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A Passive Explosion – The Rise In Popularity Of Yin Yoga

There can be no denying that over recent years there has been a steady increase of Yin Yoga classes in studios and venues across the UK. The same is true here in the frozen north of Scotland where I teach in Aberdeen.

When tasked with this essay I wanted to give more than my personal opinion on why this rise in popularity but equally didn’t want to rehash and regurgitate other people’s articles from the internet. This essay is, therefore, an authentic and reflective look at our particular locality and some of the venues where (under normal circumstances) I have the pleasure of teaching.

So Why Yin?

I fell into Yin many years ago when my own yoga teacher changed the timing of his classes and I was no longer able to make his dynamic class. My initial reaction to Yin was ‘WHAT IS THIS?’ …cue the thoughts, restlessness, questioning and irritations. It took no more than 2 classes for me to grasp that this was a very different way of practicing and not much longer to realise I was actually enjoying it.

I remember leaving class one evening with complete clarity of mind and the sensation that I was floating on legs as light as a feather with a freedom of movement through the hips I had never noticed before. Then there was that feeling of unravelling the spine in the long held twists or melting into a forward fold, something I had never experienced before during many years of practice, I liked it – a lot!

 

3 years later as a qualified yoga instructor I covered some classes at ASV (a large local sports and aquatics centre). Afterwards I wrote to them asking if they would consider giving me a class of my own, adding a brief outline of the physical benefits of a Yin yoga practice and why it might be a useful addition to their timetable. They gifted me a Thursday morning slot from 11-12. For the first few weeks there were around 8-12 participants (with a room capacity of 35).

I figured I had set myself up for failure but truly believed that Yin yoga in a sports setting could work well by complimenting all the yang activities on offer so I kept showing up….. And so did the participants. Within a matter of months the class was full and often had a wait list. It wasn’t long before there was another class, then another. Fast forward to 2020 and 5 classes per week at this very yang venue. Yin yoga has woven its magic.

When I wrote that initial letter to ASV asking for a class the pitch I gave them was really all about the physical aspect of Yin and that is the description that remains on the timetable.

So last week I posed the question ‘Why Yin?’ to some of these same yogis who are currently zooming with me. While there was mention of improved flexibility, a better golf swing, less pain after a gym session etc., many came back with other reasons, some so frank I read them through tears. With kind permission I will quote a handful of them below as I feel that this gives a far clearer insight into the reality of the rise in popularity of Yin Yoga….

Yin has become the gift or ‘present’ that I give my body and mind during each session. It has brought me balance, relaxation and more flexibility than I ever imagined possible.

Yin is like one big myofascial stretch. It allows me to tune in to my body, to notice the parts that move with ease whilst highlighting areas that need a bit more attention– its ace!

It helps me reset my body and mind in a time when life is frantic and unclear.

Aside from the space that yin offers within the physical body it is the mind space it provides that makes it so appealing to me. A space for me to be with me.

The release I find both mentally and physically from Yin is wonderful.

There’s something about the adjustability of a Yin practice to suit each individual. The use of props, options for asanas etc. It feels more like a personal journey than a yoga class.

My long held tensions, aching joints and muscles began to relax and for the first time in years I was stress and pain free and enjoying each day. Yin has grounded me body and soul. In short a life saver.

black and white picture of grace in yoga pose

 

The awareness of breath has really helped me cope with anxiety which the GP wanted to medicate me for. Thank you Yin you keep me sane.

The Mrs suggested I came along as I was going through a bit of a wobble personally. Within just a few weeks I started to feel more relaxed and began to feel more like myself again – a better version. Then came the physical benefits.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, we live in a fast paced world, rarely giving ourselves time to simply be; always striving, chasing, achieving – busy being busy. It seems people feel the need to be ‘granted permission’ to slow down, and check back in with themselves and I believe that this aspect plays a huge part in the Yin explosion.

Yin gives the ‘always active’ this permission they feel they need to stop, to breathe, to connect with, reflect upon and explore the 98% that lies beneath this skin covered being we greet in the mirror each day. Permission to soften, release muscular tension, to nourish and feel into the depths. Yin is a mindful and meditative yoga practice that can teach us much about ourselves if given this ‘permission’ to be still for a time and quietly observe.

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