Yin yoga: a combination of different traditions
Of the many schools of yoga, there is one that combines the Indian Hatha yoga and the Chinese Taoist tradition of Tao Yin, Qigong and Kung fu. Developed by Paulie Zink, a martial artist and yoga expert from Los Angeles, California, this system of yoga is called yin yoga and focuses on targeting the connective tissues, such as bones, ligaments and joints, which are not normally exercised in regular asanas. The parts of the body that benefit the most from this form of yoga are connective tissues of the the lower spine, hips, and pelvis.
The yin yoga differentiates itself from other schools of yoga in several ways. The postures, or asana, are mostly sitting or lying for extended periods of time. A practitioner of this system of yoga may hold a single position for up to 20 minutes, which practitioners of other schools of yoga may find boring and uninspiring. But it has its purpose. The extended period of posture provides ample time for them to work on the targeted parts of the body and promote the healing, growth, and improvement of damaged tissues and cells.
Asanas in yin yoga are passive and do not normally include balancing and other strenuous postures. The aim here is to relax the muscles and avoid spasms, which can be harmful if done incorrectly. Therefore, of the approximately 200 yoga asanas, only about 35 are normally practiced in this system of yoga. This means most of the very advanced postures are not included. This, however, doesn’t mean that it is less effective than other styles of yoga, as the postures in yin yoga specifically target the deeper components of the body.
As stated above, the Chinese Taoist tradition is another important facet of yin yoga. The postures are practiced in a continuous, smooth, and circular motion, characterized by simple and gentle body movement with deep breathing techniques. The Taoist elements aim to achieve strength, fluidity, lightness, and springiness, which are all essential for a healthy body and mind. Since this form of yoga is slow and passive, requiring a single pose to be held for a considerable length of time, practitioners need a lot of patience and fortitude, but the effort is worth all the trouble.