Yin Yoga - What's that??

At Just Be Well, we offer a class with an unusual name: “VINYIN.”  It is a class that combines the warming, yang practice of a VINyasa flow class and the more cooling, passive practice of YIN Yoga.  But really - what is “YIN YOGA”?

Yin Yoga is a style of yoga in much the same way that “hatha” or “vinyasa” or “restorative” is a style of yoga.  Hatha and other muscle-strengthening types of alignment-based yoga are YANG types of yoga, to borrow terminology from the Chinese.  Just as all of life has contrasts between yin and yang (think dark/light, cold/hot, down/up, water/fire, etc), so also does the practice of yoga.

In the earliest depictions of yoga, we see the “yin” aspect of yoga rather than the “yang” aspects of yoga.  In fact, the Yoga Sutras have only 2 sutras which refer to the asana portion of the yoga practice, and both of them refer to a yin ideal: postures were to be sthira (steady) and sukham (comfortable, pleasing).  The heated, yang aspects of yoga postures originated in monastic communities to provide balance to the yin, meditative postures of the practice of yoga.

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As the evolution of yoga progressed, yoga moved from being a spiritual practice (long holds and seated postures for deeper practices/meditation) to become performance art (active dynamic movement in standing postures for strength and health).  Our modern-day version of “Yin yoga” is a melding of Taoist Yoga (Dao Yin) from the early 20th century and the understanding of the meridian energy lines of the body from the Chinese Medicine tradition.

“Yin is a practice of being calm but alert to what is going on inside, so it’s a nice transition from physical movement to meditative stillness.”    -- Paul Grilley

What does the practice of yin yoga look like?  Yin Yoga has very distinct external features, namely:

  • Approach a given pose with an appropriate DEPTH

  • Resolve to remain STILL

  • HOLD the pose for a time

Sounds simple, right??  Well, actually, it IS simple, but “simple” does not mean “easy.”  In the yang forms of yoga, we are only in a given pose for a short period - perhaps as long as 5 breaths.  But in yin yoga, we literally marinate in the pose and pay attention to the flow of sensations that arise. Yin Yoga gives us a chance to learn what sensations are, where they are, whether they are healthy, albeit challenging, or too much. We learn what an “edge” is, which is something that can be missed entirely in our yang practice.  

Yin Yoga teaches us to connect with our bodies and to pay attention to our inner world, whether it is the physical sensations of increased mobility of the connective tissue, or the mental ‘chatter’ that inevitably shows itself when we become still for a period of time.

“Can one desire too much of a good thing?”

--William Shakespeare

A yoga practice that focuses on only one thing can create imbalance.  We crave good things, and creating balance might mean that we learn to crave good things that are different from our favorite things!  Both the yin and yang aspects of our life and our yoga practice deserve to be honored with the same amount of intention. Namaste.

VinYin_Susie Fergus_Fort Worth

How Does SUP Enhance Your Yoga Practice?

The Benefits of SUP Yoga

5 Reasons SUP + Yoga are the Perfect Marriage


1. Increased strength

SUP yoga targets all those little muscles we often forget we have. Rather than focusing on large muscle groups during a practice on the water you will feel all the little stabilizer muscles that are so important for us to find balance not only on the water, but also on land. It is a full body experience. Rather than focusing all in the core or the legs the entire body needs to be involved to maintain the balance on water.

2. increased confidence

Ever held yourself upside down on water? If your answer is not yet this is one of the most exhilarating experiences. Proving to yourself that you are able to complete such a daunting feat builds a sense of confidence you will find few other places. 

3. become a beginner again

No matter how long you have been a yoga practitioner or if this is your first attempt everyone is a beginner on the board. It teaches us where we are lax in our land practice and where our strengths are. For seasoned yogis it is common to find a new appreciation for their practice and for complete beginners it is reassuring to know that they are stronger than they may think.

4. let go of expectations

Few things on the water are predictable. The beauty of practicing on a moving surface is that the practice changes from moment to moment. Whether it is our expectations going in or nature throwing a wave at us to knock us off our feet. The practice on the water teaches us to live in the moment and let go of what we think "should" be or "could" be. We learn to appreciate all that is.

5. find your inner child

It can be hard to find time to have fun or to allow our daily responsibilities to take over. SUP yoga helps to teach us not just to let go but to laugh and enjoy the simplicity of life. Find the same joy falling into the water as you used to while running through the sprinkler on a hot day as a child. Know that sometimes it's okay to let your inner child out to play.

Ready to float & flow?