13.10.16

Yin Yoga is Restorative

There is one terminology not acquainted to Yin Yoga  and so often mistakenly closely associated with this slow particular practice of Yoga. This term is "stretching" as in statements such as " yin is long passive stretching",  "do some yin and stretch it out softly" "stretching in yin is safe, go ahead". Here some clarifications and dissociations
from this "one-size-fits-all term". Anatomically, stretching means expanding the size of a muscle, giving it some length and space and slightly lengthening it beyond its usual capacity. This practice is good as it energises the tissue, keeping it moist, flexible and soft. Moreover, adequate stretch combined with adequate breathing, inhaling and exhaling brings a certain level of movement into muscules surrounding the area in stretch. Whether it is a twist, a forward bend, a bend stretch or a seated poses, stretching is actually the result of a movement not the movement per se. Muscles are attached with ligaments to respective bones and are involved in a number of activations, rotations, flexions, bending, twisting, extensions, contractions. These ligaments are vital for the wrllbeing of the muscles and focusing on stretching the muscle may actually tear the ligament and result in injuries. Moreover, the fascias, or membrane surrounding the muscle also acts as a protective layer tissue for the muscle giving it its full capacity.

In dynamic, static, vinyasas, or repetitive movements most engagement of muscles is active: we lift the leg thanks to activating a number of muscles in the hips and legs. Several repetitions of this movment will indeed activiate and energise the muscles involved and strengthen its capacity it will not stretch it. Stretching will come as a result of bring the leg down and lengthening the muscle for instance while holding Purvottanasana upward facing plank where the whole front of the body gets a long stretch.
In Yin Yoga we do not stretch. We hold the pose foor as long as 10 minutes in some cases, and observe the breathing and flow of energy into the area in focus, removing any tensions, any activation of muscles. As though the skeletong was enpty of flesh, we bend, we twist, and we follow an organic movement, we never force, we explore the breathing, pause and become patient. What is actually occuring is by the removing of tensions, engagement of parasympathetic nervous system, without any adrenaline, and with release of wellbeing hormones, a sense of relaxation is installed which spirals into a release of tensions and passive  creation of space between limbs and within the limbs.

Yin Yoga has restorative effects on the body similalry to the effects can meditation can have on a stressed mind. To much active practice  does stress the body however beneficial it is. Yet restorative yoga is not yin yoga. In Restorative Yoga there are only just a few asana, often legs up, and often held for up to 20 minutes. It is a meditative restoration and relaxation practice  of Yoga often beneficial for persons with high level of stress, injuries or other somatic blockages.  Revolving around Savasana, Restorative Yoga is a deeply felt silent practice with lots of props.

Enjoy some Yin Yoga in complement of an active practice of Vinyasa, or any fitness exercise. Your body will reward you with long lasting benefits because you are giving it a chance to act without tension.

Thank you !