“Yin Yoga is floor postures held for a few minutes at a time. It’s goal is to decompress the joints.” -Paul Grilley
This is probably one of the most simple explanations of what Yin Yoga is. Most styles of yoga nowadays in the west are dynamic and active, focusing on only half of the body: the muscular half, the ‘yang’ tissues. Yin Yoga provides us with an opportunity to focus on the other half of the body as well, the deeper, tougher ‘yin’ tissues: our tendons, ligaments, deeper fascial networks, and even our skeletal structure. All our tissues are important and all of them need to be addressed in our training and exercise, in order to achieve and maintain optimal balance and vitality in life.
Yoga in general, and Yin Yoga more specifically, has a physical, mental, emotional, and energetic impact on our body and wellbeing. Depending on the type of practice some of these will be stronger influenced than others. The way you practice yoga is at least as important as what you are practicing.
In yoga, we often talk about ‘stretching’ en ‘creating length’. In Yin Yoga, however, we prefer to talk about applying a certain amount of stress to the tissues in the target areas. To apply stress means to apply a certain amount of force that can change the shape of an object. And that is, in fact, exactly what we are doing in yin yoga and the effect we aim to have on our tissues.
“The functional purpose of Yin Yoga is the rebound.” -Paul Grilley
One of the most instant effects of yin yoga is the change in balance and composition of the (connective) tissue. This is what you experience during the ‘rebound’ after a certain pose. This can make you feel weaker, more fragile, a sense of vulnerability. In that moment you want to allow your body the opportunity to hydrate the tissues.