Deep, Passive and Surprisingly Powerful
Yin yoga is a style of yoga that is heavily influenced by Toaist philosophy.
Most forms of yoga are considered to be predominantly Yang, in that they are active. They have an emphasis on stretching and stimulating the muscle tissue of the body.
This style, however, places an emphasis on stretching and stimulating the connective tissue. This is done through being largely passive in the stretch and for holding it for a long time (typically 4 or 5 minutes).
Modern meridian theory says that the connective tissue provides the routes for energy to flow around the body (the meridian system). How well this functions is due to dependent on the presence of sufficient hyaluronic acid which holds liquid in the tissues, helping with flexibility.
Yin Yoga and Hyaluronic Acid
Yoga postures, particularly deep stretching of the connective tissue helps stimulate the production of hyaluronic acid, so helping to re-enliven the body.
The postures also help work against the forces of contraction and the resulting fixation of joints. This can be particularly beneficial for helping relieve lower back pain and in reversing degeneration of the joints.
Due to its gentle nature yin yoga it can be practiced by practically anyone regardless of past experience and can be a great help to you if are already doing another style of yoga.
I have to admit to being surprised at how powerful it could be and I now do it a few times per month, as I find it complements my established yoga practice. The depth of stretch I receive has helped to add a new dimension to the asanas I normally do. [On a side note, I also find it helps my golf swing!]
Recommended Resource: I highly recommend a dvd by Paul Grilley, Yin Yoga: the foundations of a quiet practice, which covers the theory as well as offering 3 enjoyable one-hour practice routines. You can order it from amazon.com