Yin Yoga is very different to Vinyasa Yoga, however they compliment each other perfectly. When we practice both yin and yang styles of yoga we have a complete yoga practice, Bernie Clark says in his book "The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga" that "After you have experienced this (yin yoga), even just once, you will realize that you have been doing only half of the asana practice."
I have being doing yin yoga on a more regular basis in my own practice and it feels so good just to slow down, breathe and feel.
Here are some differences and benefits to yin and yang styles of yoga.
Yang styles of yoga include more active dynamic forms such as Vinyasa, Astanga, Bikram, hot, power yoga etc.
Yin Tissues Yang Tissues
Deep Fasical Network (Connective Tissues) Skin
The vinyasa style of yoga that I teach works on the cardiovascular system (blood) in the body by increasing the heart rate through sun salulations and mini vinyasa's, we build strength and tone in the muscles in standing postures like Virabhadrasana (warrior) 1, 2 and 3, Trikonasana, High Lunge and Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog), all these poses build strength and flexibility in the muscles.
Yin style yoga is much slower in pace than vinyasa and is mainly in seated or supine (lying down) positions. The poses are held anywhere from 1 - 20 minutes. This is because ligaments, bones and joints are by nature less flexible and don't like to move around to much or too quickly and like to remain cool. In order for us to stress ligaments, joints and bones in a healthy way we need to hold positions for longer and move in a calm and gentle way.
Please don't be freaked out by the word stress, not all stress is bad, we need a certain amount of healthy stress to grow and develop, when we run we stress the heart in turn making it stronger, when we lift weights we stress and tear the muscles so that they adapt and become bigger and stronger, when we practice yin yoga we stress the joints, ligaments, fascia and to some extent the bones allowing them to become juicer and more flexible. Yin yoga helps to protect the joints from all the "wear and tear" that we place on our joints from our day to day activities whether that's through exercise or by sitting at a desk or in the car all day for work.
Yin Yoga helps to protect the joints from all the wear and tear that we place on our joints.
If you have a regular yoga practice you'll be familiar with alot of the poses in yin yoga for example in yin yoga Pigeon Pose is called Swan Pose, Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold) is called Catepillar and Gomukhasana is called Shoelace to name just few.
Even though the poses look the same they are worked in very different ways and this is why they have different names because they are the same but different! Yin yoga is about yielding, allowing, surrendering and nourishing.Yin is internal, cooling, downward and passive.
Yang Yoga is dynamic, strengthening, and repetitive. Yang is external, warming, upward and more active.
Yin Yoga is about yielding, allowing, surrendering and nourishing
One is not better than the other but both are important not only in our yoga practice but in our day to day lives, for a truly well rounded experience in this thing we call life. We can't have one without the the other, day (yang) can't exist without night (yin), shadows (yin) can't exist without light (yang), masculine (yang) can't exist without feminine (yin), the list is endless.
Two much of yang in our lives leads to burnout and exhaustion, remember yang is external, things like too much stimulation from technology, long working hours, constant family demands, trying to get everything done, running around with a to do list a mile long that never seems to get smaller, to much running, sports and weight lifting without sufficient rest and recovery leads to injury or illness.
Like wise to much yin in our lives leads to stagnation and no get up and go, remembering yin is internal so too much over thinking and analysing and complementing can lead to depression and lack of action, getting nothing done and leaving it for others to do.
Keeping these qualities in mind can help you to understand which yoga practice you might need on any given day.
In my regular vinyasa classes I do try to include more cooling and calming yin style qualities in the beginning and towards to the end of practice and you will find that most teachers do. However it can be nice to flip the switch and have a more yin focused class with a little sprinkle of yang qualities.
If you are interested in giving is a go and would like to try out I have a Yin Style Yoga Workshop happening on Monday the 1st of May (May Bank Holiday).
Yin Yoga is very simple but not necessarily easy.
It is different to restorative yoga so if have a recent joint or muscle injury, it is important to give it time to heal before practicing yin or yang yoga.
You can check the workshop out here and book on line if you feel this is something that you might you need.