Yoga Therapy

When you’re starting yoga, whether for the first time or coming back to it, looking at yoga class offerings can be rather confusing. With a plethora of options such as hot yoga, hatha yoga, Vinyasa flow, Kundalini, or Iynegar, you may wonder which class is right for you. To clarify, there are a finite number of yoga poses. All yoga classes have yoga poses or asanas in some form. For example, Downward-Facing Dog is a pose you will practice in a hot yoga class, a Vinyasa flow class, or a hatha class.

Yin Yoga: How to Try it at Home
The approach to yoga and the focus are what differ in each style of yoga. Some styles are focused more on breathing (pranayama), others on weight loss, and some on meditation. One style in particular, yin yoga, differs from most class offerings today in that the purpose is to harness a more passive energy.

The Difference Between Yin and Yang
Yin and yang are polar opposites in energy. Yin energy is passive, lunar, cooling, and feminine. Yang energy is forceful, solar, heating, and masculine. The two energies work together in concert within the universe and within your body.

Most yoga practices are yang. They are designed to challenge your body by heating it up and getting your bodily systems moving to increase respiration, improve circulation, and move toxins out. Even in slower moving yoga classes, you will feel your body heat up because you are generating that heat from within, while holding a pose, such as Warrior or Plank.

Yin yoga is designed to do the opposite. The goal of yin is to cool the body, nurture it, and gently coax it into asanas. There is nothing forceful about yin yoga. It allows your body to relax. Through passive movement, your connective tissue, such as ligaments, joints, and fascia, will lengthen and strengthen. Restorative yoga classes tend to use yin yoga poses because of the relaxing effect on the body and mind.

Yin Yoga Class Format
In a good yin yoga class, the class length will be anywhere from 75 to 90 minutes or more. Yin yoga poses are held much longer than in other classes. You will hold most poses for three to five minutes each.

If that sounds like a really long time, it is and it isn’t. You will have plenty of yoga props available to you to assist you in holding a pose for that long. A great yin teacher will show you how to use bolsters, blankets, blocks, and straps to assist you in your yin poses. Even if you’ve been practicing yoga for a long time, try using the yoga props. You have no idea how your body will feel about holding a pose for five minutes and you want to embrace the yin practice of allowing versus forcing your body to hold the pose.

Because you’re holding poses for a long time and focusing on your breath, the practice becomes meditative in nature. Once you allow your body to relax and let gravity and your breath do the work, you enter a meditative state and even five minutes seems like a short amount of time.

Yin yoga has a set number of poses, most of which are done in every class. You will experience many hip openers and almost no standing poses. Examples of yin yoga poses are:
- Butterfly Pose (Badhakonasana)
- Child’s Pose (Balasana)
- Shoelace Pose
- Caterpillar Pose (Salabasana)
- Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana) and Sleeping Swan Pose
- Deer Pose
- Spinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana) and Seal Pose (Bhujangasana)
- Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)

Who Can Benefit from a Yin Yoga Class?
Those who are recovering from an injury or surgery, or dealing with chronic illness, can benefit from yin yoga. Yin yoga has also been used for people healing from addictions or for treating anxiety and depression. Yin yoga helps to counter the effects of a frenetic and chaotic lifestyle and can also help with fertility problems.

Yin Yoga Poses to Try at Home
Here are a few yin yoga poses to try at home. In your yoga space, gather the following items:
- A rolled-up towel or yoga bolster
- A pillow
- A yoga block or a solid object about four inches high
- A timer

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