Yin yoga is a style of yoga in which the practitioner holds poses from 3 to 5 minutes in an effort to get deeper into the connective tissue in the body. It helps to stretch and open this connective tissue of the ligaments and fascia that covers the entire body. Yin yoga incorporates Meridian theory that is used Chinese medicine. The different sequences are related to Eastern medicine working with the different meridians of the body, including the liver and gallbladder, kidneys and urinary bladder, spleen and stomach, lungs and large intestine and the heart and small intestines.
In Yin yoga, the joints become nourished if the student comes into each pose gently, not forcing the body into a position deeper than what it is ready to handle, but with enough exertion that the body can open. The student will also need to learn to relax and soften into each posture.
For many the hardest part is to keep from shifting the body during the pose. Remaining still comes over time and is helped by focusing on the breath and trying to calm the mind. A Yin practice can become more meditative in some ways than a more vigorous yang practice, although both use the breath to find that meditative quality.
Yin yoga can benefit the body and mind by lubricating the joints that will lead to better mobility in the body. It also helps to open up the channels (nadis) in the body to help energy flow more freely. It also allows the mind to relax by using the breath to find stillness; this allows the whole body, mind and spirit a chance to rejuvenate and find calm. Yin is also a wonderful compliment for athletes or yogis that practice more vigorous forms of yoga to allow the body to open and stretch in a gentler fashion.
A few locations in the Cleveland area that offer Yin classes (check websites for schedules):