Yin Yoga poses are a continuum of possibilities
Just as each of us manifests a beautifully distinct spirit on the earth, the skeletal architecture of each of our bodies is unique. The shapes of our bones and the ways they fit together are distinct, and this means that we all naturally move differently throughout our day and also on the yoga mat. Every body is unique.
Our bones grow differently in length, proportion, torsion, and angles. In addition to these inherent anatomical variations between you and me, we’re likely to find variations within us, from the left side to the right side. You may have noticed this in yourself. Perhaps one hip is externally rotated while the other is slightly rotated inward.
Because of this wide variety of differences between bones, bony protrusions, and how they come together, each of us will experience our Yin Yoga postures in different ways, meeting skeletal compression in different places. Gratefully, there’s not one correct expression of a pose that only some of us can physically fit into. In fact, there are as many versions of a posture as there are practitioners!
A Yin Yoga shape is a constellation of potential positions for you to explore
We’re also all a bit different each time we come to the mat, mentally, emotionally, and energetically. Yin Yoga is a practice of function over form, where we focus on how the pose feels in our body and not on how it looks on the outside. It is a practice that invites us to nurture wellbeing and balance for our whole self.
A Yin posture is a continuum of possibilities…not one thing, but many possible things, depending on which body is inhabiting it and what our intention is. You can think of each Yin Yoga pose as a constellation of potential positions that you select from to deliver exercise to your intended tissues.
In this practice, you are free from the pressure of external expectations
We choose a shape by listening to the needs of our bodies and our intentions for our time on the mat. We shift our attention from external appearance and apply compassionate attention to internal sensations. In Yin Yoga, you are free from the pressure of external expectations.
So, how do we find the Yin Yoga posture that’s right for us in that moment? We start by easing ourselves slowly and mindfully into the gentlest expression of each shape. This is an inherent kindness of the Yin approach for our body.
You have time to find the shape that’s just right for you
Yin Yoga is low to the ground with ample time to experiment with various phases of each shape so we can find that phase that’s right for us each time we come to the mat. Props become helpful companions that expand our choices as we get creative and try out different setups and body positions to see what feels best this time. Props can lessen sensation or deepen it, depending on how they’re used, and make Yin postures available to many diverse bodies and our individual needs.
When we take our time, we create space to find the shape of the pose that works best for us. As we relax into the posture, we stimulate our connective tissues such as the fascial network and joint areas which helps to re-strengthen, rehydrate, and release tensions in them. This nurturing is critical to maintaining proper stability, mobility, and flexibility as we age. Approaching each pose as a collection of possible options, we empower ourselves to find and follow the wise and intentional voice that speaks quietly within and receive the deepest benefits from the pose.
Interested in training in Yin Yoga & Meditation, I invite you to check out my new enhanced Yin Yoga & Meditation Training program now streaming live online. All are welcome to join, whether you are brand new to the yoga mat, a seasoned practitioner, or a teacher looking for fresh inspiration. A 200hr yoga teacher training certificate is not required to enroll. Registered yoga teachers are eligible to receive 40 CEUs of contact hours with Yoga Alliance. You can find program details and registration here.
In my new book Yin Yoga & Meditation: A Mandala Map for Practice, Teaching, and Beyond, you'll find a comprehensive library of 75+ Yin Yoga poses and variations accompanied by step-by-step instructions. For each pose, you’ll learn about primary areas of physical benefit, energy channels you’re stimulating, safety precautions and considerations, counterposes, and suggested substitutions to help you meet your needs and the diverse needs of your students. My book also includes a broad collection of themed Yin Yoga sequences for you to enjoy and experiment with. If you haven't yet picked up your copy, I hope you will!