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Yin Yoga.

Most of us realize that the way to build muscle, the way to make muscles stronger, is to stress them with exercise. Bones, tendons, and ligaments respond to the same principle: the right type and amount of stress will strengthen and rebuild connective tissue. In the case of bone, our own body weight (the stress of gravity) provides ongoing exercise. For tendons (which connect bone to bone) and ligaments (which connect muscle to bone), yoga instructor Paul Grilley has developed a form of yoga exercise that strengthens the connective tissue and increases joint flexibility without causing injury.

Tendons and ligaments lack the elasticity of muscle. Grilley explains in the introductory lecture on his two-disc DVD set, Yin Yoga, that because connective tissue is yin (more static) compared to muscle (yang), yang muscle-strengthening exercises that involve movement and repetition are inappropriate for strengthening the less elastic fibers. "Connective tissue responds best to a slow, steady load," he says. "If you gently stretch connective tissue by holding a yin pose for a long time, the body will respond by making them a little longer and stronger--which is exactly what you want." As can example of the power of yin activity, Grilley refers to the effect of standing for long periods. Over time, the ligaments in the foot's arch will lengthen, resulting in fallen arches.

Stimulating the connective tissue with yin or yang yoga causes fibroblasts to produce more hyaluronic acid (HA). Hyaluronic acid, a primary ingredient in synovial fluid, is a water magnet. Grilley says HA can pull 1000-6000 times its weight in water to itself. Moreover, hyaluronic acid may be the key to the acupuncture meridian system, according to research by Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama and Dr. James Oschman. Grilley explains that these researchers have found that meridians consist of HA granules and water (an excellent electrical conductor). Dissecting corpses in a search for acupuncture meridians is futile because fluids dissipate from tissue upon death. If this theory is true, encouraging production of hyaluronic acid strengthens the body's meridian system as well as the joints.

Grilley's DVD set has two, one-hour yin yoga routines: one for the lower back, the other for the hip area. He continually emphasizes the importance of not over-stressing the joints. To illustrate ways to do each pose, four yoga practitioners with differing body types and flexibility demonstrate each exercise in the routines at the same time. As they stretch, Grilley explains how each person makes adjustments that produce a comfortable stress to the joint and avoid injury and encourages the viewer to do the same. Yin Yoga is available from Pranamaya, Inc. ( or phone 415-264-3069).

Grilley P. Yin Yoga. Available at:

Accessed November 20, 2006. Grilley P. Yin Yoga (DVD). San Francisco, California: Pranamaya, Inc.; 2005.

briefed by Jule Klotter
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Title Annotation:Shorts
Author:Klotter, Jule
Publication:Townsend Letter
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2008
Previous Article:Strength training.
Next Article:Hyaluronic acid and joint repair.

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