Yin and Yang, 2 Formats of Yoga
The majority of students view yoga as a form of exercise or as a means of addressing medical problems like lower back issues, shoulder issues, insomnia, etc. With a technically astute community, a student will read the class description of the various yoga classes that are offered in an establishment (be it a gym or yoga studio) or store (like amazon.com) to assess which yoga class is suited for them. However, just like all things, there is so much information that the student just gets overwhelmed and more importantly confused and frustrated because there is no one who can readily guide him or her. No worries, I am here to help you. I will keep this basic so that you can use this as your guide.
There are various forms of yoga including but not limited to Ashtanga, Iyengar and Hatha. Within each form of yoga, there are two formats (in traditional yoga this is known as Intension, Sankalpa in Sanskrit) namely: Yin and Yang.
Yin Yoga is gentle and long duration where your joints, bones, fascia, ligaments and connective tissue are lubricated by the synovial fluid which is released when you hold a yoga pose for a while. This class focuses on muscle flexibility over strengthening by engaging, but not straining the muscles. Poses are held for an extended time, allowing the muscles to release and the mind to clear. This is a peaceful, relaxing class suitable to students of all levels. Yin Yoga will help your joints that are crackling and popping whenever you move - an indication that they need to be lubricated.
Yes, Yin is the complement to Yang but very few gyms and yoga studios offer Yin Yoga. Yang is more dynamic and active.
Yang Yoga classes are choreographed (i.e. formatted) to focus on strength and endurance; thus the yoga practitioner will feel active, powerful and generate heat in the body. The majority of gyms and yoga studios offer and specialize in this format of yoga. Vinyasa yoga is the term often used for a Yang Yoga format where the yoga practice is also choreographed to smoothly flow from one asana (Sanskrit term for yoga pose) to another asana.
So, do you need both Yin and Yang yoga? Absolutely. We subject our human bodies to the environment and thus our human needs change. There are days that we need to be energized which means Yang Yoga is appropriate. There are days that we need to move our human body in a nice gentle manner or we need to stretch our bodies because they have been stressed (physically or mentally) and we need Yin Yoga. The key to choosing the correct yoga format, yin or yang, is listening to your body, i.e. what does it want today?
Terri Miles holds several yoga certifications and registrations, including:
E-RYT 200, E-RYT 500, RCYT and YCEP
Learn more about Terri's training and certifications.