May 7, 2018

The one Style of Yoga that every human Body absolutely Needs.

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As a yoga teacher who has dabbled in a few different styles of yoga, I believe that the one style of yoga that every human body absolutely needs is Yin yoga.

There are many ways to exercise the cardiovascular system and develop strength in the body including running, hiking, biking, swimming, Ashtanga/Vinyasa yoga, weight training, and more, but Yin yoga is the only proven way to stress, stretch, and lubricate the connective tissues in the body.

In the last two years of practicing Yin, I have not only become more flexible and agile, but have developed a sense of calm, serene, peaceful energy within. Having been a fiery pitta spirit all my life, I did not discover that my calm yin side is as strong as my energetic yang side, until I started practicing Yin yoga on a regular basis.

Rather challenging at first, I grew into it as I observed the changes in my mind and body. Much to my own surprise, I’m a big Yinster these days!

What is yin?

The word yin comes from the Chinese Taoist yin yang philosophy. Yang is fiery, driven, masculine, and focused on doing, while yin is calm, composed, and focused on being. Our muscles, which are yang in nature, are similar to elastic and change quickly, while our connective tissues, which are yin in nature, are like plastic, and slower to change. We pay a lot of attention to our muscles, but how much love do we give our connective tissues, the most abundant tissues in our bodies?

Why yin?

Connective tissues consist of bone, muscle fascia, tendons, and ligaments. They contain fibroblasts (cells that contain hyaluronic acid or moisture) which naturally decrease in the body as we age. Medical studies show that stretching the connective tissues increases the production of fibroblasts, resulting in increased moisture to the joints. Also, with time and age, a variety of yang-based practices start weakening the joints in the body, making them prone to injury. Yin focuses on stressing the connective tissues around the joints, which helps to strengthen them in the process.

Last, but definitely not least, we are all composed of energy: also known as qi/chi (Japanese/Chinese) or prana (yogic).

There is a constant flow of energy throughout the body through energy channels or pathways which are referred to as “meridians” in Chinese medicine. These meridians reside within the connective tissues of the body. There are approximately 71 meridians in the body, out of which six are affected by Yin postures. They are the liver, gall bladder, kidney, urinary bladder, spleen, and stomach meridians.

When we stretch connective tissues in our body, we affect and influence the flow of energy through the meridians that pass through the area being stretched. The stimulation of hyaluronic acid in the joints during Yin yoga has been suggested to be vital for the movement of energy through the body. And we all know it is absolutely essential to move energy in order to keep the body alive!

How to Yin?

In Yin yoga, poses (including forward folds and backbends) targeting the connective tissues are held for long periods of time (about four to seven minutes), with the support of props such as bolsters and blocks. Yin yoga is accessible and approachable to individuals who have never practiced any other kind of yoga. It is a mindful meditative practice, focused on breath and sensation. It can be relaxing in nature, but can be challenging at first, due to the fact that it is a rather still and silent practice.

Yin yoga cultivates the art of being and accepting things that are outside of our control. It also allows us to keenly observe the subtle sensations in our body, therefore helping us become more aware of our bodies—much needed, especially given the current state of the world we live in!

Whether you are a painter, a football player, or an engineer, long, deep stretches that stress the connective tissues in the body are pertinent to ensure that your joints stay healthy throughout your life. Imagine your life filled with an abundance of agility and flexibility. When yin and yang are in union, it creates a sense of balance in the mind, body, and soul, resulting in a state of bliss. Try Yin!


Bonus! The Simple Buddhist Trick to being Happy.


Author: Shruthi Krishnaswamy 
Image: Max Pixel
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy & Social Editor: Nicole Cameron

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Shruthi Krishnaswamy May 9, 2018 6:07pm

It is like Iyengar yoga only in the sense that it uses props, but otherwise quite different. it mainly consists of floor based postures. and pose are held for 4-7 mins. Poses like Trikonasana are not part of a Yin Practice at all.

Mary Ellen May 9, 2018 4:47pm

It sounds more like Iyengar yoga.

Shruthi Krishnaswamy May 9, 2018 3:11pm

Lovely to hear that you practice Iyengar! In terms of the use of props, it is similar to Iyengar, but otherwise it is quite different. the poses are held for 5-7 mins, and Yin mostly consists of floor based postures, with a couple of exceptions. I believe iyengar incorporates many more yoga poses into the practice, and not each posture is held for such long periods of time - I have tried Iyengar a long time ago, but it has been a while, so I could be mistaken!

Shruthi Krishnaswamy May 9, 2018 3:08pm

So lovely to hear this! Here are some books, that I like - The complete guide to Yin Yoga - THe philosophy and practice of Yin Yoga by Bernie Clark. Insight Yoga by Sarah Powers Yin Yoga - Principles and Practice by Paul Grilley

Shruthi Krishnaswamy May 9, 2018 3:05pm

Check out my other article which talks about the meaning and philosophy from the bhagavat Gita and the Yoga Sutras :) www.elephantjournal.com/2018/04/you-cant-do-crunches-in-a-yoga-class-thats-not-real-yoga/

Laura Leigh White May 9, 2018 2:59pm

“Yin yoga cultivates the art of being and accepting things that are outside of our control.” This sentence caught my attention, and I have ADHD along with several other letters that definitely aren’t the kind to put on a resumé! I’m a year and a half into my yoga practice, and this is the first I’ve heard about Yin Yoga. I’ve lived an active life, and I’ve always attacked each sport with everything I had. Obviously I used my “yang”! Gymnast, ballet, long distance running, and water skiing are my favorites from the past. Now that I’m older, my yang seems to beg for the yin. I just didn’t know it, or didn’t want to accept it. Your article has inspired me to embrace my yin side and incorporate it into my yang side. I never actually understood the whole yin yang thing until I read your article. Do you recommend a source for other poses that will help my yin practice? Forward folds and backbends I can do, but where can I find more information that is trustworthy? BTW...It sounds like you’ve lived an exciting and adventurous life so far.

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Shruthi Krishnaswamy

Shruthi Krishnaswamy was born in India, raised in the Middle East, and has lived in the United States for two decades. She believes that “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” Ayoga teacher, writer, artist, singer, home chef, and more, she has travelled many miles, through different pastures, and varying cycles of breath. She has no intent of arriving! Check out her writing on her website, her artwork here, and her life on Instagram.