Yin Yoga is a very unique style of yoga accompanying any practice is a huge wealth of knowledge about meridians, chakras and physical anatomy. Here’s a brief overview of yin yoga to let you know a little more about the practice without overwhelming you with information. If you want to delve a little deeper into any of the information covered here I’m sure you’ll find loads of other blog posts and articles online!
Yin Yoga comes from a number of different lineages and complements a yang practice. A yin practice is not complete without yang and vice versa. Yang represents light, heat, noise, activity; yin represents dark, cold, quiet, passivity. In a yang form of exercise we work with muscles, holding muscular tension; in the short term muscles tear when we stress them, and in the long term they repair and grow stronger. In yin we work with facia, connective tissue, joints, we hold postures for at least 3 minutes; in the short term we stress the joints and in the long term they become more flexible, more open. It is important to have both. Strength without flexibility is limiting and flexibility without strength can cause injury. Both creates functional mobility enabling us to inhabit our bodies and move through life with a little more ease.
Practices are structured to work with specific needs. In tantra traditions we have prana (energy), chakras (energy centres) and nadis (energy channels). In taoism we have chi (energy), dantians (energy centres) and meridians (energy channels). In yin yoga we work with 14 different meridians, 10 are the most common and linked to the 5 elements. Yin postures are designed to stretch or compress points within these meridians to clear out stagnant energy and release blockages to allow fresh energy to flow freely through the meridians. Each meridian is linked to a different organ and works with different energies and needs within the body.
Let’s look at each of these elements and meridians, how the body is when the meridians are balanced (without too much or too little) and the types of postures relating to them:
Kidney and Urinary Bladder meridians
These meridians are linked to the emotion fear and when the energy channels are balanced we feel confident, healthy, focused, present in the body and have a healthy sex-drive.
My top 3 water postures:
Caterpillar, Saddle, Dragonfly
Liver and Gall Bladder meridians
These meridians are linked to the emotion anger and envy, when the channels are balanced we feel emotionally balanced, creative, able to grow.
My top 3 wood postures:
Frog, Dragon, Eye of Needle
Spleen and Stomach meridians
These meridians are linked to worry and when in balance we feel grounded, steady, safe, able to receive.
My top 3 earth postures:
Sphinx, Deer, Swan
Heart and Small Intestine meridians
The fire meridians are linked to a very strong emotion – hatred. When balanced we feel joyful, active, connected to others, communicative, loving.
My top 3 fire postures:
Anahatasana, Lying Shoulder Stretch, Fish variation
Lung and Large Intestine meridians
These two meridians are linked to grief and when the channels are balanced we are able to witness and let go, we have a greater awareness.
My top 3 metal postures:
Supported Bridge, Twisted Child’s Pose, Reclining Twists
These are the meridians shown on a human form, if you want more detailed images they’re easy to find online.
I hope this guide gave you a little insight into the magical world of yin; this is not meant as a comprehensive guide but just a little taster.