Patricea Chow Yoga Hero Pose

YIN yoga: what is it, & why the rage

In recent months, it would seem as if there are more YIN yoga classes in Singapore yoga studios than were available in the last two years. While YIN yoga is not new, its emergence is in response to our ceaseless search for something to balance the yang of our busy, modern lives.

In a world where yang or masculine energy is strong, YIN provides the balance with its gentle & nurturing approach, thus embodying the feminine.

But there’s absolutely nothing feminine about the practice of YIN yoga. Rather, one might find that it requires plenty of resilience & courage to practice YIN yoga.

That being said, perhaps YIN is feminine in all aspects, since resilience & courage are required to endure childbirth, which is the domain of females. If you’ve ever had the fortune of experiencing contraction & delivery pains, then you have a very clear understanding of why this one practice requires much strength & bravery. So, yay to the feminine! Yay to YIN yoga.

SETTLING INTO YIN YOGA

Sure, YIN yoga is extremely slow & perhaps even languid in its practice- poses are held for anywhere between one to 5-minutes, and the entire practice keeps the body low & close to the floor for most of the time. The exception is the occasional downward facing dog to counter certain hip & leg poses.

Since poses are held for such a long period of time, their effect is felt deep into the fascia and connective tissues, and not just only surface muscles. The alien sensations created from this deep connection may often have the body sending protests to the brain, in the form of discomfort and aches.

In these moments, the natural reaction is to back out of the pose to reduce the discomfort; it requires extreme focus & determination to sit with the discomfort and find comfort in it.

YIN LOVE

So if YIN poses are this challenging, why is there such a huge love for it?

You will hear these phrases from those who have ever attended a YIN yoga class:

“I feel so relaxed now.”

“My hips don’t feel so tight anymore.” (I hear this often especially after a legs focused class).

“I fell asleep!”

The physical effects from the deep stretching are immediate. But it is the emotional aspects that sometimes leave a bigger mark, and are often not verbalised.

THE YIN SUCCESS SECRET

When I began practicing YIN yoga, I struggled with many of the poses including pigeon & Thread the Needle. As my muscles protested the duration for holding the pose, my voice kept screaming in my mind, “Get me outta here!”

Then as I looked around the room & saw how everyone seems to be sinking lower than I was in the pose, or seemed to be fully relaxed in it, I started being critical of myself. Self-doubts, self-recrimination & self-sabotaging thoughts bombarded my brain. Tears will flow.

In the darkness of the studio, I faced my own fears & my own dark side. It was an emotional journey that only I could see, experience, & take. It was also very humbling, to realise that no one else gave a s#@% about you, and everything was just in your brain.

Since starting to teach YIN yoga, I’ve noticed some of my students dealing with this. When they start fidgeting after already settling into a pose, that’s when I know the internal dialogue has begun.

My cues for working through the mental battle & physical discomfort are simply to (1) breathe, into the area where the tension or tightness is, and (2) breathe, in deeply to welcome peace, and out deeply to fully release all the emotions & thoughts that you’re still holding on to.

ONE YIN TO RULE THEM ALL

Can you already tell that I’m a fan of The Lord of the Rings as well as philosophy & spirituality from this sub header?

Digression aside, YIN yoga is truly for everyone & any wellness challenges that you may be facing. There are YIN yoga classes specially for legs, for shoulders, for digestion, for opening the heart, for hips, and more.

With each area of physical focus, the emotional baggage stored is also also released. It stands to reason that tight hips or a constant hunch are consequent of unresolved emotions. When the poses of YIN yoga relieves the physical ache, the emotional attachment are consequently released or reduced.

YIN WITH ME

If you’re in Singapore, I encourage you to give YIN yoga a go at least once; I guarantee that you will fall in love with it.

I normally teach a YIN-influenced yoga class at Instiinct Studios on 13A Upper Circular Road. Find me there every Tuesday and Friday 7.45pm to 8.45pm. You can book your mat via the MINDBODY website or app by looking for Instiinct Studios. See you soon!