JULY 2014 ;e Costco Connection 31
ties that can help people relax and feel less
tense. Teachers may encourage students to
focus on their breath and calm wandering
thoughts (see more on meditation on page
35). Grilley says, “Just because you’re healthy
and you don’t particularly need to be more
flexible, doesn’t mean that mentally and
energetically and emotionally you might
not benefit from an occasional quiet, introspective practice.”
On the rise
Clark and Grilley agree that while yin
poses have been around since the beginning
of yoga, this style has only recently caught on
in the U.S. Grilley attributes this to the rising
popularity of all forms of yoga. But he adds
that many yin practitioners are finding respite
from more fatiguing (and potentially injuring) activities.
It’s important to consult with a physician
before starting any new forms of exercise. To
find a style of yoga that suits your needs or
preference, visit WebMD.com and search
“yoga styles.” Look for classes at a local yoga
studio, via instructional DVDs or through
online yoga lessons. For more information on
yin yoga and the fascia, visit Yin Yoga.com
Yin yoga will not make you break a
sweat, but it is working some very necessary
areas of your body: the fascia, also called
connective tissues. “The fascia is the muscular fibrous connective tissue that’s enveloping every muscle, but also every organ in the
human body,” says Dr. Robert Schleip, who
leads the Fascia Research Group at Ulm
University in Munich. He explains that this
web-like structure holds muscles and organs
in place, and also makes up tendons, ligaments and joint capsules. The fascia is central to mobility.
“When you get older, literally, your joints
are stiffer, and your movement is more
restricted because the fascia that wraps
around and forms the joints, the fascia that
holds your bones together, that’s literally
becoming stiffer and less elastic,” says Paul
Grilley, an author and sought-after yoga and
anatomy teacher. “That is the aging process.”
Grilley, who is often credited with popularizing yin yoga in the U.S., tells The Connection
that this process occurs in arteries and even
vital organs throughout the body because the
fascia weaves through it all.
Schleip says that the action of releasing
the muscles in yin yoga poses allows gentle
tension to be placed on the fascia.
“[This stress] rebuilds the tissue, which
can help to reestablish your normal range of
motion, but also make the tissue stronger,
more resistant to breakage and damage as we
get older,” says Bernie Clark, an author and
renowned yoga and meditation teacher.
This is why yin yoga is often recommended to complement other athletic activities, prevent or heal sports injuries and stave
off natural tightening with age.
Clark also explains that certain poses can
benefit internal organs by compressing and
massaging them, which can help improve
their overall function.
The yin yoga experience
Yin poses can feel intense after a period
of time, even to a seasoned yogi. A pose may
feel entirely different at the 30-second mark
than it does after five minutes.
“If you want to loosen up fascia, you can-
not do it aggressively, and you cannot do it
quickly,” says Grilley. “And you’ve got to be
patient to allow the tissues within your body
to adapt without injury to the gentle strain
you’re placing upon them.”
Yoga blocks, blankets and stuffed bolsters
are sometimes used to make a pose more
comfortable. Every body’s different, and peo-
ple may not appear or feel the same in a par-
ticular pose. Pain should never be a sensation
felt during practice.
“People going into fascia-oriented yoga,
they should leave any kind of performance or
achievement or ambition outside the door,
and first start with a body-friendly attitude,”
Yin yoga also possesses meditative quali-
Benefits the spine. You may be more upright
in this pose, depending on your flexibility. If
this is the case, reach as far forward as you
can, round your back, tuck your chin and let
your arms fall to the sides.
Benefits the spine. This puts pressure on your
neck, so do not move your head in this pose.
You may not be able to
touch the ground behind
you with your feet.
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Benefits the connective tissues in
the spine. Start in a gentler version
on your elbows. Stay there if it’s
enough, or push up to your palms
if your back feels ready.