Yin Yoga traditionally incorporates familiar poses from Hatha Yoga that are used to cool the body and deepen the breath. These gentle movements set the stage for deeper relaxation with restorative postures. Yin Yoga is a perfect complement to the dynamic and muscular (Yang) styles of Yoga that emphasize internal heat and the lengthening and contracting of muscles. Yin Yoga generally targets the connective tissues of the hips, pelvis, and lower spine.
While initially Yin Yoga may seem passive or soft, the practice can also be quite challenging due to the long duration of the poses. Yin and Yang tissues respond quite differently to being exercised. You need to experience this to really know what Yin Yoga is all about. A Yin Yoga class will feel different from a Yang practice. Yin focuses on stretching the deep connective tissue in the joints and lengthening the time spent in each posture. You will do fewer postures in a Yin Yoga class and because you are focusing on stretching, will not be engaged in standing or strengthening poses. In a Yin class, you will hold each pose for approximately five minutes, though some Yin Yoga instructors may hold the pose for longer. You eventually will find that you have greater range of motion due to the lengthening of the connective tissue.
When you take a Hatha (Yang) Yoga class, you do a variety of asanas, postures and pranayama (breath work) along with a meditative or reflective component. Typically in the West, Hatha Yoga is dominated by the physical postures as they are exercises for strength, balance and flexibility. Hatha Yoga postures consist of standing and floor postures which focus on forward bends, backward bends, inversions and twists.
Yin and Yang Yoga are a beautiful compliment to each other in a practice. The Yin portion really helps the student with breathing, turning inward, meditating and focusing. This class is suitable for all levels of students.