Yin yoga on a physical level is a practice where yoga asanas are held passively for minutes at a time instead of counting the breath as in a flowing vinyasa class. The composition of a Yin class is mainly time spent in yoga postures on the floor to allow the target area of the body to become muscularly soft and have the support of the floor to aid in this result. In a vinyasa style yoga class the muscles are stimulated by aerobic movements. Ligaments and tendons are not really affected due to the minimal time spent in the posture and because of muscle engagement. Ligaments and tendons are only effectively reached by time, a healthy amount of stress applied to an area and the relaxation of muscles. The approach to a Yin class has three key elements. Find your edge; coming into the posture to a place where you are having an experience but you are not to your maximum or causing any sharp pain. Be still; consciously trying to release and soften into the posture not adjusting your body too much. Holding the position; being with the position for minutes at a time to allow the body and the target area to relax and access the deep connective tissue.
Yin yoga on an energetic level concentrates on working with the meridians (energy lines of the body). According to Traditional Chinese Medicine there are 72,000 meridians in the human body. These energy lines are invisible to the human eye and are connected to the organ systems of the body . They can be felt through experience of physical sensations in the body. These sensations may be a tingling throughout the body or a presence of emotion while in a posture for example. It is said that when there is tightness or pain in the physical body that the energy line to that area is blocked. The health of the meridians determines how the CHI(life force) flows through the meridians. This affects our health and overall well being . The postures of Yin yoga look to open up these channels and clear away these blockages in order to release that energy out of the body and allow for deep healing. There are many benefits to Yin yoga. One would consider this practice if they are interested in having enhanced energy flow in the meridians, loosening of tight fascia, increased range of motion, decrease inflammation, increased blood flow throughout the body, increased flexibility, being in stillness, reduced stress and anxiety,bone loss prevention, energetic balance to the internal organs, and an overall sense of well being.