There are so many different types of yoga out there it can be easy to get overwhelmed! Thankfully, the Taoist concepts of yin and yang yoga can make it much easier to understand what kind of yoga is best for you.
Yin yoga, traditionally practiced in North America, is oriented towards calmer, cooling and more passive movements. It is great for the deeper tissues of the body, including the joints, bones and connective tissues. Yin is sometimes referred to as soft yoga.
However, yin is often more challenging than yang! Some poses can be held for up to 20 minutes, and are nearly always held for a minimum of 3 long breaths. The aim of this is to foster mindfulness in every part of your body.
By contrast, yang yoga is more fast-paced, dynamic and warming. Strength and fitness are the goals of yang, while still strengthening and relaxing your muscles. Yang yoga often uses faster movements which are more repetitive.
Before you immediately jump to the kind of yoga you prefer, it is important to consider too the kind of lifestyle you lead. If you lead a more yang-based lifestyle where you are constantly on the go and working long hours, yin may be better for you. Taking time out to be quiet and calm can be incredibly useful.
Yin and yang yoga, though, are meant to be practiced together. It is good for the body to stay fit and healthy with some yang yoga, just as much as it is important for the mind to practice yin.
Another thing to consider is what other kinds of exercise you are doing. If you already do pump classes or spin classes that involve a lot of high-energy cardio, then perhaps you should be looking more at yin yoga. If you enjoy working out in the weights room and taking things slow, then maybe yang is the way to go.
Whichever way you go, just remember that balance is key!
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