Yin yoga is hot right now. And for good reason too!
You can think of Yin yoga as a way of approaching yoga as opposed to a brand name. It’s a more subtle way of practicing that often involves just a few poses, held for longer periods of time with an emphasis on stillness.
A truly holistic practice that offers so much more than just a really good stretch, the longer holds and periods of stillness encourage qualities like patience and observation, and they give our mind and nervous system a much-needed chance to rebalance and relax.
This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch (excuse the pun), but here are a few reasons why so many yogis like myself have fallen in love with Yin yoga!
We intuitively know that balanced health and wellbeing are hard to find when we’ve constantly got our foot on the gas. But ironically, we become so familiar with living life full throttle, we actually don’t know how to unwind and simply be in the moment.
Through the periods of stillness in a Yin practice you're repeatedly given the opportunity to stop, unwind, and just be. And that is something people all over the world are craving - and needing.
Much like stillness, simplicity is both nice and necessary in our often complicated and complex world. And sometimes our yoga practice can actually add to all the complexity!
I know that when I’m having a hectic day or week, a busy dynamic class with tricky poses and fast transitions can knock me even more off center. But Yin, oh Yin! It's like giving my brain a soothing hug...and it always nudges me back to balance with its beautiful sense of simplicity.
3. Deep Relaxation
A lot of us are a little too familiar with feeling tense and wound up, and so the feeling of deep relaxation (which is actually quite different to collapsing in to bed thoroughly exhausted) might actually be really foreign.
Yin yoga doesn’t stir up the body and nervous system, in fact it encourages them to slow down so it’s an incredibly effective way of reaching that delicious point of deep relaxation.
4. Balance the Flow of Chi
Chi, Prana, Ki, Qi — whatever you want to call our vital life force, its innate nature is to be in harmony and balance.
Much like acupuncture, cupping, gua sha and other Chinese medicine practices, Yin yoga encourages a balanced flow of Chi throughout the whole system so it can have a really positive impact on our overall health and wellbeing.
5. Increases Flexibility
I know, why have I put this as point five, right? The promise of an amazing stretch is the reason most people seek out Yin yoga! By relaxing the muscles and working the connective tissue in longer passive holds, Yin can offer a deep sense of freedom and flexibility in the physical body that just feels incredible.
As an added bonus, it also helps increase flexibility of the mind...
6. Balance Out All That Yang
Most of life is Yang. That is to say we are constantly on the move, with our bodies and with our minds. We think, we analyse, we remember, we plan, we respond, we react, we create, we move, and then we do it all again.
To be Yin, is to be still, quiet, introspective, observant. It’s less about doing and more about being.
7. Become Less Reactive and More Meditative
Don’t be fooled into thinking that Yin is easy. It’s not. In fact if you’re a busy, energetic, Type A kinda person, it’s probably the most challenging way to practice yoga!
When the mind becomes bored or uncomfortable it will try its best to get you to react. You know those phantom itches that appear all over the body and the sudden need to adjust your hair or clothing? Hmmm, yep we have a choice about whether we react to them or whether we ignore them.
The stillness of a Yin practice can be a form of meditation, where we practice ignoring (and eventually stilling) the fluctuations and patterns of the mind. And it’s there that we find a true sense of peace.
So, what is it that YOU love about Yin yoga?