferred the transformational effect of Yin Yoga.  Reading more about it, I can see its appeal, and its reasoning.

The fascia holds everything together and is connected to all parts of body, its the "body's internet" (New Rules of Posture Mary Bond), without it you would be a big lump of jelly, muscle and bones.  Rudolf Stone father of "Polarity Theraphy" often said that its all in the fascia, it in fact reflects the subtle energy fields and pathways of the subtle bodies.  Studies in Chinese Traditional Medicine now thinks that the meridian points flow through the fascia.  The fascia is highly sensitive to stress, and tension in one area easily affects the other.  Yin Yoga works on joints ligaments etc, and stretches out the fascia and the muscular-skeleton structure.

Anyone who has experienced the restorative effects of the Corpse pose, or the delightful stretch of the Pigeon or Squat poses, would be able to see the potential of a Yin style practice.  However a Yin type practice requires a lot more acceptance, letting go, and relaxing letting nature run through your body, rather than your own will and ego.  

Here are 4 principals of doing Yin Yoga based on Sarah Power's Insight Yoga book. The book has much more detailed comprehensive information which I have interpreted and modified based on my own experience, a sample content link to the book have been put in the Cool Resources section of this book, this offers some more great background reading.

1. Ease into poses non-aggressively and sensitively,  be highly aware of sensations given by the pose.  Use props if required, to make it more comfortable.  Readjust or stop if there is pain.

2. Reduce movement, as to encourage the Qi into the bones, joints, ligaments instead of the muscles, let gravity do its work.  Movements moves Qi into the muscles, now I know why my spiritual mentor told me not to move while meditating!  Also this is directly in line with Qi Gong movements, where movements are to be done in a relaxed manner, without fully exerting the muscles and locking the joints.  
Iyengar often said, "we have to hold the apple in our hand and let the horse come to it rather than run after the horse", so we have to hold the pose without our ego, and let the pose do its work.  All asanas have got a certain "Scared Geometry" which guides the Qi into a certain pathway given no resistance.

3. Hold the pose in the beginning from 1 to 3 minutes, building up to 5 minutes.

4. Do long breath rhythmic breathing.  Breath in Qi, Breath out Tension

Given this guidelines, one can modify suitable poses into a Yin type pose, the following site has some Yin Asanas examples (Seal, Sphinx instead of Cobra), note it can be dangerous to hold a yang asana in a yin style manner (see Paul Grilley - Theory of Yin Yoga Video Excerpt) , you would know this because pain would kick in, and muscles would be over strained, please apply common-sense and listen to your body, stop or seek instructions from a qualified teacher or your medical adviser to incorporate this to prevent any strain or injuries..


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This work by Kirpal Chauhan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
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