What does Yin Yoga mean?
Yin Yoga is a slower-paced, more meditative version of the popular physical and spiritual discipline of yoga. In Yin yoga, the poses are held for a long period of time (typically three to five minutes or longer) to target the connective tissues (such as the ligaments) rather than focusing on the muscles. As a result, the asanas are more passive holds, with little muscular engagement.
Yin Yoga has its roots in China, unlike the more popular and active yoga disciplines, which originated in India. It was founded on the Taoist theory of yin and yang – opposite concepts that, together, represent balance. Yin is stable and passive, while yang is changing and active. The yin poses, therefore, are passive and performed while seated or in a reclining position. The poses are held with the muscles fully relaxed, allowing time and gravity to deepen the stretch and target the fascia. The time spent holding these asanas is similar to meditation.
Yin yoga poses tend to resemble poses used in other disciplines, but use different names. Despite the similarity of the poses, the yin versions are performed differently from their active, or yang, relatives. For example, the yin caterpillar pose resembles paschimottanasana, or seated forward bend. In caterpillar, however, the spine rounds so that the head comes to the knees, whereas in paschimottanasana, the spine remains straight and lengthens as the head reaches toward the feet.