Yin Yang Yoga blends two styles of yoga into one practice – bringing together the benefits of passively holding yoga poses with more dynamic sequences and standing postures.
Yin and Yang are the Taoist concepts which describe the two relative qualities present in everything. Yin is more internal, passive, cooling and downward. Yang is more external, dynamic, warming and upward.
When these terms are applied in yoga, Yin Yoga is a slower practice where poses are passively held for longer. It works on the deep, dense (Yin) connective tissues and joints in the body. Yang Yoga, in contrast, refers to a more active practice. This works on the (Yang) muscles and blood flow, building strength, stamina and flexibility. Yang styles of yoga are those with rhythm and repetition like Vinyasa Flow.
Read more about the philosophy and principles of Yin Yoga and of Yang yoga styles like Vinyasa Flow or Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.
For a balanced yoga practice, we need both Yang and Yin elements. You could try including one or two Yin or Restorative yoga sessions along with more active yoga into our weekly schedule. Or try practising both Yin and Yang aspects in the same class.
The practice of Yin Yang Yoga
A Yin Yang yoga class may start with Yin yoga to calm the mind and to work on the joints before the muscles are warm.
Alternatively, the class may start dynamically (Yang) and end with longer held poses to relax and calm the nervous system. The sequencing of the class can have a powerful effect on your energy levels and how you feel after class.
For examples of different sequences try some of the classes from our Yin Yang Yoga program.
Benefits of a regular Yin Yang Yoga practice
- Stimulates the meridians (energy channels) bringing balance to the organs in the body
- Improves flexibility and joint mobility
- Calms and balances the mind and body
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Works deeply on the connective tissues (fascia, tendons and ligaments)
- Can prepare the practitioner for meditation practice
- Strengthens and tones the body
- Improves flexibility and circulation
- Increases stamina
- Calms the mind down by inviting us to synchronise movement with breath
- Removes tension and obstacles in the body to allow breath and prana to flow
Practising Yin and Yang Yoga together
“The practice of yin/yang yoga helps us learn about stillness in movement and the flow in stillness.” Sarah Powers
Combining both Yin and Yang elements in one class provides a balanced practice and can have a powerful effect on energy levels. For example, if you are low in energy, starting with some Yin poses can be a good way to get on the mat and into your practice.
Alternatively, beginning with Yang and finishing with Yin will leave you feeling calm and grounded so can be a nice practice for the evening. By practising Yin yoga first we can carry over this very mindful way of practising into our dynamic practice. This is beneficial for those of us who might have a tendency towards competitiveness or striving in asanas.
To find out more about the benefits of combining Yin and Yang read – Balancing Yin and Yang in your practice with a free talk from Esther Ekhart