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Who Invented Yin Yoga?

by | Jan 7, 2023 | Yoga Philosophy & History

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Yoga is a beautiful art of creating a balance between one’s body and mind. When you do yoga, you probably are not aware that certain poses and holds are putting your body in a yin state.  Once this knowledge is out there, it can leave you wondering who invented Yin Yoga.

While Paulie Zink first started incorporating Yin Yoga in his practices there was another founder. Paul Grilley, a student of Paulie Zink, created and adapted a yin-only style that became known as Yin Yoga. 

With Yin Yoga, there is more than just doing poses. Some philosophies and benefits go along with this style of yoga. Reading this article can help give you a better understanding of Yin Yoga and what it is about.

Who Invented Yin Yoga?

Yin Yoga is a traditional practice in Chinese culture. First being learned and taught by Zink, yin yoga was part of his art of practicing yin and yang styles. However, his teachings ultimately lead to a style of yoga that was never done before.

As a student of Zink, Paul Grilley found that doing yin-only style yoga not only benefited the mind but also helped the body. He started his own practice where he taught yin only but taking the name from his former teacher, called it Taoist Yoga. 

It wasn’t until a student of Grilley discovered that this practice and style of Yoga had more to it than that. 

Her name was Sarah Powers. She ultimately studied and helped Grilley perfect this style of yoga and taught it to her own students. After some time, she told Grilley that they should name this style and particular practice Yin Yoga.

While they still used some teachings and knowledge from Paulie Zink, Yin Yoga was focused primarily on the yin aspects. 

Where Was Yin Yoga First Practiced?

Yin yoga was developed as a slower-placed style that uses asanas held for long periods. Unlike traditional yoga, yin yoga uses postures that are held for a few seconds to minutes based on experience levels.

Yin Yoga, formerly known as Taoist Yoga, was practiced by Paulie Zink across North America and Europe. However, the yin aspects of Yin Yoga first started in Chinese traditions.

These postures are used to stimulate different channels in the body that Chinese medicine would call meridians and Nadis in Hatha yoga. This yoga comes with its own beneficial qualities.

These benefits can be:

  • Calming as well as balancing the mind and body
  • Reducing anxiety and stress. 
  • Increased circulation
  • Flexibility 
  • Improves joint mobility
  • Releases fascia
  • Balances internal organs while improving the flow of chi or prana

The main purpose of practicing yin yoga is to be at one with not only nature but yourself. Staying in these poses for a certain amount of time per day can help you achieve the essence of that animal or pose and help with the flow of chi going throughout the body. 

What Is the Philosophy of Yin Yoga?

Just like with all yoga, Yin Yoga has philosophies that help gain a better understanding of what it is about and how it can be beneficial to one’s mind and body. 

Starting with the concept that everything in the universe has a yin and yang chi, it is thought that the energies from yin and yang offer a cooling and heating effect in nature. The difference between the two:

  • Yang was thought to be the active and changing dynamic in nature. 
  • Yin was the act of being unmoving, stable, and providing restorative energies to nature. 

It is thought that since our bodies are supported by connective tissue that is stiff like tendons, and ligaments that these are the yin properties of the body. It is believed that if we are in a constant state of yang, our bodies and mind will force us into a yin state. This can be anywhere from getting a migraine to feeling sick after a long and overworked week. 

What Are the 3 Principles of Yin Yoga?

There are 3 principles of Yin Yoga that need to be practiced while doing Yin styles. While in traditional yoga classes and styles, there is usually a warm-up exercise and stretch, this is not the case with Yin Yoga. Yin Yoga is the state of unmoving, so your muscles and body need to be in this yin, cold state. 

The 3 principles of Yin Yoga are important for learning and progressing in this yoga. These are:

  • Finding your limit or edge
  • Being in a state of stillness
  • Holding poses

Doing these while practicing Yin Yoga helps achieve the full benefits of Yin on your body and mind.

1. Find Your Edge

When we do an activity in our lives there is a limit on how far we can go. The same can be said about your body. Your body has limits and by pushing too far, you can cause injury to occur. Finding your stopping point in yoga is important. Your body needs the limitations, but you can work with these limitations and get better over time. 

This principle, finding your edge, is that you are going to respect your body’s limits and not try to push too far while practicing Yin Yoga. 

2. Be Still

Stillness in Yin Yoga is one of the main points. Being still during Yin Yoga helps with relaxation and breathing. This is great for those connective tissues and joints because breathing in and out lets you control and relax those muscles to move freely with each new pose. 

3. Hold the Pose

With Yin Yoga, some poses are held for as long as 10 minutes, given that it depends on the pose and comfort level. This is important to gaining more control over your body’s limits and being able to practice holding still. 

It is important to learn how to surrender when these poses become too much. 

Where Can I Learn More About Yin Yoga?

Finding out more information about Yin Yoga is not only fun but interesting. This may leave you with questions about where you can find out more information and where you can learn about practicing Yin Yoga. 

There is an extensive history and background of Yin Yoga on yinyoga.com.

However, if you are looking to teach and practice Yin Yoga, there is great online practice and training at My Vinyasa Practice. They offer classes and courses to help you become certified and master the style of Yin Yoga.

Conclusion

Yin yoga has not only an inventor but founders that made it a popular style to practice. Yin Yoga is a style of yoga that focuses on the stillness and yin parts of the body. Practicing this style helps one become in tune with their body as well as their mind. 

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