The Principles of Yin Yoga are key pillars for us to understand the practice from their philosophical views to actualizing it in our body. Each principle allows us to clearly understand how nature works and how it can be translated into our body. "Grounding" works in our body, "Holding" works in our breath and "Relaxation" works in our mind. If we used these three principles in our Yin Yoga practice, life begins to transform right here and now.

1. Principle of Grounding

In nature, whatever falls into the earth will eventual grow into its full potential. It is the benevolence of the earth to nurture and support all lives. Like a seed that drops into the earth, it awaits to reach its full potential. Grounding is providing the space to hold and wait. Everything has its time in nature, the season changes according to time and the nature of life has its time to grow.

Grounding is important to allow us to come back "home". It is our foundation and support structure that nurtures and holds life together. In the Yoga Sutra, it is called Asana. The quality of "sthiram" (stability) and "sukham" (ease). Grounding is about seeking support by coming back home.

Heaven is Yang and Yin is the earth. The benevolence of the earth is what needed to be understood. All life-forms are given full opportunity to grow without discrimination. According to Lao Zi, to enter the Way of Dao, he proposed "men follows the law of the Earth, Earth follows the law of Heaven, Heaven follows the law of Dao and Dao follows the law of Nature itself. The law of the earth is the quality of benevolence where everything is given equal support without discrimination (whether matter or non-matter, living or non-living). All can co-exist, be nurtured, grew and let lived. In the way, the earth is always open to all. It is always in the state of equanimity.

Grounding is part of how we open ourselves, just like the earth. In order to stay open, we must be able to ground. In this body, the lower body belongs to the earth and this is where Yin Yoga begins its magic. To develop the quality of grounding in our life, we need to work with our pelvis. It is one of the heaviest joint in our body, at the same time, one of the most complicated joint in the body. However, it is what provides stability and space to our physical support. All postural alignments start here. This is where all movements begin. It is our powerhouse and movement support. In Yin Yoga, we work with this

view and start all our movement with the intention to create space in the pelvis.

2. Principle of Holding

Holding is about space. It is to become the "container". With space, we are able to hold everything together. It is our ability to work with time; to allow time for things to happen and taking time for things to evolve. Time is the breath in this body. Breath is the fire that will melt all resistance. We need to understand that whether things are happening or not happening in our life is only a matter of TIME. Time is the most powerful factor to allow everything to be healed. When we allow time, we allow space in our life.

The earth is the container for solar energy. It has the ability to give life because it has the power to store (the "container") solar energy. So the earth takes in this energy while the Sun provides. In this way, the Yin & Yang principles are balance in our planet. When there is a giver, there must be a receiver, otherwise it will be useless to provide. This allows us to contemplate on all our relationships and how we should manage it to bring emotional balance to all parties who are close to us.

Holding is the Power of Allowing. If we allow things good and bad to pass through us like a window plane, it will not affect us deeply. It is when we make a wall within ourselves; when we resist and we push back on things we averse that cause us more pain. When we can become the "container", we allow everything to happen just as they are by not reacting to them. In this way, we created space for everything to co-exist with ourselves. We become more forgiving, more compassionate and more loving.

Giving is Yang and Holding is Yin. In this relationship, we seek balance by taking in and keeping what we have. We develop the quality of contentment. In the Yoga Sutra, it is called Santosa. When we have this quality, we naturally stop looking from outside and come back "Home".

To develop this quality, it is our ability to work with TIME. In Yin Yoga, holding means working with time in the pose. By taking time to work through all limitations of the body, we create space and transform our body. We also allow all sensations to go through us and by-pass us like a glass window; allowing everything and yet letting go of everything.

3. Principle of Relaxation

In farming, tilting of the soil needs to happen before sowing of the seed. Soil needs to become soft before it can hold anything within it. This reflects the principle of relaxation.

Relaxation here does not mean that we are lazy. This is greatly misunderstood. Relaxation is a mindful cultivation of a habit to stay soft in our body, speech and mind at all time. This is especially tested when we are confronting something negative. How much can we stay relax in our body, speech and mind when face with something difficult?

Relaxation is the key to all yoga asana. In the Yoga Sutra, it is called " Sukham". It is an important quality to bring into our physical state. Our ability to work through the toughest physical challenge with relaxation is utmost important. This is the real benefit of Yoga Asana. We have a body and we need to deal with the body with a physical practice that releases tension; to continuously create and maintain spaciousness.

We want to develop our communication and language skills that up-lift spirits and not bring them down. Communication is part of our "chi" or energy. We want to be able to stay positive in our communication to motivate and uplift people around us. Positive communications brings relaxation to the body, "chi" and mind.

We also want our mind to become relax. We are not in the business of avoiding stress. We are here to develop the skill of taking up more stress. However, if we start to train the mind to stay relax at all times, we clearly can take on more challenges and accomplish them well, without feeling stressful.

To develop this quality, Yin Yoga practice request all external muscles to stay passive and less engage; working with softness. We work the poses with minimum effort to sustain us in the poses. If we can continue to work with minimum effort without pushing and fighting, we gain more space to go deeper. This is the power of relaxation.

Relaxation also affects how we change fascia sheets in the body. Yin Yoga targets to change fascia sheets. This means, by applying minimum muscular work but employing extra-muscular fascia and intramuscular fascia around the muscle while working with gravitational force (via body orientation) is key to remodeling the fascia. Slow and long traction stretching technique is recommended instead of dynamic stretching.

The Three Principles of Yin Yoga has profound philosophical foundation based on ancient Chinese wisdom. It is a practice that goes beyond the physical body. If one truly engages in the principles of Yin in their life, it will develop a spacious quality that brings full blossom of life; like the seed in the soil, waiting for its moment. It is a path that evolved when one takes on the practice of Yin Yoga.

About The Teacher – Victor Chng

Victor has been teaching Yin Yoga since 2005. He is the first to bring yin yoga teacher training all over Asia and continues to develop and improve on his understanding on yin yoga based on Chinese philosophy and ancient Chinese Medicine. Victor developed yin yoga practice based on the meridians of the body to allow energy to flow more freely throughout the body. His approach is to enhance healing in a natural way that the body is already responding. Victor is well known for his clarity on teaching ancient Chinese medicine to people with no medical background. Victor travels widely to teach Yin Yoga in both Asia and in Europe.

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