Yin Yoga in Las Vegas

 In All, Meditation, Miscellaneous, Teacher Insights, Yoga

By Oxana Merkulina and Aaron Hilyard

In modern western culture, yoga is overwhelmingly yang in nature. It is energizing, powerful, and acrobatic. Yin Yoga, on the other hand, is calming, gentle, and still. The circular swirl of black and white known as the ‘yin yang symbol’ represents duality and also unity, and honoring both halves makes the practice of yoga complete.In fact, the emphasis on the more athletic styles of yoga practiced in America today is a relatively recent phenomenon. While the term “Yin Yoga” began gaining popularity in the 1990s thanks to the work of Paul Grilley, Sarah Powers, and many others, the practice itself is a return to the ancient roots of Taoist and Tantric traditions.

The physical benefits of Yin Yoga are experienced in the connective tissue.
Bones, ligaments, tendons, and fascia are types of connective tissue, but many other kinds of fibrous tissues branch through every cell of the body. Connective tissues give the body structure and create a framework for proprioception, the sense of where the body is in space. Regular gentle exercise of these tissues through Yin Yoga results in feelings of ease and freedom through the joints.

This ease and freedom in the connective tissue is supported by the muscular strength and stamina developed in more active yang styles of practice. Exercise is gentle stress that stimulates the healthy recovery of the exercised tissue. Most of us have some idea of how this works with muscles. The rubber band-like tissues of the muscles respond well to quick, repeated, powerful contraction and lengthening. Muscles become tired, then sore, but then recover stronger.

Connective tissue is less like a rubber band and more like string. Therefore, it cannot be exercised in the same way as muscle. In a Yin Yoga practice, gentle poses are held in stillness for several minutes with the muscles around the targeted area relaxed. The connective tissue does not lengthen and contract like muscle, it is just gently stressed near the edge of its natural length. Coming out of these poses often feels similar to the stiffness of waking up in the morning. That stiff feeling fades with a few seconds of movement, and as the connective tissue recovers, the practitioner experiences sensations of ease and freedom of movement.

Just as the yin and yang tissues of the physical body must be exercised differently, the emotional and intellectual attitude of Yin Yoga is different than in more active practices. Instead of effort and control, Yin Yoga requires ease and observation. Daily modern life often focuses on competition and achievement, and Yin Yoga is a wonderful way to balance that with compassion and acceptance.

Yin Yoga is also a great way to approach meditation. It can be very uncomfortable to sit still for any length of time, but the physical benefits of Yin Yoga make sitting comfortably much easier. It can be very difficult to observe the mind, and the attitude cultivated in Yin Yoga can make this much easier as well.

Ultimately, yin and yang practices work best together, as the practitioner realizes these two halves as part of one universal whole.

Main Source: Yin Yoga Principles & Practice, by Paul Grilley.

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