Posts Tagged With: Yin

Rest versus Activity

What is your personal favourite; a strong and fast-paced or a more gentle practice? I’m quite drawn to a strong, challenging practice. If I’m challenged, a strong focus is required and my mind doesn’t have a chance to interfere. At the same time, I’m easily stressed and rushing to my daily activities. A fast-paced practice stimulates my sympathetic nervous system – also called the ‘fight or flight’ response – even more. I’m more in need of input from the parasympathetic nervous system, associated with relaxation, nourishment and renewal. The parasympathetic system functions in opposition to the sympathetic system. The parasympathetic system is consistently active at a low level and levels of activity increase when it is necessary to bring the body back to a balanced state from a state of elevated sympathetic activity. If the parasympathetic system is active, it slows down heart rate, dilates blood vessels, activates digestion and stores energy.

In the end, it is all about balance: yin & yang, the feminine & the masculine, activity & rest, sthira & sukha. So rather, I need to learn to listen to my body carefully. What style of yoga is serving me at the moment? Am I kind to my body? Naturally, I include quite a lot of sthira or effort in my yoga practice and in my everyday life. Habitually I try and work hard to reach my goals and lack trust in life. Slowly I’m integrating more peace, stillness and rest in my life. For sure I’m forever learning to be more patient and enjoy my journey.

A wonderful nourishing yoga pose

A wonderful nourishing yoga pose

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Calm Yoga

Yin yoga is a style of yoga founded by Paulie Zink, a Taoist yoga teacher and martial arts expert. It is a combination and mixture of traditional Hatha yoga and several disciplines from the Chinese Taoist tradition – such as Tao Yin, Qi Gong and Kung Fu. In addition, Paulie Zink included yoga postures, variations, visualization and techniques developed by himself. In the Chinese philosophy, Yin and Yang symbolize the duality in the world around us – opposites interacting with each other. These opposites cannot exist without each other. Yang involves movement, change, activity and masculinity. Yin in contrast refers to stillness, calmness and femaleness. Hatha yoga and most of the other Western yoga practices are generally Yang orientated, since they are focused on muscles and movement with an emphasis on stretching the muscles. On the contrary Yin yoga is an essentially quiet practice and therefore a perfect preparation for meditation. In Yang asanas the muscles are addressed in particular. While during Yin yoga the focus is on the connective tissues,  especially in the hips, pelvis and lower spine, including tendons, ligaments and joints. These Yin tissues are generally not addressed in more active styles of yoga.

Yin yoga is certainly suitable for almost all levels of students. A main skill you require or develop while practising this style of yoga is patience. Since you stay in the postures for a reasonable amount of time, generally two to five minutes, but possibly up to twenty. Gravity and time are your main props. The form of asanas can be taken loosely and you let go of your muscles as much as you are comfortable able to. To stay in postures for a length of time is where Yin yoga’s benefit lies: to allow time and gravity to stretch the connective tissues around the joints. Over time, practicing this style of yoga can lengthen the tissues and increase the range of motion. To illustrate: muscles account for about forty percent of the resistance against the body’s flexibility, while connective tissue accounts for about fifty percent. Yin yoga is a perfect complement to the dynamic and muscular Yang styles of yoga.

At first sight this style of yoga can seem quite boring and passive. Though, from my own experience I can guarantee that Yin asanas are actually quite challenging, physically and mentally. Most people are used to move in their daily life and are often in a rush to get from one place to another. While in a Yin yoga pose, you are not moving, you stay exactly where you are in the moment. This soft body approach results in benefits which are extremely useful in our hectic and busy daily lives. It allows you to live with a more flexible and open body and mind. 


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