Yin yoga is a beautifully delicious practice that helps us to heal both our hearts and minds. It allows us time to sit within ourselves, to just be still, to notice what our body and mind are telling us.
This form of yoga is performed to stretch and target both the deep connective tissues and the fascia throughout the body. The aim is to regulate the body’s flow of energy,increase circulation in the joints, and improve flexibility. The primary areas of focus during a practice include the hips, thighs, shoulders and lower spinal area.
Finding Balance to Make Us Feel Fabulous
In the modern world, the masculine and feminine principles of life are generally out of balance: the masculine energy of action and expression often overrules the feminine energy of wisdom and acceptance, causing increased stress in our lives and relationships.
I’m sure you’ve heard your yoga teacher tell you that we store our emotions in our bodies, and that memories, anxieties, and tension linger on in cells stored deep in our tissues.
When we go into a yoga pose that opens a part of the body that’s been left untouched for a while, we start to release those deeply stored memories and emotions. You may find yourself in one moment enjoying reclined cobbler pose, and in the next flooding with tears or absolute rage!
In our practice, we learn to control our breath, to calm and slow down our minds, to help us to unwind. Enter yin yoga.
Yin & Yang
Yin and yang tissues respond quite differently to being exercised. The connective tissue - the yin tissue - responds most effectively to the long steady holds within yin, allowing the stiffness to slowly release.
Yin yoga is unique in the sense that your teacher will ask you to relax into your pose, softening your spine, and the muscles. All of these offer a much deeper access into the body. The muscles are more yang, and as such have greater softness and elasticity so they need to be exercised in a more physical and heat-building manner.
Yin yoga asks you to hold your poses for anywhere up to seven minutes. The time spent in these postures can be lightly compared to time spent in meditation as your teacher will gently tell you where to draw your attention, and how to calm your mind and use your breathe.
“Use the postures to get into the body. Do not use your body to get into the postures.” - Bernie Clark
In yin, we slowly ease ourselves into our poses, and allow the poses to open up our bodies and minds.Traditionally,in a hatha practice,we work in the opposite way—we use our body to try and work our way deeper into our poses.
Here are six ways Yin yoga will help you get a healthy mind and body:
1. Yin complements your practice
Yin yoga takes the yoga philosophy to a whole new level. It takes all of the physical benefits of a yoga practice and complements them by adding in the challenge of remaining still in each pose for significant periods of time.
This allows the body time to challenge our mind to play with the edge of our pose to practice determination, focus, and to achieve a sense of clarity.
2. It Promotes Mindfulness
Yinis a practice of yoga that requires yogis to be ready to get intimate with the self, with their feelings, sensations and emotions—something that can perhaps be ignored during a faster-paced class. Yin helps us to still our mind, to really accept what is happening in the present moment, to practice gratitude, and slowly bring you closer to your authentic self.
3. It Fosters Compassion
Yin provides a fantastic opportunity to calm our nervous systems by providing a space for the body to deeply relax, recover, and nourish. This practice is a beautiful way for those of us who have disconnected from our bodies to reconnect in a gentle and compassionate way, learning to really listen to the messages that are there for us to receive.
4. It Helps You Find Peace in the Stillness
Yin teaches you that the stillness itself can be exactly what you need to quiet the mind. Instead of fighting the stillness, and the urge to fidget constantly, yogis learn to find ways to accept it and allow for the mental and physical growth that follows.
Yin allows you to learn just how powerful your breath is and shows you how to use your breath to calm down your entire nervous system, mind and body, feeling those deeply buried fears and tensions melt away.
5. It Teaches You How To Cope With Life’s Challenging Moments
You can learn so much about yourself by paying attention to the sensations of the body, and observing your thoughts and how you react to them. The urge to walk away can be overwhelming when you are stuck mentally, yet yin teaches you that staying still in this moment, and learning to take things one breath at a time will actually help you grow.
Yin teaches you to find a place of comfort in a not-so-comfortable position or situation, and apply what you learn to your life away from your yoga mat.
6. Your Journey of Growth Occurs Through Stillness
Amid the chaos of our daily lives, yin yoga calms the brain—the part of your body that you use the most, but probably spend the least amount of time taking good care of.
With yin yoga, we learn to listen to our bodies and slow our minds down. We learn to recognize our thoughts, experience and digest them, instead of having them race through our minds like an escaped rollercoaster.
Yin yoga is just fabulous for opening up our hearts, washing away our fears, and for learning to love ourselves. It helps us to have absolute self-belief and faith in how wonderful we are each and every day! Next time you feel that moment of niggling self-doubt, simply roll out your mat, close your eyes and get your yin on.