Meaning of Yin Yoga
The normal yoga is practiced to strengthen the internal and the external muscles, but YIN yoga is practiced for strengthening the joints of the body. You can say it to be the balancing practice for the yang style of yoga. The main difference between yin yoga and other style of yoga is that yin yoga is not a restorative yoga. Hence, if you damage some tissues of your body and are trying to restore it by practicing yin yoga then think again, because in such a case the yin yoga will prove to be more harmful than beneficial. In such a case you should better wait for healing before starting yin yoga. The objective of yin yoga is similar to any other style of yoga. The stimulation created normally in the position of asanas is practiced very deep compared to the muscular or superficial tissues (which we call the yang tissues). The objective of yin yoga is to connect tissues like bones, ligament and the joints of the body which are normally not exercised much in the practice of different other styles of yoga asanas.
Yin Yoga Benefits
Yin yoga is very much suitable for students of almost every level. This yoga is complimentary to the muscular and dynamic style of yoga which emphasise internal heat, and the contracting and lengthening of muscles. The main objective of yin yoga is to strengthen the lower spine, pelvis and hips. In the beginning this style of yoga appears to be soft, passive and boring, but during the practice the yin yoga appears to be quite challenging on account of the long duration of poses. Here the students practicing the yin yoga are expected to remain in the same position for a duration of one to twenty minutes. Therefore, the only way to understand Yin yoga is to experience it.The practice of this yoga makes one realise that he had been doing only half of the yoga practice.
Description about the different Poses (asanas) of yin yoga has been given below:
Anahatasana (Melting Heart)
To get into the pose you should get down on your hands and knees. Move your hands forward so that your chest rest on the floor keeping your hips just above your knees. You should try to keep your hands apart about the width of your shoulder. The benefit form this posture is open shoulders, a nice backbend for upper and middle back. To get out of this posture you could slide forward on your belly or move back into child’s posture. The joints affected by this pose are shoulder/humerus joint, mild stress in the lower spine and it gives nice compression to the upper back.
To get into the pose you should sit on your heels. If your knees or ankle develop unbearable pain then this pose is not suitable for you. It is a great counter pose for squatting or toe exercises. It is a strong stimulant for fourmeridians which flow through the feet and ankles, and it opens and strengthens the ankles. Initially you should hold in this position for one minute and gradually the holding period may be increased as per your tolerance limit. The areas benefitted in this posture are spleen, liver, stomach, and gall bladder lines while the joint affected is the ankle joint.
A safe way to get into this pose is to sit on your heel as in the case of ankle stretch and place your hands on the floor behind you and lift your hips forward. When the hips move forward the back arches. Then you should let your head down backwards. If you have some problem with your neck then try to keep your chin to your chest. This pose is good for those with drooping shoulders or hunched backs, as it opens the shoulders, stretches the hips flexors, arches deeply the sacral/lumbar spine and opens the top of the thighs and provides openings in the ankles. The ankles, shoulders and spine joints are benefitted by this pose.
Cat Pulling Its Tail
To start in this pose you have to sit keeping both your legs In front of you. Then twisting to your right you should recline on to your right elbow. Keep your right leg straight and get your left leg forward and to the side. Bend the right leg such that the heels come closer to your bottom. Now reach with your left hand to grab the right foot. You should now try to pull your foot away from you. This pose opens the upper thighs and quadriceps, compresses the lower back mildly and it is a good counter pose to very strong forward bends.
For this pose you have to sit on your heels and then slowly fold forward such that your chest rests on your thighs and your forehead on the floor. This pose is beneficial for spine and ankle, and gives relief from back pain and neck pain. It gently compresses stomach and chest and is beneficial to organs of digestion. Child’s Pose is a healing and restful pose.
In this pose you have to stand with both the feet about hip width apart. Bending forward hold your elbows with opposite hands. This pose stretches gently the lower spine, warms up the quadriceps and loosens the hamstring, compresses the stomach and the internal organs, develops strength in the diaphragm, massages the abdominal organs and cures menstrual cramps. The spine joints are mainly affected by this pose. This pose is very good for liver, kidneys and spleen. The urinary bladder meridian is highly stimulated by this pose on account of intense stretching along the back of spine and legs.
Sit in the butterfly position on the floor, now swing the right foot behind you near your hips. Simultaneously move the left foot away from you trying to make a right angle with your right knee. Now gradually move your right foot away from you till you start feeling uncomfortable in the position. You must keep both the sitting bones rooted firmly to the ground. This pose improves digestion and relieves gas, helps in relieving symptoms of menopause, reduces swelling of legs during pregnancy, and is therapeutic for high blood pressure and asthma. The joints benefitted are mostly hips and also spine if the twisting version is included. As for organs the gall bladder is benefitted, when the thighs are stretched the spleen and stomach gets benefitted, sensation in inner groin indicate benefits to liver and kidneys.
You have to start in the child’s pose sliding the hands forward separating the knee but remaining on the heels. This pose is known as Tadpole or Frog Pose. This pose is a deep groin opener, provides a little back bend to compress the lower back, relieves cramps and aids digestion. Shoulders, lower back and hips joints are benefitted by this pose. The liver, spleen and kidney meridians are worked by the inner leg pressure. The upper body meridians get massaged by the forward stretching of arms which affect the lungs, heart and large and small intestine.
For this pose stand with feet apart by hip width. Next, squat down and bring your arms in front as in a prayer.Keep the elbows lightly against shins or knees. This pose strengthens the ankles and opens the hips. It is very helpful in preparing the body for child birth. The pose releases the lower back and offers a great relief to women who suffer pain in the lower back during menstrual cycle. Ankle knees and hips joints are benefitted by this pose. The gall bladder, spleen, stomach and urinary bladder meridians get stimulated if you feelthis through your ankles. The kidneys and liver lines are also affected as they pass through the urinary bladder and groin lines on the back.
You should sit on your toes keeping the feet together. Be on the balls of your feet. This pose strengthens ankles and opens feet and toes, stimulates the six lines of lower body meridians. Here ankles and toes are benefitted by this pose. All the meridians of lower body are stimulated due to compression in the toes. The front of the ankles also gets compressed which helps to open the liver, spleen, stomach and gall bladder lines.