Yin Yoga for “Yangy” Practitioners

By Lauren Raffaela Piccolo

At this year’s Barcelona Yoga Conference, I am thrilled to see daily yin classes on the conference schedule. In the last years yin yoga has grown in popularity, like a saving grace, especially for anyone with a consistent “yangy” practice. Those of us who follow vinyasa flows, ashtanga or jivamukti for example, are used to holding postures for a maximum of a 5 count breath; therefore, the idea of being in cobra or bhujangasana pose for five minutes may be shocking or seem a bit boring at first. I can vouch though that after that initial reaction passes, holding a hip opener such as cow face or gomukhasana pose for upwards of 5-8 minutes is anything but boring, where in the first months of my yin practice I would find myself dripping in sweat by the third minute! Yin can be that intense.

Speaking from personal experience, as someone who for years has found inspiration in dynamic yoga practices and exploring all the arm balances and inversions out there, it was in discovering yin yoga that I began the journey of learning about the OTHER sides of my body, mind and spirit. There are the beautiful and mystical aspects of our being that resonate in the lower parts of the body, reached by tapping into ones water energy through connecting with the feminine or “yin” side of our nature. In finding yin yoga, I was finally able to give the fiery “yangy” side of me a much needed break that I didn’t know was needed. Rather than utilizing principally the upper body, as occurs during a dynamic yoga practice, in a yin class one is guided slowly through a sequence of postures that makes the body feel like it is melting into the earth, where the muscles are given a chance to release from the bone, and relief is found through subtle breath awareness and allowing the body, and eventually the mind, to rest, ground down and let go into the experience. Both time and gravity help to liberate any deeper tensions that may be lingering within, possibly related to ones emotions or inherent nature.

Rooted in the ancient principles of Chinese Medicine and specifically the Chinese Meridian Lines, yin yoga follows a sequence of postures that taps into the body’s invisible energy channels, which connect our physical nature with our emotional and psychological states. In slightly pressurizing these channels through long held postures, a yin yoga practice rejuvenates and re-nourishes the body, serving as a perfect compliment to any dynamic practice.

The Barcelona Yoga Conference is an amazing opportunity, whether you are a seasoned “yangy” yogi practitioner or a beginner to the mat, to give yin a try. The most curious people I know are yogis who naturally challenge the embedded perceptions of their Self through each experience they have on the mat. In exploring the unknown, both on and off the mat, each of us may continue on our personal journeys towards self-discovery. At this year’s Barcelona Yoga Conference, with an open mind and heart, I encourage you to give yin yoga a try and see what the new challenge may bring forth!

The amazing yin teachers who will be present during the conference are Biff Mithoefer and Mirjam Wagner. Be sure to check them out!

Mirjam Wagner leading a yin class. Photo by Patricia Torales. http://www.patriciatorales.com

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