In our program YOMI Yin, we use yin yoga to help people cope with stress and worry. The hypothesis is that when we’re stressed and worried we have too much yang in our lives. Or in other words; too much fast paced activity, too many demands, too much change, too much to do. Hence, we need to increase our yin, or in other words; we need to increase the slow, stable, recovering, unchanging aspects of our lives. This is where the slow, but many times challenging, practice of yin yoga comes in.
In yin yoga we stay put on the ground, in seated or lying positions, holding them for 3-5 minutes, while relaxing all muscles we don’t need for the specific posture we’re in. Once in the position we practice letting go and be still. Which can be a challenge, both physically and mentally.
But even though yin yoga aims to increase the yin aspects, we need to remember that there’s still always a yang element present. To be completely yin is to be dead. And here’s where one of the tricky parts come into play: how can we find the yin in an otherwise yang dominated situation and how can we use that little bit of yang that we need in an otherwise yin dominated practice? Finding a little bit more of the grey nuances instead of being completely black or white, getting help from activation to find relaxation, as well as getting help from relaxation to stay active in a sustainable way.
More specifically in the yin practice this can mean activating your arm muscles to keep yourself lifted in the lying backbend “sfinx”, but doing so while still relaxing the rest of your body; your legs, bum, shoulders and neck. Outside of the mat this can mean finding a relaxed focus while doing a tedious task, such as reading a hard text. Being relaxed enough to follow through, but active enough to grasp what you’re reading.
The more we learn to regulate ourselves, making use of the yin in the yang, and the yang in the yin, the better we can steer our way through life, coping with the stresses and worries that might come our way.