What is Yin? What is Yin Yoga?
Yin is a complementary term to yang and you need both to embody existence. It’s peanut butter to jelly. Well not exactly, but yin is cold to yang hot; yin is slow to yang fast; yin is moon to yang sun, in other words it would be hard to recognize the existence of cold if we did not have hot or the existence of light without knowing dark. The terms are seen in relation to each other with neither presenting more superior, but instead as dynamic and unifying towards harmony and balance. Yin represents the deeper, inner layers of our body as well as the deeper inner focused yoga practice. There is a little yin within yang and little yang within yin.
In the symbol of yin/yang you can notice this with the dot of the opposite color within the swirls. Yin becomes yang, yang becomes yin and sometimes it is not easy to separate the transformation. From the harmony, there is birth. The season of winter is considered yin, but the spring is yang. While the calendar marks this shift, nature may shift swiftly or slowly transition and either shower us in winter storm or present calmness like the eye of a hurricane or something in between.
The practice of yin yoga is about this integration and restoration of balance. The asana poses challenge and stress a different set of structural tissues than a yang pose and therefore is integral to stressing of the fascia, tendons, ligaments and bones. The tugging and pressure on these tissues in long held stillness helps the tissue to reorganize, flood with sensation and move chi. The effect is to bring flexibility and movement that may be blocking us on an emotional, physical or spiritual level. A second benefit of the practice is the attention to breath and mindfulness. When we quiet the mind, we are able to find more space in our bodies and minds from the busyness of daily life.
What is chi?
Chi is a universal energy that is in every molecule of our body, is found in all things and is the creation of movement. It is our life force. When chi is flowing freely in our bodies, our organs are nourished, our functional systems like digestion and respiration work easily and our bodies feel strong and healthy. Chi gives us the feeling of robustness and vibrancy, whereas, unbalanced or stagnant chi can cause us to feel sluggish, moody or pain. Chi circulates through pathways called meridians in Traditional Chinese Medicine and nadis in Indian medicine. There are twelve main meridians that correlate with ten organs. There are 72,000 nadis with three main channels including the central channel called the Sushumna in which the flow of consciousness begins with Kundalini energy.