The foundations of Yin yoga are rooted in the Daoist traditions of ancient China. Daoism is a multifaceted system premised upon the philosophy of living in harmony with the Dao, with the way of nature. Yin yoga is a synthesis Paulie Zink created by combining Hatha yoga and several disciplines from the Daoist tradition along with insights, visualisations, and animal based yoga postures, movements, and vocalisations he developed himself. The Daoist components of Yin yoga involve DaoYin (yoga postures), Qigong, inner alchemy, philosophy, and mysticism.
Yin yoga classes are slower paced with postures held for longer periods. This engenders a meditative quality with an emphasis on inwardness and expanding awareness of the body’s process and sensations. Students learn to become more present during practice, and they learn how to release muscular effort by relaxing and surrendering into the pull of gravity.
Beginner Yin yoga does have some challenging postures with emphasis on hip openers, however the stillness that is cultivated in a yin practice complements and balances the more vigorous yang styles of yoga. Yin yoga is adaptable for all skill levels, and it can be applied as a gentle restorative practice suitable for those who are limited by illness, injury, weakness or physical decline.
The complete art of Yin yoga contains both yin and yang postures. Yin postures are still and relaxed and facilitate the body in growing more flexible, enhancing circulation and clearing energetic blockages. Yang poses are more strenuous and promote the development of strength, balance and stamina. The movement required to transition from posture to posture is a yang activity. This is where Doaist flow comes into play. Flow in Yin yoga is much more than just moving in a sequence of postures – it is a smooth circular form of motion, and the efficient fluid movement of flow from pose to pose is integral to the practice.
A deeper dimension of Yin yoga encompasses the theory of Doaist alchemy which posits there are five transforming energies contained in the body’s energetic fields. These are Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire. Each element corresponds to specific primary emotions of the body and animates distinct qualities such as calm, strength, fluidity, springiness and lightness.
The purpose of Yin yoga is to restore the body to its natural state of health and to actualise our ability to move with fluidity, power and grace. This is achieved by practising the techniques of opening the heart and invoking the primal self while engaging in yoga postures and flowing movement exercises. This process serves to activate the alchemical aspects of the art and to reawaken our inherent spontaneity, playfulness and exuberance.
Paulie’s Yin yoga is a dynamic art form. It is not an exact science nor is it bound by a static structure. His philosophy teaches that we are only limited if we choose to be. Our bodies are constantly regenerating, and as long as we are alive growth is almost always possible. We each have the potential to be an artist, and Paulie encourages students to find their unique expression of the artist within and to let it blossom freely in their own Dao of being.