Stretch or Stress - Yin Yoga
Yin yoga works with the fascial system and it is a great practice for those experiencing tightness as the fascia wraps around the entire body and our muscle cells are encased within this tissue; when these tissues become dehydrated they shrink and become tight. It is Interstitial fluid (ECM) which the cells are imbedded within (fills the spaces between cells / tissues are clusters of cells) which helps to create a moist environment, promoting hydration which helps to facilitate the smooth glide of the fascial fibres.
Stress or Stretch?
However stretching fascial tissue is not the primary focus of the practice it is just a really helpful byproduct. Yin yoga’s primary focus is on the yin tissues of the body which DO NOT stretch; bones, cartilage and ligaments; these often become starved of hydration and yin practice intentionally STRESSES these tissues, this is done through compression - the long and often intense holds of a yin practice create micro tears that once healed do the job of strengthening the yin tissues (above). When the compression is released fluid rushes into the area that has been stressed and helps to clear out toxins, as well as do the very important role of helping to keep the tissues hydrated and the joint mobile (not hyper mobile!!)
Hot or cold Yin practice?
This is why Yin yoga is best practiced cold and not in a hot room or after a long sweaty practice; we will not really be accessing the yin tissues and to do so when the body is warm means we could potentially stretch ourselves into an injury and those yin tissues such a ligaments take a very long time to heal.
This does not mean that the fascial system does not play an important role in yin practice as I said the body is encased in fascia but keep in mind it is not the primary role: which is why that first principle of yin practice is so important:
1) Appropriate depth - this is variable and the shape we make will vary hugely for each student depending upon their own unique skeletal system… the same with hold times which again is variable for each student and their unique structure. Yes releasing the fascia and creating more space for the muscle feels incredibly good and is extremely beneficial for the health of the body, however it is important to understand that stretching is not the focus of a yin practice … stressing the tissues is.
Principles of Yin Yoga:
- Appropriate Depth (variable)
- Resolve to remain still (variable)
- Hold for time (variable)
Anyway just a wee note on yin as I saw a ‘Just Stretch’ advertisement for a Yin class …. ‘Just Stress’ would maybe of worked better but perhaps it doesn’t sound as good
The next in person yin teacher training takes place in August 2021. For more information on what is covered in the next Yin Teacher Training check out the link: 50 Hour Yin Yoga Teacher Training
Yin classes take place on Monday / Wednesday / Friday evening and twice a month on Sundays. Please check out the schedule for future classes.
Much love and happy practicing.