Is Yin Yoga a cooling practice? Yes it is! The experience however is always unique to the practitioner and is always relative to what pose you have chosen, how you have come into the pose and how you are navigating the moment to moment experience.
When I was growing up in Singapore, my Chinese aunty would always offer me a ‘cooling’ drink when we visited. Food or drink was considered either heating or cooling. Since temperatures rarely drop below 30 degrees Celsius during the day in the tropics, it mattered what we ate or drank. The irony was that water was offered warm so that it would help to cool the body. Much like Yin Yoga, we might experience a ‘flush’ of heat as Qi starts to mobilise and a slight sweat might even break out, and this would help the body to cool naturally.
If you’ve ever experienced a rise in body temperature during a sitting meditation, you will know that this phenomena is not unusual, so it might come as less of a surprise when the same thing happens whilst practicing yin yoga. We might not immediately experience ‘cooling’ as we go through the arc of a rise in body temperature followed by the drop which creates a cooling effect. This can happen in winter or summer. I have found one of the keys to accelerating the thermo regulating process in the strong summer heat is ensuring the use of props to create air gaps where there is close skin to skin contact. For instance slivers of cotton in the back of the knees in saddle, or a small cushion under the hip flexors in sleeping swan or deer can help enormously from building up added unnecessary heat from our own body contact. Soft microfibre towels are wonderful, light, transportable and inexpensive props to ‘fill gaps’ or support any fragility in joints. Cushions or bolsters between the legs or knees in Long Lying Twist will help to keep the organs cool when the legs and feet remain cool so that Yin energy which rises towards the organs themselves can remain relatively cooler. I still have a bolster to sleep with at night as that was how we all slept with a ‘bocky pillow’ in order to stay cool. It incidentally also helps with any lower back or sacroiliac discomfort by helping to keep the spaces on either side of the sacroiliac joints neutral and wonderful during pregnancy to help support the spine too.
Cool isn’t it? I hope your yin practice is helpful with keeping you cool this hot summer if you are Europe-side.
Join Sarah Lo on her next Yin Yoga & Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training this September live online.