Yin Yoga & Embodied Intuition

Yin yoga was developed by Paul Grilley, out of his year long study of Daoist Yoga. In his words, yin yoga can be described as "the quiet practice".

Yin bringes together asanas (mostly seated/floor-based) from the hatha yoga tradition, knowledge of the meridian system of traditional chinese medicine, and daoist philosophy. Some of its central features are:

  • Holding of poses for longer periods of time (~3-5min, on average)

  • Cultivation of mindful presence & awareness

  • Promotion of circulation in tissues & joints

    • Increases flexibility & mobility

    • Calms the nervous system, aiding in stress reduction

    • Nourishes connective tissue & fascia*

What is the connection to embodied intuition?

Because each pose in yin yoga is essentially a mini-meditation, the practice naturally invites the senses to go inward. The cultivation of this felt sense of our internal world is one of the foundational practices of embodied intuition. It is also what is referred to as dharana, in Patanjali's description of the 8 limbs of yoga.

Through this inner sense, we connect with our inner teacher. Our intuition. Sensing inside is also an invitation to hold anything that we might become aware of gently in our realm of attention. Often in yin, feelings of discomfort can arise - on either plane (physical, emotional, mental). The meditative posture then becomes a perfect training ground for how we choose to respond to discomfort in our lives.

  • Pushing past it, thereby crossing our own boundaries

  • Ignoring it, thereby teaching ourselves that our innate intelligence is not worthy of being listened to

  • Squirming away from it immediately, thereby choosing reactivity

  • Or finding away to respond to the discomfort appropriately

This, to me, is one of the greatest lessons of my yin practice. It's rarely about judging something (a sensation, a feeling, a thought) as good or bad. What's helpful is determining what response / position / movement / degree of alignment is appropriate for one's present condition. A condition that is ever changing. Thus, what's appropriate for you today might not be so tomorrow.

So checking in with yourself frequently is one of the greatest acts of care you can gift yourself with - on the mat, and off.

This is just a little glimpse into a vast and growing area of internal practice and inquiry. I hope you could take something away from it nevertheless!


* for more information on the fascinating world of fascia, check out this recently released documentary (subtitles are available in multiple languages).