Yoga as we know it nowadays has become much more of a physical, demanding practice in which we practice postures and movements in a variety of ways, maybe even flowing with the breath. These practices are energising and strong in nature. They require a much larger amount of energy input and can provide us with a numerous amount of health benefits, not just limited to physical, but also to the mind and to the spiritual self. These practices, like Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga and so on, are considered to be Yang. The energetic counterpart to Yin.
These more active practices are great, and I am in no way trying to discourage anyone from practicing them, as I myself really adore these more dynamic yoga practices. Yin, however, is a fantastic supplement to your life if you are quite an active and on the go person, it can help bring balance, and slow us down just enough to bring a bit more presence back into our lives.
There are three tattvas of yin yoga. A tattva is the reality something, or its principal nature. These tattvas are outlined as:
Come into the pose to an appropriate depth
Resolve to remain still
Hold the pose for time.
Remembering these tattvas can really help simplify this practice.
Yin, is a predominantly floor based style of yoga. Passive stretches are applied to the body, so that we can target the deeper tissues within our body, like fascia, ligaments, bones and joints. These tissues, having much less blood supply than our muscles, require longer, much more passive forms of applied stress if we are to stimulate them to grow stronger. Yin yoga is specifically designed to exercise the ligaments and to regain space and strength in the joints.
Our connective tissues, such as fascia, are similar to muscles in the sense that they can contract and lengthen. This more passive style of yoga allows us to get deep into the connective tissue as well, allowing it to slowly lengthen to provide us with more flexibility and elasticity within these tissues, ultimately providing us with more flexibility and more available movement patterns.