Just as yin and yang provide balance to the world, yin and yang yoga collaborate to form a well-rounded yoga
Yin is a slower form of yoga—poses are held for longer periods to facilitate stretching ligaments, tendons, and other deep connective tissues to increase circulation and flexibility. Most of its poses are done seated or lying down.
It is not expected to replace other forms of yoga, sometimes referred to as “yang yoga,” which focus on standing positions and stretching and training muscles, but to complement them just as yin and yang energy does.
In yin yoga, beginners generally hold positions for up to 2 minutes while advanced yogis can stay in them for 20 minutes or more. This encourages stillness of mind as well as body for a more meditative experience that calms and revitalizes you.
Here are four poses, or asanas, that can show you the quiet power of yin yoga:
(salamba bhujangasana) Lie on your stomach with your legs together. Then stretch your tailbone toward your heels and roll your outer thighs toward the floor. Set your elbows under your shoulders and your forearms in front, parallel to each other. Inhale, then push your shoulders and back up into a mild backbend. Raise your belly slightly to more evenly distribute the load along your backbone. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
In a seated position, press the soles of your feet together and push them away from your body, creating space between your pelvis and heels. Gently fold forward, allowing your spine to softly round and your head to drop toward your feet. Rest your elbows on the floor with your head in your hands, or place a cushion on your feet to rest your head-on. If folding forward is challenging, use a folded blanket to sit on. Hold for 3 to 5 minutes.
(supta parivrtta garudasana)
Lie on your back and bend your knees, keeping feet on the floor. Cross your right knee over your left. Then, lift and shift your hips a little to the right. Rollover to your left side, then slowly take your right arm out to the right side, allowing your upper right shoulder to rest toward the ground. You can also initially keep your right hand on your right waist, then gradually reach it out to the side to deepen the twist. Hold 4 to 5 minutes, then repeat on the other side.
Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet on the floor. Lift and shift your hips to the right. Straighten your legs, walking your feet toward the left corner of your mat, and crossing your right foot over your left. Keep your left hip as far down as possible and scoot your upper body to the left as well, creating a banana shape. Bring arms overhead, bending your elbows and lightly clasping your wrists. Hold 4 to 5 minutes, then repeat on the other side.
Photo: Blushing Cactus Photography