Yin Yoga is based on the Taoist concept of yin and yang, opposite and complementary principles in nature. Yin is the stable, unmoving, hidden aspect of things; yang is the changing, moving, revealing aspect. In the body, the relatively stiff connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, fascia) are yin, while the more mobile muscles and blood are yang. Yin Yoga class consists of a series of long-held, passive floor poses that work to loosen the connective tissues and curb sympathetic overdrive.
Who should do Yin?
Yin Yoga is for you if you are:
-Craving for energy
-"Addicted" to your phone, laptop, TV, or other devices
-A human with a brain and a body
Why practice Yin?
We live in a world where our laptops, phones, TVs- even our watches- are constantly buzzing with stimuli. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for sorting through and responding to all of this stimulation. Unfortunately, the sympathetic nervous system is also responsible for our fight or flight response. Sympathetic overdrive leads to chronic levels of stress hormones which wreak havoc on all of body's systems.
Despite the fact that it is detrimental to our health, our mind gets used to processing the insane amount of information we throw at it. Like any other addiction, over-stimulation of the mind begets more cravings for stimulation. When we do vinyasa-based Yang yoga, we cater to the part of us that craves to be busy. This is akin to feeding sugar to a child who is already hyper-active. You may sate the child's cries at first, but you will only increase his/her activity level later.
In contrast, Yin yoga shuts off the sympathetic pathway and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the blissful rest and digest response. Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system decreases stress hormone levels which can help in the management of symptoms associated with anxiety, cancer, depression, heart disease, sleep disorders, and more.
To create balance in our lives, we need both Yin and Yang yoga. Chances are you already have a regular Yang practice. After you have experienced Yin, even just once, you will realize that you have been doing only half of the asana practice.