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Yin Yoga for Healing.

April 11, 2012

Yoga practitioners are starting to become more aware of the many benefits of Yin Yoga for themselves and their classes. In simple terms Yin yoga introduces us to the Yin or female aspects of the body whereas yoga practices such as Ashtanga Yoga work far more with the Yang aspects. Yin aspects of the body involve joints and connective tissue whereas Yang aspects involve muscles and skin. Yin aspects involve depth and within-ness. Yang works with the external.

Recently I ran a morning with some wonderful yoga teachers at the Shakti Yoga Studio in Broadacres on Yin Yoga’s “Dragon Dance”. This is a dramatic flow of movements moving from the energetic Yang Dragon Dance through to the Yin Dragon Dance where we held postures for longer and worked to ease and flex the hip joints, knees and lower limbs. This was to demonstrate one of the very healing elements of Yin Yoga which is its capacity to balance our yoga practice; strength building through Yang, flexibility building through Yin.
However Yin yoga goes even further than that with its healing powers. Because we hold the postures for much longer the meridians of energy in the body, (if you think of it in Chinese Medicine terms), which pass through the joints are gently stimulated and the long meridians which begin or end in the lower body are moved and cleared by the deeply held postures. There are 6 meridians that are particularly affected by our Yin practice – the liver, gall bladder, kidney, urinary bladder, spleen and stomach meridians.

Thus if you have lower back or abdominal pain or irritability your liver meridian may be out of sorts. With headaches or blurred vision the gall bladder meridian may need some work, The kidney meridian relates to anxiety and fear, gynae problems and is linked to lung and throat disorders as well as the obvious kidney troubles. The urinary bladder meridian disharmony shows itself as problems with the lower limbs, difficulty with urination and backaches. The spleen is related to stomach problems, flatulence, vomiting and bloating and these are also connected to the stomach meridian. If you find yourself constantly fighting off one or more of these complaints it is worth considering doing some Yin Yoga to help the energy body support the healing of the physical one.

There are a number of gentle Yin flows which target one or more of these meridians as they are done and as the overall state of the physical body is balanced by the postures so is the internal energy body. For yoga practitioners who work with acupuncturists to help them maintain their good health they will find that their Yin practice will help enormously to magnify the results of the energy work and help Chi flow.

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A great reference book on Yin Yoga is YinSights by Bernie Clark and the book includes some more information about the link with the meridians and some suggested Yin flows. I will be doing more on the secret healing powers of Yin Yoga at a Yoga for Healing Retreat 18th – 20th May 2012. See for details click here.

Elizabeth Morris is an Advanced Yoga Teacher and specialises in teaching the ‘healing yogas’ of Restorative and Yin Yoga. She has a studio in Graaff Reinet and runs regular workshops in Johannesburg and Edinburgh (UK).

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