What is Yin?
Yin yoga is a practice of slow movement and long held poses, meditative in nature, based on Daoist philosophy, meditation and the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) meridian system for well-being. Fundamentally it is about bringing about balance in the mind and body, our lives and by extension the world. Yin yoga is different to more yang types of yoga which we are probably more familiar with, which work on the muscular yang half of the body. Yin yoga works on the deeper yin tissues of our ligaments, joints, deep fascia networks and bones. We need to move, release, lubricate these connective tissues to regain space and strength in the body as well as in the mind. These are key to keeping us mobile and supple as we age.
Yin is quiet, cool, calm and feminine. Yin is within. The moon is Yin. The sun is Yang. Yin and slow things are good and we need them! It is so important to take time to do Yin activities and time for yourself on a regular basis. Even with things being what they are none of us make enough time for relaxation, quiet things, looking inward for self-reflection and self-care.
Five Elements Theory and Yin Philosophy
Fundamental to Yin Yoga is the link with TCM and Five Element Theory. More specifically, we are a combination of the elements of Water, Fire, Earth, Metal & Wood. Each element is associated with a season and has corresponding organs in the body we should look after in particular at that time. It can also imply which types of food we should eat at these times. The Wood element is connected to Spring, a period of growth, which generates abundant wood and vitality, and our liver (LV) and gall bladder (GB). We can use the breath & yin yoga poses to stimulate, mobilise & bring qi (prana/ life force) to these parts of our bodies, acting on the meridians or channels in the body connected to these organ systems. It's a bit like giving yourself a very gentle acupressure massage.
Liver & Gall Bladder
Our liver is one of our key yin organs supporting detoxification and regrowth. A strong liver helps us to come to life and increases energy. It stores and generates the blood. It is also associated with the emotions anger and impatience. An overactive liver creates too much heat in the system and that may lead to an imbalance. A balanced liver helps us to develop patience and kindness towards others and ourselves. The gall bladder in TCM is associated with courage and decisiveness and a sense of well-being when the liver and gallbladder are balanced. Spring is associated with a rising and expanding energy, we should be opening and moving our qi, building heat in the liver to help with releasing and detoxing from the sluggishness of winter and preparing for the fieriness of Summer.
Yin yoga is different to more yang types of yoga which we are probably more familiar with, which work on the muscular yang half of the body. Yin yoga works on the deeper yin tissues of our ligaments, joints, deep fascia networks and bones. We need to move, release, lubricate these connective tissues to regain space and strength in the body as well as in the mind. These are key to keeping us mobile and supple as we age.
Come and try a Yin yoga class this Spring, find a sense of strength and peace in your tissues, let go of some issues and balance your Liver Qi. Peace and love and namaste xx