Life is go, gO, GO, do, dO, DO! We are engaged, our muscles are tense most of the time, and even when we are not actively moving towards the next event on our calendar, we are sitting with muscles tense at our desks...our brains chugging like a locomotive. Welcome to what I like to call 'The Yang Lifestyle'.
How do we find the balance? Resting is helpful... and how about consciously resting? How about tapping in to what is happening inside our bodies? Listening in? Let's go Yinside...
Yin is the contextual opposite of Yang. If Yang is hot, Yin is cold. If Yang is light, Yin is dark. If Yang is the sun, Yin is the moon. There is Yang Yoga, where the muscles are engaged and active, and there is Yin Yoga, where the muscles are relaxed and still. The two work together to bring about balance: Yang (Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Hatha) in the morning, Yin (Yin, Restorative, Yoga Nidra) in the evening for a balanced day of practice.
As we age, we loose elasticity in our joints. Our joint capsules become less moist and scar tissue can thicken from past injuries causing degeneration of the joint and limiting mobility. If you have ever suffered from frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis), or lower back pain leading up to a spasm, you will be aware of how much pain can be involved in loss of movement and the feeling of a joint contracture or 'seizing up'. Just as it is important to keep our core muscles strong to support our body, it is equally important to pay attention to the health of our joints. Yin targets joints, tissues, and fascia by using long-held poses with muscles relaxed so the joint capsule can gently open. This opening creates a fluid called Hyaluronic acid (HA) which is a main ingredient in synovial fluid, and it attracts water to itself. It is thought (Dr. Motoyama and his discovery of the Modern Meridian Theory) that there are HA pathways or channels, running throughout the body in the dermis or connective tissue of the skin. The more HA there is in the connective tissue of the body, the more free-flowing energy or 'Chi' there is. Yin yoga stimulates the connective tissue, therefore stimulating the production of HA.
It might also be said that ALL yoga stimulates the meridian channels in the body, and Yin is included in this. Opening these channels for Chi to flow can bring improved health and youthful vitality to the body. Stagnant blockages can be released, opening space for something new to come in. Flexibility and strength increases, and the joints have a wider range of motion. The central nervous system has a chance to down-regulate and come back to a place of feeling calm. Ahhhh....
Why wouldn't you want that for your precious body?
With love and gratitude for the practice of Yoga,