What is Yin Yoga?

yin yoga baddha konasanaOriginally known as Taoist yoga, yin yoga is the compliment and opposite of an active (yang) yoga practice. Wikipedia says, “In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (‘dark’ and ‘bright’) describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.”

Yin yoga is a Western yoga (used by those who live in the West–like the United States, not the East–like India) that was founded in the late 1970s. In his book The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga, Bernie Clark says, “Most forms of yoga today are dynamic, active practices designed to work only half of our body, the muscular half, the ‘yang’ tissues. Yin Yoga allows us to work the other half, the deeper ‘yin’ tissues of our ligaments, joints, deep fascial networks, and even our bones.”

This is how yin yoga compliments active practices. Unlike active practices, yin yoga asks the body to relax muscular energy. While the poses may seem similar, the instructor will remind you to release your muscles and relax. Also, postures may be held for several minutes so the body can relax completely, giving you the most benefit.

When discussing yin yoga, it is important to mention several individuals who have been instrumental to its creation.

Paulie Zink

On his website, Paulie Zink says,

“Yin yoga founder Paulie Zink is a multifaceted instructor of rare quality. He is a Chi Kung expert and an internationally acclaimed martial arts grand champion. The combination of his exceptional background, knowledge and skill makes him unique among yoga teachers in the western world. In order to achieve this degree of mastery he underwent demanding training and esoteric disciplines which emphasized cultivating the felt awareness and embodiment of one’s intuitive, instinctual, and mystical natures.”

Paulie Zink continues to teach yin yoga certification. He also has yin yoga DVDs.

Paul Grilley

In his biography on his website, Paul Grilley says,

“Paul Grilley began practicing yoga in 1979 after reading “The Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananada. He moved to Los Angeles in 1982 where he studied and taught yoga for 12 years. In 1988 he read “Theories of the Chakras” by Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama, Paul and his wife Suzee have been active students of Dr. Motoyama ever since.

“Paul started his studies of anatomy with Dr. Garry Parker in 1979. He continued his studies at UCLA where he took courses in anatomy and kinesiology. He earned a M.A. from St. John’s College, Santa Fe in summer 2000 and an Honorary Ph.D. in 2005 from the California Institute for Human Science for his efforts to clarify the latest theories on fascia and its relevance to the practice of hatha yoga.

Paul Grilley wrote a really interesting article about why yin yoga works for Yoga Journal. Here is a link to it.

Sarah Powers

In her biography on her website, Sarah Powers says,

“Sarah Powers began teaching in 1987. She is the founder and author of Insight Yoga, which interweaves the insights and practices of Yoga, Buddhism, Taoism, and Transpersonal Psychology into an integral practice to discover and enliven the body, heart and mind. Her yoga style blends both a Yin sequence of floor poses to enhance the meridian and organ systems, combined with an alignment-based slow flow or Yang practice, influenced by Viniyoga, Ashtanga, Iyengar teachings, and QI gong.

Sarah Powers teaches various workshops in the United States and abroad.

Bernie Clark

In his bio on his website, Bernie Clark writes:

“Bernie has been teaching yoga and meditation since 1998. He has a bachelor degree in Science from the University of Waterloo and combines his intense interest in yoga with an understanding of the scientific approach to investigating the nature of things. His ongoing studies have taken him deeply inside mythology, comparative religions and psychology. All of these avenues of exploration have clarified his understanding of the ancient Eastern practices of yoga and meditation. His teaching, workshops and books have helped many students broaden their own understanding of health, life and the source of true joy.”

Bernie Clark lives in Vancouver, B.C. and continues to teach yin yoga certification.

He is also a published author and public speaker. Here are Amazon links to a couple of his books. If you order through this link, I earn a small commission.

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Have you tried yin yoga? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Here is a Basic Yin Yoga video. It lasts about 35 minutes.

Here is Bernie Clark with “An Introduction to Yin Yoga.”

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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