Week 1, 2 and 3: Yin yoga / Anouk Hummel

Yin yoga is based on the Taoist concept of yin and yang, opposite and complementary principles in nature. Yin is the stable, unmoving, hidden aspect of things; yang is the changing, moving, revealing aspect. In the body, the relatively stiff connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, fascia) are yin, while the more mobile and pliable muscles and blood are yang.

A Yin yoga class consists of a series of long-held, passive floor poses that mainly work the lower part of the body – the hips, pelvis, inner thighs, lower spine. These areas are especially rich in connective tissues. The poses are usually held for few minutes, and can be supported by blankets, bolsters, pillows, blocks, stripes etc.

Connective tissue responds best to a slow, steady load which is why we hold the poses for longer. If you gently stretch connective tissue by holding a yin pose for a long time in this way, the body will respond by making it a little longer and stronger – which is exactly what you want. Remember, the principle of exercise is to stress the tissue so the body will respond by strengthening it.

Different Yin yoga poses stimulate and remove blockages in the myofascial meridians in the body. This has the effect of balancing the body’s internal organs and systems. Yin yoga requires the muscles to relax around the connective tissue in order to get a stretch, so not all yoga poses can be done safely or effectively when practising Yin style.

As one ages flexibility in the joints decreases and Yin yoga is a wonderful way to maintain that flexibility, something that for many don’t seem to be too concerned about until they notice it is gone.

This intimate practice of yoga requires students to be ready to get intimate with the self, with feelings, sensations, and emotions, something of which can be easy to avoid in a fast paced yoga practice.