Yin Yoga is arguably a Yoga style founded in 1979 by Paul Grilley, an American yoga instructor, and it is followed by many practitioners. Paul himself is the MD. He established this new yoga style by combining his own yoga practice experience and his strengths in the medical field, conducting careful studies on the body’s connective tissue together with many Japanese scholars, and blending in the essence of Chinese Taoism and martial arts together with the essence of yoga.
Yin Yoga is not a branch or another name of yoga asanas, it is recognised and accepted by practitioners as a new Yoga style.
Yin Yoga emphasizes on relaxing the whole body, and clearing all distractions. It is combined with slow and natural breathing, and holding asanas for a prolonged period. While the muscles are in a completely relaxed state, Yin Yoga exercises the skeletal and its connective tissue, regulates the nerve system, and enhances endurance, reaching the realm of body and mind.
1. Emphasizes on stretching the connective tissue of the body skeletal, and ligaments, lubricant and periosteum between bones. In every asana, Yin Yoga holds still for 3-5 minutes, sometimes even for 10 minutes. The main workout areas are the pelvis and lower back. Therefore Yin Yoga practice emphasizes on physical stretching, slow movement, and prolonged asana holding within one’s own limit, so as to achieve beneficial results.
2. Slow and slender breathing, prolonged still time for each asana, body muscles’ complete relaxation, so as to stretch the skeletal connective tissue.
3. Directs the feeling inwards and focuses on one’s own experience.
4. Exercises endurance and lays a good meditation foundation in Yoga practice.
For the human body, blood and muscles are considered Yang, and skeletal and visceral are considered Yin. But this is a relative term, as yin and yang cannot develop at the same time and with the same method, and both must build a mutual tie in order to reach a balance. Yin Yoga emphasizes on stretching muscles, massaging the internal organs of the body, strengthening spine, together with slow and slender breathing, in order to regulate the nerve system, and to reach the realm of body and mind. The majority of our usual practices belong to yang yoga.
Practitioners: everyone can practice. Practitioners who have skeletal injuries need to consult with their doctors before proceeding.
As a Westerner, Paul Grilley found the principle of balance between the yin and yang of China, integrated with the science of human body structure, and developed the theory of Yin Yoga. Paul thinks that after regular strength-intensive asana practices, we need soothing asanas to stretch our muscles and tendons, so that the body will not just build muscles but lose softness, or gain action but miss the connecting time with our own mind. Therefore, Paul designed some less difficult asanas, for example, Butterfly and Half Butterfly. These asanas are not “heavy-weight” for those regular practitioners. However, they are difficult as we need stay for about 5 minutes for each asana. In other words, every asana is in the state of stretching and staying still, and then changes to the next asana. Paul Grilley thinks that, in addition to combining breathing, another principle in Yin Yoga is to stretch the lower body and maintain some muscle exercises for the upper body. Because he believes that most people exercise legs through walking, running, or muscle training, and lack stretching in the lower body. In order to balance, the upper body needs some muscle exercises.